What is an If Bet? Complete Guide to If Bets in Sports Betting

If bets are a popular sports betting market that, if used correctly, can be extremely profitable. We will highlight how the if bet works and how to calculate the odds and payouts. This will involve showcasing real-world examples and exploring advanced betting strategies to maximize profits using this market.

What is an If Bet?

An if bet is a wager that links multiple selections into the same bet. It’s similar to a parlay in this sense, but the mechanics of the bet differ and create a great alternative to this market.

what is an if bet explained

The basics are that you place a single wager on one market, and if the best wins, profits from the bet are rolled into the next. You can include anywhere from two to seven bets in total, and each time a bet wins in sequence, money is rolled into the next bet.

For and if bet to win, you need all selections to win, just as you would a parlay. However, it’s a lot more flexible than a parlay, as you can adjust the amount rolled into the next bet to lock in a return if that’s your goal.

Most if bets are placed on sequential games. This might include three NFL games on a Sunday, including the early, afternoon, and night games. However, you don’t have to have this as the order, and you could have games that start at the same time or even the last game of the day to be the first part of your if bet.

There are three variations of an if bet, which are the win-only, win or push, and the reverse if bet. We’ve outlined how they work below.

Win Only If Bet

The win-only bet is the most common and, as the name would suggest, only winning bets will move into the next selection within the sequence. A loss or push means the sequence will end, and the bet will lose.

Win or Push If Bet

The win or push gives you cover if the game’s result is a push. This would mean that you won’t get any winnings from the bet, but you will keep your stake, which will roll into the next bet. For example, if you bet on the over 43 line in an NFL game and it finishes on exactly 43 points, the bet won’t lose, but you don’t make any profit, and the stake is moved down.

Reverse If Bet

A reverse if bet covers all possible combinations. With standard if bets, you choose the order of each game at the start and then lock that in. The reverse allows you to bet multiple lines, which covers all possible combinations.

This can be popular because you can still make a profit or limit losses if one team loses and the rest win. It means that some combinations will win, and some will win and lose. The caveat to all this is that the more selections you choose, the more expensive it gets as you bet per line.

So, three selections will equal six bets and four selections will be 12 bets. It works upward from that the more you pick.

Real-World If Bet Example

The best way to explain an if bet is to use an example. Most of the major online sportsbooks will have access to if bets, and we’ve used BetOnline for this example, which make it easier to understand than most.

what is an if bet

For this example, we will use a series of upcoming games for NHL betting. We’ve picked games between the Boston Bruins vs. Philadelphia Flyers and Nashville Predators vs. Edmonton Oilers. To keep things simple, we’ve just used two games and taken the moneyline odds for each.

Before we dive in, it’s worth noting that the first game starts at 5:37 p.m., and the second game starts at 9:07 p.m. You don’t have to have games in sequence, but it makes it easier to follow along.

As you can see from the image, we’ve placed an initial $100 bet on the moneyline for the Flyers to beat the Brewers, priced at +141. We need this bet to win to move on to the second bet. If the Flyers get beat, we lose our $100 bet, and the if bet is closed.

Let’s assume the Flyers win. We’ve taken all the winnings from this bet and the initial $100 stake to wager on the Oilers to beat the Predators. This bet is priced at -203, so our $241 stake (initial $100 bet + $141 profit) would return $118.72

So, if both bets win, the total returned is $359.72, minus our $100 stake for a profit of $259.72.

If the Flyers win but the Oilers lose, our loss would be $241, although technically, it would be the original $100 bet.

If the Flyers lose the first game, the whole bet loses with your $100 stake.

if bet example

The key to note here is to choose how much you want to bet on each result. Let’s say we want to bank from the first bet and only roll our stake into the second bet.

Our initial bet on the Flyers to win stays the same at $100 to win $141. But if you look at the risk from the second bet, we’ve only bet $100, meaning that we bank $141 from the first bet and now only have a risk of $100 from the second.

One of the best things about the if bet is the ability to change the stake for each selection. The more selections you include, the more times you can roll over your stake. However, as with all bets that include multiple selections, the risk of losing increases dramatically with every bet you add.

How to Calculate If Bet Odds and Payouts

To answer the question of what is an if bet, you need to know how the odds and payouts work. The majority of US-based online gambling sites will have American-style odds.

With this format, you have positive and negative numbers. The positive represents the amount you will profit from a $100 stake, and the negative is the amount you need to wager to make a $100 profit.

With an if bet, the games work in sequence, so you need one result to come in for the bet to proceed. The odds are linked to the individual game, and unlike a parlay, they are not combined to make a single payout. There are pros and cons to why you might choose an if bet over a parlay, but it’s important to know that they differ.

soccer if bet

We’ve used an example from a series of upcoming Premier League soccer matches in England to show the amount that the bets will pay. We’ve chosen three games and combined them into an if bet. As you can see, they all kick off within 30 minutes of each other, so we’ve chosen to sequence the games in order of the earliest kick-off, but you can choose any order you want.

Soccer if bet example

We’ve chosen to bet $100 on each game, with Fulham to win being first, Crystal Palace to win second, and Newcastle United to win third.

Let’s assume that all three teams win, and the winning payouts are as follows:

  • Fulham: $100 @ +145 = $145 profit
  • Crystal Palace: $100 @ -150 = $66.67 profit
  • Newcastle: $100 @ +280 = $280 profit

So, our $100 stake has rolled into each of those bets as each has won, meaning we can bank the profit from each. This means that, for an initial $100 bet, we’ve made $491.67 in profit.

How to Place an If Bet Online

To explain how to place an if bet, we’ve used BetOnline, one of the best sportsbooks in the industry. BetOnline offers unrestricted access to this market, which means you can use any sport or market as long as it isn’t from the same game. Here is how to place an if bet:

  1. Open the BetOnline sportsbook

    Visit BetOnline and click the “Join” button at the top of the page to create an account. It’s worth noting that you can create an account online or via the mobile betting site.
    Open the BetOnline sportsbook
  2. Create an account

    Before you place an if bet, you need an account. Follow the instructions on the screen to get started. The process is simple, and you should be up and away in a minute or two.
    Create an account
  3. Make a deposit

    Head to the cashier to make a deposit. You can use the BetOnline promo code “BET1000” to get a 50% deposit match worth up to $1,000.
    Make a deposit
  4. Find the sport you want to bet on

    Once your account is loaded, return to the sportsbook and choose any sports you want to bet on. To add selections to the bet slip, just click the odds. You can remove them by deselecting the odds or removing them within your betslip.
    Find the sport you want to bet on
  5. Place an if bet

    Choose the “If Bet” option at the top in the bet slip. Now enter your stake for each of the bets. You can use the up and down arrows to reorder your bets, and once you’re happy, click the “Place Bet” button at the bottom. If you want to place a win or push if bet, click the down arrow next to the “Win Only” tab and select from there. You can keep track of live bets by clicking “My Bets” at the top.
    Place an if bet

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What’s the Difference Between an If Bet and a Parlay?

The main difference between an if bet and a parlay is that a parlay is fixed in that you make your picks, place your bet, and then need all picks to win to get paid. You cannot alter the stake or how much you want to roll over.

If you just place the same stake on an if bet for each selection, it’s essentially the same as a parlay as you’re rolling over money from each bet into the next.

For example, if you’ve four picks priced at +100 in a parlay, the odds would be +1500. So, a $100 bet would see a return of $1,600.

With an if bet, you place $100 on the first bet at +100 and roll that into a $200 x +100, $400 x +100, and $800 x +100 to get a $1,600 return.

The difference is that with an if bet, you choose different stakes for each bet. So, you could change the last bet in the example above to just include a $400 stake, where you bank the other $400 but then limit the most you can win to $800 total, assuming all four bets are successful.

Not many sportsbooks allow you to use the cash-out function for if bets, whereas, with a parlay, they are widely accepted. This is a key feature and one of the biggest negatives to this bet, as it means you must stick with your original picks and sometimes can’t react to games that are later in the day for any injuries or starting rosters that could affect the result.

If Bet Betting Strategy and Tips

To consistently make money from if bets, you need to have a solid betting strategy in place. We’ve covered a range of areas you can target to increase profitably and touched on those you must avoid.

Prioritize the Order of Your Bets

One of the strongest features of an if bet is the ability to change the order in which the bets run. It’s worth noting that each bet does need to be in order of the time they run. For example, if you’re betting on the NFL, you can have the Monday night game first, the Thursday night game second, and then a Sunday game third.

The order plays a huge role for those of you who do not carry your whole balance over to the next bet but adjust your stake and lock in profit at each stage.

For example, if you carry over the stake and profit from each bet, the result will be the same regardless of which order you bet on. If a single game loses, then the whole bet loses. You’ve everything on the line for each bet, so the order is less important.

When adjusting your stake, you must pick your most confident pick first. For example, if you’re betting $100 to start and the first bet nets $200 but keep the profit and role the stake into the next bet, order matters. If that first bet loses, the whole bet loses, whereas if you make three from three and lose the fourth bet, you can still cash a profit.

The best practice is to go heavy at the top for both methods. Choose the most confident pick at the top and work down.

Hedging Bets

Hedging is one of the best strategies to use for an if bet. To hedge a bet is to create a scenario where you win on all outcomes or limit exposure on one market. To do this, you need to place multiple bets to cover at odds that will guarantee a profit on all results.

Let’s run through an example of how this might work.

NHL if bet

We will place an if bet using three games from the NHL. We’re taking the over on the Blue Jackets vs. Canucks, Blackhawks vs. Flames and Kings vs. Blues. The games all occur at different times of the day and run in the order we’ve outlined.

NHL what is an if bet

Our goal for our if bet is to roll over the original stake and profits from each bet. By the time the final game comes around, we should be at a point where we have $353.36 to make a profit of $339.77, given the odds for over in the Kings vs. Blues is -104.

Given that the odds for the over bet are -112, all we can do is minimize our exposure, we cannot lock in a profit. You would need to find odds of -103 or better to do this.

Let’s assume that we take $150, around half our stake, to cover the under. This means that we would profit $133.93 on this bet if it were under. Let’s see how that would work overall.

  • Original bet Over 6.5 goals = $353.36 to win $339.77
  • Hedge bet Under 6.5 goals = $150 to win $133.93
  • If the game finishes over 6.5 goals = $693.13 – $150 = $543.13 profit
  • If the game finishes under 6.5 goals = $283.93 – $100 (original if bet stake) = $183.93 – $150 = $33.93

You can spend time with hedge betting calculators to change how much exposure you have on each bet, but for example, we’ve eliminated any losses with one bet while only sacrificing a small amount of profit percentage-wise on our initial bet going into the last game.

For Small Bankrolls, Use If Bets

If bets can be a good way to build a bankroll from a small starting balance. You might be in a situation where you’re looking to quickly increase your bankroll, and using if bets allows you to spread risk across these bets, hoping to roll into the final game with a larger stake than you started.

For example, let’s say you have $25 to use, and that’s the last of your bankroll before you need to deposit again. You like two bets, both priced at -110. By creating an if bet, you can roll your initial stake into something larger for the second of the two picks.

This would work for two games that are taking place simultaneously or when one hasn’t closed before the other starts. You might be in a position where you want to bet more than $25 on the second game but don’t have the money. This way, you get action, and you can increase your stake for the second bet, assuming the first wins.

What is an If Bet – Home Truths

Okay, let’s be honest here. As we’ve outlined, there are times when bets can be a great strategy. You can apply this to betting scenarios that reduce risk and maximize profits.

The flip side is that there’s usually a better option than the if bet. Unless you’re looking to the bank after every bet, parlay betting will create better odds and, as a result, a better payout for essentially the same result.

If you’re betting on games that don’t overlap in terms of start times, then you’re better off just placing singles and rolling profits into each bet. This allows you to adjust for each bet and means you can simply stop if you no longer fancy the next bet on the slip.

If none of these options fit, then the if bet can work well. But make sure that you cover all scenarios before placing and consider your options in terms of returns.


What exactly is an ‘If Bet’ in sports betting?

How do ‘If Bets’ differ from parlays?

What are the benefits of using ‘If Bets’ over other betting types?

How do I calculate potential payouts from an ‘If Bet’?

How does the order of selections in an ‘If Bet’ affect the outcome?

Where can I place ‘If Bets’ online, and are there any restrictions?


  1. https://www.responsiblegambling.org/ (Responsible Gambling Council)
  2. https://www.ncpgambling.org/responsible-gambling/ (National Council on Responsible Gambling)
  3. https://www.americangaming.org/resources/responsible-gaming-regulations-and-statutes-guide/ (American Gaming Association)
  4. https://www.icrg.org/ (International Center for Responsible Gaming)
Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert

Jonathan is a freelance writer working with Techopedia. He has been working within the gambling sector for over 15 years and has been fortunate enough to work with brands that include Gambling.com, CheekyPunter.com, BasketballInsiders.com and Betfair. He specializes in US and UK-based sports and casino content for Techopedia.