What is a Reverse Wager?

by Big Al Staff

What is a reverse wager?

When you are a sports bettor who has been around for a while, you might start looking around for some new bet types.  You’ve mastered moneyline bets, and can correctly predict which teams will cover the spread in a point spread bet, and are familiar with wagering on totals as well.  From that moment on, you can start looking at some more exotic bets.  The kind of bets that might take a little extra time to understand, but that could boost your sports betting experience. 

You can do so by experimenting with reverse bets.  This wager type can usually be found at any typical sportsbook.  It's not extremely hard to understand, but it does require some explanation before we can dive into implementing it into your sports betting strategy.  The reverse bet can be made by putting several bets together -- similar to parlay betting.  The action reverse has lots of similarities with other betting types.  It could mean you're hedge betting to secure your payout or working with multiple if bets.  The reverse bets are available for all major sports from the MLB to the NBA, but are most popular throughout the NFL football season.

There are many outcomes and many different scenarios to draw for reverse bets.  But you have to know how to make use of the outcomes accurately.  Any sportsbook, of course, will take your bets, no matter how complicated.  But it's on you to make sure you’re clear of what you're wagering on and reducing your risk.  In this guide, we'll provide you with all the right material you need to get familiar with reverse wagers.

Before we dive into reverse bets, you have to understand what if bets are.  It's a different kind of bet that has a direct correlation with the reverse bet. 

What is an if bet?
The if bet can be best explained as a chain of wagers that only continue when the bettor wins the initial choice, the first bet.  In this way, you're building up a subsequent bet that could continuously be increasing your potential payout.  Similar to a parlay bet, all of your remaining bets can only be won if you manage to win the previous bet.  Now, unlike a parlay, it's not an all-or-nothing bet.  When you lose one leg of your chain of wagers, you might still remain profitable, and it's just a matter of making the right calculations in terms of odds and chances of winning. 

You can place an if bet on 2-6 teams at most sportsbooks.  But some, like BetAnySports (which is currently our #1-rated sportsbook), offer you the possibility to place up to 15 teams in your if bet!  The more teams you bet on, the more possible combinations, and that means more possible outcomes.  Even better:  BetAnySports also offers rolling if bets, so you can place a straight, parlay or teaser wager and make it contingent on the outcome of a previously placed wager which is still pending (the pending wager can be a wager posted on an event that is in progress or it can be a wager on an event that has yet to begin).  Generally, you want to make sure that you stay in control of your betting slip.  If the first team wins, ties or cancels, all your remaining teams would turn into straight wagers, without being tied into an if bet.

In simple terms, it would mean that your bet on team A versus team B has to be a winner before your bet on team C versus team D can be realized.  Now, with a two-team parlay, you are in double-action, which means double the risk.  But, that's where a reverse bet could come into play. 

How does a reverse bet work?
When you understand the basics of an if bet, we can start looking at reverse bets.  Placing a parlay bet without any form of a safety net is a matter of taking the maximum risk.  The moment you change this by making use of reverse wagers, you are reducing your risk and keeping your bankroll safe.  This means placing two or more if bets together into one reverse bet.  If done the right way, your action is covered, and basically, it doesn't matter which teams win for you to not lose your entire stake. 

To adequately explain reverse wagers, let's take an example.  Let's imagine you're wagering on the NBA.  We'll take two games.  Both focus on the point spread.  The betting lines could look something like this:

  1. First bet:  Los Angeles Clippers -4 vs. Chicago Bulls
  2. Second bet:  Brooklyn Nets -3 vs. Golden State Warriors

As with most point spread odds with a regular 2-team parlay, you would be looking at a potential payout of $260 with an initial wager of $100.  It does require both bets to be a winner, or you'll lose the entire stake of $100.  The other scenario would be to use the reverse betting strategy.  This means you take your initial stake of $100 and turn it into two if bets of $50.

Both bets are on the same ticket on the online sportsbook, so you could be taking an if bet in reverse order.  That sounds complicated, but with the following example, it does make sense.  We take the same betting lines:

  1. First bet:  Los Angeles Clippers -4 vs. Chicago Bulls
  2. Second bet:  Brooklyn Nets -3 vs. Golden State Warriors

With an if bet, your first bet has to be successful before you wager on the second bet.  With the reverse wager, any of the two bets could be successful in betting on the other bet.  That could mean double-action or no action at all.  As an illustration, let's have a look at the possible combinations:

  1. Wager $50 on the Clippers and if they win, push, or cancel you re-bet this $50 on the Nets. 
  2. Wager $50 on the Nets and if they win, push, or cancel you re-bet this $50 on the Clippers.

These are two individual if bets that combine in one reverse wager.  The possible outcomes of this bet can be:
  1. Both wagers lose, and you lose your initial stake of $100
  2. Both teams win, and you win four times $45.45 = $181.80
  3. One team wins, and the other loses.  That means you have a winning bet which nets $45.45, but you moved $50 onto a bet that eventually failed.  And you also lost 50 dollars on that same team which was the first leg of a reverse wager.  That means you win $45.45, but lost $50 twice, so your total combined loss would be $54.55.

As you can see here, it does not necessarily mean that your reverse bet is the perfect choice when you want to minimize your risk.  In a sense, it's a mixture of hedge betting and parlay betting, but without the maximum risk that a regular parlay bet brings. 

How to use reverse bets in your sports betting strategy
With any bet that's not as common as a moneyline bet, you have to be cautious before diving in.  Bookmakers love people who are playing with their money as a form of practice, but we want you to be a successful sports bettor who grows his bankroll, not the bookmaker’s one.  To get you started the right way, consider these two tips:

Keep your risks as low as possible
As with any multi-event bet, there are tons of risks involved.  Similar to a round-robin bet, the reverse bet is another form of parlay betting.  You could go several routes with lots of possible outcomes, but the more combinations, the more risk you take.  Plus, betting the moneyline underdog on a match is more risk than betting the moneyline favorite, that's a fact.  That means when you place a four-team reverse on moneyline underdogs, it's a lot of risk you're taking.  Always be aware of the risk, and don't get seduced by the high payout that comes along with the high risk you're considering.

Additionally, your first game impacts greatly the outcome of the other matches.  Once the first game is a loss, the rest turn into straight bets, and you reduce your potential profit.  So, make sure that you know which game to choose first!

Research, research, research!
The most crucial factor here is taking the time to do your research.  There's not a single successful sports bettor who goes solely on his gut-feeling.  Any bettor who has been around for a long time either observes sports, does extensive analysis on the matchups, or both combined.  It's essential to take this part of the process seriously.  It might not be the most enjoyable part of the process, but you'll be glad you put in the effort at the end. 

With all the information in this article, you're one step closer to being a professional sports bettor.  You don’t have to be aware of every single detail and every single type of bet that's out there, but the more you know, the better you can make decisions.  If you find the perfect opportunity for a reverse bet, go for it!  Always ask yourself which type of bet goes along with the chosen events you're betting on.  And take care of your bankroll so you can be around for the long haul.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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