What is a reverse bet in sports betting?

By   | Last Updated :   August 4, 2021 | Filed In :   Sports Betting

As the sports betting world grows ever more competitive, bookmakers are having to offer a greater range of betting markets to attract sports betting customers. Many of these are based on traditional forms of bets that have been known for decades in the retail sports betting world. 

While the variety of sports bets available on a typical sports betting site may be bewildering, if you are thinking of betting in any markets, it is important to be able to fully grasp the details of those markets so that you are maximising your winning chances, rather than helping to swell the bookmaker’s pockets! One of the most intriguing options, particularly popular with horse racing and football betting fans, is the reverse bet. 

Trixies, Yankees and other strange bets

To understand reverse betting, we need to venture into the tangled undergrowth of the traditional betting world, which has its origins in horse racing. From horse racing bettors, faced with an array of options on a typical day’s racing, and a limited bankroll, there was a demand for bets that would enable them cover a number of selections in one bet. 

The traditional multiple, accumulator or parlay bet was one option, but these bets are extremely volatile as it only takes one losing selection to doom the whole bet. So bookmakers began to offer a variety of exotic-sounding bets, which gave punters the ability to combine multiple selections in one bet, by stringing together a series of multiples. This trend gave us the Trixie, the Yankee, the Heinz and a host of other bets, that were also popular with football betting fans. 

laptop and different ball game balls

Understanding the ‘If’ bet

Before we can understand the reverse bet, we need to get to grips with the If bet. This is a form of betting, popular mainly in the US that works like a parlay bet but offers a little extra insurance. 

With an If bet, you bet on two or more selections in a particular order. If the first bet wins, then you receive a payout for it, but that payout has an amount equal to your stake deducted. This then goes forward to the second bet and so on. The downside with an If bet is that if the first bet loses, then you lose your stake. The upside is that as long as the first bet wins, you will get a return. 

How do reverse bets work?

The reverse bet is therefore an attempt to cancel out the effect of your first If bet losing. Let’s say you had two If bets lined up, on Team A and Team B. 

A reverse bet would combine the two selections in two permutations, one with Team B as the first bet and one with Team A as the first bet. So if Team A loses, but Team B wins, you would earn a return on the second If bet, providing a degree of extra insurance. 

The reverse bet with two selections is relatively straightforward to understand, but as you can probably already work out, as the number of selections increases, so do the number of permutations. 

With three selections, there are six possible permutations, so your reverse bet would effectively contain six bets. With six selections, you would be looking at 30 bets combined. So a reverse bet on six selections effectively requires you to combine 30 stakes. Dividing your bankroll into smaller stakes on each If bet is the trade-off involved in the reduced risk of the reverse bet. 

Are reverse bets a good option?

Your decision on whether to use a reverse bet will be determined by a number of factors. If you have a relatively small bankroll but want to maximise your chances of receiving a return, and are uncomfortable betting on a parlay bet or a single If bet, then the reverse bet can be a good option. 

Traditionally this type of bet has been used by horse racing punters for decades, as it offers the chance of a return of some kind, and the outside possibility of a big win if all your selections are successful, and this has obvious appeal to many punters. 

On the other hand, if you are the sort of punter who has a great deal of confidence in your selections and the size of bankroll to enable you to weather longer losing runs, then reverse betting, with its smaller stakes on each If bet, may not be for you. 

As with any form of betting, however, getting to grips with the way that reverse bets work can only help to add knowledge and experience to your betting approach and help you to sharpen your skills through greater awareness of the options available to you. Check out this guide to learn more sports betting strategies that will help you along as you grow your experience as a punter.

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