What Is a Reverse Bet in Sports Betting?

Ever felt confused by reverse bets on a sportsbook? You’re not alone. Reverse bets might not be the most popular, but they can enhance your betting strategy and maximize your wins.

Expert bettors use reverse bets to spice up their tactics, and you can too. This guide will teach you everything you need to know about reverse betting, from the basics to pro-level strategies.

Let’s dive in and unlock the potential of reverse bets.

🔑 Key Takeaways

  • Know how to improve your wagers by mastering reverse bets!
  • You’ll be able to calculate the outcome for a better sports analysis.

Understanding Reverse Bets

A reverse bet is simply a wager with two “if bets” working in both directions. An If bet is a selection of two or more teams that progresses only if you win the first selection.

Similar to parlay, right? However, unlike parlay bets, you don’t need all the selections in your ticket to win. As long as the first team you wagered on wins, you can get some cashback on your bet.

For instance:

Let’s say the Charlotte Hornets are playing against the Los Angeles Lakers, and on the same day, the Toronto Raptors are facing off with the Chicago Bulls. The point spread looked like this:

  • Charlotte Hornets: -6.5 (-110) Los Angeles Lakers: +6.5
  • Toronto Raptors: -4.5 (-110) Chicago Bulls: +4.5

So, you stake $50 on the home teams to cover the spread in an If Bet. The result of the first match (Hornets covering the spread) will determine whether a bet of the same size will be wagered in the second game.


  • If the Hornets cover the spread, you win, and your total payout would be $95.45; you won’t be able to withdraw at this time because your initial $50 will be automatically wagered on the Toronto Raptors.
  • If the Raptors lose, you will still have the $45.45 winnings from the first game.

However, if the Hornets fail to cover the spread, you lose your whole stake, and no bet is placed on the Raptors.

The best news is that with reverse bets, you don’t have to worry about the risk of the first team losing. This is because a reverse bet allows you to wager the equivalent of two “If” bets in a forward or reversed order. In this case, you split your bet on two teams (Team A and Team B) participating in different matches.

Since the two games are listed first on the reverse bets, even if Team A loses, your bet on the second game will be active, and you will receive a payout if Team B wins.

Like all articles in our sports betting education section, you’ll want to keep reading for real-life examples of reversals.

Types of Reverse Bets

There are two types of reverse bets: action reverse bets and win reverse bets; we explained them in detail below.

Action Reverse Bets

Action reverse bets are two If bets placed simultaneously on the same set of games. You can simply regard them as standard reverse bets. That’s why you will find their meanings intertwined.

In an action reverse bet, success in one wager activates the next. If your first bet wins or results in a tie, your second bet will be activated, or if the second wager wins, the first is placed.

Keep in mind that an action reverse bet requires double the amount of an If bet since it features two distinct wagers.

Using the same example and point spread:

  • Charlotte Hornets: -6.5 (-110) Los Angeles Lakers: +6.5
  • Toronto Raptors: -4.5 (-110) Chicago Bulls: +4.5

If you place an action reverse bet on the Hornets and the Raptors, the total price would be $100 instead of $50 since you are placing two separate $50 bets.

For a better understanding, you can regard this reverse bet as two separate wagers, in which one relies on the Hornets match’s outcome to wager on the Raptors game. The other banks on the Raptors game to bet on the Hornets match.

Here is what an action reverse bet looks like:

Wager AWager B
If you win the bet on the Hornets, you win $95.45, and $50 is automatically staked on the Toronto Raptors.If the Toronto Raptors win, you will win $95.45, and $50 is automatically placed on the Hornets. 
If the Raptors lose, you lose the second $50 bet and end up with your initial wager of $50 and $45.45 winnings.If the Hornets lose, you lose the second $50 bet and end up with your initial wager of $50 and $45.45 winnings.
If the Hornets fail, bet A loses $50, and no wager is placed on the Raptors.Bet B loses $50 if the Raptors lose, and no wager is placed on the Hornets.

Another possible scenario is if all teams on your bet slip win, and you get the maximum payout for your reverse wager. Since you are making a 4x wager to win $45.45 when you reverse for $50, your total winnings will be $190.9.

Of course, there is also a possibility of both teams losing. In that case, you will lose the full wager amount.

Win Reverse Bets

Win reverse bets are similar to action reverse bets, involving two or more bets in a forward or reverse order. The key difference lies in how ties or pushes are managed.

A push occurs when a bet does not result in action, such as a postponed game or a game-ending precisely on the point spread.

  • In an action reverse bet, the second wager is placed if the first has no action.
  • In a win reverse bet, the first wager must have an action for the second bet to be active.

For example:

You bet on the Hornets and Raptors to win their games with a point spread of -6.5 and -4.5, respectively, making a $50 win reverse bet on both, risking $100 total.


Wager A

  • If the Hornets win and cover the spread, you win $45.45, activating the $50 bet on the Raptors.
  • If the Hornets lose, no bet is placed on the Raptors, and you lose your $50 wager.
  • If the Hornets game ends in a push, no bet is placed on the Raptors.

Wager B

  • If the Raptors win and cover the spread, it activates the bet on the Hornets.
  • If the Raptors lose, the bet on the Hornets isn’t activated.
  • If the Raptors game ends in a push, no bet is placed on the Hornets.
  1. If the Hornets win and the Raptors game is a push, your profit is $45.45 from the Hornets game.
  2. If the Raptors win and the Hornets game is a push, your payout is $95.45 ($50 wager and $45.45 winnings). If both teams lose, you lose your $100 stake.

Win reverse bets offer strategic advantages with careful planning, especially when combined with popular wagers like point spread bets and parlay bets in college football.

Calculating Outcomes with Reverse Bets

Reverse bets can be confusing, especially if you are just taking your baby steps in sports betting. But if you want to maximize your bankroll with this strategy, it’s crucial to calculate the potential outcomes and payouts accurately. 

One of the best ways to correctly calculate reverse bets to understand the potential risks and benefits involved is to use a reverse bet calculator.

These reverse betting calculators allow you to input various parameters of your bets, such as the type (action or win), odds, and bet amounts. After filling in the required details, you will click calculate to get information about your potential profits, losses, and overall returns based on different scenarios.

Strategies for Placing Reverse Bets

Reverse bets offer more winning opportunities than straight bets. Here are key strategies to optimize your reverse bets:

  1. Order of Wagers: The order of your bets affects the outcome and potential payouts. Ensure you research the teams and games thoroughly before placing them.
    For example: If you bet on the New England Patriots first, their win activates the next bet on the second team. Strategic placement manages risk and maximizes payouts.
  2. Bet on Underdogs: For bigger payouts, wager on underdog teams. Betting on underdogs like the New England Patriots +130 and Toronto Raptors +180 can yield higher returns than favorites.
  3. Choose Win Reverse Bets: If you aim to manage your bankroll, opt for win reverse bets. These only place the next bet after a win, reducing risk.
  4. Add More Teams: You can add up to eight teams to your reverse bets. More wins mean bigger payouts, but also increased risk. Balance potential payouts with the risk of losing.
  5. Set a Budget: Have a budget and stick to it. This keeps your betting healthy and minimizes the impact of losses.

By applying these strategies, you can make the most of your reverse bets and increase your chances of winning with your bookmaker.

Reverse Bet Examples

Although reverse bets are more common in football, you can use them in all major sports, including the NBA, MLB, and the National Hockey League.

Refer to these reverse bet examples using real money line odds from different sports.

Example 1

  • Mlb Chicago Cubs +100 +1.5. Texas Rangers -120. = -1.5
  • Cleveland Guardians -145   -1.5. Oakland Athletics +120. = +1.5

So, let’s assume you want to make a $10 action reverse bet on the Rangers and Guardians to win their games. Since your wager features two separate selections, your total risk would be $20.

→ Let’s look at different reverse betting scenarios:

Best possible scenario — Both Teams Win

Wager AWager B
Guardians win their game, returning a $7.24 profit, and automatically activating the second betGuardians win their game, returning a $7.24 profit, and automatically activating the second bet
Guardians win their game, you earn a profit of $7.24.Rangers win their game, giving you a profit of $8.33. The sequence ends.
In total, you receive a maximum payout of $25.57 (plus your $10 original stake)Overall, this successful reverse bet will give you a total profit of $31.14.

One Team Loses

Wager AWager B
Rangers lose their game, you lose your $10 bet, and the second bet is not activated.Guardians win their game, giving you a $7.24 profit.
Since the second bet isn’t placed, the result of Guardians’ match is not relevant. You lose $10 overall in this IF bet.Rangers lose their game, and you lose the $10 stake.

Result: The reverse bet reduces your total loss to only $2.76

One Game Results in a Push

Wager AWager B
The Rangers game is a push, you don’t win or lose money, but since it’s an action reverse bet, the second bet is placed.Guardians win their game, and you collect $7.24 as profit.
Guardians win their game, and you collect a $7.24 profit, meaning in this IF bet, your overall profit is $7.24.The Rangers game is a push, so you didn’t lose or win any money. The sequence ends.

Result: This action reverse bet gives you a total profit of $14.48.

One more possible outcome?

Wager AWager B
Rangers game is a push, no money is lost and won, and bet is automatically placed on the second match.Guardians lose the match, giving you a $10 loss and an overall loss of $10 for the bet

Result: You end up with a total loss of $20 from this action reverse bet.

Example 2

  • Chicago Blackhawks +150 +1.5   Ottawa Senators -185   -1.5
  • Washington Capitals +145 +1.5 Toronto Maple Leafs -175 -1.5

We will be daring on this wager and put our money on the Blackhawks (underdog) and Toronto Maple Leafs (favorite) in the second game. Let’s say we wager $30 each on the two selections, which will bring our total win reverse bet amount to $60

→ Let’s look at 2 possible reverse bets scenarios:

One game is a push and the other is a win

Wager AWager B
Blackhawks game is a push, meaning that you didn’t lose or win any money. But since this is a win reverse wager, no bet will be placed on the second match.Toronto Maple Leafs win, giving you a $28.57 profit ($50 bet on -175 odds) and activating the bet on the second game. Blackhawks game is a push. You didn’t win or lose money.

Result: Your total profit for this win reverse bet is $28.57.

One game is a push and the other is a loss

Wager AWager B
Blackhawks game ends in a loss, you lose your $50 stake, and no bet is placed on the second match.Toronto Maple Leafs game ends in a push, meaning you didn’t win or lose money and no bet is made on the second match.

Result: Overall, you lost $50 in this win reverse bet.

The Pros and Cons of Reverse Betting

Like other betting strategies, reverse betting comes with its benefits.

Risk ManagementReverse betting allows you to hedge your bets and reduce potential losses by covering multiple outcomes in a single wager. In this aspect, it is better than parlay and If bets where a single loss can automatically void the bet.
Diversifies the way you betThrough reverse betting, you can spread your risk across different teams or events. It reduces dependence on single-game results like straight bets.
Potential for High PayoutsSince you are covering multiple outcomes in your bet, you can get higher returns than traditional straight bets, especially if your favored teams win.

Reverse bets also come with drawbacks; Let’s examine them below.

Higher CostStaking multiple games in reverse wagers can lead to higher overall betting costs. It can as well translate to bigger losses if your teams didn’t win. You can use the strategies listed earlier to mitigate your risks.
Lower profit marginsDespite the potential for higher returns, the increased cost of placing reverse bets can reduce overall profit margins.
More complex than basic betsMost new bettors will not touch reverse betting because they can’t simply understand it. However, having read to this point, you should be able to use reverse bets like a pro.

So, Will You Place a Reverse Bet Tonight?

Reverse bets offer a risk-reducing feature that is not present in If bets or Parlay wagers. Not only does it cover you if one team loses, but it also protects your bet if your first selection is unsuccessful.

With the information on this page, you can start making reverse wagers on any of your favorite sports. However, remember to do your research, follow our reverse wagering tips, and bet responsibly.

Do you still find reverse bets complicated? Then check out other rewarding betting types on our site. This guide to octopus betting will excite you!