Bet to Win VS Bet to Lose in Sportsbetting

Whenever you place a bet with a sports betting website or bookmaker, you’ll be given two options for how to calculate it: bet to win and bet to risk. This article will take a look at which style of bet is better for each situation.

What is Bet to Win?

The “bet to win” option allows you to specify how much you want to walk away with if you win your bet. In other words, you may specify an amount of $100 and choose “bet to win.” The amount of money you wager will be calculated based on the odds of the bet so that, if you win, you’ll be rewarded with $100. 

sports betting

If you’re betting on a team that is favored 3:2, for example, the betting site or bookie will calculate that you need to put down $150. If you win, you’ll receive the specified $100 plus your $150 bet. If you lose, you’ll lose the $150 you invested.

What is Bet to Risk?

“Bet to risk,” also called “flat-betting,” is when the bettor specifies how much money they want to wager. The amount they stand to win is generated based on the odds. 

mobile betting

For example, let’s say you specify an amount of $100 and choose “bet to risk.” The bet is on a team with 2:3 odds to win. If they win, you will receive roughly $66.67 plus your original $100 bet. If you lose, you’ll lose your specified $100. In short, the difference between the two methods is whether you are specifying input or desired output.

Which Option is More Profitable?

There are certain scenarios in which bet to win is more profitable and others in which bet to risk is more profitable. To determine which is best for a specific bet, consider two questions:

Can You Beat the Vig?

The key concept to understand is “The Juice” also known as “The Vig.” These terms are used to refer to the small added percentage that bookmakers tack onto the odds to make sure they have a slight advantage over their customers. You can think of it as an assurance that “the house always wins” in the long run. Adding this “vig” is how bookmakers make money.

Also remember that for a bet to win, the very amount you wager is determined by odds. That means you have to “lay the vig” when you bet and will lose the money for the vig whether you end up winning or losing the bet. 

betting odds

For bet to risk, you bet what you choose and do not have to pay the vig at the time of betting. If you win, you will have to pay the vig from your winnings. If you lose, though, you’ll lose your entire stake and will not have to pay the vig at all.

Because of this, inexperienced sports bettors who very well may lose more often than they win should bet to risk. It’s generally not quite as profitable as winning a “bet to win” but you’ll avoid paying the vig when you lose.

On the flip side, more experienced bettors who have developed a proven winning strategy should choose a bet to win. If they’re confident that they can win often enough in the long-term to make up for the vigs they’re paying, bet to win is just more profitable… especially when betting on favorites.

Which Has a Wider Profit Margin?

Let’s say the Jets are the favorites in their game with odds of 1.67/2:3/-150 and you decide to bet $100 on them. At this point, it’s tempting to compare percentages. As you can see in the example at the beginning of the article and in the table visualization below, your potential losses are 60% of your potential winnings with both bet types. But it’s actually more realistic to think of the numbers in terms of their numerical difference. 

profit margin

In other words, the bet to win option is riskier. The bet to risk option incurs less risk, ironically. Because of this, bet to risk is a better option for sports betting newbies who are still developing their betting strategy. Once those newbies develop into consistent winners, they can afford to take on a bit more risk with the higher-stakes on the ‘’bet to win’’ option.

$100 Bet



Bet to Win

Risked: 150

W: +100

L: -150

Risked: 66.67

W: +100

L: -66.67

Bet to Risk

Risked: 100

W: +66.67

L: -100

Risked: 100

W: +150

L: -100

This entire concept only holds true for bets riding on a favorite. For bets riding on an underdog, the numbers are flipped on their heads and bet to risk becomes the riskier option. 

Bet to Risk Helps with Bankroll Management

Bankroll management is an important part of many sports betting strategies, and some sports bettors prefer “bet to risk” because of that fact. After all, being able to dedicate a predetermined unit of money to each of your bets is very easy to keep track of.

Although “bet to win” and “bet to risk” might initially just seem like different ways for calculating a bet, they are distinctly different. They each have their own pros and cons and both can lead to success if employed in the right situations. For each sports bet you make, you should do a cost analysis (like the one in the table above) to see where each method will lead you.

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