What is a flag bet?

Discover what a flag bet is, how it works, and the pros and cons of placing one. Learn about the components, including Up and Down bets, and how to maximize your chances of winning across 23 different bets with four selections.

James Pacheco
James Pacheco

Last Updated: 2024-06-10

A. Tzamantanis

6 minutes read

No two sportsbooks are exactly the same when it comes to what sports they offer, the different features they have, the types of bonuses they give away and a few other things. Here’s another thing that differs. Some sports betting sites offer flag bets, others don’t. But what are they? How do you place one and what are the advantages and disadvantages of playing them?

How Does a Flag Bet Work?

A flag bet is somewhat similar to a patent bet in that it’s a bet made up of lots of different components. By that we mean that there are lots of separate bets coming under the same umbrella of your flag bet.  

It all starts with picking the single bets you want to have in your flag bet, which in this case is four selections.

These four selections are then combined with each other in different ways and obvious as it sounds, the more of those four selections that win, the more of the bets making up the flag bet as a whole, will win. So, the more you win!

But there’s a key difference between a flag bet and other similar types of bets such as a patent bet or a Yankee: the presence of Up and Down bets, also known as Cross Bets, a Twist or a Vice-Versa. But what are Up and Down bets?

Up and Down Bets

Here you’re placing two separate bets but rather than them being completely separate to one another, they’re directly related to each other.

The starting point is that you’re placing two single bets. Let’s call them Bet A and Bet B. The stake for each one will always be the same, as we’ll come to in a second.  Bet A will always be placed before Bet B and Bet B will only be placed if Bet A wins.

So Bet A is placed for 5 units and wins. The profits from that bet are banked, whatever they may be, but the 5-unit stake is then used to fund Bet B. If Bet B also wins, you will then have been paid out twice and will be walking away with a healthy profit.

Profits and losses on Up and Down Bets

If Bet B loses, you’ll have lost your stake on it (obviously), but you may still be in profit, depending on the odds at which Bet A was placed.

If the odds at which you placed Bet A were 4.0 and it won, you will have been paid out 20 units (including the stake) based on your 5-unit bet. Even losing Bet B would still leave you with a good profit. But if Bet A won at odds of just 1.7 and your stake was then used on Bet B, you'll actually have lost more on that stake than you won on Bet A.

If Bet A lost, you will just have lost that stake and Bet B doesn’t come into play at all. 

Components of a Flag Bet 

Flag bets are made up of four selections.

Those four selections are then used to create the following 23 bets:

•    6x Double Bets. 
•    4 x treble Bets. 
•    1x quadruple/four-fold.
•    Six pairs of Up and Down Bets. (12 bets)

The first three bets work in the same way. A double is made up of two bets which are multiplied by each other to get the total odds on the double and need both selections in it to win.  A treble is made up of three and needs all three to win. Quadruple: four bets, all need to come good. The six pairs of Up and Down Bets we already know about! 

Pros and Cons of Flag Bet

So, what are the advantages and disadvantages of placing flag bets?

•    Because some of the bets are trebles and a quadruple at huge odds, if all four bets won, you’d be paid out across 23 different bets in total and could be walking away with a huge profit. Even three of them winning should net you a healthy profit.
•    Though a flag bet could be placed across four different sports, such as horseracing, tennis, cricket and football, it’s best suited to being placed on the same sport. A real expert on one sport can carefully choose their four selections and as per above, secure a big win. 

•    Because you’re placing 23 different bets, you’ll need 23 stakes. Unless you want to be placing each one for minimal stakes, it could be quite an expensive wager to strike. 
•    Working out how much you can win across the 23 different bets is pretty complicated so may put some punters off. That said, there are special calculators online that can help you with that. 

Example of a Flag Bet

Let’s say you’re placing a flag bet based on horse racing and you decide to pick the following horses:  George, John, Paul and Ringo, in that order.  

If all four lose, you will have lost all your money across those 23 bets.

If all four win, you will have won on all 23 bets. Remember that because of the Up and Down bets, the stake from each one will have been used for the following bet. 

Let’s say George wins. You will have been paid out on him as the first of the 12 Up and Down (single) bets, and the stake on him will have been used to fund the Up and Down bet on John. But if he’s the only winner, it won’t be possible for you to win on any of the doubles, trebles, the four-fold or any of the other Up and Down bets.
If two or three of your selections win, then you’ll inevitably win on at least one of the doubles if it’s two and some of the doubles plus one of the trebles, if it’s three.  And if it’s three, you may also have won on some of the Up and Down bets provided it was the first three – George, John and Paul - who won. 

James Pacheco
James Pacheco Sports Betting Editor

James has been writing about cricket, football and tennis betting for the best part of 20 years for some of the biggest operators, websites and publications in the industry. Heroes and heroines include Paul Scholes, Chris DiMarco, Anastasia Myskina, Richard Gasquet, Nat-Sciver Brunt and Kumar Sangakarra.