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What happens if you win a risk-free bet?

If you win your risk-free bet, you get to keep only the winnings, not your original wager amount. The sportsbook refunds you the value of the free bet after it loses, so when you win, you only profit on top of that.

You Keep Just the Profit, Not the Full Payout

Risk-free bets work differently than normal wagers when you win. With a normal bet, if you wager $100 and win $200, you get back your original $100 plus $200 profit, for a total payout of $300.

But with a risk-free bet, say you bet $100 and win $200 again. In this case, you would only get the $200 profit. The sportsbook does not repay your original $100 wager, since it already credited you that amount after your first losing bet via the promotion.

So with risk-free bet wins, you only get to keep the profit, not the full payout including your original stake.

Winnings Are Deposited into Your Account

When you win a risk-free bet, those profits are deposited directly into your sportsbook account balance.

For example, if you bet $50 at +150 odds and win, your account will be credited with the $75 profit from that wager. You can then withdraw the $75, or keep betting with it.

You Can Withdraw or Wager Your Winnings

Once they‘re in your account, those winnings are yours to use as you please! Most sportsbooks allow you to withdraw your profits right away.

Some may require you to roll over the money a few times in additional bets first. But you can ultimately cash out or reinvest your risk-free bet profits however you like.

Understanding the Various Types of Risk-Free Bets

Not all risk-free bets work exactly the same way. Here is a quick guide to some of the most common varieties and their specific rules:

Cash Refund: Your losing bet is refunded in cash, not site credit. This gives you more flexibility if you win the risk-free wager.

First Bet Only: The risk-free bet must be your very first wager made after opening your account.

Odds Restrictions: Certain minimum odds are required for bets to qualify as your risk-free wager.

Single Bet: The free bet can only apply to a regular single bet, not parlays or teasers.

Time Limit: You have a restricted window, like 7 days, to use the risk-free bet after claiming the offer.

Always check the full terms and conditions before betting to understand the specific rules of any risk-free bet promotion.

Strategies to Maximize Your Risk-Free Bet Value

How can you get the most value out of a risk-free bet offer? Here are some proven strategies:

Bet on long odds underdogs: Use the free bet to take a chance on an upset without any real downside.

Bet against public favorites: Fade popular consensus picks since their odds will often be inflated.

Line shop for best payout: Compare odds across books to place your risk-free bet where it pays out the most.

Focus on high-yield bets: Moneylines, game props, and live betting often pay better than low spreads.

Cover multiple outcomes: Use in-game cashouts or bets like doubles to reduce variance.

Properly used, a risk-free bet gives you a great shot to score a big payday with zero financial risk!

Notable Big Wins from Risk-Free Bets

Here are some real-world examples of bettors who turned huge profits on their first risk-free wagers:

2013 Kentucky Derby: A New Jersey man won $82,000 on his first risk-free $250 bet picking Orb to win the Derby at 33-1 odds.

2018 Super Bowl: One bettor turned his $500 risk-free bet into $50,000 after successfully betting on the Eagles as 5.5 point underdogs vs. the Patriots.

2021 NBA Finals: A DraftKings player won a $100,000 payout from a $1,000 risk-free bet placed on the Bucks to come back against the Suns after being down 2-0.

2022 World Cup: A new customer in Illinois bet $3,000 risk-free on Argentina at 10-1 odds to win the World Cup, and cashed out for $30,000 in profit after their victory.

These examples demonstrate the immense upside available when you pick the right longshot with a risk-free first bet!

Taxes on Your Risk-Free Bet Winnings

While it may seem like "free money," profits from winning a risk-free bet are still considered taxable gambling income.

According to the IRS, you must report any gambling winnings of $600 or more on your tax return, regardless of the source. So don‘t let a big score go to your head – be prepared to pay taxes on it!

If you win over $5,000 from any single source, they may even withhold taxes upfront before paying you out. Keep detailed records so you can properly account for all gambling income when filing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about winning risk-free bets:

Are risk-free bet winnings paid in cash or bonus funds?

Most sportsbooks pay risk-free bet profits in cash, but check the terms as some may require bonus rollover.

Can you withdraw winnings right away?

Usually yes, but some books make you bet through the profits 1-2x before withdrawing.

Do you have to pay taxes on risk-free bet winnings?

Yes, gambling winnings are considered taxable income, even from promos. You must report any profits of $600+ to the IRS.

Can you parlay or cash out a risk-free bet?

Depends on the terms – some books only apply risk-free bets to single wagers.

Risks to Know Before Placing a Risk-Free Bet

While risk-free bets present a great opportunity, there are some risks to consider:

  • Promotional terms are not always transparent and easy to understand.
  • Withdrawing winnings can be slower and more difficult compared to regular cash bets.
  • Books may restrict you from hedging or cashing out your risk-free bet before settlement.
  • You may end up gambling more than you intend if on a hot streak after a big risk-free bet win.
  • If your winnings are very large, taxes can take a significant cut.

Stay disciplined and bet responsibly even after a successful risk-free wager, and you can build your bankroll wisely.

Current Major Sportsbook Risk-Free Bet Promotions

Here is a table comparing some of the best risk-free bet offers available right now at major sportsbooks:

Sportsbook Risk-Free Bet Amount Key Terms
FanDuel $1,000 Paid in bonus funds
DraftKings $1,000 Only for new players
BetMGM $1,000 Cash refund if bet loses
Caesars $1,500 1x playthrough on winnings
PointsBet $2,000 No odds restrictions

The Bottom Line

When used strategically, risk-free bets give you an excellent chance to grow your bankroll quickly at the sportsbook. Just remember that with a winning wager, you only profit on the amount above your initial free bet. Report any big windfalls properly at tax time. And gamble responsibly – don‘t let a hot risk-free bet streak lead you to overextend your actual bankroll. Apply sound bet sizing and money management to maximize your risk-free betting opportunity.