Hedge Betting Guide

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How To Hedge A Bet—What Is Hedging?

The term “hedging” has wormed its way into the vocabulary of many a sports bettor. Casual and seasoned bettors alike are starting to use the term and actually use it in their day-to-day betting strategies.

But what is hedging, exactly? In its most general form, hedging is the practice of placing a second bet to guarantee a profit or mitigate a potential loss. Typically, hedging involves placing a second bet against your initial wager. You may not win as much when you hedge, but you can use hedging strategies to lock in a smaller win or lessen a big loss.

Hedging A Bet Explained

Hedging usually takes the form of a second bet after your initial bet has played out to some degree. The end goal of hedging typically includes one of the following goals:

  • Guarantee a profit by covering all possible outcomes
  • Mitigate a loss by betting the other side of a now-losing bet

In practice, hedging a bet isn’t difficult, but it does require you to pay careful attention to your wagers. If you initially bet on one team to cover the spread, for example, you’d need to watch the game carefully, noting how the lines move as the match progresses. Hedging requires you to stay up to date on the latest happenings related to your bet.

Below, we’ll offer a few detailed examples to help you better understand how hedging works in a real-life sports betting setting.

Should You Hedge A Bet?

That’s a complex question, and the answer could depend on your personal preference. If you like to place your bets let ‘em ride, and hope for the best, then you probably won’t be too interested in hedging. You should also consider avoiding hedging if you aren’t watching the game you bet on, as hedging requires attention to detail and game progress.

If you are watching the game you bet on, then you can and should absolutely hedge when it makes sense. You should also hedge if you’re aiming to make a profit over time. Seasoned bettors often aim for ongoing, long-term profit, and hedging is a core part of that strategy.

At the end of the day, it’s really up to you. Hedging can be advantageous, but it is by no means a required part of sports betting.

How To Hedge A Bet On Sports

Let’s start with a simple hedging example using moneyline bets.

For the purposes of this example, we’ll use the following lines, set before the start of a game:

  • Boston Celtics: +110
  • Miami Heat: -130

Let’s begin with a $10 bet on the Celtics, which would earn you an $11 profit if it hit. But as the game progresses, the Miami Heat might take a strong lead late in the third quarter, putting them up 85-70. At this point, the Celtics bet isn’t looking so good. The Heat moneyline will have gone way down, maybe in the -500 region. You could place a $25 wager, with a potential payout of $5. That way if the Heat win, you’d still get $5 back, offsetting half of the $10 you originally bet on the Celtics.

Of course, it’s possible for the Celtics to come back and win (though unlikely), making this hedge inherently risky. But at a high level, that’s how hedging can work.

Other Times To Hedge A Bet

There are a few other examples of hedging that can be even more beneficial. Let’s look at two common cases.

Hedging A Parlay

Let’s use the following parlay as an example, combining four bets:

  • Chicago White Sox Moneyline -196
  • Boston Celtics +2: -110
  • Dallas Mavericks Moneyline: +176
  • Arizona Diamondbacks Moneyline: +198

This parlay has total odds of +2271. A $1 bet would earn you $22.71.

Let’s then assume that the White Sox, Diamondbacks, and Celtics bets all hit. The Mavericks game is coming up, and you just need them to win for your parlay to pay out.

You could hedge by placing a bet on the Mavericks’ opponent to win. In this case, the Golden State Warriors moneyline is set at -210. You could hedge with a $5 bet, earning $2.38 on a win. Here are the possible outcomes after you’ve hedged:

  • Mavericks win: your parlay hits, paying $22.71; hedge loses $5 for a total profit of $16.71 (winnings minus original parlay bet).
  • Warriors Win: your parlay loses, but you win $2.38 for a total profit of $1.38.

It’s a meager win, but it’s certainly not a loss. Plus, we’re using small numbers here to keep things simple. If you’re betting in bigger units, hedging has commensurate effects.

Hedging A Futures Bet

You can also hedge futures bets. Here’s an example.

Let’s start by assuming you bet $10 on the Chargers to win the Super Bowl at +1600. Should they win, the bet would pay out $160.

Now say the Chargers make it to the Super Bowl. Their line would’ve gone way down due to their season performance, making your +1600 look very good. But their opponents, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have Tom Brady at the helm chasing yet another ring.

Say the Chargers are slightly favored, so the Bucs moneyline is set at +150. You could place a $20 bet, which would pay $30 if the Buccaneers win. That’s a great hedge, because it allows for the following outcomes:

  • Chargers win: your original bet hits for $160. You profit $130 (win minus original bet and hedge bet).
  • Buccaneers win: you win $30, breaking even ($20 Bucs bet minus $10 futures bet on the Chargers).

Sure, the second outcome is less than ideal, but breaking even is better than losing!

Advantages Of Hedge Betting

The single biggest advantage of hedge betting is loss protection. You can occasionally guarantee yourself a profit when you hedge properly. Even if you can’t you can sometimes mitigate tough losses or break even.

If you stick to smart, savvy hedges, you can prevent big losses over time. Plus, the more you hedge, the better you’ll get at it. This is still betting, with a lot of chance involved. But the more you work on hedging the better your reads will be.

Disadvantages Of Hedging

Of course, where there are advantages, there are setbacks. Hedging has both in spades.

The main disadvantage of hedging is that you’re cutting into your potential wins. By removing some chance and guaranteeing yourself a profit, you are dipping into the potential larger winnings you’d have made if you didn’t hedge at all. All things considered, that’s a small price to pay.

The other disadvantage of hedging is the attention to detail it requires. You need to be attentive and engaged with a given game if you’re looking to hedge properly. If you don’t have the time to watch a game, you won’t be able to hedge to the best of your ability. If you’re a casual bettor who doesn’t want to watch every game you bet on, hedging isn’t advisable.

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