Hedge Betting Guide for Sports Bettors
Hedging is the art of covering multiple outcomes on the same betting market to improve your overall chances of success. This guide will explain how to hedge various bet types, highlight the best betting sites for hedging and describe how it differs from arbitrage betting.
Best Sportsbooks for Hedge Betting in 2023
The Benefits of Hedge Betting
There are two key reasons to hedge your bets:
- Earn a guaranteed profit on a sports event regardless of the score.
- Minimize potential losses from an existing wager you have placed.
You can learn more about the benefits involved in hedge betting over the course of this article.
In certain circumstances, you can earn guaranteed profits on a sports event by hedging. For example, imagine you placed a $20 bet on the San Francisco 49ers to win Super Bowl LIV at odds of +2500 before the 2019 NFL season. A $20 bet at odds of +2500 would have earned you a $500 profit if they won the big game.
The 49ers made it to the Super Bowl at the end of the season, and they were installed as +105 underdogs against the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were the -125 favorites. At that point, it would have been prudent to bet on the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl on the moneyline.
You can use our free hedging calculator to work out the precise amount to wager on the other side of a bet to guarantee the maximum possible payout. In this case, a $288.89 wager on the Chiefs would have been ideal, as it would have guaranteed a $211.11 profit regardless of which team won. That represents a 68.3% profit margin. The Chiefs went on to win the game, so you would have lost out if you had failed to hedge.
Lower Variance and Risk
Another key reason to hedge is to lower the variance on your bets, thus reducing risk. It may lead to smaller potential profits overall, but it also allows you to limit losses if results go against you.
Imagine you placed a bet on “both teams to score” in a soccer game. One team takes a 1-0 lead, and you are concerned that the other team will not score an equalizer. In that situation, you could place an in-play “win to nil” bet on the team that is winning. That reduces your potential losses if “both teams to score” does not pay off.
Account for Prediction Changes
Hedging allows you to cover yourself if you change your mind about the potential outcome of a game or a futures market. Some sportsbooks allow you to cash out early, meaning you can recoup a substantial portion of your investment if you no longer like the wager, ultimately reducing the risk of loss.
However, that option is often unavailable at online sportsbooks, so you can instead use hedging to cover alternative outcomes and mitigate the risk of potential losses. This approach can apply to individual games or long-term bets.
How to Hedge a Bet
The concept of hedging a bet is actually very simple. All you need to do is cover two or more potential outcomes of the same bet.
We provided an example earlier, but to reinforce the point, here is another instance in which hedging would be beneficial:
- You place a $100 bet on Auston Matthews to win the Hart Trophy at odds of +1600 at the start of the NHL season.
- By the spring, it becomes clear that it is a two-horse race between Matthews and Connor McDavid to win the award.
- At this point, Matthews is the -110 favorite and McDavid is priced at +130. It would then be advisable to bet on McDavid to win the award.
- Use our hedging calculator to find the ideal amount to wager on McDavid.
- Set the number of bets to 2, as there are two potential options: Matthews or McDavid.
- Enter $100 in the “Bet #1” box and +1600 in the “Line #1” box, as you placed a $100 wager on Matthews at +1600.
- Put +130 in the “Line #2” box and click “Calculate.”
- The calculator will tell you to wager $739.13 on McDavid, which would lock in a profit of $860.87 regardless of who wins the award.
- Some betting sites might not like receiving a bet of $739.13, but you can wager $740 or $750 on him for a rounder number with your preferred bookmaker.
You can then sit back and relax, safe in the knowledge that you will be paid out a healthy profit no matter which player claims the award.
Opportunities to Hedge
There are various opportunities to hedge your bets, and we have explained the most common situations in detail below.
Just to be clear, hedging is different from finding arbitrage opportunities. Arbitrage also allows you to guarantee a profit by wagering on both sides of the same bet. However, you do so by exploiting the discrepancies between the odds at rival sportsbooks.
For example, if Sportsbook A has +105 on over Luka Doncic scoring over 31.5 points and Sportsbook B has +105 on Doncic scoring under 31.5 points, you can back both sides of the bet at rival sportsbooks to lock in assured profits.
By contrast, hedging typically refers to backing multiple outcomes on the same market at different times. These are the key opportunities to hedge:
Hedging futures wagers is a popular strategy towards the end of the season, and not just among professional sports bettors. It is reasonably easy to hedge on a future market if you have an open wager on a team that is still standing during the latter stages of the playoffs.
For example, let’s say you bet $10 at +15000 on the Bengals to win the Super Bowl at the start of the 2021 season. By the time they reached the conference championship, you could have wagered on the other three teams that were still standing.
At the time, the Chiefs were the +125 favorites, the Rams were +210, the 49ers were +450 and the Bengals were out at +900. Our calculator would have told you to bet $671.11 on the Chiefs, $487.10 on the Rams and $274.55 on the 49ers to guarantee a 4.66% overall profit regardless of which team won the Super Bowl.
If you had waited until the Bengals reached the Super Bowl, you could have wagered $1,006.67 on the Rams at -200 and earned a guaranteed $493.33 profit either way.
In-play betting also lends itself well to hedging. For example, imagine you placed a $100 pre-game wager on the San Jose Sharks to beat the Dallas Stars at odds of -125 in a playoff game. The Sharks then take a two-goal lead in the first quarter, but you are concerned that they could end up losing the game after noticing that the goalie looks a little sluggish.
At some sportsbooks, you could simply hit the cash-out button. If that feature is unavailable, you could hedge by betting on the Stars to win, despite your original wager. At this point, the Stars might be +300 underdogs. You could then bet $145 on the Stars and guarantee a $35 profit.
Hedging Parlay Bets
Once again, hedging is a great option if an early cashout option is unavailable on a parlay bet you have placed. For example, imagine you compile a four-leg parlay featuring the Eagles, Jaguars, Bills and Cowboys all to cover the spread.
The Eagles, Jags and Bills all cover, and you stand to win $500 if the Cowboys also cover in their game against the 49ers. At this point, you might decide to place an additional wager on the 49ers to cover the spread, ensuring that you end up in profit even if the Cowboys let you down.
When should you hedge your sports bet?
The best time to hedge your sports bet when doing so would result in you earning an overall profit irrespective of the outcome. You might also consider hedging if it will significantly reduce your potential losses on an open individual wager that you no longer have a great deal of confidence in.
It is helpful to hold accounts with multiple betting sites when pursuing a hedge betting strategy. If you routinely back both sides of a bet at the same sportsbook to grind out a regular profit, the site may place restrictions on your account. You can avoid that by opening accounts with a variety of sportsbooks, and that will also ensure you get the best available odds when hedging, maximizing your profits.
Hedge Betting Strategies and Tips
Following a calculated hedging strategy can help you earn a long-term profit as a sports bettor. These tips can help:
Create a Plan in Advance
If you place a long-term futures bet or a parlay with several legs, make a note of the potential profit you stand to earn if it succeeds. You can then plan when you would consider hedging.
For example, if you bet on a team to win the NCAA Tournament, would you be prepared to hedge if that team reaches the final four? Or wait and hope your team makes it through to the national championship game? If you place a six-leg parlay, will you consider hedging if five legs pay off? Having this type of hedge betting strategy in place in advance will ensure you are prepared.
Always Check Your Math and Win Requirements
Make sure you wager the correct amount when hedging. Double-check and triple-check your calculations to ensure you will earn a guaranteed profit based on the size of your initial wager. Using our free calculator cuts out the potential for human error, but make sure you have entered the details correctly.
Be Financially Prepared to Hedge
You will not be able to hedge your bets if you lack the funds to do so. That can be very painful, as it may cost you a large payout. Make sure you practice sensible bankroll management and keep money reserved in order to hedge your bets when opportune moments arise.
Remember That You Don’t Always Have to Hedge or Hedge to Even Your Bet
Our calculator will help you figure out the precise amount to wager in order to guarantee a profit or limit your potential losses in the best way possible. However, if you still have a degree of confidence in your initial wager, you do not need to wager the exact amount recommended. Even a small hedge can help you reduce your losses if the result goes against you, providing you with a partial insurance policy.
Which online sportsbooks allow you to hedge bets?
The best way to hedge your bets is to use multiple online sportsbooks when covering different options on the same game. You can sign up with dozens of bookmaker sites if you like, but it really is all about personal preference.
Sharp sportsbooks like Pinnacle are confident in their risk management, so they will gladly welcome arbitrage bettors. You can use sportsbooks like Bookmaker.eu for hedging, but it is still advisable to register with multiple sites.
Frequently Asked Questions About Hedging Bets
A hedge in sports betting is when you bet on multiple possible outcomes of the same sports bet. The beauty of hedging is that it is a great way to reduce potential losses when wagering on sports.
This would ultimately come down to the sportsbook that you chose to sign up with. If hedging a losing wager is an option that is provided, all you would need to do is place an additional bet on another outcome.
You can hedge a bet on any sport. That could be a sports bet on the winner of the Super Bowl, the college football championship game or a wager on an obscure badminton tournament taking place on the other side of the world.
It is not worth hedging a bet if doing so will not improve your expected value in any way. If you spot an opportunity to hedge a previous wager without losing any expected value, you should seize it.
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