What Does it Mean to Hedge a Bet?
Hedging is a sports betting strategy when a bettor takes the opposite side of their original bet.
There are different methods of hedging, but the idea is usually the same. A bettor is trying to guarantee a profit or, at the very least, reduce the potential loss of a wager by hedging with a subsequent bet. It can essentially be a way to create some kind of insurance when a bettor is unsure of an outcome.
To get a better idea of what hedging is, here are a few examples for when it might make sense to use this strategy:
Hedging Futures Bets
This is a common avenue for hedging a bet. As an example, let’s say you placed a $100 bet on Green Bay to win the Super Bowl at +1000. Then, they made the final game, and you could possibly win $1,000 if they pulled it off.
But Green Bay is facing Kansas City, which we all know is no easy victory. In this theoretical situation, quarterback Patrick Mahomes is on a mission after getting trounced by Tampa Bay last year, and you are not comfortable with betting against him.
So, in this case, you could hedge your bet by placing a sizable wager on the moneyline for Kansas City. This could guarantee that you win money either way, regardless of who ultimately hoists the Lombardi Trophy.
Hedging Parlay Bets
Much like with futures bets, hedging is worth considering near the end on parlay bets. Remember: With a parlay bet, a bettor needs every leg to hit in order to have a winning ticket.
So let’s say you have a five-team parlay on a random Sunday afternoon featuring five different NFL games. The first four teams all won, and so it all comes down to the primetime matchup for your 25/1 ticket to cash.
In order to mitigate a potential loss, this is when you could hedge your bet by placing a wager on the opposite team’s moneyline.
Hedging in Live Sports Betting
There is no need to wait to hedge your bets when it comes to live sports betting.
In this instance, let’s say you picked Dallas to cover the 7.5-point spread against Tampa Bay in the 2021 NFL opener. You believe in that offense with Dak Prescott under center, and feel pretty confident that they can stay within a touchdown.
But then the defending champs stormed out to a big lead in the first quarter, and you are ready to cut your losses. This is when you can hedge your bet by backing Tampa Bay with an in-game wager instead.
Advantages and disadvantages of hedge betting
The main advantage of hedging your bets is it offers flexibility in managing the level of risk for your action. If you are on the verge of winning a big parlay, for example, you can easily hedge the final leg or two to ensure some kind of profit. If you stand to make a loss on a wager, and no longer want to be exposed to that loss, you can use hedging to reduce the size of that loss. All in all, this offers some flexibility when it comes to managing your bankroll.
On the other hand, the biggest disadvantage of hedge betting is the cost. Because you are making an extra bet (or two), this means you are guaranteed a loss. Although you are reducing the risk of a potential loss, you are also sacrificing potential profit by making an extra wager. Using hedging to guarantee profits also has an associated cost, as you are effectively paying a premium from your potential profits to cover the other side of your wagers.
Are they worth it?
There are conflicting views about how this strategy should be used, and whether it should be used at all. Some people believe that you should always let existing bets ride, and that hedging is a bad strategy that costs money in the long run. Some people believe that it is an excellent strategy that should be considered at every opportunity, because you can guarantee a profit in most situations.
One tip for hedge betting
As is usually the case, however, the real answer probably falls somewhere in the middle. The idea of hedge betting can be useful in the right situation, but it is important to not use this strategy too often. If you are being too cautious as a bettor, you will sacrifice plenty of potential profit down the road.
How and when you use the hedge betting strategy is up to you, because it is your bankroll after all. You may decide to use it only in select situations when having a big futures bet, or you may decide not to use it at all. There is honestly no right or wrong answer! It is just important to treat each situation as its own unique opportunity.
Let me explain. Just because hedging worked for you once, doesn’t mean that it will be the best strategy in the next situation. Every occasion should be viewed as an isolated incident, and you should weigh out the pros and cons and make your decision accordingly. Make sure you are hedging for the right reasons, and ultimately decide the amount that you are comfortable using on the extra wager.
Best of luck with whatever you decide is right for you!