In life, when someone hedges a situation they are limiting their exposure to the downside. In day to day life, someone can hedge many things.
When someone hedges in sports betting they are limiting their exposure to a potential financial loss. Hedging a bet is an advanced strategy used by sports bettors to either reduce the risk of a wager or to guarantee a profit of some kind from a wager.
Similar to middling a wager, hedging is a strategy that involves placing wagers on the opposite side of your original bet. As futures betting has become more popular, so has hedging. New sports bettors might have heard about the sports betting risk management strategy in mainstream media.
If nothing else, hedging a bet has become a popular discussion point for any occasion when a sports bettor has a futures wager pending that could result in a large win. Hedging a bet is a way to guarantee at least some kind of win.
While there’s mainstream media coverage about hedging a wager, there isn’t much mainstream information on how to hedge a bet.
What is hedging a bet?
Hedging a bet is a strategy in which a bettor will place a second wager against the original bet when they’re unsure that the outcome of a wager will be a win.
Even if a bettor thinks they might win, they could decide to hedge a bet just to be safe and guarantee they walk away as a winner. The win won’t be as large but the additional wager is a way to create some kind of insurance if the original wager loses.
Hedging is a useful strategy even though betting on all sports isn’t the same. Futures wagers are long term bets that use a moneyline. Some individual games use a point spread while betting on other sports may involve a moneyline.
A bettor can hedge against any of these types of wagers. This strategy allows the bettor to walk away as a winner or less of a loser if they choose. But it’s important to remember that in order to place a second bet on a hedge, you’ll be paying vig to the sportsbooks again, ultimately reducing your potential profit ceiling.
How to hedge a bet
Hedging a bet isn’t difficult. However, the concept isn’t at the forefront of everyone’s mind when placing a wager. Hedging a bet is protecting some kind profit that was — and still may be — possible from an original wager.
Hedging a bet is done by placing a second wager against the original wager that will guarantee that the bettor sees some kind of profit at the end of the event. A bettor can hedge a future bet or hedge individual games. Here’s an example of hedging a futures bet:
Original wager: $100 futures bet on the New York Jets to win the Super Bowl at 60-1.
- Potential win: $6,000 + original $100 wager.
- Hedge: $1,000 wager on Los Angeles Rams to win the Super Bowl at 2-1 when they face the Jets in the Big Game.
- Best result: Jets win the Super Bowl and bettor wins $6,000. The $1,000 hedge on the Rams for safety is a loss. The total win is $5,000 instead of $6,000.
- Hedge win result: Rams win and the bettor wins $2,000. After everything, the $1,000 hedge minus $100 original wager gives a final win of $900.
- Worst result: No hedge and Rams win. $100 wager and the potential $6,000 win is completely lost.
This example shows that a hedge on a futures bet is still a profitable wager. The hedge protects the bettor from losing the entire potential profit from the wager.
Hedging a bet means the original bet isn’t as profitable as it could be. However, winning something is better than losing everything. That’s the purpose of hedging a wager.
This example also shows that everything risked (the original $100 wager and $6,000 potential win) is lost without hedging.
Some bettors don’t mind losing the $100 wager and potential profit. There are other bettors that prefer to walk away with some kind of profit after waiting an entire season.
Other times to hedge a bet
Hedging a futures bet used to be the only time this strategy was discussed. Sports betting trends in the US are changing and so is how bettors use this strategy.
In Play wagering makes it easier to hedge against an existing pre-game wager that looks shaky. In the past, bettors had to wait until the middle of a game to place a halftime wager.
Parlay betting continues to become more popular every year. Bettors are now using the hedging strategy to ensure a win. A bettor will place a hedge on the final game of a multi-leg parlay to ensure some kind of positive result from a wager.
Depending on the amount of the original wager, a bettor might choose to hedge a little so they can mitigate a loss. Losing is never fun but losing less is better than losing everything risked.
Hedging a bet is a useful tool for any sports bettor. Gambling on sports does not have to be about winning or losing a wager. There are multiple strategies to use where a bettor can guarantee some kind of profit on certain wagers.