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In layman’s terms, a hedge bet is any wager made that limits the risk for a sports bettor. When you hedge a bet, you are planning to bet on more than one outcome of an event in order to see a profit. Although hedge betting is crafty and a niche form of betting, it’s not recommended for everyone and only experienced bettors.
It’s never a good idea to chase losses in sports betting, as taking the ‘L’ and betting again later is always a good idea. However, the opportunity does present itself in certain cases to hedge bets. Timing is the most important factor in hedge betting, which we will discuss.
Losing money to a sportsbook is never fun, and hedging can be complicated. Instead, check out the RYP contests and pools to keep the money within your own group of friends or family. RYP has survival pools, prop pick contests and much more to select from!
What is Hedging a Bet?
As explained above, hedging a bet is another way to cover any potential losses a bettor might experience with a prior bet. This practice is most common in both the futures markets and live betting markets. Parlays are also another popular form of hedging bets, but the entire success of any hedge bet depends on timing.
How to Hedge a Bet?
Let’s use live betting as an example for how to hedge a bet. Before an NBA game starts, a bettor wants to take the Celtics moneyline at +150 as the underdog against the Nuggets. The bettor pays $100 to try and profit $150.
If the Celtics are winning the game at halftime, their live odds might be favored which means the Nuggets are now the live underdogs. The bettor can either let the game play out and try to profit $150, or the bettor can hedge the bet by taking the Nuggets live moneyline at +120. If the bettor hedges the bet then the bettor will pay $100 to possibly win back $120.
If the Celtics win the bettor will get back $100 from original wager and another $150 for the original wager winnings ($250 total). Subtract the $100 for the hedge bet and the bettor is left with a $50 profit.
If the Nuggets win then the bettor will get back $100 from the live wager and another $120 from the live wager winnings ($220) total. Subtract the $100 for the hedge bet and the bettor is left with a $20 profit.
As you can see, the bettor made either a $50 or a $20 profit by hedge betting. If the bettor didn’t hedge the bet then they would’ve either won $150 or lost $100. Also note that the bettor had to strike on a live bet with the Nuggets seeing plus-odds. Live betting odds change in seconds so you must strike swiftly if planning to hedge the live betting market.
When Should You Hedge a Bet?
As stated above, the live market is a great time to hedge bets. It depends on quick reactions and key timing though. The futures market is a great way to hedge bet also, especially for upcoming tournaments. This should only be applied to knockout round-by-round tournaments however, such as tennis events or college basketball conference tournaments.
Events such as golf tournaments or NASCAR races should not be a hedge bet in the winners market, although there are ways to hedge those sports as well. For NASCAR, the manufacturer market is a great place to hedge bet a race. Golf has great hedging opportunities in group markets and head to head markets as well.
We’ve already discussed how and when to hedge bet the live market, but what about the others? Let’s go through the futures market and how to hedge bet it more specifically, along with parlays. With that said, parlays are not wise and we’ve already said hedging is only for experienced bettors.
How to Hedge a Futures Bet?
Tournaments are a highly recommended place to hedge bet in, especially tennis majors. Novak Djokovic is the best player to hedge bet against, typically a -110 to +150 favorite in winning any major tournament. Taking Djokovic at favored odds before the tournament starts gives you a ticket on him should he win.
Once you lock Djokovic in, bet on his underdog opponent in single match betting. The first few rounds will see Djokovic’s underdog with odds anywhere from +700 to +5000. The deeper the tournament gets the more his opponent’s underdog odds will shrink, but still be valuable. If he wins the event you profit from your futures ticket, but if he folds and an upset occurs you will also profit from single game betting.
This is the recommended strategy for college basketball tournaments. There are over 30 college basketball tournaments prior to March Madness, giving hedge bettors ample opportunities to hedge the favorites for each tournament. These events all have less rounds than a tennis major, meaning less games to hedge against and saving the bettor money (assuming the favorite goes far).
It’s important to strike the futures market early though, no better example than Oscars betting. Yes, people legally bet on the Oscars and getting to the market is key. Using 2022 as an example, Cate Blanchett was +110 to win Best Actress. Taking her before she moved into minus-value allowed a hedge bet for the second contender Michelle Yeoh.
Yeoh at +180 is important to take before she wins more precursor awards for Best Actress, because then Yeoh would creep into minus-value. Both Blanchett and Yeoh saw plus-value, but also saw minus-value. Getting them both at plus-value before they touched minus-value allowed the bettor the hedge bet Best Actress between the top two favorites. Timing is key in hedging.
How To Hedge a Parlay?
Parlays are the most popular form of betting, and hedging them is never a bad idea. Parlays and hedges aren’t recommended, but if your parlay is full of heavy favorites then the opportunity to hedge bet it is there. It’s similar to the futures market hedge, only lumping a bunch of favorites into one ticket then single game betting on their underdogs to win.
If one or two of the underdogs wins then you should profit, and if the parlay hits then the bettor should also see a profit. Although parlays are fun and popular, hedging futures or live bets is much better to consider than parlays. It’s also easier to track the results and finances of one bet as opposed to many.