Hedge betting is one of the most common practices in sports betting, with reasons for its usage varying from one person to another. The bottom line for hedged bets is, however, pretty straightforward–mitigating the damage of a poor wager or reducing/eliminating the risk of a given bet and securing winnings.
Basically, hedging entails betting on both sides of an event, often done separately, with the aim of avoiding losses in risky bets. For example, you can bet on the Pittsburgh Penguins (-110) to win an NHL game against the New York Islanders (+100), but a couple of hours later, you realize that Penguins—due to an injury of a key player or the suspension of a goalie—are now likely to lose game. In such a case, you can decide to bet on the Islanders at +100 with the aim of recouping your losses in case the bet against the Penguins fails to go through. This act of betting in the other side of the event is what we call hedging.
Sportsbetting Guide: Hedge Betting Explained
Advantages of Hedging
Even in cases of where an event has a clear favorite, like Lewis Hamilton to win a formula one tournament, betting on that market leader comes with the risk of tying up a significant amount of your bankroll for at a high risk and a relatively small reward. And in certain instances, this main player gets injured mid-way through the tournament. To avoid all that risk, you can scope for a different player that looks likely to win and place your bet on him a well, offering a chance to minimize your losses.
In other cases, hedging allows you to actually profit more than you would have done one bet. For example, in an NFL game, you may bet on the New England Patriots to win a game straight up in the moneylines, but since their opponent (let’s say Denver Broncos) is likely to keep the game close, you also decide to bet some money on the point spreads lines, at +8. In the instance that New England wins the game by 5 points, you not only get the money for backing the Patriots on the SU lines, but you also get paid for backing Denver on the ATS lines (because they cover the spread as 8-point underdogs.
The other instance of racking up better profits is in instances that you are able to hedge bets on good-value underdogs, or joining a couple of hedges for a parlay bet.
Another crucial advantage of hedging is the platform that comes with live betting. For example, if you had money on the Boston Red Sox to win a game, but you notice quarter-way or mid-way through the game that the Red Sox are trailing in a manner that they can’t get the win, you can bet on the opposite side to help cut your losses.
Risks and Final Remarks on Hedged Bets
Whether or not you win two hedged bets or simply one of your hedged bets goes through, a loss of some sorts is inevitable for you, since the bookmaker always takes a percentage of the winnings through the “vigorish’ or “juice,” that is usually added to all bets. Also, in the instance that you also hedge bets on an event with several participants, like the Super Bowl, and the teams you picked in your bets don’t win, then you lose a bigger chunk of your bankroll than you’d have done by backing one loser. It is based on such risks that many professional handicappers advise against hedging bets.
That, however, is not to say that hedged bets are always bad. If you have a good reason to think that you don’t have the edge as you thought you would—due to reasons such as roster changes, injuries, suspensions or poor starts in a game—then a hedged bet could actually be a way to gain more value or reduce your losses, as has been explained above.