The objective of a hedge in sports betting is to guarantee your bet won’t lose by betting both sides of the same game.
For example, let’s say that you placed a wager on the Lakers -4 .5 against the Knicks. The game starts, and you start getting nervous about your Lakers bet and are unsure if they will actually cover this spread. This is when you would hedge– you would place a wager on the Knicks +4.5 so that way, no matter what happens you would have a bet that won.
When you break it down to the most basic level, hedging removes the “sweat” from a parlay or individual bet, because no matter the outcome you’ve already locked in a profit.
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How to Hedge A Bet
There are multiple ways a sports bettor can hedge a bet. The Lakers/Knicks example from earlier would be an example of doing it during a live game. You were on the Lakers -4.5, but as you were watching the game you decided you wanted to back the Knicks instead and took them at +4.5. No matter what outcome happens here, you are protected and guaranteed to have one bet that wins.
Another way you could hedge is if the odds/spread change before the game starts, and you bet the other side before the match begins. Using the same Lakers/Knicks game as an example: instead of betting the Lakers spread, let’s say you bet their moneyline at -150 odds. As the day goes on, you start to get nervous about your Lakers bet and decide you want to hedge out of it and bet on the Knicks moneyline. If you can find Knicks moneyline odds at +150 odds or better, you could hedge out without losing any money and possibly guarantee a profit!
Lastly, there is a way you can hedge a bet, both live or pre-game, that could have both bets win. This is a sports betting strategy called middling, and is detailed further in another post. The way middling works is you would still bet both sides of the same game, but instead of betting the same spread (Lakers -4.5/Knicks +4.5) or a teams moneyline, you would instead bet a spread or total at two different numbers that would guarantee at least one hits, with the option of both possibly hitting as well.
So, for example, let’s stick with the Lakers -4.5 bet. You bet on the Lakers -4.5, and you notice that as the day goes on you could actually bet the Knicks at +6.5. There are three scenarios here:
Lakers win by 7 or more, in which your Lakers bet wins and Knicks bet loses
Lakers win by 3 or less, or the Knicks win, in which your Lakers bet would lose but your Knicks bet would win
The Lakers win margin is between 5-6, and in this case you would have won both your bets.
How to use Math for Hedging Sports Bets
Wagering the correct dollar amounts is the essential step to executing a hedge. This is where the OddsJam Arbitrage & Hedge calculator comes in handy. In short, the calculator takes into account the odds on either side of your hedge. Then, you can modify the dollar amounts of your hedge based on how much money you’ve got staked on a particular outcome, and the calculator will give you a dollar amount that guarantees a mathematical profit (or slimmer loss) if you bet on the opposite outcome.
The OddsJam Arbitrage & Hedge Calculator takes varying sportsbook odds and finds you ways to secure a profit off both. Typically, large dollar amounts are needed to secure a decent hedge. For example, say there are Positive EV odds on the Suns and Warriors. Using the calculator, you’d bet on both teams to win the game, each on a different sportsbook. Regardless of the winner, you’d net a profit.
NFL Bet Hedging:
Betting on the NFL can get tricky, as it’s one of the most underdog prominent sports in the world. The term, ‘Any Given Sunday” isn’t famous without reason.
The time to hedge in NFL betting is when you have a parlay with high winning stakes coming down to the final leg or two. For example, if I had a six-team parlay and my final bet was the Chiefs to win on Monday Night Football, I may consider putting some money on their opponent to secure a profit.
Given the nature of parlays, it’s obviously all or nothing. A six-leg parlay likely has a very large payout, and if the Chiefs lose, you’d win nothing. If the parlay wins $1,000, for example, you may consider putting $200 on the opponent. If the Chiefs win, you now profit $800 and if they lose, you at least get a consolation prize of $200.
When Should You Hedge Sports Bets?
You should hedge in sports betting in two situations.
Securing a profit: If you have a large parlay or a future bet that is close to cashing you may want to hedge those bets to guarantee a profit. Choosing to lock in profits ultimately depends on a few factors: your stake and the potential winnings on your initial bet, your risk tolerance, and how confident you are in the specific outcome you need.
Hedging a loss: The same premise works for a losing bet, in that you could cut your losses by betting the opposite side of a wager by looking at the live odds while the game is being played. To successfully execute this move, it’s essential that the odds and dollar amounts make sense for the situation.
Middle a Bet: As detailed earlier, it is possible to hedge a bet while also giving yourself the chance of having both bets win. This would involve betting the same game, but at two different numbers.