Betting comes inherently with risk, and players' main goal is to minimise or even nullify it. On paper, that seems too good to be true, especially because bookies will do anything to avoid losing money. Intelligent bettors have come up with several strategies to score a victory, and one of the most clever ones is when they hedge a bet. Essentially, you bet enough on the opposite outcomes of the same market to ensure a profit.
Is this the holy grail for guaranteed earnings? The answer lies in our guide, which covers basic concepts of hedging your bets and practical applications for limiting exposure. We also give tips for avoiding getting banned from your sportsbook, alongside the best bookmakers you can apply your newfound knowledge.
What is hedging in betting
A strategy where you place a second bet against the original one when the winning chances of the first bet have increased is, in a nutshell, the answer to what is hedging. It works like insurance, aiming to eliminate any possible losses. Of course, the winnings will be less than if you had only played the original bet, but your chances of getting even a small profit have skyrocketed.
You can hedge a bet in every sport, but some events and matches seem more tailored for this method. When you have played an outright and your team has reached the Final, it could be a good idea to hedge. However, your options are almost limitless. Let’s see how you can practically apply hedging bets.
How can I hedge a bet
Before the season began, you were impressed by the overall potential of Manchester City and placed an outright wager to win the Champions League. It is now May, and the Citizens have reached the Final and are playing against Real Madrid. You are confident about winning but want to cover even for a potential loss. Here is how you can use hedge betting.
Let’s assume your original bet was €/£50 on Man City with odds of 4.00, so your potential winnings are €/£200. The price is now excellent as it will be much lower in a knockout match. If you hedge, you will also bet €/£50 on Real Madrid to lift the Cup with odds of around 2.50.
▶️ If Man City wins, you will have won €/£200 minus €/£50 for the Real Madrid bet, so a total profit of €/£150.
▶️ If Real Madrid wins, you will win €/£125 minus €/£50 for the original City bet, for a total win of €/£75.
▶️ If you do not hedge your bets and City wins, you will win €/£200 for the original bet. But if Real Madrid wins, you get nothing.
The above example shows how valuable hedging is, especially in matches where the winner is uncertain. If you want to have a profit no matter what, then hedging is a no-brainer.
How to calculate hedge betting
The issue is to find where and if the bookmaker has it wrong regarding odds and bet before fixing them. The gap between the correct and the erroneous odds will provide a golden opportunity to win. So, another pattern with hedge betting is finding the match where one sportsbook has it wrong, hitting it and then going to another sportsbook and betting on the opposite for cover.
While this approach sounds foolproof, firstly, it requires a lot of time looking for where the bookmaker will make a mistake. Then even if you do it on different bookies, that does not mean you will stay under the radar.
Do bookmakers allow it
Since hedge betting is a strategy to help punters ensure profits, many bookmakers see it as a rule violation. Hence they will warn or even outright close accounts if you keep doing it. Consecutive bets on the wrong odds will put a red flag on your account, which could lead to a permanent closure. A more reserved strategy of hedging just to cover but on correct odds could be less risky. This is why the best course of action is bet on the opposite outcome on a different bookmaker to avoid detection.
When should you hedge a bet
That comes down to your playing style and your bankroll. If you are willing to take a smaller but guaranteed payout and save yourself from some agonising minutes, then hedging your bets could be the way to go. It will cost you more and lower your potential profits, but you can just sit back and enjoy the game. But if you love the risk and adrenaline or have a limited budget, there are better options than hedging your bets. Even if you belong to the latter, you can still benefit from using hedging periodically to keep your exposure in check.
You can hedge a bet by betting on the opposite outcome of your initial wager. So, if you bet on Liverpool to win against Chelsea in one bet slip, you bet on the Blues to win on a different bet. That makes extra sense in outrights when your pick has reached the Final, but you want to limit your exposure.
Yes, hedging can be a valuable strategy as it can guarantee profits, albeit smaller ones. Covering your bet minimises risk, but you have to place a larger stake. But even casual bettors can hedge a bet now and then.
By definition, hedging was meant to ensure that you will have a profit regardless of the outcome of a game. And it does just that, with the catch that you will have to use more funds as you place more bets.
If you try to hedge by taking advantage of the wrong odds, the bookmaker can call it a rule violation and close your account. However, if you just cover your original choice with the opposite outcome in a different sportsbook, there will likely be no repercussions.
First, betting on the opposite outcomes on two different bookies might do the trick. However, this is not a guarantee. To ensure your account will stay open, you have to engage in mug punting, which essential throws the bookmaker off your strategy.