Hedging is a strategy you often hear in the financial markets as everyone wants to have a layer of security. If you hedge your bets right, you’ll be prepared for whichever way the market goes. In sports betting, the strategy of hedging is similar but not quite the same. The idea here is to buy out of positions and save some money in the case that you’re handicapping has gone astray. Of course, on paper, we all plan to pick winners 100% of the time but in reality, it’s best to swallow your pride and hedge from time to time to cut your losses.
Hedging your bets is another strategy used by bettors to secure a valuable profit. There are three ways to hedge a bet: pre-game, in-game and in a series.
Hedging pre-game isn’t a common practice because for this to happen, you would need to see significant line movement. However, it is useful in certain situations. For example: let’s say you bet on the Dallas Cowboys to cover -6.5 points but their star quarterback caught the flu on Saturday night and will not be starting on Sunday’s game. Of course, the line will shift accordingly but you could jump in and bet the other side. It’s not the ideal spot but if you’re entirely certain that your original position is a bad one, you will have the option to hedge and hopefully recover some of your bet.
To hedge bets isn’t a new phenomenon but it’s one that’s become more popular thanks to the invention of live betting. In the old days, the way you would hedge – or try to – is by betting at halftime or during other breaks (periods, quarters and so on). So if you were on a side and you want to get rid of your position, you would hope that the halftime line provided you some sort of an option to do that.
Nowadays with live betting, you have the opportunity to get out of your bet at almost any point. If you’ve got an account at a shop that offers live in-game betting, you can watch the game from the comfort of your couch and make the decision whether to hold or hedge. As long as the game doesn’t get too far out of hand, you should have that opportunity to do so even late in the games.
Hedging in a series is one of the more common times this strategy is used. When any round of the playoffs begin, you can bet on one side to win the series. After each game in the series, those odds are updated. That means that after each game, you get to review the odds and decide whether or not you want to hold your position.
For example: let’s say the Boston Celtics are playing the Atlanta Hawks and the Hawks have home-court advantage. If you believe that this series might be a split after two games – both teams win a game in Atlanta – then what you could do is bet on Boston to win the series at the beginning and then follow up by betting on Atlanta after the second game. Boston will be a bigger underdog to start but they’ll be a smaller underdog once they’ve earned the split; that means you might have the opportunity to hedge to the point where you win a little bit of money no matter who ends up winning the series.
The other way to hedge bets is the more traditional way: buying out of your position. If you bet on Boston to win the series but saw that they got smoked in the first two games, or saw one of their superstars go down to injury, then you’re going to want to buy out of your bet. That’s when you can get some money on Atlanta after Game 2 and recover some of your expected losses.