Hedging When Betting on Sports: Strategies, Tips, Dos and Don’ts

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When people hear the word hedge, most think about a strategic move on futures and commodities markets to guarantee a price and avoid a loss. But the word hedge or hedging has more meaning than commodities markets and trimming brushes.

When online betting at a sportsbook, hedging is something you can also do. It is not always possible or even profitable – but someone intelligent and aware can make the most out of employing this approach when betting on sports. 

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When to Hedge Your Bets

When betting on sports, there are times when it is best to hedge – evident by what happened at Super Bowl XIII. Before we move on, not every sport is possible to hedge. Golf is an example. If your futures are not panning out after the first two rounds of the tournament, betting on one of the leaders is not necessarily a foolproof strategy. If they falter down the stretch, someone else will take their spot on the leader, and you lose more. 

Hedging is best for sports with point spreads. Other bets present one-win situations, which make hedging more of a preventive loss measure compared to a chance at winning twice the profit, making one strategy the best to employ when hedging.

Line Shopping (When the Point Spread Shifts) Is the Best Hedging Strategy

Line shopping is the best strategy to take when hedging bets. When a line moves, your position could open up the opportunity for three outcomes. A win and a loss, a loss and a win, or a win and win. As the Super Bowl XIII article shows, a simple shift of one point on an NFL point spread can open up an opportunity to win both positions you take. At worst, it will cost you the vig on your winning wager.

If you line shop, you can pinpoint the best lines and times to hedge on these wagers. Doing it every time will not result in a long-term profit (although it will minimize your losses). However, rightly placed, it is a smart strategy any sports bettor should know.  

When Not to Hedge your Bets

There are times when hedging is an option, but Vegas knows better. Point spreads moving by one point are minimal risk options, but other types of bets make hedging riskier. 

Wild Shifts in Over/Under Lines

One of the most significant mistakes people make when hedging is on the over/under of NFL games. Lines will open, and the public will pump them up (who does not want to bet on the over). The closer to the game, the higher the line usually is. If, like we just said, the line has jumped due to public betting, be wary of taking a hedge position.

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Dos When Hedging

Here are a few bullet points and the most essential part when hedging:

  • Pay attention to the injury report
  • Pay attention to the weather forecast
  • Watch out for the random variables (a new head coach, for example)

Make Sure the Bets Add Up 

When hedging a bet, make sure the numbers add up. If you mistakenly bet an amount that will cause a loss in either outcome, are you genuinely hedging? If you are hedging on moneylines – something not unheard of on big fights – make sure that the risk of your stake compared to your potential winnings (in either outcome) is not outweighing the reward.

If your original position was a risk of $20 to win $200, then the change in the lines should guarantee you a minimum of your new stake plus the $20 on your first bet. Betting $80 to win $96 is not much of a hedge, especially if the original wager is looking more likely the closer to the event. 

Hedging Live 

With live sports betting, hedging is easier than ever. However, the live lines will always vary much more than the betting lines available before a game starts. If you are smart and wait for the live line to move, you can make the right bets – but remember, many sports move fast, and acting too quickly or waiting too long can easily result in a mistake.

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