Every sports bettor is looking for the same thing: guaranteed winners. Of course, finding those winners is easier said than done, and Vegas was built by people trying to get one over on the house.
We’re not going to promise you that we can guarantee you a profit – and you should be suspicious of anyone who does, to be honest. However, there is a technique that sharp bettors use to reduce their risk and sometimes lock in a winner, and that technique is called hedge betting.
There are so many sites that allow you to hedge a bet, and our favorite one is BetOnline. Still, there are many others that we’d like to share with you today.
Let’s get started!
What is Hedge Betting?
Hedge betting is when you place a bet in the opposite direction of an earlier bet you’ve placed.
For example, let’s say before the NFL season began, you placed $100 on the Bills to win the Super Bowl at +1000. If it comes through, you’ll win $1100 (your original $100 plus $1000 profit). Now, the big game has rolled around, and Buffalo is facing off against the 49ers, who are -110 favorites. As it stands, if the Bills win, you’ll be up a grand — but if they lose, you win nothing.
If that makes you nervous, then it’s possible to lock in a guaranteed profit by betting a smaller amount on the 49ers. Doing so will limit the total amount you stand to win, but it also guarantees you don’t go home empty-handed.
In this case, if you bet $576 on the Niners, you’d have a guaranteed profit of $424. Either way, the game turns out, you’re guaranteed a payout of $1100, and you’ll have spent $676 to get it ($1100 minus $676 equals $424).
That’s not quite as impressive as walking away with a thousand bucks in profit, but it’s certainly better than watching your season-long wager go up in flames.
Best Sites for Hedge Betting
- BetOnline: Best overall
- Bovada: Excellent odds
- BUSR: $1,500 sign up bonus
- MyBookie: Variety of sports to bet on
- EveryGame: Top pick for horse racing betting
- XBet: Mobile-compatible betting site
- Thunderpick: User-friendly interface
- MyStake: 24/7 customer support
- BetUS: Dedicated live betting section
- Sportsbetting.ag: Up to $1,000 welcome bonus
Hedge betting is becoming increasingly popular day by day, and it’s no surprise so many sites support it. We ranked our top hedge betting sites by their bonuses, betting options, and so much more. Let’s dive right in with our hedge betting guide and discover what makes it so popular!
Advantages of Hedging a Bet
Now that we’ve seen how bet hedging works in action, why would you ever want to do it? There are a few reasons.
Some people just don’t have as high of a tolerance for risk as others do. In the example above, many punters would prefer to have a guaranteed $424 in their pocket rather than rolling the dice on winning $1000. For them, hedging makes sense.
It’s also a good way to protect your bankroll. Most gamblers don’t like dealing with massive swings, so hedging your bets allows you to keep variance to a minimum.
Bet hedging isn’t just to guarantee profits — sometimes, you do it to reduce your losses. In those cases, you’re simply hoping to limit your exposure, not come out on top.
If you can do that successfully, though, you’ll be well on your way to being in the black.
To Protect Winners
This is the strategy used in the example above, and it’s a popular strategy for gamblers who like to bet parlays and other long-shot wagers.
Parlay bettors will often hedge on the final leg or two of a five or six-game parlay, as there’s nothing more frustrating than getting almost all the way into the money only to lose on the last leg. The same applies to same-game parlays, so keep that in mind, too.
It’s also useful for locking in a profit if you have a longshot futures bet that’s looking good (as with the Bills example above). Many people hedge bets during March Madness, as a bet on any specific team to win it all is basically like taking a six-game parlay.
Your Opinion Changed
Sometimes, you just realize that you’re wrong, or new information has cropped up that makes you doubt your original bet. Instead of just sitting there and watching that money go down the toilet, you can hedge your bet and recoup at least some of your losses.
Many people hedge bets during in-game wagering. If you picked the Bills before the Super Bowl, only to watch the Niners come out and score three TDs in the first quarter, you might want to put some cash on San Francisco to limit your losses.
In many cases, you won’t be able to dig yourself out of the hole entirely, but you may be able to limit yourself to only losing the vig.
For some people, losing money feels worse than winning money feels good. If that’s you, hedging your bets can help you feel a lot better about yourself at the end of the day. If you’ve got a potential huge winner on the books, but that feels you with a sense of dread rather than excitement, then it’s probably smart to hedge that bet and lock in a winner.
This is especially true for gamblers who can lose control if their bets don’t go their way. Taking a reduced payout on a winner is vastly preferable to going on a bender and dropping half your bankroll overnight.
Disadvantages of Hedging a Bet
While bet hedging certainly has its advantages, it’s not without its drawbacks, either. Here are a few things to keep in mind before you go on a bet hedging tear.
While hedging your bets can sometimes lock in a guaranteed profit, it will always lock in a certain amount of a loss as well. You can reduce your variance with this method, but you’ll never maximize your earnings.
Sharp sports bettors do have this particular tool in their toolbox, but they use it sparingly. The whole point of sports betting is to do your research, figure out the angles, and ride your bets to their ultimate conclusion.
To consistently back out of them early implies a lack of faith in the entire process, in which case — what are you even doing this for?
That being said, things sometimes don’t go the way we intend them to, and hedge betting is a nice escape hatch when you find yourself in a bad spot.
Can Be Expensive
Hedging a bet requires making a second bet — and to offset what you’ve already wagered, chances are that the second bet will need to be fairly considerable. This adds up quickly.
It will also tie up a chunk of your bankroll until the bets are settled, which could hamper your ability to jump on other profitable opportunities you might encounter. This is especially true if you’re hedging futures, which could take months to settle.
All told it’s much better to keep your bankroll free and accessible if you can.
Requires a Bit of Math
It’s not always easy to figure out the exact amount you need to wager to offset your existing wagers. You need to get the numbers exactly right, or it defeats the purpose.
While that’s not a huge issue for long-term bets like futures, it can be difficult if you’re trying to hedge during in-game wagering. There’s enough going on in the middle of the action without having you trying to remember to carry the one on your big toe.
When Should You Hedge Your Bets?
Generally speaking, there’s not any sort of clearly-defined situation in which hedging a bet can be considered the “correct” play. Again, if you made a smart bet in the first place, you shouldn’t need to take any action to protect it — you should be willing to let it ride.
That being said, there are some times when hedging a bet is smarter than others. Here are a few situations in which you should consider protecting your initial investment.
The Odds Have Changed Significantly
Let’s go back to our Bills-49ers Super Bowl example. If you’re going into the big game with the Niners (-110) favorites, it’s probably smarter to just take your chances and not hedge your bet (assuming other factors aren’t in play).
But what happens if, a few days before the game, Josh Allen gets injured and it’s announced he won’t play? The odds of a San Francisco victory would skyrocket — and your futures bet would start looking a lot worse.
In that situation, hedging is probably a smart play. You can always hope for a miraculous upset, but those are called “miraculous upsets” for a reason — they don’t happen very often.
You’re on the Last Leg of a Lengthy Parlay
Parlays are long shots by their very nature, and the odds only get worse the more legs you stack on. If you’re fortunate enough to have made it to the end of a five-leg (or longer!) parlay with your chances of winning intact, it’s time to think about locking in some profits.
The good news is that the odds on such parlays are so long that you should get a good amount of money back, even after hedging. It’s more than enough to make the process feel worthwhile, and you can boost your bankroll rather than watch your dreams go up in smoke.
The downside to this is it kinda feels like it defeats the purpose of betting parlays, to begin with. They’re gambles, and they attract gamblers — the very sort of people to whom the very idea of bet hedging is distasteful.
If you’re betting to make money rather than to have a great story to tell, though, you should consider making a conflicting wager.
You Feel Sick About Your Existing Wager
Sports betting is supposed to be fun and exciting. If you’re tossing and turning because you can’t stomach the thought of potentially walking away empty-handed on a bet, then you should do yourself a favor and hedge.
That being said, if you find yourself in such a situation, you might want to rethink your betting strategy entirely. What good does it do to chase longshot opportunities if you’re just going to feel sick to your stomach when those odds have a shot of coming in?
You should never lose sleep over a sports bet. If the stress is getting to you, hedge your bets, and remember to have fun.
How to Hedge a Bet: A Detailed Guide to Hedging a Bet
Before you can hedge a bet, you first need to assess whether you’re in a good position for hedging. We’ve just outlined some of the things to think about when reviewing your wagers, so we’ll assume you meet one or more of those criteria.
The first thing you need to do is determine how much you should wager on your hedge to ensure profitability (or to at least minimize your losses). This isn’t always easy — the idea is to maximize the amount you win, so you’ll have to find the exact number that gives you the best payout.
Fortunately, you can find hedge bet calculators online if you’re not sure how to do the math. Again, though, this can be difficult if you’re live betting, but that’s just the price you pay when hedging bets.
Another aspect of calculating the return is finding the best odds — and the best timing. To do this, you’ll need to compare lines at a variety of sportsbooks. You don’t necessarily have to hedge your bet at the same bookie you placed the original bet, so cast a wide net here.
Timing the bet is a different matter. This is more art than science, so you’ll have to draw on your deductive reasoning skills, your experience as a sports bettor, and a little bit of luck.
The good news is that for things like parlays and futures, the market has no idea of your position, so the lines shouldn’t move in a way that compromises you. In that case, it’s simply a matter of feeling out when the odds on the contrary bet will be highest.
However, if you’re hedging because new information has come to light — like the Josh Allen injury example above — then the odds are likely to work against you, and rapidly. You’ll need to be quick on the draw if you’re hoping to lock in any sort of favorable payout.
If you’re too late and the odds have gone bad, you might be better off just praying for a miracle rather than throwing good money after bad.
Bet Hedging Tips, Tricks, and Strategies
Now that you know when and how to hedge your bets, it’s time to share some of the top strategies that sharp bettors use when hedging.
You can’t use all of these all of the time, so you’ll still have to rely on your judgment as far as which strategy to use at which time. However, they’re all excellent weapons for your arsenal, so we’d recommend reading this section very carefully.
Hedge Your Bets Sparingly
Bet hedging can be a powerful tool for boosting your bottom line, but it’s not something that you should be doing too often.
It’s much better to make good bets the first time and stick with them rather than constantly buying insurance against your own positions. If you can’t trust the bets you’ve made, you need to reevaluate your strategy.
Hedging your bets is expensive, and part of being a successful sports bettor is learning to keep your costs down. Even if you’re successful, you’ll be eating into your own profits — and never forget that hedging requires you to pay twice as much vig.
It may not seem like much, but that tiny little vig is what allows the bookies to stay in business, so believe us when we say it adds up.
Hedge During In-Play Betting
While hedging during a live game can be difficult, it’s also the best time to do it. That’s because you’ll have the information you need about how the action will pan out, and you’ll know which positions to defend and which ones to abandon.
The speed of live play also means that the odds sometimes lag behind the game action, giving you a better chance of finding favorable lines. You may even come across odds so juicy that they lead you to hedge bets you never expected to.
Remember That Partial Hedges Exist
You don’t have to fully offset your entire initial wager or bet enough to guarantee a profit. Instead, you can hedge just enough to take the sting out of a particularly brutal loss.
Partial hedging is a good idea if you’re confident in your initial bet but want a little bit of a cushion as well. For example, if you’re on the last leg of a five-leg parlay, but you think that your wager is solid, you might want to hedge slightly, just in case.
This is a good compromise for risk-averse bettors who still want to maximize their profits. It takes the edge off the variance just a bit without fully dampening big wins.
Of course, if you’re that confident in your bet, you may be better off just letting it ride — but that’s entirely your decision.
Open Accounts at Multiple Sportsbooks
A key component of successful bet hedging is finding the best possible odds for your contrary position — and you simply can’t do that if you limit yourself to a single sportsbook.
You should take the time and really shop around for the best lines, as a few points can make a world of difference. Every little bit you shave off a moneyline bet directly translates into more money in your pocket, regardless of how the bets turn out.
With that in mind, you should really open and maintain accounts at multiple sportsbooks. That way, you can pounce on a juicy hedging opportunity whenever it comes up.
Watch Out for the “Moron’s Middle”
It’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that bet hedging is a perfect strategy and that doing it is a great way to put yourself into “can’t lose” positions.
While those situations do exist, they’re the exception rather than the rule — and if you’re not careful, you could find yourself in “can’t win” scenarios.
Using our previous NFL betting example, let’s say you’re betting point spreads, and you take the Bills -7 over the 49ers. However, the line starts to move in San Francisco’s favor, and all of a sudden, it’s down to Bills -3. Should you hedge and place a bet on the Niners at +3?
No — and doing so would be disastrous. By hedging, you’re likely putting yourself in a situation where the best you can do is break even, but if the Bills win by six, you will lose both bets. This is called a “moron’s middle” (and, not surprisingly, a moron’s middle is not a place you want to be).
Think of it like betting on both red and black at the roulette table. If you did that, you’d break even on every single spin — until the ball landed on one of the green tiles, at which point you’d be wiped out.
Use Deposit Bonuses and Free Bets to Your Advantage
When you’re opening up accounts at all those different sportsbooks, you’ll notice that they all have different welcome bonuses to entice new customers to sign up. These could be deposit matches, free bets, or something similar.
These bonuses are absolutely fantastic for bet hedging.
You can use those opportunities to bet against your initial position — without ever having to actually put up more money. As a result, you’re putting yourself in a position where you’re guaranteed profit — and you don’t have to sacrifice your chance at the big payday to get it.
Of course, you can only get these bonuses if you sign up at the various sportsbooks, which is all the more reason why you should maintain multiple betting accounts.
Check out our similar articles:
Best Sportsbooks for Bet Hedging Online
If you’re looking to dip your toe into the world of hedge betting, the first thing you need to do is find a sportsbook (or several) that you can trust. Below, we’ve put together five of our favorites, each of which offers secure transactions, fast payouts, and excellent odds.
Our favorite online sportsbook, BetOnline, has some of the best and earliest lines in the business. We’d recommend starting with them first, as they’ll establish a sort of baseline that you can use to evaluate the odds at other sites (and chances are you’ll stick with them a good portion of the time). During our BetOnline review, we found that it really is the top pick!
If you use code BET1000 when signing up, you’ll get a 50% deposit match up to $1,000, while crypto users can get a 100% match with code CRYPTO100. The crypto bonus has a 14x wagering requirement, while the rollover for the fiat bonus is 10x.
Bovada runs a ton of daily specials, so if you’re looking for last-minute hedging opportunities, they might be able to hook you up. Their futures markets are great, too, though, so you can handle both ends of your hedge here.
You’ll also find separate crypto and fiat bonuses here. As our Bovada review shows, if you use fiat currency, you can get a 50% match up to $250, whereas Bitcoin users will get a 75% match up to $750 if they use code BTCSWB750. Regardless of which bonus you select, you’ll have to satisfy a 5x wagering requirement.
There are hundreds of live props at BUSR, making them perfect for in-game hedging. If you can keep up with the action, as our BUSR review shows, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to correct your existing wagers on the fly.
If you deposit with code SPORTS100FP, you’ll get a 100% match up to $1,500, although you’ll have to satisfy a 20x rollover and provide a $100 minimum deposit.
You don’t have to limit yourself to the most popular sports when hedging bets; MyBookie takes action on games across the globe, including some you’ve probably never heard of before. The variety is top-notch.
Use code MYB50 for a 50% match up to $1,000. You’ll have to deposit at least $50 to qualify, and there’s a 10x rollover attached.
Everygame has a section dedicated to halftime betting, so you can hedge your bet during a break in the action if you can’t keep up with the speed of in-game betting. It’s great for old-school bettors or those with a dodgy mobile connection.
Their deposit bonus is a 100% match up to $750 with code 3XBOOST250, which is dispersed $250 at a time over your initial three deposits. You’ll also have to meet a 4x wagering requirement.
Not sure what to bet on? Check out these articles:
Guide to Hedge Betting Online: FAQs
What’s the Difference Between Bet Hedging and Arbitrage?
Bet hedging and arbitrage are two completely different things. In bet-hedging, you’re making a bet against an existing wager in order to lock in a smaller profit or minimize losses.
Arbitrage is a method to guarantee profits by taking advantage of different odds at different bookmakers. Opportunities to practice arbitrage are rare, and they usually involve very small profit margins.
Is Hedge Betting Allowed?
Yes, hedge betting is allowed in most locations.
Bookies don’t mind since you’ll be paying twice as much vig as usual, and there’s no unfair advantage over the sportsbook.
Can You Hedge Bets and Always Win?
No, there’s no such thing as a sports bet that always wins — not even a hedge bet.
Oftentimes, hedge bets aren’t designed to win so much as to reduce a player’s potential losses.
So, Are You Ready to Hedge Your Bets Online?
Although it’s easy to take it too far, hedge betting is a powerful way to pad your bottom line as a handicapper. Regardless of whether you’re trying to lock in a profit on a parlay or simply reduce your exposure on a good bet gone bad, a sharp sports bettor always considers the possibility of hedging when the opportunity arises.
If you want to add this tool to your betting toolbox, we’d suggest you start at a site like BetOnline, which has early lines that are updated often — perfect for finding lucrative hedging opportunities.
Then again, you could always just stick with your initial wager, come what may. It’s probably not the smartest strategy, but no one will ever be able to accuse you of being scared of money — and isn’t that what truly matters?
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