3 Times Hedging Your Bets Might Be Smart

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Sports bettors are always looking for ways to improve their profits. Some bettors look for opportunities, and some look for exotic ways to hedge some or all of their bets. Others stick to advanced analysis and handicapping systems and techniques to try to find an edge.

Because of this, there are several different types of hedging opportunities. But, in this article, I’m covering a simple hedge bet that’s going to lose most of the time. Why would you ever make a bet that virtually guarantees a loss?

Sports betting profits are created over time. The truth is that the final tally on your sports betting wins or losses isn’t complete until you make your last wager. Sometimes, in order to win as much as possible, you need to limit your losses.

The three examples I use on this page involve making a bet based on current information and making another bet on the same game after new information comes out.

As you’re going to learn in each example, there’s quite a bit of risk when you make a second bet after something big happens. Unfortunately, by the time you find out something has happened, the sportsbooks have usually already adjusted the lines.

When you make a second bet to hedge your first bet, you run the risk of losing more money. You need to carefully think everything through before making these types of hedge bets. I’ve made a few over the years, but they don’t always work out as I predict.

The Star Quarterback Goes Down

You bet on an NFL game with one of the best quarterbacks in the game and he gets hurt in practice. The line changes, and your original bet looks like a sure loser. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it can cost you money.

The first thing you need to do is resist the urge to overreact to the situation. The quarterback is the most important position on the field, but the best teams have other good players, too. How much is the performances of the team going to be hurt when they have to use the second-string quarterback?

The problem is that this is almost impossible to predict. Second-string quarterbacks rarely get enough playing time to handicap them correctly, so most bettors end up guessing. The best thing to do, in most cases, is to sit still and hope for the best.

It depends on which side of the game you’re on when you’re trying to determine if a hedge is called for. If your first bet is on the favorite, and you lose your quarterback, look at the moneyline for a possible hedge. The odds are that the points you gave in the first bet won’t stand up. But does it change the game so much that a bet on the moneyline on the former underdog is a good wager?

In this case, you’re probably still going to lose some money, but if you win one side and lose one side, you minimize your losses.

If you’re lucky enough to bet on the underdog and the favorite loses their quarterback, the best thing to do is celebrate your good fortune and hope the situation locks in a win.

Starting Pitchers

Many sportsbooks offer baseball lines based on the listed starting pitchers. When you make a bet on a line with this stipulation, the bet is void when the starting pitchers change. Some sportsbooks with baseball bets don’t have this qualification, so make sure to find out.

I usually bet on baseball at sportsbooks with the rule that the bet is void. To me, this keeps things simple. When something happens, I don’t have to worry about handicapping the game again to see if I should place a hedge bet.

When I do place a bet on a game that stands even when there’s a pitching change, I often place a moneyline bet on the same game based on the new starting pitcher. The way baseball run lines work takes a while for most bettors to get comfortable with. Handicapping games based on plus or minus 1.5 runs is a skill you need to develop. This comes into play when there’s a pitching change, making it even more challenging to make the correct hedge.

Please Note:

If your original wager was a moneyline bet instead of a run line wager, I would advise leaving your bet alone and forgetting about a hedge unless you’re an experienced baseball bettor. Keep in mind that the best teams in baseball rarely win more than 100 games, and the worst teams rarely lose more than 100 games.

Over the course of a season, the worst teams will beat the best teams sometimes. Even though things aren’t looking as good as when you first made the bet, the increased chance of losing two bets outweigh the chance to hedge in most cases. Remember, this is only if your original bet was on the moneyline.

You can look at the new run lines after a pitching change if your original bet was on the moneyline. But you only want to do this if you’re good at betting run lines. Run lines are more complicated and require advanced knowledge.

Weather Issues

This one is about as simple as it gets. You place a bet early in the week on the over in a football game. An hour before the game, you find out a snowstorm is moving in and it’s going to make scoring a challenge on both sides of the ball.

You place a bet on the over at 45.5 early in the week. You find out about the snowstorm and the new over/under is set at 35.5. In this case, the odds of your original bet winning are very small. In most over/under bets, you’re going to win around 50% of the time.

In this example, you need to handicap the game for the new O/U based on the current conditions. Your first bet is assumed a loss, so it doesn’t have anything to do with the second line. At this point, you have to determine if there’s value on one side of the new over/under.

Don’t make the mistake of just taking the under because of the change. The odds are that the same reason you handicapped the over in the first place are still in play. The value is still likely to be on the over.

Of course, either way, you could lose both bets. But what happens if you’re on the under on your first wager?

Now, you have an opportunity to evaluate the game with the new conditions. In this example, with the under on the higher line, you’re highly likely to win the first bet. You can sit back and enjoy your good fortune, but you might be able to make a second bet based on the fact that the worst you’re probably going to do if you’re wrong is lose the vig on one side.

One mistake some bettors make is assuming bad weather only hurts the offenses. Bad weather can also work against defenses. But the public money believes offenses hurt more, so the books often move the line based on the public. This can give you an opportunity to find value the opposite way the public is pushing the line.

In this example with an under on the first bet, the over on the adjusted line is often a better value. The first line was set assuming decent weather, and the second was set to correct for the weather. Weather adjustments can cause overcorrection.

Making winning sports bets is challenging. If you’re lucky enough to be on the right side of a game like this and have hesitations about making a second bet, you should just leave your first bet alone and handicap other games.

Conclusion

Hedging sports bets can be confusing and risky. I don’t recommend it to most amateur sports bettors. It’s unfortunate when something big happens against one of your bets, but in the long run, you’re probably going to benefit as many times as it hurts you.

The one thing to watch for is when a sportsbook overcompensates based on new information. Of course, you don’t have to have a bet on the game before this happens to benefit from it.

Tim Johnson / author

Tim has been a sports fan for as long as he can remember. The Vermont native has lived in Las Vegas for the last two decades, and he uses his experience in the industry to try and give readers the best possible advice when it comes to betting on sports. Football is Tim’s primary area of expertise, but he also dabbles in other sports like horse racing and basketball. Tim uses his wealth of knowledge to try and make the reader a better bettor.