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hedging

We independently review betting sites. Sign-ups through our links may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you, this never influences our listings’ order.

Hedging is a term used in betting circles, which is where you bet more than one outcome in a market, to reduce your potential losses. We’re going to explore the topic of hedge betting.

What Does Hedging Your Bets Mean?

You may have heard the phrase ‘hedge your bets’ before. So what does hedge your bets mean?

hedge betting

When you hedge a bet, you are placing an additional wager, to restrict your potential losses in a betting market. You will already have placed a bet in the market and then you place another, in case the first bet is not successful.

This is a simple explanation and there is a lot more to the art of hedging through fixed odds betting sites than meets the eye. Read on to find out more.

How to Hedge Bets

To further explain what does hedging a bet mean, let’s break down the process into easy steps.

  1. Step 1

    Select a bet that you want to place.
  2. Step 2

    Click on bet, decide on your initial stake and confirm.
  3. Step 3

    Select a hedging bet from the same market that you also think has a chance of winning.
  4. Step 4

    Click on bet, decide on the stake and confirm.

You now have two bets in the same market. The idea is to have balance what you stake with the betting odds, so that you will win big if the first bet comes in, while if the second bet wins instead, you will maybe break even, or just make a small profit.

When Should You Hedge Your Bets?

If you are certain of the result of a betting market, you should not hedge the bet. Simply place a wager and have faith that it will come in.

The moment to hedge a bet, is when you have some doubt about the outcome. You may think that one result is the most likely outcome in the market, but have a worry that another selection will prove to be the winner.

In that instance you can hedge your bets meaning that you place wagers on both outcomes. As we said before, you have to balance the staking with the odds, to create the desired effect if one of your selections win. You may choose to try to get roughly the same amount of winnings, regardless if which of the selections wins. Or, perhaps more commonly when hedging, you weight it so that one selection will win you a higher amount and the second selection will merely get your stake back.

So far we’ve talked about hedging a bet, prior to the event starting. The bettor decides that they want to hedge and places two bets, before the action gets going. With live betting, punters will often place a bet before a contest starts, or early on and only later becomes concerned about the outcome and decides to place a second bet, to hedge.

The advent of hedging a bet has become much easier with live betting and there are features now available such as Cash Out and laying a bet at a betting exchange, which make the general concept even easier.

Hedging a Bet Example

When you place a bet, you put your stake at risk. If you place a £10 bet at 2/1, the potential reward is £20 in winnings, plus the return of your £10 stake. The risk is that you lose the £10 stake.

When you hedge a bet, you place another wager in the market, to reduce the potential risk. Say that your 2/1 shot is in a horse racing event. The other horse that you like in the race is priced at 10/1.

You could place a £10 bet at 2/1 and then a hedging bet of £1 at 10/1. If the 2/1 horse won, your total returns would be £30, which is £20 winnings plus your £10 stake. From that total you would minus your losing £1 stake from the 10/1 bet, giving you a total return of £29, of which £19 would be profit.

If the horse priced at 10/1 won, you would win £10 plus get your £1 stake back. From that total you would deduct the £10 stake from the 2/1 horse. So you would have broken even. Your hedge bet had provided winnings that has covered your stake on the losing bet and the stake on your hedge bet has been returned to you.

Hedging Calculator

The example that we gave above is quite simple to work out in your head, but some hedge bets can be more complicated. That’s where a hedge bet calculator can be useful.

With a hedge calculator you can work out your potential winnings from both your initial wager and then the hedge bet, in an instant. That can be a huge help when it comes to balancing the two wagers.

As we’ve discussed, you can choose to place a hedge bet that merely offers protection to your stake, or look to place one that will deliver profits with either selection winning. Whatever your aim, you may need to play around with different staking options before you settle on your desired aim. With a hedge betting calculator, the hard work is taken out of this task.

Back & Lay Hedge Betting

The advent of betting exchanges such as Betfair, made it much easier to hedge a bet. With traditional fixed odds bookmakers, to hedge a wager you had to place separate bets on selections to win, while carefully balancing your staking.

With a betting exchange, there is not just the option of backing a selection to win, but also lay betting. When you lay a bet, you are effectively acting as a bookmaker. You are offering odds on a selection to lose and the exchange pairs your lay bet with punters that are backing that selection to win.

If you back a selection to win and then can lay the same selection at a lower price, you are hedging you bet. Based on the odds difference and the staking, you can hedge bets meaning that you can enjoy a no-risk bet where your stake is protected, or even create a situation where you win money regardless of the result.

You can sometimes achieve this on a betting exchange before a market goes live, if the prices shift in the right direction. It is perhaps more common, to find such opportunities when you place a bet before the action starts and they lay it off, in-play.

Pros & Cons of Hedging Your Bets

So far, in our examination of what is hedging a bet, we haven’t really explored the negatives. We think that the advantages of hedge betting outweigh the drawbacks, but here are both sides of the coin, as we see them.

Pros
  • You can protect your stake with the right hedge
  • Get your staking right and make profit from either outcome
  • Less risky approach equals long-term profits
  • Great option in live betting as the action unfolds
Cons
  • In markets with more than two selections you might hedge a bet and both wagers lose
  • Lay bets on betting exchanges and Cash Out are simpler alternatives

Effective Hedging Strategies

You have now learned just about all there is to know about hedging bets meaning that you could be ready to place some yourself. Here are some hedge betting strategies to follow, that will help you to be successful.

Get Your Staking Right

When you hedge a bet, you must have a plan. Are you looking to simply reduce the risk of losing your stake? Or would you like to take home an equal profit, regardless of which one of your selections wins? Your intentions will have a big impact on your staking for each bet. Formulate your plan first and then you can play around with the calculations, to work out exactly how much you need to bet on each wager.

Go Live

Hedging can often be much easier when an event is live, rather than placing your hedge before the event starts. For one, you can get more of an idea if your original selection will be a winner, once the action starts. Perhaps there will be no need to place a hedge bet. If there is, then the shift in in-play betting odds during a live event, can make it a relatively painless experience.

Best Bookmakers for Hedge Betting

Hedging bets is a process that you can try out at all UK bookmakers. Yet the one that we would recommend above all others, when it comes to hedging a bet, is Betfair. They have a regular sportsbook product that allows you to hedge bets in the normal manner, as well as a sports betting exchange, where you can hedge with a lay bet. Few, if any other sites for hedge betting can boast these options.

FAQs

What does hedge mean in betting?

How to calculate a hedge bet?

Is hedge betting legal?

Can I hedge ante post bets and accumulators?

What is the difference between hedging a bet and arbitrage betting?

Where does the gambling term hedging come from?

What is an emotional hedge?

Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch
Dan Fitch

A writer and editor for some of the top names in the gambling industry for nearly 20 years, Dan also works as a freelance sports journalist for publications and websites such as ESPN, FourFourTwo and LiveScore.