Betting Intelligence Guides

The Biggest Hedging Mistakes Bettors Make

Arbing and hedging go together like peanut butter and jam. For many sports bettors, they’re just as comforting.

While it’s true that executing arbs is one of the most sure-fire ways of making a profit with sports betting, one of the most common ways to mess them up is with the hedge. Setting aside the method of finding the arbs, let’s take a look at the ways the biggest mistakes bettors make with hedging and see how they can be avoided:

  • Human Error Tops The List
  • Make Sure You Understand The Possible  Outcomes
  • Sportsbooks Rules Can Throw A Wrench
  • Don’t Get Fancy Hedging Parlays
The Biggest Hedging Mistakes Bettors Make
The Biggest Hedging Mistakes Bettors Make

Human Error

Human error is easily the biggest mistake bettors make with hedging. They’ll find a line – either eyeballing or using different tools – and then rush to lock it in. Of course, speed tends to be an important factor but there’s a difference between being fast and accurate, and rushing and making mistakes.

It’s critical that when you’re locking in your arbs and hedges that you make sure it’s 100% the correct wager. Otherwise, you can leave yourself exposed to quite a bit of downside. Some of the most common mistakes people make are wagering on the wrong teams, mixing up the days or even the wrong amounts. 

With the amounts, you can rely on something like a hedge calculator to spit out what you need to bet on each side but then you have to make sure that you follow through. If you’re off by a decimal place or a zero, the math is broken. 

Another area where you need to be careful is betting on the right sides. In college sports, there are teams like San Diego and San Diego State, or Texas A&M and Texas A&M CC. Bettors can sometimes mix things up. There are even times where San Diego might play New Mexico State on the same night that New Mexico is playing San Diego. In sports like baseball, some bettors will mix up Total Bases with Total Hits as the lines can look very similar. This can throw some people off. Just make sure you double-check the matchup and odds, so that there are no mixups.

Remember that in sports like baseball, the same teams will square off for two, three or four days in a row, so make sure you’re choosing the right date. Sportsbooks will often open up the next day’s odds early. Don’t be one side of the hedge on a Tuesday with the other side on a Wednesday. It sounds silly but it happens. Always check the pitchers, the start time, the odds or anything else you need to fully identify the right sides.

Lastly, always use a line movement tool that has multiple sportsbooks on one screen like Outlier’s odds comparison tool. The less you have to click around and change windows, the fewer slipups you’re bound to make.

Understand The Outcomes

To the naked eye, hedging might seem like a pretty safe practice, right? You’re either betting on one side or on the other. On the surface, you should never really be too much at risk, right?

While that’s the case for about 90% of hedges, you have to think about what bet you’ve decided to hedge and what are all of the possible outcomes. When it comes to something like an over-under or a point spread, it might seem clear: either one outcome wins or the other. But what about a sport like soccer, that has three-way moneylines. Are you covering yourself off with a side and a Double Chance (on the hedge) or are you leaving yourself exposed to a possible Draw? Another example might be NHL games where some lines include overtime while some others don’t. This is where you can really get yourself in trouble. If that third side hits or if you haven’t understood all of the possible outcomes, you can put yourself in a position where you could lose your other two bets and get cleaned out.

Sportsbook Differences (Rules)

Another area where bettors get caught on their hedges is by not being familiar with the different sportsbook rules. One book might have one way of settling a bet while another book might be completely different. If you don’t know the intricacies, that’s where you might end up with one side of your bet locked in and the other not in action for whatever reason.

A good example of this might be a player prop in different sports. For example, some sportsbooks might say that a soccer or baseball player prop is action if the player gets into the game at any point. Meanwhile, other books stipulate that the players has to be in the starting lineup. Imagine you bet on a player to score a goal or have a shot on net in soccer but then he comes off the bench as a substitute. At one book, your bet will be action while the other book will void your bet. That leaves you exposed.

Some other common examples of this might be where some sportsbooks have NHL lines that include overtime as a default (that’s typically the standard) but some other books don’t. Some sportsbooks might deem baseball bets action regardless of who starts the game whereas others will list pitchers. 

Before placing your wagers, make sure you know what the specifics are, so that you’re not surprised. 

Trying To Get Fancy Hedging Parlays

Hedging and arbing is a good way to make money with sports betting but sometimes bettors take it a little too far. They’ll sit there and examine all the daily boosts and same-game parlay bonus, and start to think if there’s some way to get some freebies out of these. In fairness, you can sometimes hedge these off but in reality, you want to make sure that you’re really aware of how to do this. Many bettors will think they know what they’re doing and then hit a blind spot. 

When you start to get into hedging parlays, there are more than the two outcomes of a simple Side A or Side B hedge. It’s rare to pull off a good hedge with these and beyond that, the profit tends to be quite minor. Your best bet is not to go off the deep end, trying to hedge everything under the sun. If you make a mistake, you could end up costing yourself quite a bit with multiple sides and multiple bets exposed to a significant loss.

Bonus Section

One of the most common reasons for hedging and arbing is to make a guaranteed profit from a sportsbook bonus. There can be all sorts of sweeteners out there and bettors will decide to lock in some cash rather than risking anything. That makes sense. Where you have to be careful is noting what type of bonus is being provided because missing that small nuance can throw off the equation. 

The biggest factor to look at is whether you’re getting a free bet credit or site credit. The latter is essentially like cash whereas a free bet credit is a wager where you only collect the winnings. When you’re hedging a bet with site credit, you can simply use a regular hedge calculator. On the other hand, when you’re hedging a bet with a free bet credit, you have to use a completely different calculation. 

We’ll spare you the math but the logic is this: if you’re hedging a $50 site credit and putting cash on the other side at a different book, you’ll end up with $50 either way. You’ll win a $50 bet on one side, collect your stake back and end up with $100. On the other side, you’ll lose $50. In this case, if the odds work out, you’ll break even. 

With a free bet credit, you’re only collecting the winnings, so a $50 free bet will only pay you the profits. If you won the $50 bet with the same odds, you’d only collect $50 back – not $100 – so if you hedge the full $50 on the other side, you will have an unbalanced hedge. You need to use a free bet calculator to crunch the number because otherwise, you could be exposed to a loss.

Another area to be careful is the welcome bonus. These will typically come with some type of wagering requirement, so if you’re hedging to pick up a few bucks, you have to factor in that you might have to rollover the winnings a few times or do more with the money than simply cash it out. If you just hedge assuming it’s cash-money, you could end up losing a little bit when you realize there are some strings attached to it.Always double-check the details of the bonus because that’s one of the only ways to get burned with these incentives. 

Check Twice, Bet Once

Hedging is one of the best ways to reel in a bonus or an arb in sports betting. For the most part, it’s a pretty safe strategy. The key is to really make sure that you’re not making any human errors, mathematical miscalculations or hedging off the wrong sides. As long as you have a keen attention to detail, you’ll find good success capturing these arbs.

Outlier Team
April 8, 2023
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