A question I am often asked is, “Should I hedge my parlay?” Well, first things first, I am not a fan of parlays. Generally speaking, it is not a good way to consistently turn a profit. With that said, like so many things in life, parlays can be fun in moderation. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t indulge in a three or four-teamer from time to time.
How to Hedge a Parlay Sports Bet & Guarantee Profit
If you’ve you bet on a few parlays, you’ve no doubt been in a similar situation: You bet $10 on a 4-team parlay. At 10-1 odds you stand to make $100 if all four of your games hit, not bad. The games get started and you’re off to a great start. Your first three bets were easy winners, congratulations! The next game starts in about an hour. Just think, you’re one win away from turning a $10 investment into $120. But, “Ah-ha!” you say, “There’s a way for me to guarantee I make money now!” You’ve realized that by hedging your bet you’re going to end up winning no matter what.
The next game starts in about an hour. Just think, you’re one win away from turning a $10 investment into $120. But, “Ah-ha!” you say, “There’s a way for me to guarantee I make money now!” You’ve realized that by hedging your bet you’re going to end up winning no matter what.
You’ve realized that by hedging your bet you’re going to end up winning no matter what. You see, you stand to make $100 if that final game hits. But in hedging your bet, you lay action on the opposite side of the final game. This way, you are going to profit as long as you bet more than your original $10 investment.
For example, say the Steelers are playing the Ravens in the final game of the night. In your parlay, you have taken the Ravens +3.5. You could just cross your fingers and hope for Baltimore to cover. Or, you could lay $55 (to win $50) on the Steelers to cover the 3.5. Now you’ve given yourself two outcomes, both of which would be a nice return on your $10 investment.
If the Ravens cover, great, you’ve won your parlay and the $100. So you’re sitting with $120, minus the $55 you wagered on the Steelers, for a winning balance of $45, a solid take.
Now, what happens if the Steelers would have covered the spread? Obviously, you are out your $10 wager, but you did cash in a $50 ticket on Pittsburgh, giving you a $40 profit on the day.
The Big Question: Should I Hedge My Parlays or Let it Ride?
So now you know how to hedge, the question is, should you?
It might seem great at first glance (free money, right?). Problem is, it does not maximize your potential profits. You have to give yourself about a 50% chance of winning that final game of the parlay, right? In the long term, it would be more beneficial to ride the parlay out. This way you don’t lose the edge you’ve gained by increasing your odds (i.e. winning the first three of four).
Answer: Hedging Prevents You From Maximizing Your Long-Term Profits
Say you bet ten 4-team parlays at $10 a pop. By a miracle, you win all three early games and have a chance to hedge your final bet in every situation. Let’s use 50% as a base percentage that an average sports bettor wins. What would be the results of hedging versus not hedging?
Hedging your Bet
You’ve profited on every single parlay ticket, but lost your initial investment. A true hedge would net you about $42.50 on each ticket, which comes out to a total gain of $425.
Not Hedging your Bet
You hit 5 of your 10 four-team parlays (50%). You’ve lost $50 on the five losing tickets, but won $500 as a result of the winners, a net gain of $450.
This may seem counter-intuitive at first, but when you sort it all out, the answer is pretty simple. Don’t hedge your bets on parlays if you want to maximize your profits! The alternative is reducing your risk and guaranteeing a smaller return.
There are rare exceptions to this rule. For example, the Arizona Cardinals make the Super Bowl. You bet $10 on them to win the Super Bowl at the beginning of the season at 200 to 1. It would be a good idea to hedge that wager. But for simple, everyday parlays, to maximize your profits, don’t hedge!