Bart Calendar spent 10 years as a journalist for Gannett covering murder trials and rock and roll.
Since then he has traveled the Earth gambled in the best casinos in the world.
How to Hedge Bets & Meaning Explained
The phrase “hedge your bets” is an old one in sports betting. What does it mean, though? This page is all about how to hedge bets and when in horse racing it may be appropriate for you as a bettor to do so. This approach to gambling isn’t just specific to this particular sport either, but there are multiple outcomes to a race and so it fits particularly well. Once we have explained the hedge your bets meaning to you, you should have a greater understanding and appreciation of where and when this technique is to be used.
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Any time you bet on two or more horses in the same race, you are hedging your bets.
This is done so more potential outcomes are covered.
As a general rule the less competitive a race is, then the more difficult it is when hedging your bets to turn a profit across the wagers.
I may hedge my bets when I am struggling to choose between two or more prominent horses in a competitive betting market.
The purpose is to mitigate the risk of just backing one horse by at least saving stakes.
We are going to be right up front with you from the start. Unless there is a dead heat, in other words, a tie, in a horse race where two animals hit the line together, when you hedge your bets one of your wagers will definitely lose unless you backed the horses each way. You may be thinking why bother to hedge my bets then? Context is everything. It is only certain types of a race – perhaps ones that are open with lots of horses competing in them, and chiefly big field handicaps – where hedging your bets is appropriate.
More on the hedge your bets meaning
Hedging your bets has become an idiom in the English language. Few gambling terms can boast such status. To recap, this is the hedge your bets meaning – to place bets with a third party, namely bookmakers or a betting exchange, with the aim of offsetting potential losses. You are reducing the risk that you may have made a mistake with your initial view or reading of a race. By hedging your bets, you are keeping your options open.
You can argue I hedge my bets when both backing a horse to win on a fixed-odds sportsbook and then lay it to lose on a betting exchange. That is a more complex idea than simply betting on two or more horses at the bookies to win. What we think will be useful to help you get your head around how to hedge bets is a working example.
A detailed example of how to hedge bets
Let’s say the Cigar Mile Handicap has a particularly open look to it betting wise this year. The race at Aqueduct Racetrack in New York City has attracted 16 horses. You like the look of the 5.00 (4/1) favorite in the betting and place a $10 win stake, but study the form more closely and think it could also be worthwhile backing another horse at odds of 7.50 (13/2).
As soon as you wager on the second horse, you are hedging your bets. A $6 bet here brings your total spend on the Cigar Mile to $16. If the favorite wins, then you stand to make $40 profit on that bet minus the $6 you staked on the second horse. That would mean you are $34 up across the two wagers.
However, if the favorite loses but the $6 bet comes in, then you have $39 of profit minus the $10 lost. That is $29 up over the course of the two wagers. It is also worth remembering that hedging your bets doesn’t guarantee a profit, as there is the scenario where you back two or more horses and none of them win!
When should I hedge my bets?
Now you understand the hedge your bets meaning, we are going to expand on the types of races where using this device for gambling works best. Not all favorites win, but there is usually a good reason why oddsmakers put something at the head of the betting. It may have the best form or put together an impressive winning sequence and be undefeated in competition.
Do you want to hedge your bets against such a horse? That is a brave view to take, unless you feel strongly about one of its rivals. It pays more often to be hedging your bets when the sportsbook traders are having a hard time coming up with a favorite.
Say a big betting handicap like the Metropolitan at Belmont Park has had several market leaders. That suggests the horses competing in the race are much of a muchness and it’s hard to have a strong view. This is the time to be hedging your bets.
The theory goes that the bigger the size of a field for a race, then the more you should hedge your bets as you narrow down the runners to form a shortlist. This is what professional tipsters like you will find online or in your local paper do with big, competitive horses races like graded handicaps.
It doesn’t have to be a handicap where a racehorse’s weight is determined by its official rating for the time to be right for hedging your bets, though. By the same token if a stake or age-restricted race also has an open feel to it with no standout horse in the field, then that is another scenario where it could be worthwhile. Just take hedging your bets on a race by race basis depending on what the market is like.
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How about other horse racing betting strategies?
So, now you know how to hedge bets and how and when the best horse racing system can work best. This just so happens to be one of many gambling techniques that are well worth your while having at your disposal. No smart bettor relies solely on just one approach to beating the bookies, so what are some of the other horse racing strategies we recommend to you?
There is more than one way to save your stake. Taking a look at how an each way bet can also be beneficial in this regard. Backing horses not just to win, but place and show allow you to cover more bases. Did you know there are times when one horse running second or third is better value in a betting sense than backing the winner? This is why you should always seek saver bets each way and we have a comprehensive guide to that.
Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as in play betting horse racing. It isn’t called that, though. The correct term is bets in running and you won’t find them on a fixed-odds sportsbook. To find out what price a horse is in the run, you need to head over to a betting exchange while the race is taking place. If you know a racehorse stays and likes to come from off the pace, then this is one betting angle that could prove very fruitful to exploit.
Going down the multiples route is another way to enjoy a day at the races. Certain sportsbooks and the tote offer their popular Pick 6 horse racing bets where you have to find the winner of that many races on the card. There are ways to ensure you can get your share of the jackpot too!
The last word on hedging your bets
With that hedge your bets meaning explained and worked through, you should now be fully aware of the term and where and when it applies to horse racing. All is fair in the pursuit of profit and taking a small loss for overall gain looks a smart play for sure.
Wanting to hedge my bets doesn’t mean I don’t know how to gamble on the horses. Far from it, in fact. It is a technique like any other made with the aim of getting a little ahead in what is overall meant to be a bit of fun. Don’t lose sight of that either.
There is no point in hedging your bets just for the sake of it. You need to genuinely believe more than one horse could win the race, or you are wasting time, effort, and money by employing this technique. The betting markets should always act as your guide to the race.
Say there is a big plunge on a horse you hadn’t previously considered. You have to decide at that point whether to hedge your bets or stick with what you have. These are judgment calls that every bettor needs to make at some stage when they are gambling on the races.
You will find as you become more experienced with betting over time that you develop a better sense of when hedging your bets will pay off. Just remember to gamble responsibly and never stake more than you can afford to lose. Check out our horse racing promotions guide to see which bonuses can boost your betting – such as the latest Caesars sportsbook promo code or Borgata sports bonus code.