Hedging and Scalping Your Bets
One of the most obvious mistakes a lot of novice sports bettors make relates to hedging and scalping their wagers. While the bettor guarantees themselves a profit no matter which team wins, all they really do is to minimize their profits most of the time.
The misuse of hedging and scalping is in the form of a series bet, like the team to win a playoff series, or to win a championship.
We will use the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs as an instance, look at the New Jersey vs. Carolina series.
The Devils went off as a -115 favorite to win the series, whereas the Hurricanes were -105 to win the best-of-7 game match-up. After the Devils won the first game, the adjusted series price was New Jersey -220, Carolina +180.
For those who wager on the Devils -115, the opportunity to turn around and bet on Carolina +180 may seem like a good deal. If they bet $230 to win $200 at the start of the series, they could now bet on Carolina +180 and be ensured to make money.
The ideal situation will be to bet $150 to the Hurricanes and the bettor will get away with $50 profit if the Devils win, as they would win the initial $200 bet and lose the $150. If the Hurricanes comes back and win the series, the bettor could win $270 on the Hurricanes and lose $230 on the initial Devils bet for a profit of $40.
What the bettor fails to realize, is that they are much better off in the long term sticking with the initial bet on New Jersey and riding out the Devils in the series. The bettor gets a -220 favorite at -115, which is a big overlay and will yield a healthy profit in the long term.
Planning to Hedge
A lot of bettors will make a series bet with the intent of betting the other way depending on what happens, however, while this may seem like a smart move, it too, eats into profits and yields a lower return on investment.
In our instance above, a bettor who plans to back the Devils bet after the first game would have been better off risking $70 to get $50 on New Jersey to win the first game. The bettor’s money could not be tied up nearly as long and there is much less being bet to return the same amount.
There are cases when buying back a portion, or all, of your bet makes sense, particularly when you have high odds in your favor. For instance, if you wager $100 on Team A at +5000 to win the Super Bowl, you should certainly hedge your bet enough to ensure a profit of at least $1,000.
Injuries during a series are another time when it may make sense, but for the most part, sports gamblers will be better off ignoring hedging and scalping opportunities and stick to their initial bets. The bettor obviously thought the team was worth a bet in the first place and now betting against them does not make much sense.