To Hedge or Not to Hedge

I have often stated my thoughts on hedging. My stance is not a popular one, and it has been ridiculed often on social media. I rarely If ever hedge.

If you are playing to beat the game, one thing that is essential, and there are many, is to minimize the loss column and maximize the win column. Hedging may save a bet and a day, but over time it will cut into the win column. I don’t bet against myself or my opinion.

There have been times where I have been alive in the last leg of a multi-race wager with a few horses. Obviously, these are the ones I chose. I chose them for a reason. Even if I stand to win good money with any of them and can mathematically assure a win by placing win bets on all the other horses, I generally won’t. If I wanted those horses, they’d have been on my ticket.

Of course, I see the initial and immediate benefit of assuring a win. As I said earlier, the game is a marathon, not a sprint. Today matters but the bottom line over time matters more. I believe you have to not be afraid to cash less tickets but to win more money over time. If you have to bet $100 on five horses you don’t have, that’s a $500 hit to your score if one of the horses you actually wanted wins. I think over time that will hurt more than help you.

It’s tough to argue that point with someone who has just saved a bet with a hedge, and if that is your style and it works for you, so be it. I have a different philosophy. I’d sooner press one of the horses I have to make that ultra score, then hedge with a horse I elected not to use. The times I am right and ring the bell will devour the hedge bets.

It comes down to how you want to play it. I choose to play aggressively and make it count when I’m right. Everyone in this game will be wrong more than they are right. Accordingly, to beat them, you have to stack that black column as high as possible to come out ahead.

I have been alive to large payoffs with say 7 or 8 horses in an 11 horse field—a perfect opportunity for a hedger. I’ll take the one I’m alive with that I like the best and key that horse hard in exactas, triples, and superfectas. If that one wins, I get it all. If another I have wins, I make a nice hit. If one I left out wins, I live to fight another day but didn’t increase my losses.

Is this way for everyone? Probably not. Most players want to cash as many tickets as possible, thinking it equates to winning the most money. They’d also rather use two horses for 50 cents as opposed to one for a dollar. I think it is the opposite approach that at least puts you in the position to beat the game. That’s why I’m here. What about you?

If you think I make even a little sense, try it for a while—at least six months, which will take discipline. You need that time to put yourself in enough positions to get a gauge.

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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