Gambling comes with risks, measured by the house edge. Some games have a small house edge, like poker, video poker and blackjack when played strategically well to perfect. Some games have an enormous house edge like the “Big Six” (wheel), keno, slots and many “carnival” table games like Caribbean Stud. But what we would all like is an insurance policy – an additional bet – that will reduce the risk of our main bet. These are called Hedge Bets.
Every game has some version of them. Even some slots have a random appearance of a free game segment unearned to help “hedge” the previous losses. Examples of this would be Aristocrat’s “More Chili” when all of a sudden a free game segment comes up. While some would argue that it’s part of the payout % figured in the RNG already (like Cashman), some have an extremely low frequency to counteract losses, thus acting like a hedge bet.
But hedge bets are made by the gambler, not a machine. Hedge bets are made to reduce one’s risk of loss by compensating transactions on the other side of a bet or speculation. In gambling, specifically, “hedging” is an action taken to mitigate the damage of a poor wager.
What are some hedge bets used in certain table games? Here’s a list of some per game – some better than others.
CRAPS – A classic craps hedge consists of utilizing one bet to offset another bet. For example, you place a $5 Pass Line bet and then ask the dealers to give you a one-dollar “Any Craps” — 2, 3, 12 — in order to offset the possible loss of that Pass Line bet when any of the craps numbers appear. At first the numbers speak well of reducing loss. Is it good? No. As with all hedge bets, you’ll lose more than the “hedging” can sustain you. See “Craps: To Hedge or Not to Hedge” by Frank Scoblete for an excellent article about that and more hedge bets in craps.
ROULETTE – Some roulette players simultaneously bet $25 on the “1 to 12” combo and another $25 on “13 to 24”, then hedge with $2 on zero and $2 on double zero. Doing this, wins either $18 or $21 whenever anything but “25 to 36” came up. You’d make money on 68% of the spins but went empty because he was laying roughly 54-20 odds on his money. A lot to lay out for losing a third of the time. An obvious hedge bet is betting both red or black. Well, the fact that you won’t make anything is compounded by completely losing when the little white ball falls in the “0” and “00.”
BLACKJACK – While talking about Blackjack hedge bets, you mainly find the discussion surrounding betting systems, e.g Martingale betting. Also the many variations of blackjack and table game poker variations depend upon the “side bet.” The side bets are usually a high house edge and an additional bet, but gambling will bet these with a lower than ante bet to compensate for the basic game. The payout is pretty good – when it hits. However, most of the time its never enough to help your losses.
And that’s the key. Find hedge bets that are fun, knowing the risk involved and never using them to chase losses.
Here’s a quote from Fred Renzey of Casino Times.com “The moral to the story is this. Any time you have two bets going that work against each other, one of them almost has to be a bad percentage bet. If your first bet is the likely moneymaker, that second “hedge” bet you’re thinking of making almost can’t be right.”
That is advice you can take to the cashier.