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Hedging your bets
The concept of hedge betting is a simple enough one, but leads to complicated bet combinations that often leave you more confused than secure. The casinos don't mind you hedging your bets one bit, which should be your first clue that it's not easy to gain an advantage with simple combinations. The effects of hedging are positive however, depending on what you're looking to get out of the game.
To put things in perspective, lets look at one of the most common hedge bets in the game. Placing an any craps bet down on the come-out roll to hedge a pass line bets is a sight seen often in Vegas.
Any Craps pays 7 to 1 on a 2, 3, or 12, but loses otherwise; the pass line loses on those numbers, but wins on 7 or 11. If you hedge a $10 pass line bet with a $2 any craps bet, you turn what would be a $10 loss on 2, 3, or 12 into a $4 profit. But if a 7 or 11 come up you only win $8 instead of $10. Anything else results in a $2 loss, so after the point is set, you will effectively be winning $2 less on any win.
Put simply, hedging introduces a hidden cost. Many players see the any craps hedge as a can't-lose situation, and from one perspective it is. If you look at the statistics though, overall it helps very little. If you hedge against your bets you will ultimately make less money than you would if you weren't hedging. There's more to it than that though. True players know the benefit to hedging isn't to make more money, but to decrease the volatility of the session bankroll. Your bankroll will fluctuate considerably less if you hedge your craps bets, so if you are playing with a smaller bankroll it may be your best choice. If you have a bankroll that can weather the ups and downs of a volatile table, you're better off not hedging, as in the end you'll win more money.
So a hedge betting approach decreases the volatility of the game significantly, but at the same time it limits your potential wins. Simply put if you are a hedge better there will be fewer down-spells that could bottom out your bankroll, but if you are winning you will end up with less in the end than you would have without the hedging approach.
Learning the intricacies of a specific bet and the effect of a hedge on it is usually done one combination at a time. Many people don't know what you just learned about hedging, including many hedge bettors. It's my advice that if anyone looks serious at the table and are hedging bets a lot, don't bother them with this simple fact, they're more comfortable thinking they're in control. Serious players may not appreciate your well-meant advice.