Forum Archive : Tournaments


From:   Tad Bright
Date:   31 January 2003
Subject:   Hedging: what is it? should you do it?
Forum:   GammOnLine

I was in the round before the money rounds in a tourn with a good pot
playing against a person rated in the top 20 in the world. He asked if
I would hedge. I wasn't really sure what to do so I said no. Alas, at
one point I had him 6-4 crawford but lost the next 3 games for the
match :(

Does everyone hedge? Do only top players hedge? Is it impolite to not
hedge? Afterwards he asked if I had something against him (angry?). I
said no. I was just tired and stupid. Looking back on it, I think he
was probably being nice (and complimentary) to me offering to hedge.

Casper van der Tak  writes:

He WAS being complimentary and nice in offering to hedge if he was
really in the top 20. In my view, it would be impolite to offer to
hedge against someone who is clearly stronger than I am, and the more
so the longer the match. Refusing to hedge cannot be impolite.

Whether you hedge or not, and the amount of hedging if you do, depends
on a number of factors: money involved, your own financial situation,
your opponents financial situation, whether you like him/her or not,
assessment of your playing strength vs his/hers etc etc.

There are many ways of doing it: by placing outside bets on your
opponent (OK as long as you keep the incentive to play to win: more
monetary gains from winning than from losing); or agreeing that the
winner will pay the loser some money (often to cover the entry fee and
part of the hotel costs). The latter is more common, at least in my
prior experience.

Douglas Zare  writes:

Hedging is making a side bet with your opponent. You bet that your
opponent will win. If you are the underdog, hedge at even odds, and
you get to tell everyone that the giant hedged. If you are stronger,
you can hedge if you prefer to play with less at stake, but it's bad
for your expected return. Also, it is sometimes viewed as a friendly
thing to do, so hedging or not can be a way to make your opponent play
less aggressively or with more steam.

If you didn't like how much was at stake in the money round, you might
not want to enter the side pools.

In more complicated situations, people may wager not a set amount, but
a fraction of the other player's winnings. I'd only do that with
someone that I knew well, and I'd write it out carefully to remove any
ambiguities about, for example, additional hedges you might make in
the next round.

People sometimes hedge close to the end of the match, e.g., at DMP.
They might be happy to play a long match with $500 at stake, but not a
1-point match.

Chuck Bower  writes:

Some observations on hedging:

1) Hedging is an option, not a requirement.

2) It's more likely you'll get stiffed/screwed by a hedger than by the
tournament staff. (It's not likely, it's just more likely.)

3) There is more likely to be an *honest* misunderstanding if you

4) If you hedge, you have the chance to change the true odds. Hedging
either preserves the true odds (not likely), or one player gets a
monetary advantage (meaning the other player gets a monetary
disadvantage). E.g. players hedge at even-money but one player is
clearly better.

5) Calcutta owners may not like you hedging, if they perceive that it
lessens your incentive to win. This is unlikely, and maybe unfounded,
but one needs to be aware that it could be an issue. If it's a big
payout and an important late match, it would be prudent to discuss
things with the calcutta owner, but do so before the match (as in
"what if my opp wants to hedge...") rather than to wait and then have
to stall the match looking for the owner.

My policy is to hedge only in the pre-guaranteed money match, only to
at even-money (i.e. winner pays loser X, and X is the same regardless
of who wins), and only for entry fee (+ maybe a small amount).

When someone offers a hedge and I choose to decline, I do so as
politely and diplomatically as possible, usually telling them my
'policy' above. If s/he objects, that's his/her problem. I'm more
likely to hedge with someone I know, but refusing to hedge does not
mean I don't like the person, feel s/he is dishonest, nor does it mean
I feel I am stronger.

Some advice: never hedge if you don't understand exactly what the
conditions are, and even then make sure you aren't getting a bad deal.
If you don't understand the hedge, don't do it. If you're not sure it
is 'fair', don't do it. Point #1 above should never be forgotten. I'm
not saying you shouldn't give the opp a small monetary advantage (e.g.
hedging even-money when you are the perceived favorite). Just be fully
aware of what you are agreeing to.

BTW, don't expect tournament directors to play a part in the hedge.
Most of them won't do it, and I don't blame them. What I mean by this
is the director will hand the prize money out as indicated in the
tournament conditions, and only when s/he is ready. The people who
hedged must work out their settlement with their own money. If that
means the loser has to wait until the end of the tournament (when the
winner gets his/her payout), that's the way it goes. It's not up to
the director to make a 'loan' so the hedge winner can pay the hedge
loser immediately. This may be another factor in deciding whether or
not to hedge! You may want to catch the next flight out but your opp
doesn't have (or want) to pay off the hedge until s/he gets the prize

A procedure I learned while kibitzing a top player (I think it was a
good friend of Tad's unnamed world top-20, ABT Champion, GV columnist
:) was to write on the scoresheet the conditions of the hedge. E.g.
"match winner pays match loser X dollars." That helps prevent

One last thing. Be careful that the winner is really in the money (or
at least be aware when that might not be the case). There are double
elimination tournaments where the finalist in the main isn't
guaranteed money. S/he may be a heavy favorite to land in the money,
but watch out for the scenarios where it doesn't happen. I think it
would be painful to pay out a hedge after winning a match and then
lose your next three in a row (which would be bad enough!) and find
you didn't cash. :(
Did you find the information in this article useful?          

Do you have any comments you'd like to add?     



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