The agony and the ecstasy of the last-minute goal. In yesteryear, this could be the defining factor of a punter’s weekend. If your team conceded a last minute equaliser, then no doubt you took your frustration out on the nearest pillow. If your team scored a late winner, then the jubilation felt was like nothing else imaginable.
And then, fuelled by the technological revolution and the increased availability of smartphones and mobile devices, bookmakers devised cash out; the ability for punters to call time on their bet by accepting the amount offered to them. The result, in many ways, hasn’t changed: that last minute goal can still result in emotions ranging from frustration (I cashed out too early) to smugness (yep, I was right to cash out when I did).
What does cash out mean in betting?
We’ll use football as our example, but the same principles apply to tennis, basketball and any other sports where the cash out function is applied.
There are generally two circumstances where punters are tempted to cash out: when things are going well and when things aren’t.
So when things are going well, our chosen bookmaker will offer us a cash out sum designed to convince us to settle early. For example, we have bet £10 on Manchester United to beat Chelsea. The Red Devils are 2-0 up at half-time – happy days! If United were priced at 2/1, then our total payout would be £30 if we keep our bet live until the bitter end.
But bookies know that many of us get nervy as far as our bets concerned. So in this example, they might offer us £22 as a cash out value.
Tempted? Many are and many take the amount offered. In the vast majority of cases, punters lose out (99 times out of 100 Man United will hold on to win) and the bookmakers actually make money as a consequence. So while cash out has been a useful innovation for punters, sportsbooks know that in a lot of cases it will save them money.
What about the other side of the coin: cashing out when things aren’t going well. Let’s give you an example: we have backed Manchester United to win and they are 1-0 down at half time. We have wagered £10 on them at 2/1, and now our kind bookmaker is offering us £4 to cut our losses and run.
So we have a dilemma: assume United will lose and take £4 away with us (a loss of £6), or hope that they can turn the game around in the second half (a potential loss of £10).
Much of your decision-making process will be based on your psychology. Are you a natural-born gambler, or somebody who seeks to run their betting like a business?
Which Bookies Offer Cash Out?
All of the main bookmakers offer cash out to punters across their sporting spectrum; from football and rugby to tennis and snooker. This is only available on selected in-play and pre-match markets from the likes of Betfair, Bet365, BetVictor and William Hill, and you will need to check their small print as to which markets are included.
Some, including Bet365 and Paddy Power, now offer a system called Partial Cash Out. This enables you to cash out a portion of your amount while leaving the rest to run in the traditional cash out format. This enables punters to hedge their bets while seeing their wager through to the end!
Using a Statistic-Based Decision Model
Prudent punters will use statistics to aid their decision-making. You might find this to be too extreme if only “pocket money” is at stake, but for gamblers who want to maximise their profits it really is the only way to go.
Here is an example from the English Premier League 2015/16 of a statistic that can shape our cash out decisions. At the time of writing, Bournemouth have won just two of their 12 matches (16%). What you may not know is that in those 12 games, they have taken the lead in 42% of them.
So if you had bet £10 on Manchester United to beat Bournemouth, and United were 1-0 down at half time, you’d be tempted to cash out your bet. But if you were aware of Bournemouth’s proclivity for taking the lead in games but not necessarily winning, then you might just hold fire as your finger hovers over the cash out button.
The Late, Late Show
At the time of writing, here is a table that shows when Premier League teams score and concede most of their goals:
- 0-15th Minute: N/A
- 16th-30th Minute: Bournemouth
- 31st-45th Minute: Arsenal, Everton, Southampton
- 46th-60th Minute: Man City, Man Utd, Newcastle, Sunderland, West Brom
- 61st-75th Minute: Aston Villa, Norwich, Swansea, Watford.
- 76th-90th+ Minute: Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Liverpool, Stoke, Spurs, West Ham.
Now, you might look at this and think nothing of it. Probability theorists, however, will tell you that in the English Premier League in the 2015/16 season, more goals are scored later in games than earlier; with the most goals are scored in the 76-90 minute bracket.
Not only is this table useful to have for your individual bets (West Ham are drawing 1-1, but I believe in them to score a late winner based on what has gone before), it is also useful in shaping your psychology towards cashing out.
And don’t forget, this information is readily available online, so you can construct your own tables based on the leagues you enjoy betting on and use the data accordingly.
So the next time you feel a desire to cash out, just remember that football is a sport littered with late drama; whether this helps your bets or not is another matter.
Cash Out Betting Strategy
As we’ve previously touched on, the bookmaker will offer you a profit on your bet when they want you to cash out; ultimately this helps to maximise their own profit margin.
This is particularly the case where multiples are placed. If you have a six-fold accumulator in hand, and five selections are looking good, then the sportsbook want you out of their hair. Their cash out value will be generous accordingly.
A clever band of punters use this knowledge to their own advantage. One way in which they do this is by betting on the Over 1.5 Goals market. Say you place a six-fold bet on this market, and three of your games have already witnessed two goals or more by half time, then you can cash out at a profit. As we have already seen, most goals tend to fly in during the last 15 minutes, so even if you don’t fancy the cash out option then you can always hope and pray that a few late ones go in to help your bet.
It is possible to use cash out to your own profitable end then. It can also minimise the damage of a bad betting day, and enhance a good one, but remember some key rules to cashing out:
- Remain philosophical: a cash out that was too early still pays out.
- Recognise that you placed your bet for a reason – perhaps cashing out isn’t the right thing to do.
- Use stats to your advantage.
- In football, most goals are scored in the last 30 minutes of the match; use this knowledge to help define your cash out decision-making.