You’re down to the final match of a five-leg parlay, and your team is in a good spot to win. But suddenly, the opponents start ramping up, and it looks like this will be just one of those “I was so close” kind of parlay. But lucky you, the bookmaker has a cash out button!
You can secure a nice profit now without any risk or let the parlay ride and hope for the best. What’s the right choice? Should you “risk it for the biscuit” even though things are not going well, or should you take the guaranteed profit and call it a day?
A simple answer is NO; you shouldn’t cash out your bets. There are good reasons for that, which we’ll explain in this article, where we take a closer look at the cash out function and explain why it’s not the smartest idea for bettors.
What Is A Cash Out?
Cash out is a fairly common feature available on most online bookmakers, which allows you to cash out your bet before the game ends. It’s available for singles or multiples, and in both cases, it works the exact same way.
The amount of money you can cash out (in-play) on your bet will depend on how the game is going. If you’ve placed a €100 wager on Liverpool to defeat Chelsea at 3.00 and Liverpool is up 1-0 with 20 minutes to go, the bookmaker will likely offer you a cash out option where you’ll make a profit – let’s say a €175 cash out.
It might sound like a good offer. You can collect a €75 profit and don’t need to sweat for 20 more minutes, hoping Chelsea doesn’t equalise. But you’re giving up €125 of potential profits for that luxury.
Whether that’s worth it or not might seem like a question with no correct answer, which to some degree is true since you have to figure out your equity in a bet at the time you want to cash out and see whether it’s worth it.
However, in most cases, cashing out is a bad choice.
Why Cashing Out Is A Bad Idea
If a bookmaker offers you something that might seem like a good deal, it usually benefits them more than you. And that applies to cashing out our bets.
Let’s look at the previous example, where we had a €100 wager on Liverpool to defeat Chelsea at 3.00, and the bookmaker is offering us a €175 cashout while Liverpool are 1-0 up with 20 minutes to go. Now let’s use some math.
Liverpool were priced at 3.00 to win, which converts to a 33.3% implied probability. So your equity in that bet is 33.3% of the potential payout or 33.3% of €300 = €100.
Equity in a bet = Implied Probability x Potential Payout
To know whether it makes sense to accept the offer, it’s advisable to check sharp bookmakers or betting exchanges to see what odds they are offering on the match and use that number to compare it to the cash out offer. You do that by multiplying your potential profits with the implied probability of the odds available on the match at the time you want to cash out.
But you shouldn’t expect that the cash out will offer any value to you.
This example perfectly illustrates the situation bettors will find themselves in. Bookmakers will often have an offer that is worse than what it should be, making scenarios where cashing out is a viable and smart choice extremely rare.
It’s typically better if you just bet on the other team or simply “let it ride” when the latter presents a better +EV situation.
If you really want the money and are content with the fact that you’re essentially losing profits by accepting the cash out, then you either aren’t thinking long-term, or you’re risking more money than you’re able to lose, to begin with.
Should You Ever Cash Out?
Cashing out will never put you in a better position than you were before you placed a bet.
In the best-case scenario, you will break even, and that only applies to those who cash out their bet before the game starts. Yet even that applies only to bookmakers, which allow you to cash out your full stake.
If you cash out with the help of betting exchanges, you will lose some of your equity, but the cost is typically significantly lower than with sportsbooks. While the latter generally offer half of what the price should be, “cashing out” on exchanges should take only about 97% of the equity.
So even though cashing out with exchanges is still detrimental, it’s not as bad.
Just “Let It Ride”
We can find scenarios when cashing out “isn’t that bad” It’s never a good thing and, more times than not, a bad choice for bettors.
It’s essentially a desperate sale where the bettor wants to get out of his position because he’s either scared or too enticed by the idea of getting the money as quickly as possible.
In that case, there are advantages of getting out of the bet and not having to sweat over the game, but you’re always going to have to pay for that luxury, and that will slowly eat into your profits.
So if you’re cashing out because you are afraid to lose the money, you should probably start thinking about lowering the amount you bet. While if you’re regularly cashing out to secure guaranteed profits and not have to worry about what will happen in the game before it ends, you might want to find something else to think about and just “let it ride”.
In short: Stay away from any cash outs. If you really need to get out of a bet, use a betting exchange.