When Should You Cash Out Of A Bet?

When Should You Cash Out Of A Bet?

Jack Andrews
Odds Explained
April 30, 2024


Sportsbooks like to force you into difficult decisions. Like should you let your bet ride or should you take a cash out offer? I’m going to explore how bad those cash offers really are – but also clue you into when they can actually be really good. 

Hi, I’m Jack from Unabated. I’ve made my living as a professional gambler for the past 20 years. First in casinos, but now in sportsbooks because I believe they offer nearly unlimited possibilities for smart bettors these days. 


The Great Cash-Out Debate

When the Supreme Court ruled in 2018 that sports betting could be regulated by states it ushered in a new era of sports betting in the U.S. With the new regulated sportsbooks came some concepts and options that hadn’t been available from the Vegas sportsbooks or your local bookie. 

One of those new options is the cash out feature. The concept is straightforward, you can cancel your wager and take a guaranteed payout. Suddenly many of your bets become a never-ending episode of Deal or No Deal. If you bet $100 on a baseball team to win at even money and they’re up by two runs going into the seventh inning, you might be offered $140 to cash out your wager. Whereas if they can hold on just three more innings, you’d have $200. $140 seems a little underwhelming, right? We’ll get into that. 

This is 1Teflon_Don. Probably not his real name. On March 30, 2024 he put in a seven-leg parlay at FanDuel made up of players to hit a home run that night. He bet $5 to win $196,594.72. In other words, the bet would pay a little more than 39,000-to-1.

As the night progressed, he found himself in an interesting situation. Each of the first six batters on that parlay ticket hit home runs. It was down to just Mookie Betts of the L.A. Dodgers. If Betts hits a home run, Teflon Don wins nearly $200,000.

In his first at-bat Betts singled. In his second at-bat an inning later, he flied out. With the score of the game still 0-0, FanDuel offere d Teflon Don a cash out offer of $12,328. What should he do?


The Pressure’s On

These are the situations where cash out suddenly becomes much more exciting – and much more stressful. You see, most of the time, cash out is a bad choice. It’s like a payday loan. Offering you just a fraction of what you’re expected to receive in exchange for receiving it right away. We’ll figure out what Teflon Don should do and what he did do in a moment.

On average though, cash out typically offers no more than 50 percent of what your true equity is. It appeals to bettors because it gives them a guaranteed result and it appeals to sportsbooks because it gives them a chance to hit you twice with their house edge. 

Remember earlier when I gave the example of your $100 bet on a baseball team up two headed into the seventh inning? All things being equal, the probability of that team winning the game at that point is around 85 percent. The sportsbook offers you $140. That includes your stake back. They’re basically offering you a $40 profit.

At that point in the game, your equity, the amount your bet should be worth is 85 percent times the $200 you would have if it wins, or $170. You already paid a vigorish on your original wager, now they’re charging you even more vig on the cash out. 

Meanwhile, someone who had bet on the opposing team laying $120 to win $100, has only a 15 percent chance of winning their original bet. They might be offered a cash out offer of $15. If you both accept the cash out, the sportsbook took in $220 but only had to pay out $155. That’s a great deal for them.

But how would you know what the true probability of your bet winning is in the middle of a game? That’s where an Odds Screen can be beneficial. It allows you to see the current market odds across many different sportsbooks. Not just the one where you placed your bet. 

At Unabated we even allow you to toggle your odds screen to display probabilities so you don’t have to struggle converting from American odds.

Often you will find that you can hedge out of your wager by betting on the other team at a different sportsbook and get a better return than you can with the cash out offer. In this case, betting $50 at +300, would guarantee $50 of profit no matter which team wins. Better than the $40 guaranteed profit being offered. 

In reality, the best option for you is always going to be to just ride out your wager. Since you’re paying more vig on either the cash out or the hedge bet, it’s never going to be better than your original bet in terms of expected value. Cash out just offers certainty. 

But what if this isn’t a bet you can bet the other side on? Or what if it’s life-changing money? That’s where we typically see these dilemmas arise on social media. And that’s the situation facing our friend Teflon Don. He’s wagered $5 to win $196,000 and it’s safe to assume this is life-changing money. 


What About Mookie?

We pick up his story with Mookie Betts being 0-for-2 and the game being 0-0 heading into the fifth inning. FanDuel offers Teflon Don an opportunity to cash out for $12,328. Mookie is due up second in the inning, the assumption is that Betts will get at least two more at-bats. Maybe three since his team doesn’t have the lead.

Historically, Betts homers in about 5 percent of his plate appearances. If we estimate 2.5 at-bats left in this game for Betts, that’s about a 12.5 percent chance he’ll hit a home run. There are plenty of other factors that could go into Betts hitting a home run this night, but those are the basics.

At $12,328, Fanduel is definitely offering less than the $24,574 of equity that Teflon Don has, but this is in-line with what would typically be offered. Teflon Don took to social media to ask for advice. This is risky because the choice is purely relative to his situation and his bankroll.

This is the part of Deal or No Deal where the contestant is looking to family and friends for advice while the studio audience shouts their advice at them. However, in the end, it’s purely their own decision to make.

This is also the problem with these lottery ticket type bets that bettors like to make. The actual odds of this seven-leg parlay hitting were about 100,000-1. Fanduel was paying 39,000-1. Had he left off the Mookie Betts leg of the parlay he wouldn’t even be in this dilemma and would have been paid about $40,000 for his $5 wager.

Those of you who have watched our video on the 5 Worst Bets you can make in a sportsbook know that parlays compound the house edge as you add legs to them. They also make situations like these where you face difficult decisions even harder due to the dollar amounts at risk.

Teflon Don decided to stand pat and let his bet ride. Betts walked in his third at bat, and then scored a run when he was singled home by Freddie Freeman. The Dodgers took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. This was actually bad news for Teflon Don since with the lead, it was less likely Betts would get more than one more at-bat.

After that inning, Fanduel’s offer dropped to $4,652. If it is assumed that Betts only had one more at bat remaining in the game, this represented a little less than half of what Teflon Don had left in equity from his original wager. On social media, Teflon Don lamented that he should have taken that earlier offer. Since he can’t go back in time, will Teflon Don take the $4,600 dollar offer or will he let it ride?

Now there are times when cash out can actually be advantageous to you. There are certain sportsbooks which allow you to cash out of a wager, penalty-free, before the game begins. Meaning you get a 100 percent refund. This can be used smartly by a bettor. If you are uncertain which way the odds are going to go in the lead up to a game. Maybe due to injury uncertainty with a star player. You can place your wager, and then cash out of it if news breaks against you.

In order to protect the guilty, I won’t name which books you can currently do this against, but I would encourage you to look around and see what your book offers. Some offer a full refund, some offer it until the lines have changed, others offer it with only a small penalty that can still be advantageous. It always pays to have as many sportsbook accounts as you can and to know how each one works.

Getting back to Teflon Don, in the top of the seventh, the St Louis Cardinals rallied for five runs and took a 5-2 lead in the game. With his team trailing, Betts was able to bat in the bottom of the ninth. That’s when this happened:


Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright,

The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;

But there is no joy for Teflon Don – for Teflon Don cashed out.

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