SOMEONE asked earlier about cashout strategies and cover bets so I've dug in to the archives and re-published this piece, with a few additions, from a couple of years ago.

Nowadays it's easy to follow the action on a sports TV channel, radio station or more likely a live scores site or feed. But there's something else gamblers do these days – and that's keep tabs on cashout values or options for covering bets.

In the good old days you put on a line and checked the results at full-time. If you missed them you might have had to wait until buying a Sunday paper before the invention of Teletext. You either had a winner or loser – there was nothing in between.

In the digital era you can keep tabs of scores in your home, at the pub, at a match or on the move.

Until recently cashout was something you did when you visited a hole in the wall and covers were on your bed.

Cashout in the betting world is a relatively new concept while the ability to cover a bet has always been there. With both you have to make difficult decisions – especially with cashout.

One of the most common questions asked on the site is about when to cash out. It's worth remembering cashout is something that in general benefits the bookie rather than punter.

Cashout values favour bookies, not punters

I've read elsewhere that the betting book is priced at 90% rather than 100% so overall they bookies could be adding a 10 per cent margin. There is no doubt then that bookies make money form cashout but on an individual basis it will favour punters sometimes.

Some experts will say you should never cash out and having had the faith to place the bet in the first place I can see where they're coming from. But for every cashout success there always appears to be a tale of “too-early” cashout woe. Recently there was a punter who cashed out a £100 bet to win £23k – his did so to get his stake back when one of his selections was losing 2-0 at half-time.

Can you imagine how he felt when the bet came in? In the pre-cashout era he wouldn't have had this option but of course it can work both ways.

Personally, I'd generally consider cashing out if I was being offered more than my stake, especially if my line was looking a mess. If it was in good shape however, I'd be wanting at least 75% of my potential return.

In a way you're almost having another bet – you have to decide if you're sitting on a winner or loser. It has to be noted too that the cashout offer can be withdrawn at any time or not be available at all.

The longer you let a bet run and if it's looking well the value will increase but don't leave it too late or the offer may disappear.

A good way to look at this is – either always check the cashout offer or never look at it. Pretend it's not there if you don't like it.

The option of covering a bet is often much wiser and cheaper. If I'm covering I usually choose to cover the stake so if I have £50 on a bet that's paying for example 5-1 I will put say £25 on a cover bet if it's giving me 2-1.

If the initial bet wins I've lost £25 – probably less than I'd have done cashing out – and if it loses I break even so not as good an option as if I'd called it quits.

At the end of the day only you can make the ultimate decision because it's your money and cashout is just part of the entertainment process. Let's hear you cashout experiences and any advice you have on covering.

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