What is a Cover Bet?

Discover the benefits of cover bets in sports betting. Learn how each-way betting, money-back offers, full-cover bets, arbitrage, and point spreads can minimize risk and maximize profit across various sports, including horse racing and football.

Jon Young
Jon Young

Last Updated: 2024-06-12

A. Tzamantanis

6 minutes read

AP McCoy Horse Racing – What is a Cover Bet

The cover bet is the perfect weapon for your sports betting armory if you want to back up your wagers and ensure a healthier profit. The top betting sites offer money back on losing wagers or free bets in case one of your picks loses. You can also use the cover bet on point spreads to give the underdog a leg up.   

Cover Bets Explained

The cover bet can vary depending on what sport you’re gambling on. Horse racing offers the widest choice of cover bets. However, you can hedge your bets on almost any other sport if you know what you’re doing. 

Each-Way Betting

Each-way betting is a good way to ensure a small profit if your horse finishes 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th. Each-way betting is also permitted on outright tournament/league wagers, such as the winner of the English Premier League. 

Typically, you receive one-quarter to one-fifth the odds if your pick doesn’t win. You are essentially placing two wagers: one for your horse to win, and one wager for it to place. If the odds are high enough, your each-way bet can be more profitable than backing an odds-on favorite to win outright. 

Money Back as Free Bet

The money-back offer is commonplace at many online betting sites. It’s usually reserved for losing horse race bets where you receive a free bet if your pick comes 2nd, 3rd, or 4th. 

For example, a Cover Bet 2 guarantees money back if your horse comes 2nd or gets beaten by a head. Conversely, a Cover Bet 3 Places wager earns you money back if your horse comes 2nd or 3rd. 

A Cover Bet 4 Places also includes 4th place, and so on. Some online bookmakers offer up to Cover Bet 10 Places. However, the odds will reduce significantly for these types of wager. For instance, the Cover Bet price is lower than both the Win and Each-Way odds. 

Full Cover Bets

A full-cover bet is an accumulator which covers all possible outcomes. For example, an acca containing 4 legs would have full cover of 15 bets: 4 singles, 6 doubles, 4 trebles, and 1 accumulator (four-fold). 

Arbitrage Betting

Arb betting is gaining popularity amongst casual gamblers, even though it’s been the go-to tool for savvy sports bettors since the early 2000s. With arbitrage, or ‘match betting’, you back a team or horse on one betting site, then use an online exchange to “lay” the bet (or back it to lose). You essentially cover your bet and make a profit, regardless of the outcome. 

Asian Handicap

Now we get onto handicap betting. The Asian handicap is popular at UK sportsbooks and is most used on football bets. You back the favourite to win with a -1.5 goal handicap before the game starts. The underdog receives a theoretical +1.5-goal advantage. 

You win the Asian handicap if you manage to cover the spread. That is, your chosen team wins the game with the theoretical handicap factored in. 

Point Spreads Explained

The point spread is one of the most popular bets at US sportsbooks. It’s mainly used on major US sports such as American Football, ice hockey, and baseball. 

As with Asian Handicap betting, the favourite is assigned a points handicap, say -7 points. They must “cover the spread” by outscoring their opponents by 7 points for the bet to win. 

Similarly, the underdog is assigned a points advantage at the start of the game, e.g. +7 points. Again, they must cover the spread by winning the game with their 7-point advantage in tact. 

Philadelphia Eagles -7: +110
Miami Dolphins +7: +120

The final score is 58-52 to the Eagles. However, with the Dolphins’ +7 point spread, they “win” the game 59-58 and the bet wins.  

Cover Bet Strategy & Tips

Looking to get more money on your Cover Bet 3 Places or point spreads? Here are some of our experts’ top tips when using a cover bet. 

#1 Find the Best Sportsbook Deal

The beauty of a cover bet is that it minimises risk long-term. However, you should still do your research and find great sportsbook deals where you can. 

Online betting sites offer free bets for new customers and money back on major races. You should also check out acca insurance on football bets that guarantee cashback or free bets if one leg lets you down. 

#2 Join a Betting Exchange

Online betting exchanges put you in the shoes of the bookmaker. You can lay, as well as back, wagers and take much higher odds than you’ll find at traditional online bookmakers. Plus, with “arbing” you can guarantee a small profit by betting both ways on the same race or football match. 

Match betting on exchanges isn’t for everyone, so we recommend starting small. Remember that you stand to lose money to other customers if you lay the wrong horse. 

#3 Do Your Research

This rule goes without saying, but researching multiple bookmakers and odds is essential when you cover bets. Your goal is to guarantee as much profit as possible. Therefore, you should open accounts with multiple bookmakers that offer a spread of markets and odds. You can also take advantage of a welcome bonus with each sportsbook that you join. 

#4 Find Sportsbooks That Allow Teasers

The point spread is a great wager for tweaking the odds in your favour. Remember that most point spread markets are fixed, but look for “teasers” where you get to choose the value of the spread yourself. 

It might reduce the odds drastically, but you stand a better chance of securing a profit. Plus, you can combine multiple teasers in one acca for better odds.

Jon Young
Jon Young Sports Betting Writer

Jon is an experienced journalist and editor working in the gambling industry for over 17 years. He started life as a football betting blogger before being bitten by the online poker bug, eventually becoming editor of some of the largest gambling and poker publications around, including Gambling Magazine and WPT (World Poker Tour) Poker Magazine.