In the world of sports, much can change quickly. An MLB game can seem all but wrapped up until an unexpected rally in the bottom of the ninth inning. An NFL game that looks all but finished can suddenly shift due to an untimely turnover in the fourth quarter.

Bettors are all too familiar with these situations, so much that the term “bad beat” exists to describe the ones that got away. It could be useful to have a little insurance on your side when your team has the lead, or even a way to cut your losses.

Actually, there are ways to do so. It’s called early cash-out betting, and it continues to grow in popularity. Some legal sportsbooks are offering it, and more might do so in the future. Here’s what you need to know about how to cash out early at legal US sportsbooks.

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Cashing out early in sports betting

Early cash-out betting is an increasingly popular option at sportsbooks. Bettors have the option of taking some profits early on a bet they have a good chance of winning, or of cutting their losses on wagers that appear to be going against them. The feature is available for different bets, but the exact terms and conditions can vary by sportsbook.

As an example, some might let you cash out standard bets such as point spreads, moneylines, and totals early, but stop short of offering it for props, parlays, and futures. Meanwhile, another book might allow the practice for the majority of the above, if not all of them.

For bettors, the appeal is having a bit more control over their funds. Since wagers that look like seemingly sure things can flip in an instant, the option to pull profits affords more control over the risk of that happening. Meanwhile, if you simply make a bad call and appear destined to lose, cashing out early lets you salvage at least a part of your stake.

Why do sportsbooks let you cash out early?

For starters, this is an option that continues to grow in popularity. Sports betting is a copycat industry. Sites and apps that are attracting users by offering innovative features quickly gain the notice of competitors, and that might lead them to adjust as a result. As an example, live betting was once a niche and it’s now available almost everywhere.

Beyond trying to have the features that customers want, sportsbooks also benefit from the early cash-out feature in both scenarios. By offering the option to take some profit before a final outcome, the sportsbook is limiting its own loss on that outcome. When you cash out a losing wager, the book is capturing some winnings early.

Outside of locking in profits and losses at set amounts, it’s also a tool that helps to build some goodwill among users. Regular bettors might be more inclined to take their business to a place that allows them to cash out early. The practice isn’t quite an industry norm just yet, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see it develop into one.

Where can you cash out early?

A number of the top legal online sportsbooks in the US allow you to cash out early. DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, PointsBet, BetMGM, and BetRivers are among those that offer the option at the moment. Most of these places say the option is to “cash out,” but BetRivers Sportsbook says “buy out.”

Whenever you get set to play at a new site or app, take the time to review the terms and conditions and the house rules. On your list of things to make note of should be the policy for cashing out, how it works, and any restrictions that might be in place. While many practices are standard across the industry, there can also be some site-specific rules and regulations.

How sportsbooks calculate early cash-out options

Just like setting odds and lines, sportsbooks will determine early cash-out choices by considering various factors. It comes down to what they deem to be the correct current value of the wager. It’s the same premise for potential profit-taking or for mitigating losses.

The sportsbook will consider things like the current odds for the outcome, what’s happening on the field of play, and the overall probability of the final result based on similar past situations. The amount that it displays as the cash-out option amounts to the final offer at the moment, but it’s naturally subject to change as events develop.

Taking early cash-out options

After you place your bets, the wagers will move over to the pending section. Once the game begins, the sportsbook will consider the bet to be action, and you’ll be able to view it without issue. Where you view wagers might vary by operator, but it’ll have a name along the lines of “my bets” or “pending bets.”

After the bet is live, the option to cash out will appear on this screen if it’s available. You might see an offer right away after the game starts, but it could also take some time for one to appear. Additionally, there’s no guarantee that the option will be there for every second of the contest. For example, the book might pull the option off the board for a tight game.

When it’s available, taking the option is as simple as clicking next to the bet to cash out. Just like placing a wager, you’ll need to confirm before proceeding. The sportsbook will process the request, with funds typically appearing in your account quickly.

Early cash-out examples

To further demonstrate how the cash-out function works at legal sportsbooks, let’s take a look at a couple of examples. For starters, let’s consider a spread bet for a NFL game between the New York Giants and New England Patriots. Spread bets can be found at plenty of the NFL sportsbooks.

The book has the Patriots as 4.5-point favorites, but you like the underdog Giants plus the points and place a $100 bet at odds of -110. It’s a tight game heading into the half, with the Patriots holding a slim 17-14 advantage. Fortunes change quickly after the break.

New England takes control in the third quarter and enters the final frame with a 30-17 lead. It’ll take some doing for New York to win the game, or even bring it close enough to cover the spread for your bet.

You check your pending wagers knowing that if you hold on until the end and the Giants come back to cover, you’ll win $90.90. Since that’s looking unlikely right now, the book offers you the option to cash out early to get back $17.50 of your original wager. The choice is up to you, but having the option to mitigate the damage on a potential loss is certainly worth considering.

Next, let’s say that you’ve placed a $20 three-leg moneyline parlay wager at the following odds:

If everything breaks just right, you’ll make a nice profit. You dig in for the slate of MLB games, and the first two go your way, so you just need the final leg to come in to have a winning bet. The book offers you the option to cash in early for a payout of $96.

To get the full payout, you’ll have to hold on until the last game goes final and hope that it goes your way. If it doesn’t, then you win nothing. Cashing out early, meanwhile, gives you the option of calling it a day early and banking some profits.

Pros and cons of cashing out early

As with all of the choices you can make with sports betting, there are cases for and against the choice to cash out early. Let’s begin with the pro side:

Those are valid arguments for pulling the trigger. What are the downsides? Here are a few points to consider:

As always, the ultimate choice resides with you and what works best for your situation. There might be times when it makes a lot of sense to cash out. But there will also be instances when hanging on seems to be the better choice.

When should you cash out early?

When deciding whether to take the deal, try to base your choice on the situation at hand, as well as your overall risk tolerance. There’s no single answer that will cover every situation that comes up, but here are some instances when cashing out early can make sense:

Generally, you’ll have to decide quickly. It’s not uncommon to view an offer and then have it go away right in front of your eyes. To relieve some of the pressure, work through the various scenarios in your head prior to the game.

Is there a minimum profit that you’d be really happy with? At what point would you want to cut your losses entirely? By arming yourself with the answer to those two questions, you should be able to make your cash-out decisions much quicker once the game gets underway.

Sports Betting 101

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Does it make sense to pass on cashing out?

The same applies here: There’s no blanket scenario that covers every possible situation, but there are times when taking a pass can be a wise choice. Here are a few examples:

On that last point, it’s imperative to remember that you should only be wagering with disposable funds that you can wager responsibly. Treat sports betting as entertainment – losses should not be creating any financial hardship.

Cashing out early is an added bonus and something that you can use to your advantage when the right situation arises.