Single word request for a betting strategy where two players work together, take opposite sides of a bet, and realize a net gain/loss of 0 (or close to 0).

Theoretical example: In the championship game, the Bulls are playing the Bears. "Tony" and "Raj" are working together: Tony bets USD100 on the Bulls, while Raj bets USD100 on the Bears. One will win, one will lose.

  1. The Bulls win? Tony wins $100, Raj loses $100, Tony pays Raj $100, and both players realize a net gain/loss of 0.
  2. The Bears win? Raj wins $100, Tony loses $100, Raj pays Tony $100, and both players realize a net gain/loss of 0.

(Of course, in reality, there will be fees, a vigorish, and other risks that cost...)

What is the term to describe this?

Aside: Why would be people do this? At face value, it seems pointless, but it's incredibly useful. It can be creatively used in many ways; for example: to avoid a variety of fees, hold positions without actually selling them out, and accrue playing time for perks. Generally this strat can be used to move money through "bets" or "wagers," which typically face a whole different set of regulations than standard withdrawals.


3 Answers 3


I think you are looking for A zero-sum game:

a situation where, if one party loses, the other party wins, and the net change in wealth is zero. Zero-sum games can include just two players or millions of participants.


  • hmmm.... pretty good answer. Do you know if there's a betting-specific term?
    – kmiklas
    Dec 30, 2022 at 19:52
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    @kmiklas - I think it is used in betting too. betandbeat.com/betting/blog/is-sports-betting-a-zero-sum-game a zero-sum game bet.
    – user 66974
    Dec 30, 2022 at 19:54
  • Thanks all, I appreciate your answers.
    – kmiklas
    Dec 30, 2022 at 20:54
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    A zero-sum game is a game, not, a strategy. I think that the OP means to hedge his bet, or, with a partner, to eliminated as much risk as possible going forward whether a bet was already made, or not. Hedging a bet has many possible applications. Dec 30, 2022 at 23:48
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    @kmiklas. Many ways of hedging a bet. Some, when they want to lock in a win, but, still have to run through so much "coin" before an online casino will allow them to cash out with a bonus. So, they bet both sides of a bet at the same time, which amounts to paying the vig. only. Amounts to reducing the variance. Done, in teams, at brick and mortar casinos during some promotion that makes it profitable to do so, combined with the "theo" or "mailers" (comps). There is "running it twice or more often" in a big all-in poker pot. Also by pitting one sports line against another for a profit. Dec 31, 2022 at 23:42

They're laying off their bets with each other...

Laying off a bet refers to betting against something you have already backed.

Raj and Tony each back their chosen team to win with the bookmakers, but they each then "lay it off" by betting with the other that their team will in fact lose.

One obvious context where two people might want to lay off their bets with each other ("back-to-back"), is so that as individuals they can enjoy enjoy the thrill of making relatively high stakes bets during "a day at the races", secure in the knowledge that collectively they'll only be slightly out of pocket at the end of the day (one of them should lose slightly more than the other wins).

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    Lay betting is to bet against... like betting the "Don't Pass" line in craps, or that something will not happen.
    – kmiklas
    Dec 31, 2022 at 5:42
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    The indented line I cited in my answer appears about halfway through a fairly long webpage. All the stuff before that point is concerned with explaining exactly what "lay betting" means, but my actual cite is a section titled What Does Laying Off a Bet Mean? And immediately before the cite it says This is different (i.e. - "laying off a bet" isn't exactly the same thing as "lay betting"); My father-in-law was a (British) bookie - I often heard him talk about "laying off" bets (where he had "risky" exposure), but I don't recall him ever mentioning "lay betting". Dec 31, 2022 at 13:06
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    Laying off doesn't really work that way. It's done with the same "book" you placed your bet at. Dec 31, 2022 at 23:47
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    In fact, doing something like that at a casino is illegal. Dec 31, 2022 at 23:53
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    Like I said, my father-in-law was a bookie. I can't imagine what legal principle could possibly justify banning a couple of punters who followed this approach specifically to limit their losses in a casino. I imagine that like UK casinos, US casinos can ban anyone they [don't] like, so long as the reason isn't based on ethnicity / religion / gender - but I can't see any commercial reason for such a ban either, since by definition their profit margin is unaffected by the practice. Whatever - US laws may be very different to what I'm familiar with as a Brit. Jan 1 at 11:25

A zero-sum game is a game, between opponents, not, a strategy for cooperation. I think that the OP means to hedge his bet, or, with a partner, to eliminate as much risk as possible going forward whether a bet was already made, or not. Hedging a bet has many possible applications.

In other words, why the heck play such a game with yourself, or, similarly, with a partner who will give back the winnings? Why then not just play the game without any betting, ie, bets of nothing? And, forget about the "house" vig. all together.

  • Yes, why the heck would someone play such a game? That's moronic, isn't it?
    – kmiklas
    Dec 31, 2022 at 5:28
  • Exactly, but the guys in here don't often know what they are talking about. Some really queer answers get the check mark. Everything ends up "scrubbed" up according to who has the more points. But who cares? Makes for a good laugh, now, and then. Dec 31, 2022 at 23:51

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