A Beginners Guide to Cashing Out

When we place a bet we know that there is a possibility that we will never see that sum of cold, hard cash ever again; whether it's 10p or £100, that is the inherent risk for all punters. It's all or nothing, do or die, death or glory and other such slightly morbid sayings.

That was, of course, until the advent of Cash Out some time in the 2000s. Suddenly, bettors were now able to minimise their losses - or make hay while the sun shines - by taking the offer made by the bookmakers for them to close their bet. Right there and then, a new industry was born.

So what is Cash Out, and how can we use it to our advantage? Read on to learn everything you could ever possibly need to know about the punter's best friend - or worst enemy.

The Concept of Cash Out

With the technological revolution of the new millennium came a stack of innovations and opportunities for bookmakers. One of those was Cash Out, the idea that they could try to persuade winning punters to close their bets for an arbitrary sum while the selections are 'live'. Remember, the cash out amounts offered have the usual bookies' margins built in; a second line of defence.

But let's not do the idea of Cash Out a complete disservice: it enables punters to settle on a profit when their selections are going well, or claim some of their stake back when their chosen teams or sportsmen/women are doing badly, e.g. backing Team A to beat Team B, only to see Team A go a goal down or have a player sent off. As far as football is concerned, you can generally cash out from the first ten seconds to the last five minutes - giving punters around 85 minutes to analyse their position and act accordingly.

The mechanics of Cash Out are easy enough to follow: if you open up the Open Bets tab of your chosen bookmakers website or app, then you will typically see a cash out value outlined alongside your potential winnings for seeing the wager through to the bitter end. Some bookmakers, such as Coral, will even allow you to cash out bets placed in store! Be warned though that not all markets are eligible, as we will discuss later in this article.

How is the cash out amount calculated?

If you follow your bets in-play you will notice that the cash out value fluctuates throughout the event. This movement is based on significant events within it - a goal or red card in football, a break of serve in tennis, a faller in horse racing etc - and the amount offered will increase or decrease based upon these occurrences.

The way in which the bookmakers calculate the relevant cash out amount is straightforward enough: as the new set of odds are being calculated in real time, these will then be multiplied in the usual way with your original stake; factoring in the original odds as well.

For example, if you had backed Andy Murray at £10 at odds of 2/1 to beat Novak Djokovic, and Djokovic goes on to win the first set in a best-of-three encounter, then naturally your cash out value will decrease to significantly less than £5 in accordance with Murray's chances of winning the match and thus your bet being successful.

In contrast, if you had wagered a tenner on Tottenham to beat Manchester United at 2/1, and they were ahead 1-0 at half-time, then you would expect your cash out sum to go up to the region of £13 or maybe more as the bookmakers seek to cut their losses on your wager. This figure would slowly increase throughout the second half as the scoreline remained the same.

Delays and Suspensions

Due to the 'live' nature of Cash Out betting, the bookmakers quite fairly put a time delay in place to make sure that the price you accept is right at the moment you click the cash out button, and that any sudden movements in market prices are catered for. This is usually only around ten seconds, but in that period anything can happen; a goal could go in or a horse could unseat its jockey. If this is the case, then your Cash Out offer will be rescinded and a new sum offered.

Sometimes you will notice that your Cash Out bet is 'suspended', and this happens when a certain scenario is unfolding. If a goal goes in, or a penalty is awarded, then the cash out sum will be temporarily unavailable until the outcome is known. Sometimes a market suspension can occur for no major reason at all, so it is well worth watching/tracking the live action in some way so that you know why it has been suspended.

So can any bet be Cashed Out?

The short answer is no, not all markets are eligible for Cash Out. There are restrictions in place based upon the nature of the sport or the type of bet you want to place, but happily these are marked quite clearly these days by a Cash Out graphic next to the selection. If you see some kind of logo referring to cash out then you're golden.

Typically though most football, tennis and horse racing bets are covered, as are outright golf bets by some bookmakers. Your wagers can be cashed out either in-play or between selections, e.g. if the first three matches of an accumulator have come in and you want to take your money before the fourth leg kicks off later that day.

And how about Partial Cash Out?

It was bet365 who developed Partial Cash Out: an ability to take out some of your winnings and leave the rest to run.

So if you'd had that Tottenham bet against Man Utd and they were 1-0 up with 20 minutes to play, you could take some of the money offered by the bookmaker (let's say your £10 stake back), and leave the remaining offer in place until the final whistle. The amount left to run is calculated using the percentage of your original stake that is left open.

Most of the bookmakers operate a slider system, which makes it really easy to decide how much you want to partially Cash Out and how much you are willing to leave in play.

Cash Out Strategy

There is no right or wrong answer when answering the question; when is the right time to cash out?'. A successful cash out requires judgement and a bit of luck - as all sports betting does, ultimately.

But of course we can increase our chances of cashing out at the right time by following the golden rule: always do your homework. If you have backed a selection and your finger is hovering perilously close to the Cash Out button, make sure you check the relevant stats of the game on a website like the BBC or Sky Sports' Live Centre. Maybe your team is on top, and you should let your bet run on? Perhaps they are under the cosh, or have been reduced to ten men, in which case cashing out is the smart move. Only when you have the necessary level of insight can you pull the trigger on your bet confidently.

Another option when considering whether to cash out or not is to consider the rest of your betting portfolio. Imagine it's the typical Saturday afternoon, and you have settled in to watch Soccer Saturday with Jeff Stelling and friends. Maybe you've placed a number of different bets, and things are going swimmingly/terribly. This can help to make your cash out decision easier: if you're having a profitable weekend, you can let your bet run without fear. If you have lost a few wagers, then perhaps cashing out to cut your losses is smart.

Here are three other scenarios to consider:

One leg to go…..

We've all been there: the first five legs of our accumulator are in, and we're just waiting for the final result to be a winner to complete the set. They do say that fortune favours the brave, but in this example you are likely to be offered a handsome cash out value - much higher than your stake in percentage terms - to take the money and run. Consider the success rate of that final selection, and don't be afraid to take the profit. After all, that's the key to effective long term betting….

Last kick of the match

How often do you hear that: we were beaten by the last kick of the match? Late goals are such a regular occurrence, and during the 2015/16 Premier League campaign the most common timeframe for goals was the 75th-90th minute. It sends a shiver down the spine just thinking about it….

So consider your cash out value if your team is 1-0 up with 15 minutes to play. It could save a good day from turning into a very bad one.

Money Talks

If you need the money then there is absolutely no harm in cashing out. It's like turning away a man with a briefcase full of cash in the hope that a second fellow will come along with a bigger wad in his bag. As we will find out in the now infamous Leicester City example below, even what appears to be a 'bad' cash out can still be a frugal decision….

The Leicester City Angle

Cash Out has been available for a number of years now from most betting sites, but it was only this season in the Premier League where it really came to prominence and garnered widespread column inches in the mainstream media.

You probably know the story already: Leicester City won the title at a starting price of 5000/1. This wasn't David beating Goliath, this was David slaying 19 Goliaths over a five-month period.

It is remarkable to think that more than 30 people worldwide had actually backed the Foxes to achieve the impossible, although Cash Out led to many of these to undergo, shall we say, some rather in-depth thinking….

There were two sides to the argument as the season reached its business end: cash out for a huge profit in the knowledge that the pressure could become too much for Leicester, or stick with your bet in an all-or-nothing act of defiance?

There were examples of both reported. One young chap was adamant he was going to see his £5 wager on the Foxes through to the bitter end, but ultimately he opted for a partial cash out (initially for £5,680) and left his remaining £3 stake to run: turning down a flat Cash Out offer of £11,594. The rest is history….and the fella in question pocketed an additional £12,000 for his troubles.

At the other end of the spectrum, there was the other type of Cash Out punter: the bottler. A 20-year-old really didn't fancy Leicester's chances of coming away from Old Trafford with anything from their May 1st encounter with Manchester United. He cashed out his potential £5000 windfall for a 'measly' £1100. Leicester went on to get a point from the match, claim the title and cause the punter in question to lose £4000 for cashing out at the wrong time. But he still pocketed a grand, so in many ways he is still a big winner here.

With so much money at stake, none of us can say for sure how we would react in the same situation. What would you have done?