Dead Heat Rules: What Happens to My Bet?

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The term “dead heat” came from sports racing and it’s referring to when two participants finish exactly even. Sportsbooks have developed specific rules on how to payout bettors who select a participant who ties with multiple others. A dead heat is most common in sports like golf and horse racing.

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What Are Dead Heat Rules?

Dead Heat Rules decide how winnings will be calculated in the event of a tie. The easiest way to understand it is you essentially win part of your bet. The rules involve the stake and the odds.

In a race or tournament that ends in a dead head, your stake would be divided by the total number of participants in the tie and then multiplied by the odds. If you select a horse to win and there is a 2-way tie for 1st place, your stake would be divided by one-half (50%) because 2 horses tied for 1 potential place.

How Often Does a Dead Heat Occur?

You will see these types of situations occur most often in golf as sports bettors are picking a specific player to finish in the top 5, 10, 15, and so on.

You see other bets in golf such as first-round leader where these rules would also apply. How often it occurs depends on the sports and the type of technology being used to determine the winners.

Why Are Dead Heat Rules Used in Sports Betting?

Let’s say that you wager on Rory McIlroy to finish in the top 10 at the Masters and he finishes tied for 9th with 3 golfers. There were 3 golfers tied for 2 potential spots in the top 10. How does a sportsbook grade the bet? This is why the rules apply.

In these types of cases, it is necessary to have a set of rules in place to determine how the bet will be settled. The dead heat rules are used to determine how the bets will be paid out, taking into account the number of competitors involved in the dead heat and the specific terms of the bet.

Overall, the use of dead heat rules in sports betting is intended to provide a fair and consistent way of determining the outcome of bets when two or more competitors finish a race or event in a tie. This helps to ensure that bettors are paid out accurately and fairly, and helps to maintain the integrity of the sports betting market.

Also, let’s be honest, sportsbooks are also protecting themselves. If a million people take Tiger Woods to finish in the top 5 in his next tournament and he finishes tied for 5th with 4 other golfers, that would be a lot of money for the winners to get paid on their original bet.

Betting Exchange: What Happens if There is a Dead Heat?

At most bet exchanges, the same rules would apply if there was a dead heat. If your selection was involved in a tie you would divide your stake by the number of other participants. This will have an impact on your overall profit just like at a sportsbook.

In Which Sports Does it Happen?

It’s not as common in sports betting to see a dead heat in horse racing but it does happen. There have been times when two horses finished tied for first and the rules needed to be applied.

Dead heats in golf are more commonplace as bettors are placing wagers on a player like Justin Thomas to finish in the top 5 or top 10. With an 80-player field, there is the potential for ties. You could see 4 or 5 participants tie for a position in which the rules would need to be applied. This would cause you to win part of your bet instead of getting that full payout.

How Do Payouts Happen in a Dead Heat?

The payouts are pretty straightforward if the stake is divided and the odds do not change. You take the original odds of your bet and multiply them by the stake divided by the number of winners in the tie. It can get a little more complicated in a sport like golf. Let’s take a look at an example and do a calculation.

How to Calculate Dead Heat Rule

You find yourself in a situation where two or more participants tie which means dead heat rules apply. Let’s check out an example from a golf tournament. Let’s say you bet on Dustin Johnson to finish in the top 5 at the US Open. Here are the results of the tournament:

1: McIlroy -9

2: Thomas -8

3: Fowler -7

4: Rose -5

T-5: Johnson -3

T-5: Morikawa -3

T-5: Spieth -3

T-5: Garcia -3

As you can see, we’ve got four players tied for 5th place. The sportsbook will apply dead heat rules here. Since four players tied for one potential 5th-place spot, your wager would be cut by a fourth (1/4). If your original wager was $100 with odds of +200, here’s how your payout would work.

100/4 x 2 =

Your wager of $100 is divided by 4 because of the rule. Then you would multiply that by 2 because the odds were +200 which is a payout of 2 to 1.

100/4 = 25

25 x 2 = $50

Now if you include the $25 wager you will be getting a payout of $75 which is actually a -$25 loss. So it’s impossible to lose part of your bet. This is where dead heat rules can cause you not to get the return you hoped for.

At most sportsbooks, your stake will be cut by the number of golfers relative to the spots available. A few books might cut the odds so be sure to check your sportsbook for its official rules.

How Do I settle a Dead Heat Bet?

The sportsbook will take care of the calculation based on the rules they have set forth. There is no need for you to do your own calculation to figure out what your payout will be.

Do Sportsbooks Use Dead Heat Rules to Their Advantage?

Sportsbooks set specific dead heat rules and stick to them. They don’t take advantage of bettors and make sure the rules are part of their terms and conditions. If you need to know more about your sportsbook’s rules, contact customer service.

Dead Heat Rules FAQ

What are dead heat rules?

Dead Heat rules are put in place by a sportsbook to determine the payout for events in which there might be multiple participants in a tie. These are seen in sports like horse racing and golf.

What happens to odds in a dead heat?

Most sportsbooks will not cut the ends in a dead heat situation. They will instead divide your original stake by the total number of participants tied for the position. A few books might cut the odds so be sure to understand your sportsbook’s rules.

How does a dead heat payout?

It is paid out like other bets after the calculations are made. If you bet $100 on Dustin Johnson to finish in the top 5 and he tied for 5th with 1 other player your stake would be cut in half to $50. That would be multiplied by the odds to get the winnings.

In Which Sports Do Dead Heats Happen?

You will see dead heats in sports such as golf, horse racing, greyhound racing, swimming, and motorsports.

Are dead heats common?

They aren’t as common as you might think. The sport in which they occur the most is golf due to the high number of players taking part in a tournament.


Sam Russell

Sam hails from Grandville, Michigan, and was Betsperts' first employee back in January 2019. He has a rich sports background, including playing baseball at Central Michigan before covering high school sports and working with the Orlando Magic. He earned his degree from Central Michigan University and was a member of the 2010 MAC Championship baseball team.

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