What is a Dead Heat?

triple dead heat horse racing
Billharmatz, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A dead heat will be something you will have heard of while betting on sports. The most common place to hear this is in horse racing and greyhound racing, where there is no winner because the participants cannot be separated at the winning line.

In terms of watching the race, dead heats are great because you see an exciting, close contest, but for your betting, if you are involved, then it is not all good news. Firstly, the good part is you will be paid out as a winner with the bet you have placed. However, you won’t get it all because when you are involved with a dead heat, your bet stake will be divided by the number of participants in the dead heat.

More often than not, this is two, so your stake is halved, though this could be more, especially in a sport such as golf, which we will get to shortly. So yes, you will get a win, but it won’t be more than half of what you expect, the more participants involved in the dead heat, the smaller your return will be.

Understanding Dead Heat Rules

rules and regulationsIf you bet on a sport where dead heats can happen, even if they are rare, then you need to make sure you understand the dead heat rules, otherwise, when this happens to you, it will only result in disappointment.

The key to remember is this:

If your selection is involved in a dead heat, the maximum you will receive back is the winnings from half of your stake, it could be less.

The more participants involved in the dead heat, the bigger the divide number, which ultimately means that your payout is going to be less.

Some people think that you half the odds rather than the stake when you are involved in a dead heat, but this is wrong and will give a slightly different payout. Essentially the bookmakers take part in winning bets on all the participants to make a full winning bet, rather than lowering the odds.

If two are involved, it’s a 50% winning bet and a 50% losing bet for both involved. If three are in the dead heat, you have a 33% winning bet, with three participants paid out.

How Do Bookmakers Pay Out a Dead Heat?

bookmaker dead heat rulesThere is a simple equation to use, which will help you work out the returns from your bet when a dead heat is involved.

Stake / number of participants in the dead heat * odds of your bet

Here’s our example to show how simple this is for punters to work out themselves.

£10 bet at 5/1 in a race where two participants have been involved in the dead heat.

£10 / 2 = £5

£5 at 5/1 = £5 x 5 = £25

Plus your £5 stake back.

Total payout = £30

One key point to make, you always get your stake back when you have a winning bet, and with a dead heat, the only stake you get back is that used on the winner. So, as the example above, the stake you get back is the £5 used on your winner, rather than the £10 you initially staked on the selection.

What Sports Can Have a Dead Heat?

horse raceDead heats are rare in any sport, but if there is a sport they are most associated with, then it is certainly any kind of racing, such as horse racing and greyhound racing. Therefore, if you are betting on these sports, knowing the dead heat rules are even more important, just in case you are involved in a dead heat race in the future.

However, other sports can also have dead heats, though these are only on selected markets. For example, with golf, there is a playoff to determine the winner, so there is no dead heat for the winner, but you may see dead heats on the place market, with each way betting, as players can be tied here and left as that.

Something outright such as a top scorer market for the Premier League is another potential for a dead heat, so look out for this if you are using these kinds of markets on football or other sports.

The good news is that bookmakers have a set rule in place to settle each way bets, they all do it using the same method. The only time this may not happen is if the bookmaker has some kind of double payout offer available for selected events, so if there is a dead heat, they will pay the full amount for all participants involved in the dead heat. This means your winnings won’t be affected, so if you ever come across this, then it is certainly an offer you should consider using while you bet, just in case you are in a dead heat.