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Dead heat: Understanding how ties can impact your golf bets and profits

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Viktor Hovland hits a tee shot at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)

Viktor Hovland hits a tee shot at the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. (Keyur Khamar/PGA TOUR)



    Written by Staff @PGATOUR

    In golf betting, the outright market is pretty straightforward: Wager on a player, then see if they win the tournament. But what about derivate markets like Top 5, Top 10 or Top 20? That’s where a tie can sometimes come into play – and things can get a little tricky when calculating potential profit.

    For these markets, many sportsbooks invoke “dead heat” rules for their player finishing and other similar markets, so it’s imperative as a bettor you get a clear understanding of what that means.

    Dead heat rules are those guidelines that comes when two or more participants tie for a position where there is an active market. For example, when three players tie for 10th place at the end of a tournament. How are top-10 bets on each of those three players paid out?

    While some sportsbooks pay ties in full, others won’t. The dead heat rules can affect your potential winnings because when a dead heat happens, your original stake can be divided by the number of tied winners. Your winnings are then calculated based on a reduced stake.

    For example, if you place $100 on Rory McIlroy to finish in the top 10 at +200 at THE PLAYERS Championship and he finishes tied 10th with Scottie Scheffler and Jason Day, the original stake of $100 is divided by three (since there are three winners), and your winnings are calculated on a $33.33 stake instead of $100. Essentially one-third of your stake on your original McIlroy bet is paid out based on the +200 odds, while the other two-thirds are graded as a loss.

    But let’s look at a real-world example from last season from the Arnold Palmer Invitational presented by Mastercard. The final leaderboard, shown below, has four players tied for fourth and four players tied for 10th.

    Top 5

    In the example of Top 5 betting, Patrick Cantlay (+500), Tyrrell Hatton (+650), Scottie Scheffler (+200) and Jordan Spieth (+750) have all tied for fourth place, giving two more winners than allocated in the top five finishing positions. They occupy position Nos. 4-7 on the leaderboard but in a “dead heat.”

    Given we have four players for two spots, the stake graded as a win drops by half. So a $100 bet on any of the four players becomes what a $50 bet gets paid out. This can be significant.

    Taking Cantlay as an example, you originally bet $100 hoping to profit $500. With the stake graded dropping by half, due to the dead heat, you lose $50 of the original stake. Your $100 bet is now classed as $50. The bet is still a win, although a dead heat, so a $50 bet at +500 will return $300. But, because the original stake was $100, and the money you return is $300, the overall profit is $200 from your initial wager.

    If you took Scheffler hoping for a $200 profit, your initial $100 wager would be cut to $50 due to the dead heat. This would in turn be classed as a $50 bet at +200, and it will return $150. This drops the overall profit to just $50.

    Top 10

    If we are talking about the Top 10 betting from this tournament, we can see four players tied for 10th in Keegan Bradley (+550), Jason Day (+270), Viktor Hovland (+340) and Cameron Young (+290). In this case, there are four players taking up one spot, so only one quarter of your initial wager would be graded as a winner, with the other three-fourths considered a loss.

    A $100 bet on Bradley with hopes of a $550 profit would have the stake graded as a winner reduced to $25, so the profit is diminished. You lose $75 from the initial outlay, then win a $25 bet at +550 for a $162.50 return. Your overall profit is $87.50, a far cry from $550.

    While Bradley was a win, let’s look at Day in this scenario. The first $75 is lost from your initial $100 before getting a win on a $25 bet at +270. The payout is $92.50, but when we subtract our $75, we are left with just $17.50 profit. Had Day or one of these competitors been at lower odds, say +200, then your return would be just the $75 already lost for an overall push on the initial wager.

    Make sure you read up on your own sportsbook’s rules. While some reduce the stake as referenced above, it is possible that yours may cut the odds. This can be more beneficial. So, rather than reducing the stake on your Bradley Top 10 bet from $100 to $25, they may cut the odds to a quarter the original.

    In this example your $100 bet on Bradley to Top 10 would become odds of +137.5, bringing $137.50 profit.

    As referenced before, some sportsbooks, like BetMGM in the U.S., pay ties in full. Generally speaking, their odds in these markets will be a little less generous, but even if 10 players tied for 10th, they’ll pay at full odds.

    As always, it’s important to shop around and ensure you’re getting the best prices before placing any bets – and that you aren’t caught off-guard by the fine print when a leaderboard tie threatens to impact your bankroll and profits!

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