Dead Heats in Football Betting
What happens to your bets when the result ends up being a Dead Heat? Perhaps even more intriguingly, which bets can end in a Dead Heat in the first place? If we’re betting on something like a horse race or the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race then we know that there’s a chance that two horses or both teams could cross the finishing line at exactly the same moment, but when might that be the case in football? After all, you can literally bet on there being no winner in a match, should you wish to.
Football Dead Heats are very much a thing, however. I’ve already said that even a drawn game will result in a bet being a winner or a loser, so it’s obviously not that that leads to a conversation about Dead Heats between you and your bookie. When, then, might Dead Heat rules kick-in on football bets? I’ve had a look at the topic so I can tell you everything that you need to know.
What is a Dead Heat?
First things first, it’s important to understand exactly what it is that we’re talking about when we refer to things ending in a Dead Heat. After all, it’s no good me spending ages telling you about what will happen to your bet in that instance if you’ve know idea what might trigger the rules that dictate what happens to your bet. As I often say, it’s possible that you’ll know exactly what a Dead Heat is and will consider this section to be of no real use to you. If that’s the case then feel free to skip over to the next section, though I also think it’s important to have a look and see if what you think the rules are tallies with what the bookmakers say the rules are…
In the simplest terms possible, a Dead Heat is when two or more competitors finish exactly level and nothing can be used to separate them. The most obvious example is the one mentioned before with regards to horse racing. Two or more horses can cross the finish line at exactly the same moment, with not even a photo finish able to discern which of them should be declared the winner. When it comes to bets on the winner of a horse race, the only thing that matters is when the horses cross the finish line. One of the competitors could have led for the entire way with the other being last out of a field of twenty, but if they happen to cross the finish line at an identical moment then the result will be declared to be a Dead Heat.
Why Dead Heats in Football Are Rare
The reason it’s far more rare when it comes to bets placed on football markets is that systems are put in place to stop there from being Dead Heats in football wherever possible. Let’s say, for example, that two teams finish on exactly the same number of points at the end of a Premier League season. In that instance, you might expect that it would be called a Dead Heat. However, if points can’t separate them then the competition’s organisers will next see if they can be separated according to goal difference, which is the number of goals scored minus the number of goals conceded. If they remain the same after looking at that then ‘goals scored’ will be considered. If they remain the same even at that point then, for instances between candidates for the title or relegation, a deciding game will be played at a neutral venue to figure out which team will finish in which position.
Obviously the chance that a team will end a thirty-eight game round-robin campaign having notched up the same number of points, goals scored and goals conceded as another side is so small that it’s hardly worth serious consideration. Likewise the majority of other markets within the world of football tend to have various secondary considerations that will help to stop them being confused by ending in a Dead Heat. If you bet on the First Goalscorer of a game, for example, and there’s no goal then your bet will simply be a losing one. If you bet on the Last Goalscorer and the final goal in a ninety minute period is an own goal then the scorer of the goal before that – presuming that there was one – will be classed as the Last Goalscorer. There are very specific incidents in football betting that can end in Dead Heats, but even then it’s a rare occurrence for the reasons I’ve just outlined.
Dead Heat Markets in Football
Having said that Dead Heats are rare in football, it’s only right to talk about the various different markets that can end up in that situation. Some are more common than others, of course.
Of all of the various markets available for football matches, the one that most commonly ends in a Dead Heat is a bet on the Top Goalscorer of a given competition. Let’s look at the Premier League in 2016-2017 as an example. Here’s a list of the top five goalscorers that season, along with the number of goals that they netted:
- 1. Harry Kane – 29 Goals
- 2. Romelu Lukaku – 25 Goals
- 3. Alexis Sánchez – 24 Goals
- 4. Sergio Agüero – 20 Goals
- 5. Diego Costa – 20 Goals
In that instance you can clearly see that Harry Kane was the runaway Top Goalscorer with twenty-nine goals. Yet it’s also worth noting that both Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa finished the season having found the back of the net on twenty occasions. Obviously a bet on the Top Goalscorer wouldn’t have been interested in the player that finished fourth, but if they had both been that season’s Top Goalscorer then the market would’ve ended in a Dead Heat as far as the betting was concerned.
One of the most interesting examples of Dead Heats in Top Goalscorer betting occurred in the European Championships back in 2012. Despite all the theories of punters and bookmakers alike before the tournament began, it was actually quite a low-scoring competition. In fact, it was that low scoring that the most goals that any player scored was three. Three isn’t many when it comes to goals scored, even for a competition without a huge amount of games, so it was no surprise that a number of players managed to rack up that many. Here’s the list:
- Alan Dzagoev – Russia
- Cristiano Ronaldo – Portugal
- Fernando Torres – Spain
- Mario Balotelli – Italy
- Mario Gomez – Germany
- Mario Mandzukic – Croatia
I’ll explain how Dead Heat bets are paid out shortly, at which point you’ll realise that the fact that there were so many Top Goalscorers at the Euros in 2012 left quite a few punters feeling short-changed. The point remains, though, that Dead Heats are most commonly found in football when you bet on a specific number of things to happen. Goals scored is the most obvious example, but it’s not the only one.
Strikers and goal scorers always get the most praise when it comes to football for the simple reason that scoring goals is sexy and exciting. Yet it isn’t the thing that earns recognition from those in charge of leagues or competitions. It’s also important to acknowledge that goalkeeper who marshal their defences well and manage to keep clean sheets can contribute to teams winning divisions and trophies. In the Premier League, for example, the best goalkeeper is awarded the Golden Glove at the end of a campaign. Here’s a look at who kept the most clean sheets in the 2016-2017 season of the English top-flight:
- 1. Thibaut Courtois – 16 Clean Sheets
- 2. Hugo Lloris – 15 Clean Sheets
- 3. David de Gea – 14 Clean Sheets
- 4. Fraser Forster – 14 Clean Sheets
- 5. Petr Čech – 12 Clean Sheets
Much like with the Top Goalscorers, there was one goalkeeper who managed to keep more clean sheets than any other, which was Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois. It’s also interesting to see that two goalkeepers kept the same number of clean sheets, in the form of David de Gea and Fraser Forster. Had Hugo Lloris managed to keep one more clean sheet then that competition would also have ended in a Dead Heat and that would’ve effected the way that bets were paid out on by the bookies.
One thing worth bearing in mind is that, unlike with goalscorers, the number of goals conceded by a team is irrelevant when it comes to looking at that season’s best goalkeeper. That’s because a team might need to bring in a reserve goalkeeper at some point due to injury or illness, so the number of goals conceded can’t be assigned to one player as easy as the number of clean sheets attained. Just as well for Courtois that season, with both Spurs and Man United conceding fewer goals than Chelsea.
As you would expect, there are countless other markets that at least have the potential to end in a Dead Heat, though there’s no guarantee that a bookmaker will actually offer the market. You might be able to bet on the team that will be shown the most yellow cards in a competition, for example, or on the side that will finish bottom of a group.
If more than one team collects twenty yellow cards during the tournament then that bet will be subject to Dead Heat Rules, as would a bet on the team finishing bottom of a group if two sides picked up the same number of points, lost, won and drew the same amount of games and conceded and scored the same number of goals. Again, it’s not exactly the most likely thing to occur, but it does happen so it’s worth bearing in mind.
Keep an Eye on the Wording of a Market
Before I tell you about how a Dead Heat bet is settled it’s worth quickly mentioning the manner in which certain bookmakers phrase a bet. Going back to the example from earlier of the 2012 European Championships, if you’d bet with a bookie that asked you to predict the Top Goalscorer then you’d have ended up with at least some profit on the back of a bet on any of the six goalscorers that managed to find the back of the net three times. Yet UEFA actually refer to the winner of the Golden Boot for their tournaments, so it’s possible that a bookmaker might have offered a market on the ‘Winner of the Golden Boot’.
Those two things might seem like they’re the same, but in betting terms they’re not. That’s because, as with where a team finishes in the league, there are a number of criteria that UEFA use to separate players out into an order so that they can give one of them the ‘Golden Boot’ trophy. The first thing that they’ll consider is the number of assists that a player has managed during the tournament. If that’s the same, as it was for both Mario Gomez and Fernando Torres in the 2012 Euros, then the ‘minutes-per-goal’ ratio will come into play. Though they both scored three, Gomez took 281 minutes to score his, whereas Torres only required 189 minutes for the three goals that he scored. That gave Torres a GPM ratio of 63, whist Gomez’s was 93.66. As a result, UEFA declared the Spanish striker to be the winner of the Golden Boot and bookmakers who offered that market followed suit.
How Are Dead Heat Bets Settled?
We come on to arguably the most crucial question of all now, which is regarding how football bets that end in a Dead Heat are settled. As you might imagine, it’s ever so slightly convoluted and complicated. In its simplest form, the way to think about it is that Dead Heat returns involve splitting the stake placed by the number of entrants who ended the competition in the top-spot. That figure is then multiplied by the original odds that you received on the bet. If that’s a bit confusing still, I’ll break it down a little bit:
- Original Stake: £20
- Dead Heat Finishers: 2
- £20 / 2 = £10
- Original Odds: 5/1
- 5/1 x £10 = £50
As you can see, that’s quite an easy example. Things become more complicated when there are more than two competitors that finish in a Dead Heat. Let’s head back to that Euro 2012 example, when there were six strikers who ended the competition with the same number of goals to their name:
- Original Stake: £20
- Dead Heat Finishers: 6
- £20 / 6 = £3.33
- Original Odds: 5/1
- 5/1 x £3.33 = £16.66
The thing to remember is that it’s always your stake that gets divided by the number of competitors that finished in the Dead Heat spots, so the odds stay the same. That will make the maths easier for your to do if you’re trying to figure out how much money you’ve got coming your way, though it all gets complicated even further when you add in Each-Way bets that end in a Dead Heat…
How Are Each-Way Dead Heat Bets Settled?
Before I get into talking about the maths involved in Dead Heat finishes when you’ve placed an Each-Way bet, the really important thing to remember is that you don’t need to sit at home with your calculator working it all out. Whether you bet online or do it in a bookmaker’s shop, their computer will do the hard work for you and so you don’t need to get too stressed trying to figure it all out. That said, it’s possible that you’ll want to know how much you’re in-line to win or you might check your account and see that you’ve won less than you thought you would, so this will hopefully help you to understand why.
Let’s say that you placed an Each-Way bet on Hugo Lloris to finish the 2016-2017 season with the most clean sheets and, for the purposes of this example, let’s say that both Lloris and David de Gea ended up with fifteen clean sheets apiece. If the Each-Way bet pays out for four places at 1/4 of the odds, which is typical for Each-Way wagers, then your returns will be unaffected. However, if three goalkeepers had managed the same number of clean sheets in ‘third’ place then things get a bit more complex. Your selected goalkeeper will essentially have finished third, fourth and fifth, with an Each-Way bet paying out for the top for finishers. That means that two-thirds of your wager will have won – the third and fourth place finishes – whilst one-third of it will be a losing bet – the fifth place finish. In that instance your bet will be paid out as two-thirds a winner.
As I was saying, it’s complicated. Here’s what it would look like if you placed a £10 Each-Way bet on a goalkeeper to win the Golden Glove at odds of 20/1, paying four places at 1/4 odds with the goalkeeper tying for third with three other ‘keepers:
- Total Stake: £20
- Win Part of Bet: £10 Loser
- Each-Way Part of Bet: £10 Winner
- £10 / 3 Places = £3.33
- 2 Winning Places = £6.66
- 1/4 of 20/1 Odds = 5/1
- 5/1 x £6.66 = £33.30
Don’t get stressed if you can’t quite understand it, just use this as the basis for understanding why your Each-Way bet on a market that ended in a Dead Heat didn’t pay out as much as you thought it would! Do that and the whole process will seem so much easier and make much more sense!