Dead Heat Rules Explained

Last updated February 12th, 2020

A dead heat is when two or more selections in an event tie. You could have a two-way dead-heat in a horserace or even a five-way dead-heat in golf (especially for the places in a golf tournament, say a five-way dead-heat for third).

So what are the bookmaker and sportsbook rules when there is a dead-heat for betting purpose?

The rule is that if two selections dead-heat for any placing, half the stake is applied to the selection at full betting odds and the other half of the stake is lost.

If more than two dead-heat, the stake is proportionally reduced accordingly.

  • For example, if you have £10 win bet at 10/1 on a horse and it dead-heats for first place with another horse, then your betting stake is reduced to £5. You are returned £55 (ie: £5 win at 10/1 = £50 + £5 stake returned = £55 returns to you).

In a dead-heat scenario, what does not happen is that the betting odds are halved. That is not the same thing as halving the stake at all and returns a different figure. If the odds were halved then in the example above you would have a £10 win bet at 5/1 (odds 10/1 halved) = £50 +£10 betting stake returned = £60 returned. That does not happen.

Do you see the difference? If you half the betting odds then the full stake is returned to you. If you half the stake then only half the stake is returned to you.

In betting, the dead-heat rules are that it is the STAKE that is halved not the betting odds.

Obviously were it a three-way tie / dead-heat then the stake would be reduced to one third of the original stake. So a £9 bet placed at 10/1 would become a £3 bet placed at 10/1.

These dead-heat rules are applied in this way universally across all bookmakers and sportsbooks in fixed odds betting. Only with Tote betting is it slightly different because in Tote betting a dividend will be returned for your selection according to the amount of money in the pool. The Tote dividend will already have accounted for the fact there was a dead-heat situation.