Confusing Concepts: Asian Handicaps And Dead Heat Rules

Unabated Staff
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December 15, 2021

asian handicaps dead heat rules

Sports bettors evolve. They start with easy to understand bets. If a soccer team is -1, then a win by two is good and a win by one is the proverbial kissing your sister. A line of -1½ means the team would have to win by two. Eventually they come across a -1¼ spread and they assume it is the same thing as a -1½ bet. Their team wins by 1 and they’re confused when they get money back for this. They’ve just stumbled upon Asian Handicaps and they don’t understand it.

Later while betting Golf, they place a wager on their favorite golfer to finish in the Top 10 of a tournament. He just barely makes it. However, the bettor is confused when his wager returns just a fraction of what they were expecting. This time it is the Dead Heat Rule tripping them up. In this article, we’ll explain both.

 

How To Bet Asian Handicaps

Asian Handicaps split your bet in two.  In the case of -1¼, half the bet went to -1 and the other half went to -1½. Here is a table to explain the possible outcomes of a wager on -1¼ +100.

ResultBet Result
Team LosesEntire wager loses
DrawEntire wager loses
Team Wins by 1Half of wager loses
Team Wins by 2+Entire wager wins

 

There are examples where you can win half your stake as well. For instance, if you bet on a team at +1¼ +100 and that team loses by exactly 1, you would win half your bet and push the other half. In the end, this type of handicap can be explained relatively easily if you think about half of your bet going to two different bets. Here is an easy cheat sheet:

Asian HandicapBet Result
+1¾ on Team A vs Team BHalf to Team A at +2 and half to +1½
+1¼ on Team A vs Team BHalf to Team A at +1½  and half to +1
+¾ on Team A vs Team BHalf to Team A at +1 and half to +½
+¼ on Team A vs Team BHalf to Team A at +½  and half to Team A draw no bet
-¼ on Team B vs Team AHalf to Team  B at -½  and half to Team B draw no bet
-¾ on Team B vs Team AHalf to Team B at -1 and half to -½
-1¼ on Team B vs Team AHalf to Team B at -1½ and half to -1
-1¾ on Team B vs Team AHalf to Team B at -2 and half to -1½

 

Asian Handicaps can strongly change the Expected Value (EV) of a bet. We won’t go too deep in to how but if the betting model you are using has a 30% chance of a draw and a 30% chance of a team to win by 1 then getting that -¼ instead of -½ will vastly improve your EV.

The most common sport for Asian Handicaps is Soccer. Many US sportsbooks don’t even bother carrying Asian Handicaps or they bury them deep in their menus. This is largely due to the confusion they cause new bettors. Many bettors would probably like having these two-for-one bets if they understood them better. Now that you understand it better, hopefully you can leverage this knowledge.

 

How Dead Heat Rules Are Calculated

Another confusing concept for many new bettors is when their wager results in a dead heat and you get just a fraction of the return you were expecting. Dead Heats can result in a loss or a diminished return of your original bet. A Dead Heat result is most common in Golf but can also happen in racing. So what is a Dead Heat?

A Dead Heat happens when multiple players tie for a position and either your stake or your cut is diminished by the amount of players tied for that position. That may not clarify things. The easiest way to understand this betting return is with a couple of examples.

 

Examples of Dead Heat Rules

Let’s say you had $30 Tiger Woods to finish Top 5 at +600. The infamous Woods manages to tie for 5th with two other players (three-way tie for 5th). In this example, depending on the bookie, your stake or your odds will be split by the three way tie. Part of the confusion for many bettors is not understand if their sportsbook cuts the stake or cuts the odds with their Dead Heat Rules.

If stake is cut:

Your $30 bet on Tiger turns into a $10 bet but you keep the same odds of +600 and you walk away with $70 total (your stake + the profit derived from the bet).

If odds are cut:

Your $30 bet stays at $30 but the odds are divided by 3 so you have $30 at +200 and you walk away with $90 total (your stake + the profit derived from the bet).

As a rule of thumb – you want the odds cut and not the stake. This is because when they cut the stake that you wagered you lose the difference. The $30 bet on Tiger became a $10 bet and you lose the $20 of difference.

 

Losing Money Due To Dead Heat Rules

There are also examples where you can lose money due to a Dead Heat. If you had $100 on Dustin Johnson to finish top 10 at +200 and he finished tied for tenth with four other players there are two possible scenarios that could happen.

If stake is cut:

Your $100 bet on DJ turns into a $25 bet but you keep the same odds of +200 and you walk away with $75 total (your stake + the profit derived from the bet). You originally staked $100 in this scenario and you ended with a $25 loss.

If odds are cut:

Your $100 bet stays at $100 but the odds are divided by 4 to bring you to -200 and you walk away with $150 total (your stake + the profit derived from the bet). This scenario ends with a $50 profit.

 

Dead Heat Rules With Uneven Odds

If you had $20 on Brooks Koepka to finish top 5 at +800 and he finished tied for 4th with 3 other players (spots 4-6 were a tie), then you would use ⅔ to divide your odds or stake. This is because if the three players tied, two of the spots were in the top 5 = two-thirds.

If stake is cut:

Your $20 bet on Brooks turns into a $13.33 bet but you keep the same odds of +800 and you walk away with $120 total (your stake + the profit derived from the bet).

If odds are cut:

Your $20 bet stays at $20 but the odds are multiplied by ⅔ so you have $20 at +533 and you walk away with $126.66 total (your stake + the profit derived from the bet).

 

How To Determine How Your Sportsbook Handles Dead Heats

At this point, you are probably anxious to know which sportsbooks cut stake and which sportsbooks cut odds. Sportsbooks post this information in their House Rules. Every sportsbook displays their House Rules somewhere on their site. Typically, House Rules are 98% the same across sportsbook brands. However, their Dead Heat Rule is one area where you definitely should do the homework to determine their stance.

Remember, the better approach for the bettor is when odds are cut, not stake. Unfortunately, among US operators, it is primarily stake that is cut though. Among those which cut stake not odds: Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, ScoreBet, and all Kambi books (such as BetRivers, Parx, PlaySugarhouse, and Unibet). Currently, PointsBet stands alone on cutting odds not stake. Meanwhile, BetMGM doesn’t use Dead Heat Rules at all. All wagers pay their stated amount regardless of whether the participants finished tied.

Be aware, however, that the benevolence of PointsBet and BetMGM comes at a cost. They typically have higher theoretical hold percentages for their Golf markets that could result in dead heats. You can calculate the theoretical hold for a market by entering all the lines into our Hold Calculator.

 

Conclusion

For both Dead Heats and Asian Handicaps the best thing to do is not overcomplicate things. When betting them and calculating your expected value – just take it one step at a time. Both are complicated topics on the whole.  However, break them down into parts and they are extremely easy to understand. Simply understanding these two topics will help you as you are attempting to do what very few men (or women) ever do – beat the book.

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