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Dead Heat

What is ‘Dead Heat’?

Dead Heat is a betting term used to describe an event tie. In horse racing, dead heats are fairly rare as technology is used to determine which horse has won. When technology is employed to decide the winner it is called a ‘photo finish’, but sometimes if the horses are inseparable, the race will be declared a dead heat. This is referred to as a two-way dead heat. In other sports, such as golf, there can be a three, four, five-way dead heats or even more: this is particularly common if the bettor has placed a wager on a golfer finishing in a particular place. In this instance, the phrase ‘five-way dead heat for fourth’ might be heard.

‘Dead Heat’ Explained

Dead heats can often be frustrating for the bettor because it limits the amount they will receive in winnings. Since dead heats are particularly rare in horse racing, it’s extremely uncommon to find a bookie that will offer odds on a dead heat outcome. So bettors end up losing out if they back a horse that ends up technically winning a race, but sharing the win with another horse in a dead heat.

All bookies have a rule in place which will state that a dead heat will be paid out with half of the bettor’s stake receiving the full odds and the other half of the stake is completely lost. So if for example a bettor placed a £10 wager on a horse with odds at 12/1, their stake would essentially be reduced to £5 in the event of a dead heat win. That means instead of the bettor netting £130 (12/1 plus their £10 stake back) they would receive £65 (12/1 on a reduced £5 stake plus their £5 back). Essentially, dead heat rules state that the stake, instead of the odds, are halved.

If there are more than two finishers in a dead-heat, the stake is reduced accordingly depending on the exact number of finishers who are tied at the end of the race. The basic rule of cutting the stake down is something that bettors will find across every bookmaker that deals in fixed odds betting. The only difference that occurs is in tote betting. In this instance, the bettor will receive a returned dividend on their wager which is based on the amount of money in the pool.