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Golf Matchup Betting: Why You Shouldn’t Bet Three-Way Lines With Tie as an Option

Golf Matchup Betting: Why You Shouldn’t Bet Three-Way Lines With Tie as an Option article feature image
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Sam Greenwood/Getty Images. Pictured: Webb Simpson

We’ve covered the difference between two-way and three-way golf matchup bets before. But there’s never a better time to revisit why you shouldn’t bet betting three-way matchups than the WGC-Dell Match Play, which is … entirely matchups.

Here are the two main ways to bet head-to-head matchups in golf:

  • Two options with a tie resulting in a push and your money refunded
  • Three options with a tie as a longshot option

It doesn’t seem likely that two golfers will finish with the exact same score over 72 holes.

But you should not be betting these three-way lines, because they allow sportsbooks to subtly bake even more juice into these markets.

Why You Shouldn’t Bet Three-Way Matchups with Tie as an Option

This concept is outlined in more detail in the excellent book The Logic of Sports Betting, along with some other examples.

First, a quick note on implied probability.

All odds (in sports betting and otherwise) are really just the implied probabilities of all the possible outcomes added up. A coin flip is 50-50 and adds up to 100% because there are only two outcomes.

In sports betting, implied probabilities always add up to more than 100%, because the sportsbook takes a cut. Two NFL point spreads at -110 add up to about 104.76% — so sportsbooks over the long run will keep about 4.76% of all money wagered.

Here’s the kicker — the more the sum of those probabilities goes over 100%, the more of an advantage the sportsbook has.

Take this matchup from the 2022 WGC-Dell Match Play on Thursday. All lines are from Bet365.

In the two-way matchup with just the players listed, you’d get your money back if they tie. And the sportsbook has a 5.56% hold.

Golfer Odds Implied Probability
Webb Simpson -125 55.56%
Bubba Watson +100 50%
Total 105.56%

Now let’s add up the probabilities with the tie, where you would not get your money back if it ends all square.

The hold increases to 9.5%.

That’s similar to betting every NFL point spread at -120, which you would never do.

Golfer Odds Implied Probability
Webb Simpson +100 50%
Bubba Watson +115 46.51%
Tie +650 13.33%
Total 109.84%

By making it a three-way market, the sportsbook removes the tie as a way for you to get your money back, which doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but will cost you about $4.30 more for every $100 wagered in the long run. (5.56% hold vs. 9.84% hold).

And I know what you’re thinking — if you can bet Webb Simpson at +100 instead of -125, shouldn’t you do that?

No, because you want the option to get your money back if it’s a tie.

The tie is going to happen pretty often. At the 2022 Valspar Championship, 11 of the 68 listed round-by-round matchups (per Data Golf) ended in ties.

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