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