Dead heats in racing occur when multiple participants cross the finishing line at exactly the same time and cannot be split, even by the most minimal fractions of a second. In the world of betting, and more accurately paying out, dead heat returns are calculated by dividing the stake proportionally between the amount of winners that tied on the line. Dead heats can also occur in the runner up positions and other places.

A dead heat is when two, or sometimes more, runners in an event finish at the same time and cannot be separated whatsoever. While when winners tie it means that the event has more than one winner, and if you backed one of these you will still get paid. However, you will not get paid in full as your selection wasn’t the only winner. There are many that subscribe to the view that bookies should pay out in full on all of these winners but that just is not practical. Instead, you will normally find that the rules apply within a bookmaker’s terms and conditions.

It dictates the way bookmakers settle undecidable ties and, for the most part, are universal. However, while most bookmakers will apply identical rules for sports and betting markets, you may, from time to time, come across exceptions. Payouts from dead heats are calculated by dividing the stake by the number of runners contesting the tie. This means that a two-way dead heat would be divided by two and a three way split by three and so on. This is purely because your bet only part won so would only get an equivalent pay out.

### Each Way Bets

There is of course the issue of what might happen in the case of each way bets and dead heats results. It is actually more common with each way bets and the majority of the time will have no impact whatsoever on your bet. If two selections tie in a dead heat for second place, then you get paid half second and half third which will both be paid at the same rate so effectively you get the full return. If, however, three horses finish in a dead heat for third then your selection will get paid 1/3 for third place, 1/3 for fourth place and 1/3 for fifth place. So, depending on the amount of places paid, you’ll scoop a return for each of the places your selection made while being deemed a loser for any selections or finishes outside the designated payment places.

In this case, you will not be paid the full amount. Instead, your winnings will be reduced depending on the number of runners who have tied. The amount paid out is normally calculated by dividing your total stake by the number of runners involved in the dead heat and multiplying that figure by the odds of your selection.

While we do understandably tend to think of dead heats as being a factor in horse racing and dog racing, there are occasions when they can apply to other sports too.

### Horse Racing

Before we take a look at some of the other sports where it occur, we should acknowledge the two sports where dead heats play a big role on a daily basis, horse racing and dog racing. Such is the nature of horse racing that dead heats are a typical occurrence as horses set the exact same finishing times. When this happens, dead heat rules – as stated above – will most likely apply.

### Dog Racing

The same is true of greyhound racing. These races last a matter of seconds and it is very common for dead heats to occur as dog’s sprint over the finish line in replica times. When, and only when, the stewards are unable to separate the dogs, dead heat rules will apply.

### Formula One

While dead heats almost never happen in motor sport, they are entirely possible. They do not occur very naturally in this racing sport and are even hard to engineer, as Michael Schumacher proved in 2002. When they do happen, you can expect bookmakers to apply the standard rules to any bet you may have placed.

### Cricket

In some forms of cricket, say test matches, it is entirely possible for teams to finish on exactly the same score after five days of play. This, of course, is a tie and is a very rare but entirely possible outcome. Note though, that a tie and a draw are not the same thing. In cricket, a draw is what happens when the match cannot be completed because it has run out of time. Whereas ties only occur when the match has been completed and both teams have finished with the exact same score, hence the unbreakable dead heat. The way that bets are settled in these circumstances is to split your stake in half while draw bets are chalked off as losers.

### Football

Yes, even some football bets can end in a dead heat. For example, take some season long bets and/or tournament performance bets such as top goal scorer bets or most assists. This is a market that could very easily be tied. And, if this does prove to be the case, as it was for the English Premier League top goal scorer charts in 2018/19, then bets will be settled according to standard dead heat rules.

### Golf

In golf, dead heats on each way bets are fairly commonplace. Not on the outright winner, but among the following few finishers. With such huge fields taking part, plus each way places being paid from anywhere between four and eight finishes, dead heats are almost guaranteed and, unlike tourney winners, will not be decisively concluded by way of a playoff. As ever, your winnings will be reduced depending on the number of golfers who tied in the places.

Dead heats can affect a huge range of sports but are mostly relevant when multiple dogs or horses cross the winning line at the exact same moment and the photo finish is inconclusive as is the human eye and all the video tech on hand. In such a case, rules have been established and put in place to ensure that both bookmakers and punters alike are satisfied with the outcome and know exactly where they stand. You can also check out our detailed article on Betting Terms & Definitions.

A dead heat occurs when numerous competitors finish at the same time in a sporting event and cannot be separated.

All winnings will be reduced by the number of competitors who tied.

A lot of sports cannot but any sport in which a tie is possible can conceivably dead heat.

Yes, there is a standard rule that all bookmakers will apply.

There really isn’t a limit but it is usually a low number due to likelihood.

WRITTEN BY James Cormack View all posts by James Cormack

Big sports fan specialising in football. Experienced the lows of Vlad Chiriches and Tim Sherwood as a Spurs fan along with the more recent ‘success’ under Pochettino. My following of the New England Patriots since 2012 somewhat makes up for the lack of silverware produced by Spurs in my lifetime.