Head-to-Head Betting Explained



Head-to-Head Betting Explained

Head-to-head betting is a term that you may be unfamiliar with in sports betting, as it’s one that doesn’t come up very often. No, you don’t have to face off against another sports bettor; in fact, it’s another term for one of the most common forms of betting, often applied to less common markets.


If you want to know more about head-to-head betting, you’re in luck, as we’re here to give you a full breakdown of what head-to-head betting is, its pros and cons, and tips for using it yourself.

What is Head-to-Head Betting?

Simply put, head-to-head betting is another term for moneyline betting. It’s a form of sports betting where the sportsbook creates two possible outcomes between teams or opponents in a sporting event.


You’ll most likely have come across moneyline betting in team sports, where there are only two teams that can win. For example, if you watch the Denver Broncos play the Dallas Cowboys, only one of the two teams can win, so you can bet on either side of that outcome.


However, what about sports with more than two participants, such as golf or motorsports? In those events, you can’t create a straight moneyline, as there are too many participants to do so. Instead, sportsbooks will create a head-to-head betting line, where it pits two participants against each other, and you can bet on either one winning their internal competition. In these bets, it doesn’t matter if the player you booked wins the event or not, as long as they beat their opponent in the head-to-head betting line.

Examples of Head-to-Head Betting

Let’s take a look at a couple of examples of head-to-head betting.


In our first example, it’s the weekend of the British Formula 1 Grand Prix, and we’re looking at the betting lines available for the event. One of the lines we see is a head-to-head between teammates Fernando Alonso and Esteban Ocon, where the price is -110 on both sides. Now, neither driver is likely to win the race, but the competition between each other will be relatively close. 


If we pick a side, say, Fernando Alonso, all that matters is his performance against Esteban Ocon. It doesn’t matter if he finishes 19th at the end of the race; as long as Ocon finishes behind him, we win our bet. We decide to bet $110 on Alonso to finish ahead of Ocon in the race. At the checkered flag, Alonso finishes 7th, and Ocon finishes 12th, meaning that we win our bet – despite Alonso finishing nowhere near the front!


Our second example is the weekend of the US Open, and we want to make some gold bets. We don’t like the look of any of the odds for the winners, so we look at the head-to-head options. 


One of the options we see is Jon Rahm at -150 against Brooks Koepka at +125. While we don’t think either has been in good enough form to win the tournament, we think that Koepka will be better than Rahm, so we bet $100 on him in the head-to-head.


While neither player has a good tournament, Koepka does the worse of the two and finishes behind Rahm in the standings. Even though Rahm didn’t win the tournament, he beat our pick in the head-to-head, so we lost our $100 bet.

Tips for Using Head-to-Head Betting

Now that we’ve seen some examples of head-to-head betting in action, here are some helpful tips that will ensure you have the best chance of being profitable using head-to-head betting.


  1. Do Your Research – Before making a head-to-head bet, always research the two teams/participants in the match-up, so you have the best chance of making the right choice.
  2. Don’t Bet If You’re Unsure – If you look at a head-to-head match-up and can’t pick between them, it’s a good idea not to bet on it! Just move on and look for one where you can pick a winner.
  3. Pick Sports You Know About – It can be tempting to go to other sports and get close to even money for just picking between two players or teams, but sportsbooks are sharp, and if you don’t know what you’re betting on, you’ll end up losing in the long run.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Head-to-Head Betting?

While head-to-head betting has its advantages, it also has some downsides, so we’ve listed the pros and cons to help you decide if it’s right for you.


  • Additional Betting Opportunities – Head-to-head betting lines are great for sports where the options of events to bet on are quite limited, so they give bettors a chance for even more action.
  • Support the Players You Like – In big field events like golf or Formula 1, only a select few participants have a chance of winning an event, so you can’t back your favorite and expect to win very often. However, with a head-to-head bet, all they need to do is beat their opponent, so you can back your favorite and have them win more often.
  • Increases Your Game Knowledge – By analyzing participants at all levels of the event, not just the ones at the front, you get a better understanding of the relative skill levels of each participant, helping increase your knowledge of the sport.


  • Cannot Choose Your Own H2H – One downside is that you can’t pick the two participants of the head-to-head line; you have to rely on the ones made by the bookmaker.
  • Time-Consuming – If you don’t have much knowledge of the field as a whole, it can be a lot of work to research participants you’re unfamiliar with.
  • Lack of Good Options – Given the relative skill levels of participants, you may find that there are no good matchups on offer for you to bet on.

Why You Should Use Head-to-Head Betting

Head-to-head betting is a great way to widen your betting options for large-field sporting events like golf, Formula 1, and Nascar. They allow you to bet on one participant to beat another, regardless of their overall position in the standings compared to the rest of the field. This means you can take advantage of your knowledge of the lesser-known participants. However, you can’t dictate who is in the head-to-head lineups, so you have to look through the ones made by the bookmaker to see if there are any good value bets.

FAQ: Head-to-Head Betting

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