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Two-way bet

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A two-way bet refers to placing a bet on an event where there are only two possible outcomes.

A two-way bet is one of the simplest types of bets to understand. As there are just two outcomes, a bettor has a 50% chance of success.

A two-way bet can be placed on the outcome of a sporting fixture where a draw is not an possibility - such as tennis or snooker - or on the finer details of sporting events, such as the number of goals or cards in a football match or the number of points or touchdowns in an American football match.

A two-way bet can be placed as a single, or incorporated into larger scale bets, such as doublestrebles and accumulators.

Types of two-way bet

The result of an event where a draw is not a possibility - such as tennis or snooker - is a type of two-way bet. However, in sports such as football or cricket, the possibility of a draw means there are three possible outcomes. This is referred to as a 1X2 bet.

An over/under bet is a bet that can be placed on a sporting event whereby a bettor predicts how many times something will happen. The focus is on predicting game variables, as opposed to the actual result. Bettors can select whether the total number of points or goals scored by a team, individual or by both sides combined will be over or under a specific number - for example, over 2.5 goals.

Both teams to score is a football specific bet whereby a bettor places money on whether both teams will or will not score in a fixture. Bettors can either bet for or against both teams to score, by selecting 'yes' or 'no' on their betting slip.

Two-way bet example

Real Madrid versus Barcelona

  • Both teams to score: yes at odds of 1.60

  • Both teams to score: no at odds of 2.30

A £10 bet on both teams to score would see a total payout of £16 if both Barcelona and Real Madrid score. The stake will be lost if one side or both sides fail to score.

Calculating the betting margin on a two-way bet

A betting margin is the difference between the implied probability of odds offered and the true probability of the outcome. It is also referred to as the bookmakers' margin.

To calculate the betting margin on a two-way market, the following formula is used:

(1 / Decimal Odds option A) * 100 + (1 / Decimal Odds option B) * 100

Then subtract 100 from the answer above for the margin.

For example

  • Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer - Novak Djokovic to win at odds of 1.67 - Roger Federer to win at odds of 2.30

(1 / 1.67) * 100 + (1 / 2.30) * 100 = 103.35

103.35 - 100 = 3.35

The betting margin is therefore 3.35%

Handicapped two-way bets

Handicapping involves giving one selection a deficit to overcome in order to even out a sporting context.

Certain handicapped bets are two-way bets, however some forms of handicapped betting are not. With European handicapping for example, a draw remains a possibility, making this a 1X2 bet.

Asian handicapping is a form of two-way bet. In an Asian handicapped bet, one selection is given a deficit to overcome to make the favourite's chance of success more difficult and consequently make a one sided event a more attractive prospect to bet on. Asian handicaps consist of whole-goal and half-goal handicaps. In the result of a draw with a half-goal handicap, a bettor's stake is returned. A draw is not a possibility with a half-goal handicap.

How to use two-way bets in betting

In order to place successful two-way bets, it is sensible to use implied probability to find three-way bets with value, where you believe the odds assigned by the bookmaker show the implied probability to be lower than the true likelihood of an outcome. 

For example, if over 2.5 goals in a clash between Chelsea and Tottenham was placed at odds of 2.00, this would give 2.5 goals plus an implied probability of 50%. However, you could believe the likelihood of over 2.5 goals was closer to 65% - perhaps due to the form of Chelsea's strike force, injuries to Tottenham's backline or Tottenham's free scoring form away from home - therefore this would be a two-way bet worth placing.

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