What is Head-to-Head Betting?

What is Head-to-Head Betting?

An option offered by some betting houses, especially bet365, is head-to-head odds (also known as match-ups). These odds are most common for multi-day stage races but are generally offered for popular one-day races (think Classics and Monuments).

So what is it?

The betting house pits two riders of equal calibre against the other and provides odds of one beating the other. The betting house will generally offer between 5-20 options for these head-to-head matchups. Generally the number of options offered is dependent on the size of the betting market or how the general classifcation battle is panning out. Monuments will generate a lot of match ups due to their popularity. Similarly if there's fierce fighting between the top 20 in a week long stage race you'll typically find more options offered by the betting house.

Parlaying Head to Heads

Similar to how you can parlay (parlay refers to stringing together bets for greater odds, but also a greater risk you'll win nothing) games in leagues such as the NFL or NBA, you can also parlay head-to-head options.

Parlaying Head to Head bets

This has been time and time again where we've done the best. You can do quite well simply by comparing the odds to the stage profile (hilly, rouleur, sprint), the rider's mentality and the rider's position in the General Classification (GC).

Let's say you see a match-up between rider X and rider Y. Rider X has "longer" odds than Rider Y (meaning they have less chance of beating the other) but you see that rider X is situated 11th in GC with 10th only a few seconds away, has an aggressive go-getter attitude, and the stage suits them. It's probable that Rider X will try to breach the top 10 and depending on the status of Rider Y, may be an economical and easy pick.

String a few of these together in a "rationale" parlay and you can do quite well. It's not uncommon for me to win parlays of strung together 4 or 5 value picks.

What to stay away from?

It's worth noting certain scenarios to stay away from. Betting on sprint stages is pretty risky. Head-to-head match ups on sprint stages, with the current crop of riders and lead-out trains, is generally more of a lottery than that of a hilly stage.

There's a shorter time span in a sprint than in a hill finish. Many, many more things can go wrong when you're dealing with seconds compared to a kilometre-long climb. Also those who aren't sprinters or projected winners for the sprint stage may just let up, conserve energy, and finish with the bunch.

Why? Because when a rider finishes with the bunch, peloton or another "group" of riders they all get the same time per the rule book. And unfortunately we're not betting on ties with the head-to-head matchups, we need rider X to beat rider Y. Not for rider X and rider Y to finish at the same time.

Head to Heads on one day races

A clever reader may also note that head-to-head matchups for one-day races are inherently risky for similar reasons. Once you're past the top 10 there's less incentive for riders to finish strongly compared to a multi-day stage race. Coming X seconds ahead of the rider behind them isn't going to benefit them the next day (compared to a stage race where those X seconds are a buffer).

If the rider's in a contract year (their contract is up at the end of the year) they may have slightly more incentives for a few positions here or there but that generally isn't the case.

I don't see head to head options for my race!

Why are these head-to-head odds only offered for certain races? Betting houses generally only offer them for stage races because they understand the performance of the rider based on the previous day's results and their motivation level based on where they're situated in the GC.

For more tips and advice for betting on head to heads and match ups see our breakdown of stacking vs. isolating head to heads here

We're pretty sure Ayuso won this head to head. 🙃