Head to Head Betting – The Complete Guide to H2H Betting Markets

Head to head (H2H) betting is one of the most popular markets in sports betting. The concept is simple: bet on the outcome of a match from two possible results. All of the major sportsbooks offer H2H markets across multiple sports, and we’re going to show you how the market works, real-world examples, how to calculate payouts, and head to head betting strategies.

What is Head to Head Betting?

A head to head bet can vary depending on the sport you bet on, but as a general rule, it’s when you bet on the winner of a betting market that includes two results. It’s sometimes referred to as match betting, but the key here is that there can only be one winner.

The moneyline bet is a great example of a head to head bet. With this market, you have two choices for your bet: Team A to win or Team B to win. There are no ties, draws, or third selection for the bet.

The simplicity of the bet helps create huge popularity. Regarding the volume of bets placed, the vast majority will be H2H betting markets, which creates competition among the best online sportsbooks and, therefore, value to be had in terms of odds.

Head to Head Betting Example

Moneyline bets are an easy place to start as we work through an example of how a bet might look. We know from this market that you bet on one of the two possible outcomes to find a winner.

With most US-based sports, overtime can be used to find a winner, but in the rare cases where no winner is possible, and the game is a tie, moneyline bets will be deemed as a push, meaning original stakes are returned.

head to head betting example

The best way to show how the market works is to use a real-world example, and here we’ve chosen an NFL game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs.

As you can see, the moneyline odds are as follows:

  • Miami Dolphins: +104
  • Kansas City Chiefs: -124

With moneyline bets, all you need to do is pick the winner of the game. There are no handicaps or points spreads applied, with just a straight victory needed for the bet to pay out.

If we were to bet $100 on the Dolphins to win, we would profit $104. If we instead placed a $100 on the Chiefs to win, our profit would be $80.65.

How to Calculate Payouts for Head to Head Bets

Most sportsbooks in the US will use American-style odds that come with a positive and negative number. Simply put, the positive number is the profit you make from a $100 wager, and the negative number is the amount you need to stake to make a $100 profit.

For example, a $100 bet at odds of +400 means you make a $400 profit if the bet wins. A $100 bet at odds of -150 would profit $66.67.

Head to head golf betting

The image above is a head to head betting market for an in-running PGA Tour tournament in Bermuda. This market includes two players, Adam Scott and Brendon Todd, and the goal is to pick the winner with the lowest score for the current round (in this case, round one).

Assuming we were wagering $100 on each player, the payouts for the head to head betting market are as follows:

  • Adam Scott: $100 @ -129 = $177.52 total ($77.52 profit)
  • Brendon Todd: $100 @ +108 = $208 total ($108 profit)

Examples of Different Head to Head Bets in Sports

The range of head to head betting markets is vast and varies between different sports. One of the most common differences between these are team-based vs. player-based bets.

We’ve outlined that moneyline markets are the most popular head to head bet, which would fall into the team-based category. Player-based bets could be matchups based on stats, such as rebounds in the NBA or matchups in tennis.

Below, we’ve covered various sports and included the types of head-to-head bets you can place on each. Simply click on each box to open up the relevant information to that sport.

NFL

The main head to head betting market in the NFL is the moneyline. This is where you bet on the team to win without any handicap applied. You could argue that the spread falls into this category, although it’s less commonly thought of in that regard.

Heads to head markets come alive in the player-based bets. These are matchups based on statistics throughout the game, with sportsbooks becoming increasingly creative about how these matchups are formed.

Popular bets include:

  • Most receiving yards
  • Most rushing yards
  • Most receptions
  • Most pass completions
  • Most passing touchdowns
  • Most passing yards

NFL head to head markets

The image above shows a great example of how these bets work from the upcoming game between the Miami Dolphins and Kansas City Chiefs. As you can see, the player matchups take one from each team, and then it’s about how they go head to head. The final result of the game is irrelevant for this market.

You will notice that head to heads are not equal in terms of odds. For example, Travis Kelce (KC) is a strong favorite over Jaylen Waddle for the most receptions in a game.

NBA

Each season, the volume of games on the NBA creates more betting opportunities than any other sport. As a result, the range of head to head betting options are huge.

Like the NFL, the NBA has moneyline markets that fall into the H2H category. However, it’s a tough market to call, especially as teams can have long periods on the road, which is one of the biggest contributors to team form.

Alternative NBA head to head bets include:

  • Most total rebounds
  • Most points
  • Most assists

Rebounds, points, and assists are the three main stats that players are graded on for each game, so it comes as no surprise to see these three popular head to head options.

NBA head to head markets

The image above is from an NBA game between the Chicago Bulls and the Brooklyn Nets. These are all player matchups, and it’s worth noting that most sportsbooks create different matchups for the same market.

For example, for most points, you’ve got head to heads between Vucevic vs. Bridges, DeRozan vs. Bridges, and LaVine vs. Thomas. Mostly, the sportsbook will try and create relatively equal matchups here based on average stats for that market.

Find the biggest range of NBA head to head betting markets at BetOnline. 

NHL

Head to head betting in the NHL can be accessed on all games with markets that include the moneyline, spread, and player-based bets. It’s not as common as NFL and NBA markets, with fewer NHL sportsbooks offering dedicated market coverage.

The main reason is that games are low scoring, so going head to head on the total number of goals scored for players is not easy and often creates a lot of ties, which is less than ideal.

However, there are options for this market within the NHL, that include:

  • Shots on goal
  • Points
  • Assists
  • Time on the ice
MLB

Including the playoffs, MLB has up to 2,430 games a season. The NFL has a little over 10% of this figure with 272 games. As a result, the sheer volume of betting markets is immense, and head to head betting is very popular.

What’s unique about H2H betting in the MLB is that you can wager on players from the same team. MLB sportsbooks will group games, usually based on home/away runs, where bettors can wager on the player with the most runs, RBIs, strikeouts, etc., in that group.

The main market is the moneyline bet, accessible on all games. Other H2H markets for baseball betting include:

  • Total runs scored over the season
  • Most RBIs
  • Most home runs
  • Most strikeouts
Soccer

Soccer is the first sport outside the main US-based ones where head to head betting starts to change. The main reason is that moneyline bets are no longer a 2-way market and instead are 3-way, with home win, away win, and draw (1X2) becoming the options.

Most betting sites will offer the spread on major leagues such as the Premier League, La Liga, and Champions League betting, but leagues with a smaller following may be limited to 3-way moneyline bets.

soccer head to head markets

The two key head to head bets for soccer are the draw no bet and both teams to score. The draw no bet is a market where you choose one of the two teams to win, and if the game finishes as a draw, you have your stake refunded. Both teams to score is where you need both teams to score one or more goals, assuming you’ve chosen “Yes” (“No” is an option as well).

Soccer betting also has a range of player-related head to head markets, which include:

  • Distance ran
  • Most goals
  • Most assists
  • Most passes
  • Shots on target
  • Total shots
  • Player to be carded
Tennis

The option to bet on multiple tennis tournaments every week for almost the entire year makes the sport one of the most popular with professional bettors. The sheer volume of matches worldwide is unique, and its ties to head to head betting are stronger than most.

Tennis matches can’t end in a draw, so standard moneyline bets are applied to all matches. The match’s outcome is the head to head market, but for betting rules, it’s important to note that the player who progresses to the next round by any means is the winner of the bet.

Tennis head to head markets

We’ve highlighted this because it’s not always the case in tennis that matches are completed. For example, they might get abandoned pre or mid-game as one player withdraws due to injury or illness. If this happens, the opponent progresses, and bets are settled accordingly.

It’s not just match-winner markets that are H2H options for tennis betting. Sportsbooks will let you bet on the player to progress the furthest. This means you can bet on matchups where two players never meet at any point in the tournament, with the bet paying out on the player who lasts the longest before being knocked out.

Alternative head to head bets include:

  • Most aces
  • Most volley winners
  • Most forehand winners
  • Most backhand winners
  • Most games won
  • Most sets won

It’s worth noting that these markets can apply to players competing in the same match, or two players across the entire tournament.

Golf

Golf is another sport that has coverage most weeks of the year. With multiple tours that include the PGA Tour, DP World Tour, and four majors (Masters, PGA Championship, The Open, US Open), the volume of betting options is huge.

The most popular head to head market for golf betting is the player matchup. The sportsbook creates a match between two players in the field, and it’s the bettor’s job to choose who will shoot the lowest score. This market can run for 18, 36, 54 or 72 holes.

Golf head to head markets

What you see in the image above is a series of head to head bets that include multiple players in a live PGA tour event in Mexico. It’s worth noting that none of these players are in the same group and instead have been created as matchups by the sportsbook. The bettor’s job is to pick the player to shoot the lowest round in the 2nd round of the tournament.

Motorsports

Motorsports covers Formula 1 and NASCAR, which are two massively popular sports to bet on. Most of the head to head markets are driver-related, often linked to the finishing positions in the race.

Due to the dominance of Max Verstappen in recent years, Formula 1 can be hard to find value from, so betting on head to head driver matchups can create a much bigger range of value betting options. This can be extended to qualifying and sprint races, where applicable.

Another extension of this is betting on constructor points for the race. This combines the total number of points scored by each driver for their team, with the betting market allowing bettors to choose who will score the most points.

For example, a matchup might be Mercedes v McLaren, where the combined points for Lewis Hamilton and George Russell (Mercedes) go up against Lando Norris and Oscar Piastri (McLaren).

Types of Head to Head Betting Markets

Head to head betting is split between two market types: team and players. These create a much broader range of betting opportunities and allow sportsbooks to be creative on markets across multiple sports. Simply click on each box to open up the relevant information to betting markets on teams, players, and head to head prop bets.

Team
Team head to head bets gravitate around moneyline bets. This is where the bettor wagers on the game’s outcome within two possible outcomes. Sports like the NFL, NBA, and soccer (draw no bet) are the most common for these bet types.
Player
Player markets are much more flexible and provide a greater depth regarding the bets that can be placed. It can include anything from the most rushing yards between two players in the NFL to head to head matchups in a PGA Tour event for golf.
Head to Head Prop Bets
Most bets outside the main moneyline market will be hosted within prop bets for offshore gambling sites. Prop bets are an “everything else” when it comes to online betting, and there are no rules about what can and cannot be included, as long as they aren’t tied to main markets such as moneyline, spread, and totals.

The image above gives an overview of the type of head to head bets you can find in the NFL. This is taken from a game between the Houston Texans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, showcasing all bets within the prop bet section.

head to head prop bets

As you can see, none of these bets are tied to the game’s result, which is irrelevant for settling these markets. The sportsbook in this example, BetOnline, has created a series of close matchups and one that might offer more value.

For example, Baker Mayfield and C.J. Stroud’s most passing yards are almost a coin toss, priced at -114 and -132, respectively. Whereas, the market for the most receiving yards between Nico Collins and Cade Otton makes Collins a massive favorite priced at -425 to win that head to head.

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Are There Ties in Head to Head Betting?

It is possible to have ties in head to head betting. When this occurs, most sportsbooks will close these markets as a push. A push is where the bettor receives the total amount of the stake as a refund, as the bet has not been settled as a win or a loss.

head to head ties

For example, let’s assume you place a bet on an NBA market for the most points in a game between Lebron James and Steph Curry. You choose Curry to score more points than James, but the pair finish with 25 points each at the end of the game.

In this case, whatever your original stake was would be refunded as the bet would be settled as a tie.

Head to Head Betting Strategies

Head to head betting is one of the most exciting bet types in the industry. It allows bettors to be creative by targeting winning teams and player matchups.

To be successful in any sport or betting market, you need to apply a solid foundation in the form of a betting strategy. Use the points below to increase your profitability with this bet type.

If Team Markets Don’t Offer Value, Target Player Bets

There are often times in sports where there are not many games to bet on. Monday Night Football is a great example of when we’ve got a single game and not much else. We take the time to look to see which team has the best chance of winning and decide that there’s no value in either team at odds advertised.

When this happens, we don’t have to write off the game fully and instead look at markets such as head to head. Given that you’ll likely have around a dozen matchups to choose from, there will be one that looks good value.

With the NFL, you need to look at three key areas.

  • Receiving yards
  • Passing yards
  • Running yards

With a little research, we can see how each player might be fair regarding these brackets. Try to determine which of the two players involved has the best chance of winning based on season and recent game data, and see if they offer value.

Bet on Visiting Teams in Form

We can use head to head data as a form guide for our bets with markets such as the moneyline. As a basic starting point, you’re looking for teams on winning streaks or with a good record against their opponent of late.

Start with visiting teams that are in form. An online study by Punters Playbook determined that betting on teams that won the previous game between the two sides created a +17 unit swing and a 104.3% ROI.

The numbers improve again when betting on the visiting team. ROI jumps to 107% across the same sample, showcasing the merit of betting on visiting teams in form for head to head markets such as the moneyline.

How to Find Value for H2H Betting

Finding value is the best way to continue profiting from online sports betting. However, value betting is a skill, and you need to be willing to put the work in to determine fair market value for each bet.

This section isn’t about determining value, as we’ve got a full article on value betting. But we did want to talk about how to work out if a head to head market has any value or not.

For example, we will use an NBA game between the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls. The odds determine the implied probability of the win, which are as follows:

  • Brooklyn Nets @ +137 = 42.2% chance of winning
  • Chicago Bulls @ -157 = 61.1% chance of winning

Let’s assume we conduct extensive research into this head to head betting market and determine that the game is much closer than those odds suggest. We think this is a coin toss, with both teams having an equal 50% chance of winning.

This means that if we were setting the book, it would look like this:

  • Brooklyn Nets @ +100 = 50% chance of winning
  • Chicago Bulls @ +100 = 50% chance of winning

From this, we can see that the Bulls offer no value, as the price of -157 is considerably less than the +100 we think is fair market value. However, the Nets do offer value as the price of +137 is greater than the +100 we think is fair.

How to Place a Head to Head Bet

BetOnline is the best offshore sportsbook on the market, and we will use their platform to walk you through the process of placing a head to head bet. Follow the step-by-step guide below to see how this works.

  1. Join BetOnline

    When you land at the BetOnline sportsbook, at the top of the page is a green “Join Now” button that you need to click. This will start the account registration process.
    Join BetOnline
  2. Create an account

    Follow the prompts on the screen to create your betting account. You need to enter your name, address, and email address and create a unique username and password. BetOnline will email you a verification link once it is complete, so ensure you can access the email address.
    Create an account
  3. Deposit and head to the sportsbook

    Once your account has been created, log in and head to the cashier. The deposit options accessible for your account will be highlighted. When the payment is complete, go back to the sportsbook.
    Deposit and head to the sportsbook
  4. Choose a game and market

    Use the main navigation menu to select the sport and game you want to bet on. We’ve chosen the Minnesota Vikings vs. Atlanta Falcons game in the NFL. Our head to head bet is going to be using the moneyline.
    Choose a game and market
  5. Place your bet

    Click on the odds to add your selection to the bet slip. Choose the amount you want to stake and confirm your bet.
    Place your bet

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FAQs

What is head to head betting?

How do head to head odds work?

What’s the difference between head to head and spread betting?

Is head to head betting suitable for beginners?

What are some popular sports for head to head betting?

How do I calculate potential winnings in head to head betting?

Are there any strategies for head to head betting?

What happens if a head to head bet ends in a draw or tie?

How do I manage my bankroll when head-to-head betting?

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Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert

Jonathan is a freelance writer working with Techopedia. He has been working within the gambling sector for over 15 years and has been fortunate enough to work with brands that include Gambling.com, CheekyPunter.com, BasketballInsiders.com and Betfair. He specializes in US and UK-based sports and casino content for Techopedia.