Wire-to-Wire Bet – What is a Wire-to-Wire Bet and How Does it Work?

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The wire-to-wire bet can be one of the most lucrative betting markets. Here, we will show you how the bet works using real-world examples and how it applies to multiple sports.

We’ve also added a strategies and tips section so you know when best to use the market and increase profitability.

What is a Wire-to-Wire Bet?

A wire-to-wire bet involves betting on a team or player to lead at every natural pause point in a game or tournament. For the bet to pay, you have to lead at the start, middle, and end and not be behind at any point.

It’s commonly used for teams or dominant players in their discipline. It’s a great way to get value for short-priced favorites, but it increases the difficulty immensely due to the natural unpredictability of the sport.

How Does a Wire-to-Wire Bet Work?

There is some variation in how this market is advertised. We consulted the best online sportsbooks and some will call it wire-to-wire, others call its a ‘double’ and, and others will just say [team] to be ahead a the end of each quarter.

what is a wire to wire bet
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Let’s say that you were looking for a wire-to-wire golf bet. The market would need the player you pick to lead after all four rounds, assuming this was a regular professional tournament with four rounds.

We will create a scenario in which we bet on Rory McIlroy to win the Masters by going wire-to-wire. Rory has to lead the field after the first, second, third, and fourth rounds to win the bet.

Your bet will be a single bet, so you need him to hit the mark with each round. As long as, by the end of the each day’s play, when all golfers have finished, he is leading, the bet is still alive.

This must happen on every day of the tournament. In golf, unlike other sports that offer wire-to-wire bets, the player can be tied for the lead after the first three rounds, but must win outright for the sportsbook to payout.

Real-World Example of a Wire-to-Wire Bet

We will use a real-world wire-to-wire bet example from the NBA to drive home further how the market works.

We’ve selected a game between the Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks and used BetOnline to place a wire-to-wire bet.

what is a wire to wire bet

As you can see from the image above, the market is under the ‘Props’ heading and labelled as ‘Double Result’. The wire-to-wire bets available are ‘CHA-CHA’ and ‘ORL-ORL’ and to win, a team must be ahead at half time and the end of the game.

A key thing to note is that the team does not need to win both halves, they only need to be winning at the end of the first half and the end of the game.

For example, if the Magic are up by 20 points at the half but only win the game by 15 (i.e. they lose the second half by five), the wire-to-wire bets still wins. More on this in the next section.

What does a Wire-to-Wire Bet mean and is it Different From a “To Win Each Quarter” Bet?

Terminology is key when it comes to betting markets, and we’ve got a good example of two markets that are very similar when it comes to a winning each half bet and a wire-to-wire bet.

So, how do they differ?

A wire-to-wire bet requires the team to lead the game at the end of each half for basketball or the end of each quarter in football. But, this does not mean that the team has to win every quarter.

Unlike the real world example used in the previous section, a ‘win both halves’ or ‘win every quarter’ bet requires one team to score more points than the opposition in every half/quarter.

How to Place a Wire-to-Wire Bet Using BetOnline

To show how to place a wire-to-wire bet, we will use one of the best online sportsbooks in the industry, BetOnline.

  1. Open the BetOnline sportsbook and click on the “Join” button at the top of the page. The button is in the same place on both desktop and mobile versions of the site.
  2. Create an account

    Fill in the form on the page to create your account.
    Create an account
  3. Make a Deposit

    Now that your account is set up head to the cashier to make a deposit. Choose from any deposit option on the screen.
    Make a Deposit
  4. Find the right market and place your bet

    Use the sportsbook to navigate to the sport you want to bet on. For most sports, the market will be under “Game Props,” so start here to find it. Then selected your stake and  tap ‘Place Bet’
    Find the right market and place your bet

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Wire-to-Wire Bet Meaning in Different Sports

The wire-to-wire market is more accessible than most think. It’s a popular bet that can be placed on a range of sports.

It works slightly differently on some compared to others, so in this section, we will outline how and explain all you need to know about each process.

Basketball (NBA)

For basketball, you’re betting on the team leading after both halves of the game. Like most sports, they can be behind at points within each quarter, but once the buzzer goes, they need to lead and ultimately win the game.

It’s worth noting that some bookmakers allow you to bet on a team to lead after each quarter as well.

Generally, once you know how to bet on basketball, it’s easier to call given the higher number of points per game, meaning that teams can have big leads, lessening the emphasis on winning each quarter outright.

Football (NFL)

This works like basketball, with the bet requiring you to pick a team that leads at the end of each quarter. It’s possible that teams can lose a quarter as long as they finish the quarter in the lead.

For example, let’s assume you’ve placed a bet on the Buffalo Bills to beat the New York Jets wire-to-wire, and the scoring looks like this.

  • 1st quarter scoring = Bills 17 – 3 Jets (Actual score 17-3)
  • 2nd quarter scoring = Bills 0 – 6 Jets (Actual score 17-9)
  • 3rd quarter scoring = Bills 7 – 7 Jets (Actual score 24 – 16)
  • 4th quarter scoring = Bills 0 – 7 Jets (Actual score 24 – 23)

If we break down each quarter, the Bills have only won one (1st), drawing one and losing the other two. However, the bet will still win as they led the game outright for each. This highlights how important it is to back teams who start strongly.

Horse Racing

The market for horse racing requires the horse you’ve picked to lead from the start, for the whole race, and to win the race. It’s the most difficult betting market to master, as races can be back and forth, especially across the first few furlongs.

Most betting sites will have rules stating that the market goes live after the first furlong to make this a little easier to judge. This allows the race to settle somewhat, as it can be difficult to know which horse is leading as soon as the gates open.

The difficulty is ramped by the fact that if the horse even slightly drops out of the lead, the bet will be lost. You must target fast horses with great stamina keen to hit the front early. Those who like to attack late are no good for this bet.

Golf

After football and basketball, golf is the next most commonly found sport offering this bet type. Instead of betting on a team, you’re betting on an individual golfer leading after each round.

Standard PGA Tour events have four rounds, so your pick has to be first or tied first after each. Ultimately, they have to win the tournament, but this can be via a playoff if needed.

For example, you might back Tiger Woods to win wire-to-wire, which requires him to lead each round. Here’s a look at how this could work.

  • Round 1 = -4 = Tied 1st
  • Round 2 = -7 = 1st
  • Round 3 = -10 Tied 1st
  • Round 4 = -12 Tied 1st (wins via playoff)

As you can see, Tiger only led outright for one round here, but what’s important is that he won the playoff after the final round to win The Open outright. This bet would be classified as a win, but if he were to lose the playoff, even though technically tied for the lead after regulation play, the bet would lose.

Soccer

If you already know how to bet on soccer, this market provides a great new angle and some flexibility. The most common is betting on a team to score first and never be behind or draw in the game. This means they win the whole game from the first goal.

Alternatively, you can bet on the team to win at half-time and full-time. Soccer betting markets these bets differently from most, but the concept is the same.

Bovada bet slip (1)

For example, this Premier League game between Manchester City and Everton shows that you can be on the half-time/full-time result, where you choose the team to win at half-time and then again at full-time. You can get creative with this to include the draw (tie), but this technically wouldn’t be going wire-to-wire.

The shutout win is another similar market. This is where you choose one team to win by shutout, meaning that they don’t concede for the game. Basically, when they go ahead, they need to go on and win that game without conceding a goal.

Motor Racing (Formula 1)

Formula 1 is the most popular form of motor racing, and the majority of these markets will circulate in it. You need to bet on the driver you think will lead at the end of every lap of the race.

It’s a tough feat to do, given that there will be times when one car pits and is overtaken by a car that is on a longer strategy. When the other car comes into the pit, the order will be reversed, but technically, this means that the driver has gone spells without being in the lead.

The most recent wire-to-wire victory came in the 2023 season when Max Verstappen led every one of the 78 laps at the Monaco Grand Prix. The Dutchman benefitted from some adverse weather and slippery conditions to ensure that all his pit stops were completed without dropping into the chasing pack.

Some betting sites have adjusted how this market works and provided alternatives, given its difficulty. You can now place a “wire-to-wire bet” on a driver to be fastest in all three practice sessions, finish first in qualifying, and win the race. Interestingly, the driver does not need to lead every lap or start on pole position, he just has to win the race.

This may sound like a much easier market to win, but drivers rarely show off their speed across multiple practice sessions. Sandbagging (purposely slowing the car down not to give opponents an idea of how quick they are) is common in Formula, and practice sessions are mainly used to test longevity rather than outright speed.

Tennis

Tennis allows you to bet on players to win each set of their match, which is classed as a wire-to-wire bet example. The men’s game is best of five sets, and the women’s is best of three, for most tournaments, although the men also have some that are best of three.

The winner must win all possible sets or not lose a set for the bet to win.

You can use the set betting markets if there is no dedicated market, which is common for smaller tournaments. In the match below, you would want your player to win 2-0 in the best-of-three format.

tennis wire to wire bet

A nice alternative market to this is betting on the number of sets played. If you bet on “2 Sets,” you’re picking that someone will win wire-to-wire, but you don’t have to specify who. You can choose the “3 Sets” to state that neither player will win without dropping a set, but again, you don’t have to specify who, minimizing risk.

An extension of this is betting on the player not to lose a single game in the match. For many, this is true wire-to-wire, but as you can imagine, it is difficult to call, especially in the later rounds. Again, without a dedicated market, you can get creative by choosing 6-0 for each set under set betting.

Baseball

Baseball is a popular sport in this market. To win, you need to bet on the team that will be leading at the end of each inning. It’s worth noting that this does not mean that they have to win every inning, it just means that they have to be in the lead.

For example, you could bet on the Boston Red Sox to beat the New York Yankees wire-to-wire. To do this, they need to lead after each innings.

Let’s say that they take an early 2-0 lead after the first, and the game plays out like this:

  • 1st innings = Bos 2 – Yan 0
  • 2nd innings = Bos 3 – Yan 0
  • 3rd innings = Bos 3 – Yan 2
  • 4th innings = Bos 3 – Yan 2
  • 5th innings = Bos 4 – Yan 3
  • 6th innings = Bos 5 – Yan 3
  • 7th innings = Bos 5 – Yan 4
  • 8th innings = Bos 6- Yan 5
  • 9th innings = Bos 6 – Yan 5

The Boston Red Sox won the game, leading after every inning. This means that our bet would be in. It’s worth noting that the Red Sox only won three of those innings as singles, but the score rolled from the last, which is the deciding factor for the market.

Famous Wire-to-Wire Winners

Over the years, some iconic names in the world of sports have gone wire-to-wire. We’ve listed some of the more notable ones below.

Basketball

  • 1995-96 Chicago Bulls: Arguably the greatest basketball team of all time, the Bulls, led by Michael Jordan, ended with a regular season record of 72-10. This was a new NBA record at the time, before winning the NBA Championships to confirm the team’s dominance.
  • 2015-16 Golden State Warriors: The Warriors are the only team to better the 95-96 Bulls team, setting an incredible 73-9 regular season record. Unlike the Bulls, however, they failed to finish the job and lost in the finals.

Football

  • 1972 Miami Dolphins: In 1972, the Dolphins did what no team had done before or since, and that’s go undefeated in the regular season and gone on to win the Super Bowl.
  • 2007 New England Patriots: The Patriots went wire-to-wire in 2007, arguably at the peak of the Belichick era, with a 16-0 record. However, they fell short in the Super Bowl, losing to the New York Giants.

Horse Racing

  • Secretariat (1972 Triple Crown): There have been few more iconic races than Secretariat winning the Belmont Stakes from start to finish. It wasn’t just the impressive win but the manor, beating his closest rival by a staggering 31 lengths.
  • American Pharoah (2015 Triple Crown): One of the few horses to hold a candle to Secretariat was American Pharoah. He won the first Triple Crown in 37 years and led all three races from start to finish, including the Kentucky Derby.

Golf

  • Tiger Woods (2000 US Open): Tiger Woods has many wire-to-wire wins, but few were more impressive than the 2000 US Open win. He beat the field by 15 shots and led comfortably after each round, so much so that sportsbooks paid out on his win on the Saturday before the final round.
  • Rory McIlroy (2011 US Open): Another US Open win, this time for Rory McIlroy, who bested the field by eight shots, leading after each round on his way to victory. It was dubbed one of the most impressive major wins of all time.

Tennis

  • Roger Federer (Australian Open 2007): Federer’s 2007 Australian Open win was probably the most impressive of the 20 majors he won during his career. It was the only time he won every match without dropping a set. What’s amazing about the result is that it came in Federer’s first competition of the year.
  • Bjorn Borg (Wimbledon 1976, Roland Garros 1978 and 1980): To win a major is a specifical achievement. To win three is legendary status. But to win three where you don’t lose a set in any is mind-blowing, and that’s exactly what Bjorn Borg did as he dominated tennis in the late seventies.

Auto Racing

  • Ayrton Senna (1988 Monaco Grand Prix): Senna put on one of his finest wins in tricky conditions at the Monaco Grand Prix in 1988. The legend was on pole from qualifying and never looked back, leading every lap of the race until the checkered flag.

Baseball

  • New York Yankees (1988 World Series): The Yankees peaked in 1998 and proved it by sweeping the San Diego Padres in the World Series. They led every game from start to finish in one of the most one-sided World Series in history.

Tips and Strategies for Wire-to-Wire Betting

To profit from wire-to-wire betting, you must have a proper strategy. You can target specific areas for this market, and we’ve outlined these below.

1. Utilize Teams that Start Strong

For the bets to work, the team you’re betting on has to be a consistent strong starter. It’s not just a case of looking at winning teams, as they may merely finish really strong.

soccer wire to wire strategy

A good example of this comes from soccer and, most notably, the English Premier League. In the 2023/24 season, Liverpool sits top of the league with 51 points from 23 games. But in 11 of those games, they have been behind at some point and come back to win or draw. This would not be a good team to bet on to win games wire-to-wire.

wire to wire for soccer betting

A better bet would be a team like Aston Villa, which has 14 wins from the 15 games that they’ve scored first. They’ve also got a high halftime winning percentage, with 10 wins from 23 games, sitting third in the league for this statistic.

As a result, even though Liverpool is the better team, for the sole purpose of betting on this market, Aston Villa will likely yield better results.

2. Understand Matchup Dynamics

The two teams must have stats that, combined, make this bet a good option. If you pick two teams that start well but finish poorly, there’s a good chance they will cancel each other out.

The New England Patriots under Bill Belichick were a great example of this. They used to start incredibly fast in games and go on to dominate most of them, racking up six Super Bowl wins.

But, they struggled against teams like San Francisco and Dallas for many years, with losing records against both. Blindly betting on dominant teams will get you into a lot of trouble, so you need to know the context of the game being played and whether teams can win each quarter.

3. Bet on the Home Team

The home team has an increased chance of winning. It doesn’t matter who their opponents are, the chances of winning the game increase with luxuries such as home comforts and support.

For these bets to pay off, you need the stars to align. You need your team to be on top form and the opposition, for the most part, to have an off day. It’s much more likely that this happens betting on home teams to win than teams on the road.

It’s not a hard and fast rule, and there are exceptions based on form and head-to-head data, but it’s a good place to start if you’re pressed for time when it comes to research and analysis.

4. Avoid Season-Long Bets

Season-long wire-to-wire bets are where you bet on a team to be at the top of the standings for every game week. It’s incredibly tough to do, and we recommend avoiding these bets, regardless of how lucrative the odds are.

It is difficult to call the perfect season in the NFL or massively dominant teams in the NBA because they are too unpredictable. Single-game or tournament bets create much bigger value to make season-long options obsolete.

5. Hedging Your Bets

Winning a wire-to-wire bet takes time. It can take hours if you’re betting on a single game or days if you’re betting on a tournament.

This makes it important to know how to hedge a bet as it can help you lock in profit regardless of the result by backing both sides at favorable odds.

Conclusion

Wire-to-wire betting can boost the odds of heavy favorites and add a fresh angle to a game that looks to be dominated by one team or player.

Like anything, though, be careful how you deploy the strategy and choose your wire-to-wire bets carefully!

50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000

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  • BetOnline odds boosts available every day
  • Live betting available on all major sports
  • Excellent sportsbook 101 tutorial section
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Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert
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.