What is a 3 Way Bet? – 3 Way Betting Explained

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Written by Dan Fitch

Updated: 08:16 am EST, 04/07/2024

A 3 way bet is a betting market where you can wager on either of the two opponents to win, as well as the draw. As it name suggests, you have three options and possible outcomes. We’re going to examine what is a 3 way bet, so that you understand how they work and can confidently place one yourself.

The Difference Between a Two-Way Line & Three-Way Line

In the US a two-way line is generally the norm. Most American sports produce a definite result. If two teams are facing each other, one will win and the other will lose. Yet there are sports where there are ties.

Football and boxing are examples of sports where there can occasionally be a tie, but where those instances are so rare that it generally isn’t offered as a betting option. In both of those sports you will have a two-way moneyline, where you can bet on the winner. If there is a tie, the bet results in a push.

There are however, some sports where a tie is a common result. The most obvious example is from soccer betting sites, as a large percentage of games in that sport ending in a draw.

Comparing Examples of 2 Way & 3 Way Betting

Let’s use soccer as an example to show you the difference between the two-way odds and a three-way moneyline bet on the same event.

Though you will see three betting options on the moneyline for soccer, there is also a Draw No Bet market. This is a two-way line where you can just bet on either team to win. As the name suggests, if there is a draw then there is no bet. It results in a push with your stake returned.

Here’s the moneyline for the MLS match between New York City FC and Columbus Crew. New York are +113, with Columbus at +235 and the draw is at +250.

Now let’s take a look at how the odds change when we take away the draw and go from three options to two.

As you can see, the odds of both teams to win have significantly reduced. New York are now -189 and Columbus are +135.

What we can conclude is that with a two-way moneyline bet the odds are shorter. This is because of a reduced element of risk. With three-way moneyline wagers there is not just one way to lose the bet, but two, so the odds are more generous.

3 Way Betting By Sport

Having explained 3 way meaning in betting, let’s take a look at how it works in different sports.

What is a 3 Way Bet in Football?

During the NFL regular season, if games finished tie in regulation time, the teams play on in a 10-minute overtime period. If the scores are still level, the game ends as a tie. Since reducing overtime length from 15 minutes in 2017, just seven games ended in a tie.

With ties occurring so infrequently in football matches, the main moneyline only allows you to bet on the teams to win, with the tie resulting in a push. For a 3 way bet football fans will have to shop around, but they are available. Betting on the game going into an overtime period is also normally an option.

What is a 3 Way Bet in Baseball?

There are no ties in baseball. If the scores are level after the regulation innings, then they play extra innings until there’s a winner. Should a MLB game stop due to bad weather or poor light while tied, they suspend it. They can then complete it at a later date.

Three-way betting is therefore not an option on the moneyline. Yet you can bet on a game to go to extra innings, which is effectively betting on the tie after regular innings.

If you are betting on the run line there is also the option of a three-way line. So, instead of the teams having +1.5/-1.5 runs, they start with +1 and -1, which makes the tie an option to bet on.

What is a 3 Way Bet in Hockey?

If the scores are level at the end of regular play in an NHL game, then it goes to overtime, followed by a shootout if necessary. Traditional moneyline wagers featuring the option of betting on either team to win, are therefore the norm.

Hockey is a low-scoring sport, so the regulation time moneyline, aka 60-minute moneyline, is an option. This makes an NHL 3 way bet possible, as you can bet on the scores to be ties after regular playing time.

It is also important to remember that the rules that we have discussed are for the NHL, rather than hockey as a whole. At NCCA level and in other competitions around the world, ties happen. This means a 3 way hockey bet is possible.

What is a 3 Way Bet in Basketball?

Due to basketball being a high-scoring sport, ties at the end of regular play are pretty rare. When that’s the case the game goes to overtime to decide a winner. For this reason 3-way moneyline bets are generally unavailable. You do however, have the option of betting on the tie for individual quarters and halves. So you could place a 1st half 3 way bet in the NBA, for example. Betting on the game going into overtime is another option.

What is a 3 Way Bet in Soccer?

Three-way moneyline betting is the norm in soccer. With most soccer matches as part of a league format, a draw normally sees both teams earning a point and is a common occurrence. When you place a three-way moneyline bet on a soccer game, traders settle it on the result at the end of the regular 90 minutes and any added injury time.

Cup or playoff matches, might require overtime or extra time, followed by a penalty shootout. Yet even in these circumstances, the moneyline 3 way option is the default option. The 2 way market will also be available.

Pros & Cons of 3 Way Betting Explained

No examination of 3 way no push meaning would be complete without examining the negatives as well as the positives. In our opinion, here are the pros and cons of 3 way in betting.

Pros:

  • Can bet on the tie which is common in some sports
  • Odds for a win bigger on three-way bet than two-way
  • Two way line is still available so you have a choice
  • Good option for live betting on online sportsbooks

Cons:

  • More difficult to predict from three possible outcomes than two
  • Stake better protected with a two way line

Different Types of 3 Way Bets

Now it’s time to examine the different examples of this type of bet that you might find at offshore sportsbooks today:

  • Moneyline – Bet on all three options in a sporting contest. You can wager on Team A to win, or Team B, or the tie.
  • Spreads – If a spread includes half points there can be no tie. When spreads use whole numbers such as +1 and -1, then the third option of a tie can become a possibility.
  • Quarters – Even in high-scoring sports such as basketball where ties at the end of regular play are rare, the scores can be level at the end of a quarter. Sports betting sites will often give the option of a 3 way bet for a quarter, as well as a 2 way.
  • Half – As well as a quarter, you can also bet on the result of a half of a game. Remember that in such markets, the scores for a quarter or a half are in isolation. So, if you bet on the 2nd half result, only the points scored in that half count, with the 1st half score not relevant.
  • No Push – Another way of describing 3-way moneyline wagers. There is no push, meaning that you can bet on the tie.

Effective 3 Way Betting Strategy

Now that you understand the meaning of 3 way in betting you may be thinking about placing such a wager yourself. Here are some strategies that will improve your profitability.

Think About the Sport

It’s only in sports where there is a real possibility of a tie, that betting on the 3 way moneyline is the better option. Though you can bet 3 way push betting is the sensible option in football where ties are very rare.

In soccer however, ties are common and many teams will go into a game actively looking to achieve that result. Having the option to bet on all 3 possible outcomes is therefore desirable. When choosing between 2 way and 3 way, consider the sport and the likelihood of a tie.

Evaluate Risk

If you are choosing whether to bet on a team to win in a 3 way or 2 way market, consider the risk. There might be a soccer game where you are absolutely certain that Real Madrid will win against a weaker team. If you don’t consider the tie to be much of a possibility, then you should bet on the 3 way moneyline, where the betting odds for a Real Madrid win will be slightly more generous.

Yet even if you thought that Real Madrid were likely to win an away match against a rival like Barcelona, the chances of that bet losing would naturally be much higher. In that instance, betting on them in the 2 way moneyline might make more sense.

Pick Parlays Carefully

Parlays are a popular type of wager with sports bettors. The appeal is the ability to put a few bets together, to form one overall bet that can have a large potential payout, even when the odds of the picks are quite modest.

Every one of your selections needs to win, so you need to pick them carefully and sensibly. Don’t just select your favorite team and consider whether a 2 way moneyline or 3 way moneyline is better.

With the 2 way, if a push happens, that wager wouldn’t be part of the parlay bet any longer. With a 3 way, meanwhile, there are higher risks but also bigger rewards and potential payouts.

FAQs

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