How Does Head-to-Head Betting Work? – A Complete Explanation

Samu-Ville Lampiranta
By Samu-Ville Lampiranta
Sports & Casino Expert
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Updated Jan 19, 2023
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Read time 7 min

Head-to-head betting is a popular betting market in many sports. Two participants in a competition are competing against one another, adding a new layer of excitement to the event. Read on to learn more about head-to-head sports betting.  

What Is Head-To-Head Betting?

If you’re new to this form of betting, you might be asking: what does head-to-head mean in betting? One way to look at it is as a kind of a mini-competition within the actual competition. In H2H bets, two contestants are pitted against one another, and your task is to predict which one will finish in a better position. 

Let’s take an example: you are betting on an F1 race and pick an H2H bet between Valtteri Bottas and Charles Leclerc. You bet on Leclerc, as he was faster during the practice and qualification. To win the bet, Leclerc simply needs to place better than Bottas, but their actual finishing positions don’t matter. 

If Leclerc wins the race, you’ll win, of course. If he finishes 6th and Bottas comes in 8th, you’ll still win the bet. As long as your pick comes in before the other driver, you’ll win. Simple, right?

Sometimes, whether we’re talking about F1 or any other sport with H2H bets, there are clear favorites with the rest of the lot having virtually no chance of winning. Taking the previous example, it might be that Max Verstappen is so dominant that his odds are very low, so betting on the winner is not that tempting. 

This is exactly why sports betting head-to-head matchups are great: you can find value in the betting markets, and you can make the race more exciting to follow, even if someone is dominating it. 

Individual and Team Sports In H2H Betting

Thanks to the nature of these bets, head-to-head sports betting is much more common in individual sports than team sports. That being said, you can still find H2H bets in the NFL, NBA, NHL, and many other major sports leagues. Usually, these are season bets, where you simply bet on which team will finish the season in a better position. 

Betting head-to-head makes more sense in individual sports, as you can bet on the performance of the athletes not competing for the win. These bets usually only involve one competition, so they are settled faster.  

Most Popular Sports For H2H Bets 

It’s not uncommon to find head-to-head markets in most individual sports, but there are some sports where you’ll have this option available in virtually every competition. Here are some of the most popular head-to-head sports.

Skiing 

Both alpine and cross-country skiing are popular with the H2H betting crowd. There are usually dozens of participants in any given competition, so there tend to be a ton of different markets available. You’ll also find head-to-head season bets in skiing if you want to make a long-term prediction. 

Formula 1 

Formula 1 is arguably the most popular motorsport in the world, so it should come as no surprise that it’s also one of the biggest sports in head-to-head betting. Betting sites usually offer H2H markets for the qualification, too, so there’s plenty of action available throughout the F1 weekend. 

Tennis 

Tennis head-to-head is often available during the Grand Slams, Olympics, and other big tournaments. In tennis, H2H bets resemble season bets, as you’ll be betting on which player will go further in the tournament. But unlike in team sports, you don’t need to wait for months until the bets are settled. 

Golf 

Golf is one of the most popular spectator sports around the world, but there are usually not that many betting markets available. Luckily, you can bet on head-to-head markets in most golf competitions, whether it is the European Tour, the PGA Tour, or the newly established LIV Golf Tour. 

Should You Bet on H2H Markets? 

If you want to add some more excitement to a sports event, or simply want to bet on your favorite athletes’ performance against their rivals, H2H bets are the way to go. Head-to-head betting gives you a chance to find more value in competitions with clear favorites and lower odds, which makes them ideal in some cases. 

Whether you should bet on H2H markets or not is of course entirely up to you. The benefit of these bets is certainly that our pick doesn’t have to win, just as long as the result is better than their counterpart’s. The downside is that the odds could be low if your pick is one of the favorites. 

The best way to know whether this bet type is for you is to try it out. Check out the offerings of some of the best betting sites, try some H2H bets, and see for yourself!

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Samu-Ville Lampiranta
Samu-Ville Lampiranta
Sports & Casino Expert

Samu-Ville knows the ins and outs of online gambling having worked in the industry since 2013 in various roles from customer support agent to content writer and manager. He knows how to look at casinos and sports betting sites from both sides of the fence, and uses his experience to give his articles a unique view from the inside.