If you’re new to sports betting, there’s a strong probability that you’ve hit a wall and had to Google a bunch of jargon (“What is a void bet?”, “What is a push in sports betting?”) just to understand whatever’s being “explained” to you.
That’s understandable if you accidentally stumble into a blog piece on advanced betting strategy, or something written by a sharp bettor using the casual lingo of the Vegas sportsbook floor.
Here at The AllStar we try to avoid that.
We write to be understood – not to flummox and confuse.
So, while all the explainers about Moneylines, Totals, Point Spreads, Prop bets – and how they all work – are useful to get you started, it’s also worthwhile clearing up some of the common terminology that you see as you read up to become a sharper bettor.
Here, we’re going to look at void bets and a few other terms that relate to bet settlement – i.e., what happens to your money once you’ve laid a wager and your bet is graded.
Bets are primarily graded as either win, loss or push – we’ll take a look at each in turn (and also mention the half-win/half-loss bets that can happen with Asian handicaps).
What is a void bet?
A sports bet that is declared void is a bet that is cancelled.
When a bet is declared void, your stake is returned to your account. You don’t lose any money, but you don’t win any either. And the bookmaker doesn’t either.
For all intents and purposes, it’s as if it never happened.
Why is my bet void?
Bets may be declared void for a host of reasons, but usually it will be because of some technical factor beyond the control of either the bettor or the sportsbook.
Event postponements, cancellation or abandonment, and changes of venue, are common reasons that lead to bets being voided.
There is generally a commonality between many sportsbooks in how they handle various situations, which often depends on how the official organising body of the sport deals with the situation (be it the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and so on). That said, there is variation between books.
We can’t go any further without stressing that the sportsbook’s rules will be the ultimate arbiter of what bets are voided and why.
Let’s say a December storm rolls in to Soldier Field unexpectedly, and half an hour before kick-off a decision is made to postpone the game because of unplayable conditions.
Most books have a rescheduling window of one week – so if the game is played at some point within the same match week (which in the NFL runs Thursday-Wednesday) bets will stand.
Some sportsbooks, in this example PointsBet, only have a 48-hour window, so if an events is rescheduled more than 48 hours into the future, bets are voided.
Now let’s assume – in a less likely scenario – that that same storm hits in the second half and it becomes unsafe to finish the game.
Generally, 55 minutes of play is required for all bets to stand – meaning if less time than that has been played, bets are voided, even is some have already been won. Examples could be the Over on the Total, or first-half score spreads.
Change of venue
If an event has to shift venue – bearing in mind the time restrictions on it being re/played – whether or not bets are voided usually depends on if there is an advantage to be gained by one side over the other.
If the Bears game has to be rescheduled to another venue, the likelihood is that bets on that game will be void and a new line will be re-set because of the los of home advantage.
Injuries / non-runners / must plays
That the reasons for voiding bets differs across sports should come as no surprise.
In sports played by individuals, such as tennis or golf, a bet on a player is usually voided if that player withdraws ahead of the match due to injury (in tennis, this would be a walkover win for the opponent; because the match never happened, bets are void).
However, if a tennis player retires from a match because of injury, treatment of your bet may vary depending on how much of the game has been played – so again we have to return to specific sportsbook rules. For example, on a moneyline bet in tennis, there are four possible qualifiers (First ball; one set, two sets; match completed) as to whether or not your bet may stand depending on how much of the game has been played.
In horse racing a non-runner is precisely that – a horse in the field that withdraws ahead of a race. A wager on a non-runner will be returned to the player.
“Must plays” are similar requirements that usually apply to player prop markets. For example, an Under bet on a running back’s yardage total obviously can’t stand if he pulls out from a hamstring pull in the warm-up. However, we again need to go to individual rule books to see how our bet is treated if he withdraws injured mid-way through the first half.
A sportbook’s mistake – the ‘Reserve the right…’ caveat
Accidents happen. Human error is real.
If you find so much value in a bet that it seems too good to be true… it probably is.
Pretty much every bookmaker will state clearly somewhere in their rules that any bet resulting from their own mistake when quoting the odds shall also be declared void.
What happens if a bet is void in a parlay?
Generally speaking, if a bet in your parlay is deemed void, a sportsbook will remove it from your parlay and adjust the odds accordingly.
As such, a five-leg parlay would be reduced to four; a four-leg parlay reduced to three, and so on. A double bet simply becomes a single.
Different sportsbooks, different rules
Different sportsbook treat different situations differently – but their rules are always clearly laid out on-site – you just have to know where to find them.
All online bookmakers will have links to their “Sportsbook Rules” (or a similar name) for you to review. These are separate from the “Terms & Conditions” which cover general usage of the site – age restrictions, player location, KYC requirements, and so on.
It is also worth noting that there may be differences from state to state given differences in legislation that exist between states. A good example of this is how states treat some of the more exotic prop bets – in some states, prop bets are illegal if they have no bearing on the game itself.
A sportsbook’s rules should lay out precisely how bets will be handled in any given scenario across all sports markets that they offer.
Void Bets and Bonuses
With so many different sportsbook competing for your business you will be familiar with all the various promotions designed to entice you over to their site.
Free bets and free money are two of the most common practices – but know that they tend to come with a reasonable degree of restrictive qualifiers compared to when you simply stake your own money on a bet.
If you place a bet using bonus funds, or a free bet feature, and that bet is voided, you may lose your free bet. However, getting in touch with the sportsbook will likely be worth your while as they generally want to keep customers happy – so you may get your free bet or bonus funds reinstated.
Similarly, it’s unlikely that void bets will count towards you qualifying to earn promotional free bets or as part of your wagering requirements to earn bonuses.
What is grading in sports betting?
When an event finishes, a sportsbook “grades” all the bets it has taken. Grading is basically another word for “processing” bets before they are settled. In other words, before you get paid.
Sometimes this is a fast, automated process; sometimes not so fast. Occasionally, grading may have to be manual, which obviously delays settlement. In the modern world of online betting where the expectation of immediacy has become the norm, this may be frustrating for bettors, but sportsbooks rarely take any joy in delayed settlement either.
Sometimes a sportsbook might settle bets before the official results of an event are announced, only to find that the result is not what they expected. In these cases – if you haven’t guessed it already – each sportsbook has it’s own rules as to how it handles these situations.
When a bet is graded there are three main outcomes: win, loss, or push.
If you back the right side on the moneyline, your team covers the point spread, or your Over/Under on a Totals bet hits, your bet is graded a win.
You receive back your stake, plus whatever winnings dependent on the odds.
If you’re on the wrong side of the moneyline, your team fails to cover the spread, or your Over/Under on a Totals bet misses, your bet is graded a loss.
You lose your stake.
A push happens when your bet neither wins, or loses – so as as result the sportsbook returns your stake to you.
Push bets differs from void bets because in a push the event is completed and bets are graded.
Examples of push bets include:
- A main line Totals bet that hits exactly: The Over/Under on an NBA game set at 215. The score finishes 110-105.
- A spread bet that hit exactly: The spread on the same NBA game is +5 on the team that scores 105.
To avoid a push, sportsbook can add an extra half-point to a line, whether it’s a Total or a Point Spread.
If the Total line in our example here is changed to 215.5 and the game ends 110-105, the Under wins and the Over loses.
Similarly, if the point spread is set at +5.5, a score of 105 covers the spread and a bet on the underdog wins. The winner, at 110-105, fails to cover a 5.5 point spread.