If sports betting is new to you, then there’s a good chance Google has helped you navigate the jargon as you work towards understanding whatever it is supposedly being explained to you. “What is a void bet?”; “What is a push?”
That’s understandable if you 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.
But here at The AllStar we try to avoid that. We write for clarity – not to flummox and confuse.
So, while all the explainers on Moneylines, Totals, Point Spreads, Prop bets and Outrights are helpful to get you started, it’s also worthwhile clearing up some of the language that you’ll see as you read up on becoming a sharper bettor.
Here, we look at void bets and the terms used around bet settlement once your bet is graded.
Bets are mainly graded win, loss or push – we’ll take a look at each in turn (with a nod to half-win/half-loss bets in 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 many reasons, usually because of a technical factor beyond the sportsbook’s control.
Event postponements, cancellation or abandonment, and changes of venue are common reasons why bets are voided. There is some commonality across books in how they handle various situations, but there is also definitely some variation too.
We must stress that a sportsbook’s rules will be the ultimate arbiter of which bets are made void and why.
Imagine a winter storm rolling in to an already bitterly cold Soldier Field unexpectedly. A half hour before kick-off, the zebras decide to postpone the game because of unplayable conditions.
Most books have a rescheduling window of one week. So long as the game is played within the same match week (in the NFL, that’s Thursday-Wednesday), bets stand.
Some sportsbooks, for example PointsBet, only have a 48-hour window. If a postponed event is rescheduled more than 48 hours into the future, its bets are void.
Now assume that the same storm hits in the second half and conditions become unsafe to finish the game. Again, the officials call it.
Generally, 55 minutes of play is required for action – ie, for all bets to stand. If less than 55 minutes are on the game clock, bets are void, even is some have already won. Examples could be the Over on the Total, or first-half score spreads.
Change of venue
The decision here generally depends on if there is an advantage to be had by one side over another. If the Bears game is rescheduled elsewhere, it’s likely that bets will be void and a new line re-issued closer to time because of the loss of home advantage.
That reasons for voiding bets differ across sports should come as no surprise.
In individual sports like tennis or golf, a bet is void if a player withdraws ahead of time. In tennis, this constitutes a walkover win for the opponent – because the match never happened, bets are void.
However, if a player retires during the match, treatment of your bet may vary. On a tennis moneyline bet, for example, it will depend on how much of the game has been played.
Different sportsbooks have different rules for their tennis offering. Some will take action after the first ball is played, some require one set to be played, others two sets, and sometimes full match completion. This to may lead to scenarios where you’ve placed essentially a winning bet, but it might be called void if a player pulls out.
Non-runners apply to horse racing and is fairly self-explanatory – 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 on player prop markets. A bet on a yardageTotal can’t stand if an injury during warm-up puts the running back out of the game. However, we again need to go to individual rulebooks to see how our bet is treated if he takes the bench within withdraws mid-way through the first half.
The ‘We reserve the right…’ caveat
Accidents happen. Human error is real. If you spot 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.
When sportsbooks suspect market manipulation or event rigging they reserve the right to withhold settlement until investigation is concluded, or void bets on that event.
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 sportsbook competing for your business. you’re likely familiar with all the promotions designed to entice you to their site.
Free bets and free money are two of the most common practices – but bonuses often come with restrictions compared to when you stake your own money.
If you place a bet using bonus funds, or a free bet feature, and that bet is voided, you may lose that free bet. However, contacting the sportsbook may be worth your while as, after all, they do want to keep you happy.
Similarly, it’s unlikely any void bets will count towards qualifying for further promotional bonus funds.
What is grading in sports betting?
When an event finishes, a sportsbook “grades” all the bets it has taken. Grading is basically “processing” bets before they are settled. In other words, before you get paid.
Sometimes this is a fast, automated process; sometimes not. This may be frustrating for bettors used to quick settlement, but sportsbooks rarely take any joy in delayed settlement either.
However long it takes, a bet grades one of three main ways: win, loss, or push.
- If you back the right side on the moneyline,
- Your team covers the point spread, or
- The 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
- The Over/Under on a Totals bet misses,
your bet is graded a loss. You lose your stake.
A bet is graded a push when your bet neither wins, or loses. As a result the sportsbook returns your stake to you. Pushes differ from void bets because in a push the event is completed and bets are graded.
Examples of push bets include:
- A Totals bet that hits exactly – e.g., the Over/Under on an NBA game set at 215 that finishes 110-105.
- A spread bet that hits 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.
A word on Asian handicaps
Finally, we have to mention the half-win and half-lose grades that are an integral part of Asian handicaps. This soccer-only betting point-spread system employs half- and quarter-point handicaps to remove the Draw from what is traditionally a three-way moneyline. The details are too much to cover here, but read on to learn all you need to know.
Understanding why bets are voided is an important part of appreciating the sport–betting landscape – and more importantly, how sportsbooks operate within it.
Let’s recap the biggest takeaways on void bets:
- Bets can be made void if an event is postponed, abandoned, cancelled or relocated.
- Injuries play an important part on void bets, but the rules and regulations differ from sport to sport, and from book to book. Be sure to familiarize yourself with a sportsbook’s house rules.
- A sportsbook reserves the right to void bets if it makes a clear mistake in the odds it posts, and/or if it suspects suspicious activity.
We also hope we’ve clarified some fundamental terminology for you around the grading of bets, and an appreciation of why your bets may not settle immediately.
- A win returns your stake plus winnings, depending on the odds.
- A loss is always hard to bear – but you better get used to it. Achieving a winning bet percentage of anywhere near 60% is incredibly hard to do.
- A push will see your stake returned to you, and you live to bet another day. Whole number Totals and spreads can lead to pushes; if you want to avoid them, look for half-point markets.