2-Way and 3-Way Bets – Explanation & Strategy

With just two or three betting options, 2- and 3-way bets belong among the most popular offers in the bookmakers’ sportsbooks. We are going to clarify the meaning of the two terms and introduce several types of sports betting that can be classified under these two types of offers.

Two-way and three-way Football Bets explained

When a type of bet allows you to make just two or three forecasts, it is referred to as 2-way or 3-way bet. The best-known example among the football bets is the 1×2 bet: the player is asked to correctly predict the outcome of the match, namely whether the home team or the away team will win, or whether the teams will leave with a draw instead.

The basis for validation is the match result at the time of the final whistle after 90 minutes including injury time. In tournaments where a winner must be determined and extra time is ordered in the case of a draw, the result within regular playing time is nonetheless decisive for the settlement of a 1×2 pick.

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Win bet as a 2-way or 3-way bet

Additionally, there are also sports where a draw is possible in theory, but seldom happens in reality, and these are therefore listed in the bookmakers’ sportsbook as a 2-way win bet. This is true for most of the American sports, such as basketball, ice hockey, baseball and American football.

In this case, it is not the result after the end of the regular playing time that counts, but rather the overtime (and possibly penalty shootout) or the extra innings. A 1×2 betting offer, which plays only a marginal role in the context of basketball and many other American sports, is mostly run as an alternative betting option with the rest of the match bets.

The 2-way win bet is also known as “moneyline” in American sports, and is also often described as such by English bookmakers.


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More typical 2-way and 3-way bets

Apart from the undisputed betting classic, the match win bet, that can be selected as two-way or three-way option depending on the sport, there is a range of additional types of betting, that come under the classification of the 2- or 3-way bet. In the following section we will introduce the most important.

  • Over/Under

Over/Under bets count as 2-way bets, as the question is whether the number of goals scored, red cards, corner kicks etc. during a match is over or under a certain value: Will there be over (more than) or under (less than) 2.5 goals going to be scored within the regular match time?

  • Handicap

Handicap bets are offered with the aim of equalizing a difference in strength between two opponents. This is based on the match win bet (which is a 2- or 3-way bet depending on the sports type), however, with the handicap bet, a virtual goal advantage is given to the underdog or negative goals might be applied to the favorite to even out performance levels.


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Screenshot: the different handicap bets offered by Interwetten for an Premier League Match between Liverpool and Leeds United

The bet is won if the match result plus the fictitious goals (or minus, as the case may be) results in the predicted outcome. As an example: If the visiting team receives 1 handicap goal as a lead, then, with a final score of 2:1, the relevant result for the settlement of bets is 2:2 (match result 2:1 + handicap 0:1).

A handicap bet on a draw would therefore be a win, while a win bet on the home team, which in reality leaves the pitch as the winner, are settled as lost.

  • Draw no bet

Draw no bet is a well-known option for football bets. Here a 1×2-bet is reduced to a two-way bet, in that only 1 or 2 can be selected. If x (a draw) occurs, the bet stake is returned to the punter.

  • Head-to-Head

Head-to-head includes all bets that put two players (or teams) into direct comparison, which is why they are also counted among the 2-way bets. A typical offer from the football sportsbook would be: Which goal scorer will score more goals during the Word Cup, Cristiano Ronaldo or Thomas Müller?

  • Double Chance

The double chance bet is also based on the traditional 1×2-bet, which is typical for betting on football matches which expects three possible match outcomes. With Double Chance there are also three outcomes, but the risk the player takes is less because two of the three outcomes are covered by one selection.

And so, one doesn’t select 1, x or 2, but 1x, x2 or 12. “1x” wins in the case of a home win and a draw, “x2” wins when the match ends in a draw or an away win, and “12” covers the win of the home team or the away team. The disadvantage of this type of bet is the low odds offered.

Less as a type of bet in its own, but certainly as a typical and always encountered offer in the football sportsbook, are so-called yes/no betting options. These are questions which can be answered with a yes or no – for example: Are both teams going to score a goal – yes or no?

2-way vs. 3-way bet: is one better than the other

There are no general disadvantages that apply to the 2-way bet as well as the 3-way bet. However, it is true that theoretically the risk of losing a bet with 3 possible outcomes is higher than one with two (which, of course, depending on your point of view, equates to an advantage or a disadvantage).

In theory the chances are 50:50 vs. 33:33:33.

Such an ideal-typical distribution however doesn’t really exist in connection with sporting competitions. After all, a wide variety of factors, such as the strength of the teams, the actual match-day form and many other things determine the real distribution of the odds.

And then there are types of bets that deliberately shift the chances of winning (handicap) and even increase them (double chance).


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Multi-way bets and opposing picks

2- and 3-way selections can be placed as single bets. Additionally, they can be integrated into combination and system bets. There are practically no bet types that are excluded from this possibility, so that the punter has a lot of flexibility.

While risky types of bets, i.e. multi-way bets with four, five or more outcomes, are not suitable for the more daring combination bet, 2-way and 3-way bets are more likely to be a better recommendation here.

Opposing selections can be placed with many betting sites. This means that, for the purposes of the example, one can pick all outcomes (i.e. outcome 1, outcome x and outcome 2) for a certain match – naturally not in the form of a multi-way bet – that wouldn’t make sense – but as single bets.

In our opinion, this makes the most sense when a loss threatens, for example, on a pre-match bet, and the intention is to hedge it with a live bet.

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