Everything You Need to Know About Handicap Betting

Everything You Need to Know About Handicap Betting

You have probably seen handicap betting mentioned at some point. But maybe you aren’t sure what exactly it means.

What kind of bet is this anyway? Is it a smart way to make money? The good news is that it is very easy to understand. Let’s take a look at what it is all about just now.

The Definition of Handicap Betting

In fact, it is one of the most popular markets around. People love to bet this way.

You might see it call line betting, spread or points betting. You will also see that there are European and Asian versions. We will look at them in detail in a moment.

handicap betting

Basically, this method involves trying to even up a contest that appears too one-sided. This is done by handicapping the stronger team or player, so they start with a disadvantage.

It gives the weaker opponent a head start, if you like to think of it in this way. Previous form, league positions etc are used to see who the favourite is. Then a way is found to even things up a little.

An example could be if Liverpool were playing a part-time team from the lower leagues. Pretty much everyone will be sure that Liverpool are going to win. The odds on this game would be low, as it seems like a foregone conclusion.

There is little chance of a bet on the outsider winning. Very few people would bet on this outcome. In the same way, betting on Liverpool to win hardly seems worth it.

To liven things up, the bookies can add a handicap. So, let’s say it is Liverpool -5 goals. This is equivalent to them starting 5 goals down. If they win 6-0 then the final score for this bet is 1-0.

In this case you win if you bet on Liverpool at -5. But the odds are better than if you had placed a straight bet on them. It is also more exciting to follow the game. A bet of this type will often go down to the wire. Will the big team ease up after scoring a few goals? Or will they score enough to overcome the handicap?

By making this bet, the outcome is much harder to predict. Liverpool might only win 4-0 or 5-1, meaning that you would lose the bet on them winning. There is now far more chance of an upset happening. Even if they win the game, you might not win the bet.

If you look at the other side of the bet, what do you see? The weaker team should have the same number of goals allocated. But with a plus sign in front of it instead of a negative. With this example, you would see +5 for the lower league team.

This makes it more tempting to place a bet on them winning, doesn’t it? What if they defend solidly and only lose by a couple or goals? Or what if they score a late consolation to narrow the gap? Maybe they will lose the game but still win the bet for you.

After all, you are betting on them winning with a 5 goal start. If it ends 4-0 to Liverpool then you win. This would be a final score of 5-4 to your team after the handicap. However, if Liverpool win by 5-0 then you lose. This would be a 6-5 defeat after the handicap is added.

Following a game like this is exciting. You need to constantly work out whether your bet is winning or not. Even if the match is incredibly dull and one-sided, your bet could hang in the balance.

The word scratch is also sometimes used. This means that both competitors are evenly matched. So in this case there is no need to apply any sort of handicap. It is just a normal bet with both teams starting at zero.

Does It Work for All Sports?

This kind of wager can happen in just about any sport. The key point is that goals are scored or points are earned. There has to be something that the bookmaker can do to put the favourite at a disadvantage.

In football, it is for goals scored. This is where you will most commonly see handicaps applied. It is a simple approach that works perfectly for football.

Handicap betting odds

In rugby, it is points scored. You can also apply a handicap to the scores in golf, tennis, basketball and many other sports. In any of these cases, you just taking points or goals away from the strongest competitor.

Of course, you need to understand the sport to make a good decision. Does the handicap really make a difference? Is the points difference between the two likely to be greater than this? If you don’t understand the points system this will be difficult to do. Equally, you need to understand the gap in quality between the participants.

You might also see handicap bets for an entire season. This lets you bet on a team that realistically has little chance of winning the league. Yet, this system means that you can have a reasonable wager on it happening.

What It Doesn’t Cover

Remember that it is only a virtual type of handicap. The extra number of goals is only applied to your wager. It doesn’t affect the actual outcome in any way. Nor does it affect any other bet made.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be confused with other types of sports handicapping. For instance, in some racing sports, the poorer competitors might start first. In horse racing, the faster horses carry more weights. Golf handicaps let amateur golfer stand a better chance of winning and so on.

These are handicaps that make a real-life difference. They are already taken into account in the odds, though. If you bet on a horse in a handicap race, the odds reflect their rating.

Instead, it is just an artificial handicap that we are looking at here. A number is added or removed from the score for the purposes of your bet. Other people could bet on the same event with a different handicap in place. In fact, you could place different bets with varying handicaps too.

You will come across two types of handicap betting. These are known as European handicaps and Asian handicaps. They have a lot in common, to be honest. However, there are some key differences to be explained.

Let’s take a look now at what each of them involves.

What Are European Handicaps?

This type of handicap betting is very easy to explain. It is essentially the same as in the example given above. One team or player starts with negative points or goals. The other starts with the same number but positive.

This narrows the gap between the two rivals. So, it now becomes more difficult to work out who will win. Will the favourite do enough to wipe out the disadvantage that they have been given? Will the underdog battle hard enough to keep the gap down?

In this case, the odds for the favourite are now going to be more attractive. Liverpool would normally be at extremely short odds when playing a lower league team. Placing a bet in these conditions doesn’t make a lot of sense. You aren’t going to win much unless you have a massive stake.

Corners handicap betting

However, by handicapping them the bookie offers bigger odds. You might now think that it is worthwhile putting some money on them. If you think they can wipe out the handicap then the odds will be more tempting.

The opposite applies with the weaker team. In a conventional bet, a small team would be at very long odds to beat a bigger rival. You could win a lot of money, but it is more likely that you simply lose the bet.

By adding in the handicap, it is now more of an even contest. The odds will reflect this too. Now, the unfancied team will be at a shorter price to win. You can’t win as much money as before. But there is more chance of winning something.

Once the game ends, the handicap is simply added to the score. So a score 5-0 to Liverpool really means 0-0. In this case, you would lose if you have bet on Liverpool winning. Despite them winning the game, they didn’t win when the handicap was added on.

What About Asian Handicaps?

The other type of handicap is known as Asian. It is more popular around the world than the European version. You will see this system used an awful lot on football games.

To be honest, it is similar in some respects to European handicaps. It is the same basic principle of reducing the points or goals for one team. But there are some differences to take into account as well.

One of the main differences is that you can’t bet on a draw with Asian handicaps. On the other hand, this can be done with the European equivalent. In the Asian system, you can only bet on either team winning.

Asian Handicap

A draw means either you lose or your money is refunded. We need to look at the different possibilities for this outcome in a minute.

In some cases, your bet is refunded if the overall result is a draw. We can see how it works with the hypothetical Liverpool game from earlier.

You would bet on either Liverpool or the lower league team winning after the handicap of 5 is added. For the purposes of this example, it doesn’t matter which team you bet on.

The games ends with a 5-0 victory to the EPL side. Therefore, the final result after the handicap is 0-0. Since it is a draw, you get your money paid back to you in some types of bet.

However, this isn’t always the case. To understand this matter better, we need to look at the different types of Asian handicap.

Different Types of Asian Handicap Betting

So far, so simple. However, there is another issue that complicates things a little. This is the fact that there are actually three different kinds of Asian handicap bet.

  • The first one is very close to a European handicap wager. You just add or take away a certain number of goals. However, it is a half goal wager, while European bets are always based on full goals. In this case, the handicap is shown in increments of 0.5 goals. So, it could be Liverpool -4.5. By using half-goals like this, there is no chance of it ending in a draw. You will always either win or lose.
  • Another example sticks to the European system of only counting whole goals. It is called the whole goal handicap. This means that we go back to wagering on Liverpool -5 goals. The knock-on effect is that the match could end in a draw. Since this is Asian handicap rules, the bet is cancelled. Therefore, if Liverpool win by exactly 5 goals then your stake is refunded. You need to bear in mind that this possibility is taken into account in the odds. This means that the odds here will be lower than in the previous example.
  • There is also another type of bet. You might see it called a split line bet. This sort of combines the previous two approaches into one. So, half of your stake goes on one approach and the rest on the other one. In this case, you are wagering on both Liverpool -4.5 and Liverpool -5. This means that both bets could win, if Liverpool win by more than 5. Also, one of the wagers could draw and the other could lose at the same time. You might see the odds expressed as quarters too. What if the odds are 0.75? Then you are betting half your money at 0.5 and half at 1.00. This means that the overall figure is in the middle of the two extremes.
  • Another option is known as the level ball Asian handicap. In this case, you see a zero next to the team. There is no plus or minus figure for either team. No goals handicap is applied. However, the draw is refunded. You could say that it is kind of like a handicap bet without the handicap.

To sum up these examples is pretty easy. If the goals handicap ends in .0, you can win, lose or get your bet refunded. But if it ends in .5 then you can only win or lose.

The Advantages of Asian Handicap Betting

A lot of people like the fact that bets are refunded for draws. This certainly gives a little bit of extra security. However, the lower odds do eat into your possible profits in this case,

Others prefer Asian handicaps because of the option that makes it impossible to draw. If you choose a handicap that ends in .5 then there is no chance of a draw. This can suit you if you are betting for fun and want a definitive outcome. You will definitely either win or lose.

The Advantages of European Handicap Betting

This method is probably simpler for most people. It is certainly very easy to understand. Even if you have never bet before, you should have no problems with it.

Do you have a better chance of winning than with a normal bet? It really depends upon the numbers. The handicap makes it more likely for one team to win and for the other to lose. But the odds reflect this difference anyway. It isn’t a way of just getting better odds for the same thing happening.

Which One Is Best for You?

If you are just betting for fun then choose the one you prefer. There is no right or wrong answer here. Some people prefer one approach and others are happier with the other.

As long as you understand the bet there is no problem. You just need to know exactly what you are betting on. In this way, you will understand what each possible outcome means for you. Is it possible for you to draw? What score do you need to win money?

It is certainly an interesting way of betting on lop-sided events. A match that could have been a bit boring can be a lot more fun. Suddenly, even a big victory for one team has a degree of tension in it.

What you need to remember that handicap betting is not risk-free. This isn’t like matched betting or arbitrage. In those type of bet, you are tilting the odds in your favour.

With either type of handicap wager, the bookie is still in control. They set the odds to reflect the possibility of each different outcome. Most people will lose on this type of bet. It isn’t any easier or more profitable than conventional bets in most cases.

The best way to make money from Handicap Betting

The best strategy for making money is using price boosts and laying them off on the Exchange to lock in a profit regardless of the outcome. If you look around, you will often see bookmakers offering these sorts of boosts.

An example here is William Hill offering Scotland To Win By 8 Points or more at odds 4.0

william hill flash boost

This could be layed off on Betfair at odds 2.68.

lay market

The maximum bet was £10 with William Hill. This would lock in a quick and easy £4.74 profit (based on 2% commission with Betfair) for a few minutes work.

Handicap boosted odds tend to have more value than normal boosts as most people don’t understand how they work. Keep an eye on the Profit Maximiser forum price boost thread for similar boosts.

Handicap Betting Conclusion

There is no doubt that this is a fun way of betting. It is a great way of adding some spice to a one-sided event.

However, as a money-making method it’s not easy profiting from straight bets. Focus on price boost handicaps like I’ve shown in the image above. You can lock in a straight profit & it’s quick and easy.




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