Your Complete Guide to Handicap Betting

Your Complete Guide to Handicap Betting

If you’re a punter who likes to get a bit more value from your bets, the handicap betting market is certainly one to be considered as it allows you to boost your match result bets by adding a fun and exciting twist.

The handicap market is one of the biggest offered by online bookies and we’re huge fans of handicap betting here at Which Bookie.

Below, you’ll find all you need to know about handicap betting, including what it is and how it works.

What Is Covered In This Guide
What Is Handicap Betting?Handicap Betting Example
European Handicap BettingBetting On The Handicap Draw
Asian HandicapsSports To Place Handicap Bets On
League Winner Handicap BetsRugby Handicap Betting
NFL Handicap BettingAlternative Handicaps
Where To Bet On Handicaps

What is Handicap Betting?

Handicap betting is a type of bet on the winner of a match but with a slight difference, they have a handicap which they also must overcome.

What it basically does is give a team a head start against their opposition, with the odds then being adjusted accordingly. The aim of a handicap will often be to give an underdog an initial advantage to begin with, which the more favoured team will be required to overcome.

Handicap Betting Example

For example, if you were to bet on Liverpool against Reading in the FA Cup, Liverpool would be a heavy favourite as they are one of the best teams in the Premier League taking on a side in the Championship. You may not fancy a bet on Reading as they’re unlikely to win. However, with handicap betting, you can give Reading a head start of 1, 2 or more goals which makes the bet a lot more appealing.

A bookmaker may offer a market which will give Liverpool a -2 handicap. This effectively means they start the game 2-0 down and therefore in order for you to win the bet they must beat Reading by three or more goals.

Handicaps can be whole numbers or non-whole numbers with some of the more common handicap advantages available at bookmakers shown below.

  • 0.5 handicap: Liverpool (-0.5) v Reading (+0.5)
    • Reading begin the game with a 0.5 goal advantage
    • If betting on Liverpool, they must win by one goal in order to win the bet
    • If betting on Reading, they need at least a draw for your bet to win
  • 1 handicap: Liverpool (-1) v Reading (+1)
    • Reading begin the game with a one goal advantage
    • If betting on Liverpool, they must win by two goals for you to win
    • If betting on Reading, they must earn at least a draw
  • 1.5 handicap: Liverpool (-1.5) v Reading (+1.5)
    • Reading begin the game with a 1.5 goal advantage
    • If betting on Liverpool, they must win by two goals for you to win
    • If betting on Reading, they must not lose by no more than one goal
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European Handicap Betting

The betting term ‘Asian Handicap’ is well-known but the term ‘European Handicap’ is used a lot less frequently.

So what is European Handicap Betting?

With European Handicap betting, there is the option to back the draw with a handicap applied. These bets are often not referred to as ‘European Handicaps’ and you’ll most likely see them on bookmaker websites simply as ‘Handicap’ or ‘Handicap Result’ markets.

European Handicap Example

Below, you’ll see an example of a European (or standard) handicap market for the match between Leicester and Southampton.

European Handicap Example

There are three betting options:

Leicester -1: For this bet to win, Leicester must win the game by two or more goals as they are starting with a one goal disadvantage.

Southampton +1: For this bet to win, Southampton must not lose the game as they are starting with a one-goal advantage.

Betting On The Handicap Draw

There is also the option to bet on the draw with a handicap. With these bets, you are essentially betting on the winning margin.

In the example above, a bet on the handicap draw would win only if Manchester City won by exactly two goals as Brighton are given a two goal lead at kick-off.

What is Asian Handicap Betting?

Asian handicap betting is a market you’ll also find with bookmakers and works in a similar way to above with the main difference being that draws, when possible, are refunded by the bookmaker and so there are only two betting options – A home win or an away win.

Asian Handicap Example

Let’s look at the Asian Handicap market for the Leicester v Southampton match on Bet365.

asian handicap

As you can see, there are only two options with the the draw handicap removed.

The handicap betting options are:

Leicester -0.5 : Leicester are starting with a 0.5 goal disadvantage. For bets to win, Leicester must win by one or more goals.

Southampton +0.5 : Southampton are starting with a 0.5 goal advantage. For bets to win, Southampton must either win or draw the match. As they started with a 0.5 goal advantage, if they draw 2-2, they would essential win the match 2 – 2.5.

Example 2

Below, is another example of an Asian handicap market for the match between Wolves and West Brom.

asian handicap example 2

Again, the option for a draw is removed so there are only two options which this time are:

Wolves -1 : Wolves are starting with a 1 goal disadvantage. For bets to win, Wolves must win by two or more goals. If Wolves end up winning the match exactly one goal, it will be classed as a draw as they started 1-0 down. Therefore, stakes will be refunded by the bookmaker.

West Brom +1 : West Brom are starting with a 1 goal advantage. For bets to win, West Brom must either draw or win the match. If West Brom lose by exactly one goal, it will be classed as a draw and stakes would be refunded.

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What Sports Can I Place A Handicap Bet On?

You can bet on many different sports when it comes to handicap betting with this bet type most commonly being found on team sports.

In American sports you may find that they are referred to as pointspread bets, but they ultimately work in the same way. Among the best sports to back the handicap markets include:

  • Football
  • Rugby League
  • Rugby Union
  • Cricket
  • Basketball
  • NFL
  • Ice Hockey
  • Golf

League Winner Handicap Bets

As well as placing handicap bets on individual sporting events, you can also often find them for outright bets such as for the winner of the Premier League. These are season-long bets where a handicap is applied to each team in the league in relation to the number of points they will pick up throughout the season.

For example, a team such as Liverpool, who are one of the favourites to win the league, may be given a minus handicap of say -10 points whereas a team which is very unlikely to win the league such as Burnley, may be given a positive handicap of +35 points.

If you were to bet on Liverpool with a -10 points handicap, they would have to win the league by more than 10 points for your bet to win.

Similarly, if you were to bet on Burnley to win the league with a handicap of +35 points, they would have to finish the season within 34 points or less of the actual winner for your bet to win.

Rugby Handicap Betting

Handicap betting on Rugby works the same as with football in that you can bet on either team winning a match by a certain number of points.

For example, if you were to bet on South Africa -10 against England, South Africa would have to win by more than 10 points for your bet to win.

If you were to bet on England +10, England would have to win, draw or lose by 9 points or less for your bet to win.

NFL Handicap Betting

The NFL is one of the most popular sports for handicap bets. Thankfully, handicap bets on American Football work exactly the same as with Rugby and Football.

Let’s say that you bet on the Green Bay Packers with a handicap of -7.5 against the Baltimore Ravens. This would mean that the Packers would have to win by 8 points or more for your bet to come in.

If you bet on the Baltimore Ravens with a handicap of +7.5, they must win the game, draw or lose by 7 points or less for you to win your bet.

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Alternative Handicaps

At many bookmakers, you will find alternative handicaps available. These are additional handicaps which you can bet on such as -1, -2, -3 or +1, +2, +3 etc.

There are alternative handicaps available for both standard handicap and Asian handicap markets.

alternative handicap

With the alternative handicap markets above, you have a number of options.

Below shows some alternative Asian handicap markets.

alternative asian handicap

You may notice that in the Alternative Asian Handicap options above, there are handicaps which contain two values such as:

  • Leicester -1.0, -1.5

With these bets, your total stake is split between the two handicaps.

With the -1.5 part of your bet, there is no chance of a draw and so Leicester must win by 2 or more goals for this part of your bet to win. However, with the -1.0 part of your bet, should Leicester win by exactly one goal, this half of your stake would be refunded as the match would be classed as a draw since Leicester started the match with a 1 goal disadvantage.

Where Can I Place Handicap Bets?

Handicap bets are available at most online bookmakers these days with brands such as William Hill and 10Bet offering an extensive range.

Here at Which Bookie we work with some of the biggest bookmakers in the UK and only bring you tried and trusted brands that have a wide range of markets, including handicap bets.

Head over to our bookmaker reviews category for all our favourite brands, while you can find some of our most recommended highlighted below…

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