Menu

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 Football Betting

For example, if you were to bet on England vs Iran at the 2022 World Cup, England would be a heavy favourite as they are ranked much higher than Iran. You may not fancy a bet on Iran as they’re unlikely to win. However, with handicap betting, you can give Iran 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 England 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 Iran 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: England (-0.5) v Iran (+0.5)
    • Iran begin the game with a 0.5 goal advantage
    • If betting on England, they must win by one goal in order to win the bet
    • If betting on Iran, they need at least a draw for your bet to win
  • 1 handicap: England (-1) v Iran (+1)
    • Iran begin the game with a one goal advantage
    • If betting on England, they must win by two goals for you to win
    • If betting on Iran, they must earn at least a draw
  • 1.5 handicap: England (-1.5) v Iran (+1.5)
    • Iran begin the game with a 1.5 goal advantage
    • If betting on England, they must win by two goals for you to win
    • If betting on Iran, they must not lose by no more than one goal
Betfair
Alternative
Betfair Alternative
Get a £30 Free Bet with Fitzdares
Claim Offer

New customers only aged 21+. Minimum deposit £10. Qualifying bet must be placed at odds of evens (2.0) or greater. Get a matched Free bet up to £30 plus 20 Free Spins on Fishin’ Frenzy The Big Catch, credited within 24 hours. Free Bet and Spins expire in 7 days. T&Cs apply. Please bet responsibly. #ad

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.

bet365
New Customer Offer
Bet £10 Get £30 in Free Bets
bet365 Sign Up Offer
Claim Offer

Open Account Offer. Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets for new customers at bet365. Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of bets to value of qualifying deposit. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply. Registration required. Registration Required #ad

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 Union & Rugby League 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.

Betfred
New Customer Offer
Bet £10 Get Up To £40 In Free Bets
Football Welcome Offer
Claim Offer

New 18+ UK customers only. Register using the promo code ‘FOOTBALL40’, deposit and place first bet of £10 on football (cumulative price evens+) in one bet transaction. First bet must settle within the Promo Period (00:00 05/08/21 - 23:59 29/08/21).£30 in Free Bets credited within 10 hours of bet settlement and expire after 7 days. Additional £10 in Free Bets only credited if first bet doesn’t win. Payment restrictions apply. SMS validation may be required. Full T&Cs Apply.

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…

BookieHandicap Betting AvailableBet
bet365acceptedBet Here
betfairacceptedBet Here
betitonacceptedBet Here
william hillacceptedBet Here
paddy poweracceptedBet Here
betvictoracceptedBet Here
888sportacceptedBet Here
unibetacceptedBet Here
boylesportsacceptedBet Here
10betacceptedBet Here
sportnationacceptedBet Here
infernobetacceptedBet Here
Advertising Disclosure
At WhichBookie we bring you the best content and offers every day, please be aware that we do collect compensation from some of the links on this page.

Top New Bookmakers

Bet442
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=4237684 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
NRG.bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=3924790 ☆☆☆☆☆
Read Review
Visit
Highbet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/highbet/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
SportsBroker
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=4292542 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Gentleman Jim
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=3933385 ☆☆☆☆☆
Read Review
Visit
Neptune Play
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=3924791 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Blue Fox Casino
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2880013 ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
RaceCards.bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=4260953 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Planet Sport Bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/planet-sport-bet/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
DragonBet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2188589 ☆☆☆☆☆
Read Review
Visit
BetGoodwin
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=1498342 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
BresBet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2039219 ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
talkSPORT BET
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2018021 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Fafabet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/fafabet/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Lottoland
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=91925 ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
MonsterCasino
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/monstercasino/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
CopyBet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2039539 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
LiveScore Bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/livescore-bet-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit

Top Offers

StrikeWild | 100 Free Spins No Deposit
Visit
Bet365 Sign Up Offer, Free Bet & Bonus Code
Visit
Lottoland Sports Sign Up Offer, Free Bet & Bonus Code
Visit
Fafabet Free Bet Sign Up Offer & Bonus Code
Visit
CopyBet Sign Up Offer, Free Bet & Bonus Code
Visit
SpreadEx Free Bet Sign Up Offer & Bonus Code
Visit
Bzeebet Sign Up Offer, Promo Code & Free Bet
Visit
HeySpin Sign Up Offer, Free Bet & Bonus Code
Visit

Top Rated Bookmakers

bet365
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/bet365-review/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Betfred
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/betfred-review/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
BetUK
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/betuk-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
10bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/10bet-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
Ladbrokes
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/ladbrokes-review/ ★★★☆☆
Read Review
Visit
William Hill
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/william-hill-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
Coral
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/coral-bookmaker-review/ ★★★☆☆
Read Review
Visit
Karamba
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/karamba-review/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Bwin
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/bwin-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
Spreadex
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/spreadex-review/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
2024 UK General Election Odds & Betting Tips
Read
In a surprise announcement current UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has called a General Election to be held on Thursday 4th July. This bold move came as the governing Conservative party trail the opposition Labour Party in recent opinion polls by over 20 points. …
Date published: May 23, 2024
Card Betting Tips
Read

Here you'll find football card betting tips from our expert football analyst, Liam Johnson. All of the card & booking points tips published here on WhichBookie are 100% free.

Date published: May 23, 2024
Corners Betting Tips
Read

Here you'll find football corners betting tips from our expert football analyst, Liam Johnson. All of the corner predictions published here on WhichBookie are 100% free.

Date published: May 23, 2024

Best Football Bookies

bet365
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/bet365-review/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
Virgin Bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/virgin-bet-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
LiveScore Bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/livescore-bet-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit
Betfred
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/betfred-review/ ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
CopyBet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2039539 ★★★★★
Read Review
Visit
10bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/10bet-review/ ★★★★☆
Read Review
Visit

Best Racing Bookies

BetGoodwin
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=1498342 ★★★★★
Visit
bet365
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/bet365-review/ ★★★★★
Visit
Virgin Bet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/virgin-bet-review/ ★★★★☆
Visit
William Hill
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/william-hill-review/ ★★★★☆
Visit
Betfred
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/betfred-review/ ★★★★★
Visit
CopyBet
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/?post_type=bookmaker&p=2039539 ★★★★★
Visit
Coral
https://www.whichbookie.co.uk/bookmakers/coral-bookmaker-review/ ★★★☆☆
Visit