Handicap Betting

Handicaps 2

Whilst many people tend to stick to the few betting markets they know well, be that both teams to score, correct score betting or anything else, there are literally hundreds of different and untapped bets available on big games, with handicaps and Asian handicaps among them.

They may not be so familiar to many punters but those people could well be missing out, because once you know how these bet types work and when best to utilise them there is money to be made.

The two terms confuse a lot of people but the difference between them is incredibly simple. An Asian handicap is simply a bet that only has two options since it eliminates the possibility of a draw, while a standard handicap bet includes the draw.

Handicaps & Asian Handicaps in Detail

Handicaps, be they Asian or standard, are used by bookies and punters for a number of reasons, but in essence they were born out of the need to level the betting between heavily mismatched sides such as a meeting between Bradford City and Manchester United.

Bradford City

Credit: quisnovus Flickr

If a team is a very, very strong favourite, punters may be put off backing them as the odds could be as poor as 1/5, for example, so a handicap can be introduced to give the underdog a virtual head start. This head start can be anything really, but let’s use a two goal handicap to even out the odds in this example. So, either the favourite is given a two goal defecit or the underdog gets a two goal head start. This handicap is applied after the final score, altering the result for the purposes of the bet and making betting much more interesting and, for many, more viable too.

A normal handicap will be expressed in whole goals, with the standard 90 minute match betting options available. For example, the team priced at 1/5 in our example bet may be priced at 4/7 with a -1 handicap, whilst the draw -1 is 4/1 and the away side +1 is 11/4. If that handicap is extended to two goals then the match looks like a very balanced contest with the favourites (in the outright betting) priced at 6/4 and now outsiders, the underdogs on offer at 6/5 and the draw (based on the better side giving up a two goal start) priced at odds of 11/4.

Handicap Betting

With an Asian handicap of -2 for the favourite or +2 for the underdog, a situation where the bookies’ favourite wins 2-0 will result in a “push” – effectively a void bet. Here the stake is returned because there was no option given to bet on the draw, just to back Team A or Team B.

In order to win our example bet, the team fancied to win must do so by at least three goals, whilst the outsider must only lose by one goal, draw, or even win the game. Any Asian handicap that is expressed in whole goals will result in a push if the favoured sides win by the exact amount of the handicap.

Half and Quarter Margins

Half and Quarter Margins Asian handicap

To avoid this outcome, Asian handicaps are often expressed in half goal margins as this ensures that no matter the outcome of the match, one side will always win the bet. So one side might be +0.5 and the other -0.5. A draw or a win for the team given half a goal head start wins, whilst the club giving up the half goal must win to overcome that. Handicaps like this can be any number from 0.5 up to 4.5 or even more.

A third type of Asian handicap bet exists and this is the most likely to confuse people, as it involves either quarter goals (for example +0.25 or +0.75) or else it is written using two handicaps (for example +0.5, +1). These mean the same thing, so +0.75 is exactly the same bet as +0.5, +1 but is actually two bets, with half the stake going on +0.5 and half going on +1. In this example, if the side draws or wins both bets will pay out, but a loss of two goals or more mean both bets lose. However, should the side lose 1-0, half the bet (the +0.5) will lose whereas the other half will be a push, meaning half of the total stake will be given back.

Handicap & Asian Handicap Betting Strategy & Tips

For more general betting advice head to our “How to Bet” section. Here, we take a look at how handicaps and Asian handicaps can and should be used to make a profit.

To make handicap betting simpler, many bookies and betting sites have created easier to understand betting markets that effectively cover an option that was already available via an Asian handicap. The idea was probably to make the concept a little less scary for bettors with limited experience.

Double Chance

It’s worth checking both options because even though they are identical, some bookies offer better odds on one than the other.

  • +0.5 or -0.5 Asian handicap – Backing a side +0.5 is the same as backing them in the double chance, win and draw market, whilst backing a side -0.5 is simply the same as backing them in the main match odds betting.
  • 0 Asian handicap – A handicap of 0 may seem strange but this bet is the same as the “draw no bet market” in that if the game is a draw the bet is a push.
  • -2 Handicap – A -2 standard handicap is the same as “Team to win by three or more goals” bet. Obviously the same applies to -1 and “two or more goals”, etc.
  • -2.5 Asian handicap – A -2.5 Asian bet is the same as a -2 handicap above, and consequently the same as the given side to win by three or more goals bet. Likewise, this applies to -1.5, -3.5 and other similar bets.

Betting on football means different things to different people, but winning and profiting from your bets is hugely important even for those who only bet to add a bit of extra fun or excitement to the game.

Understanding handicap betting can really help by giving you extra options and the ability to cover outcomes that wouldn’t be possible by only betting on the normal match odds. Whilst it is possible to back some of these using the other bets mentioned above, there is no doubt that using handicaps and Asian handicaps can add a new dimension to your football betting.

It can be useful where you think a team definitely won’t lose or where you think that one side is priced far too short. For example, if you decide that Liverpool are far too short at odds of 3/5 you could back their opponents +0.5 on the Asian handicap, covering both the draw and the other side winning – alternatively you could simply lay Liverpool at an exchange.

On the other side, if you think Liverpool will win easily but that odds of 3/5 are too short, backing them -1.5 goals on the Asian or perhaps even -2 on the standard handicap are great ways to up those odds and get a better return on your bets.

There are so many different options to play with, but now we’ve explained the basics of Asian handicaps and standard football handicaps we hope you’ll feel confident in trying them out for yourself and seeing which ones you like most.