What is Handicap Betting?
In handicap betting, bookies remove an advantage for a team or player over another by adding or reducing points or goals. Thus, bookmakers aim to make it a tighter contest.
Also known as the spread, handicap betting is a betting market that most major bookmakers offer. This is commonly offered in such sports as football, basketball, tennis and horse racing.
Consider the upcoming Champions League game between Copenhagen and Manchester City. 1xBet offers betting odds of 1.33 on the overwhelming favourites, Man City, and odds of 10.6 on the underdogs, Copenhagen. A draw attracts odds of 5.89.
To make the match less one-sided, 1xBet removes goals from the final score of Man City. The bookmaker also adds goals to the final score of Copenhagen.
Assume that the bookmaker adds a handicap of +1.0 to the Copenhagen score. Then, a bet on Man City will win only if Man City wins by a margin of 2 goals or more. Thus, a 1-0 win for Man City will be considered a 1-1 draw.
Handicap Chart Example
Consider the following 1xBet handicap wagering chart for the UCL match between Copenhagen and Manchester City on 14 February 2024.
M City (0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
M City (-1.0)
Above odds are taken from 1xbet
The chart above reveals that 1xBet expects Man City to win by a minimum margin of 2 goals. Hence, even with a handicap of +1.5, Copenhagen are underdogs. They attract odds of 2.022 as compared to Man City who are quoted at 1.92.
Note: A handicap of 0.5 indicates a ‘no draw’ handicap. This guarantees that one team or the other will win, as no team can score 0.5 goals. Also, when you bet on a ‘Zero handicap,’ and the match is drawn, you can get your money back.
Types of Handicap Betting
There are many types of handicap betting, such as European handicap betting and Asian handicap betting, each with its advantages and rules.
Handicap betting is a popular choice of punters on football betting sites. If you are learning how to bet on football, you must also know what handicap betting is.
Here, we explain the various types of handicap betting that bookmakers may apply:
2-Way Handicap Bets
This handicap type allows two possible outcomes. The favourite must win by more than the provided handicap. Alternatively, the underdog must win or lose by less than the provided handicap.
Let’s take an upcoming Premier League match between favourites Burnley (2.05) and underdogs Sheffield United (3.70). The bookmaker may specify a 2-way handicap bet comprising Burnley -0.5 and Sheffield United +0.5. Assume that the match ends with the score reading Burnley 2-1 Sheffield United.
Then the result of this handicap betting in football will read as follows: Burnley 1.5- 1.5 Sheffield United. Thus, the result is a tie and the bookmaker refunds the bet. However, if the result reads Burnley 3-1 Sheffield United, the handicap result is Burnley 2.5-1.5 Sheffield United. Thus, a bet on Burnley will win.
3-Way Handicap Bets
Unlike a 2-way handicap bet, a 3-way handicap bet on football allows all three outcomes. These are a home team win, an away team can win and a draw.
For instance, let’s assume that a 3-way handicap of -1 is offered on an upcoming football match between home team favourites Chelsea (2.08) and away team underdogs Brighton (3.20).
If the final score is Chelsea 3-1 Brighton, the handicap score is Chelsea 2-2 Brighton. So, the match is drawn. If the final score is Chelsea 3-0 Brighton, the handicap score is Chelsea 2-1 Brighton. So, a bet on Chelsea will win. If the final score is Chelsea 1-2 Brighton, the handicap score is Chelsea 0-3 Brighton. Then, a bet on Brighton will win.
Meaning of Asian Handicap
What is the meaning of Asian handicap betting? You will often find this type of handicap in soccer betting. Here, the handicap applied is a decimal/fractional number of goals to the favoured player or team.
Asian handicap lines ensure that a draw cannot happen. For instance, let’s consider an upcoming football game between favourites (1.30) Liverpool and underdogs Fulham (8.90).
Assume that you have backed Liverpool and that the football betting site has applied a handicap of -0.5 to Liverpool. Then, Liverpool must win by more than 0.5 for your bet to win. If Liverpool win by less than 0.5 points or lose, you lose your bet.
If the match is drawn, Fulham win the bet. Asian handicap betting can have other variations, such as 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1.25, and so on. This is how Asian handicap lines can impact the outcome of your wagers.
In this type of handicap, the handicap applied is a whole number. A draw is a possible result. For example, consider an upcoming football game between favourites Man City (1.42) and underdogs Spurs (6.40). Assume that a bookmaker has applied a handicap of -1 to Man City and that you have backed Man City.
Then Man City have to win by more than one goal for your bet to win. If Man City win by exactly one goal, the match is a draw, and the bookmaker will refund your stake. If Man City win by less than one goal or lose, your bet loses. Thus, if the match ends in a win for Spurs or in a draw, you lose your bet.
Single Handicap in Betting
A single handicap in betting happens when the bookmaker applies a number of points or goals to a favoured team in a contest. The number can be either a whole number, a fraction or a decimal.
In handicap 0.5 betting, the bookmaker gives a 0.5 goal or point advantage or disadvantage to one player or team in a game. This implies that the match cannot end in a draw. The punter must predict which player or team will prevail after subtracting or adding the handicap.
Consider the following example of a 0.5 handicap for the upcoming Premier League game between favourites Arsenal (1.84) and underdogs Brentford (4.40). Brentford will begin with an advantage of half a goal. If you back Arsenal and they win, your bet wins. However, if the match is drawn, your bet loses. If you’re backing Brentford, your bet will win if Brentford win or draw the game.
A handicap 1 in betting -- also called a European handicap -- involves a handicap that is a whole number of goals. Thus, in a single handicap, a draw is a possible result. Consider the following example of handicap 1 for an upcoming match between favourites Man City (1.64) and Liverpool (4.80).
Liverpool will begin the game with a one-goal advantage. If you have backed Man City, they must win by a minimum margin of two goals for your bet to win. However, if Man City only win by one goal, the result is effectively a draw, and the bookmaker will refund your stake.
If you’re backing Liverpool, your bet wins if Liverpool win the match or draw it. If Liverpool loses the match by just one goal, the bookmaker will refund your stake.
In handicap 1.5 betting, the betting site allows one team in a game to enjoy a 1.5-goal advantage or disadvantage. Consider the following example of handicap 1.5 for an upcoming match between favourites Brentford (1.49) and underdogs Luton Town (6.30).
Luton Town will begin with an advantage of one and a half goals. Due to the fractional handicap, a draw is ruled out. If you’re betting on Brentford to win, they must score at least two goals for your bet to win. If you’re betting on Luton Town to win, your bet will win if they win the match, or draw it, or lose by just one goal.
Handicap Betting by Sport
Bookmakers facilitate handicap betting in numerous sports, including cricket, football and basketball, as follows:
Handicap Bet in Cricket
In cricket, a bookmaker may apply handicap betting to different aspects of a match, such as wickets, runs, overs, or even series. Either team may bat or bowl first. For instance, let’s consider the upcoming World Cup semi-final between favourites Australia (1.73) and underdogs South Africa (2.10).
The team batting first may begin with fewer or more wickets or runs than indicated by the actual score. A team can win a handicap bet if it either wins the game outright or overcomes the handicap.
For instance, if you back Australia, who start with a -9.5 runs handicap, Australia must win by 10 runs or more for your bet to win. If you back South Africa, who have a +9.5 runs handicap, your bet wins if South Africa can draw, win, or lose by less than 9.5 runs.
Handicap Bet in Football
Bookmakers may apply handicaps to different aspects of a football game. These include the number of goals scored, the final score, the number of cards, or the number of corners. Earlier in this article, we have provided several examples of handicap in soccer.
Handicap Bet in Basketball
Like football, basketball lends itself to the application of handicaps to various aspects of the game. These include the number of assists, the number of rebounds, the number of points, or the final score.
For instance, let’s consider an upcoming Spanish women’s basketball league match between favourites Avenida (1.57) and underdogs Valencia Basket (2.50). Assume that you have backed Avenida, and the bookmaker favours Valencia by +5.5 points over Avenida.
Then, Avenida must win by over 5.5 points for your bet to win. If Avenida win or draw or lose or even win by fewer than 5.5 points, your bet loses. A bet on Valencia will win if Valencia draw, win, or lose by fewer than 5.5 points.
Best Handicap Betting Sites
How to place a Handicap bet?
Placing a handicap bet involves a few simple steps:
- Visit the bookmaker's site and select a sport such as cricket, football or basketball that allows handicap betting.
- Decide on the player or team to bet on and on the amount you want to stake.
- Check the odds and handicap line – goals or points added or subtracted for your preferred player or team.
- Place and confirm your bet. Based on your strategy or preference, the wager can be either a multiple bet or a single bet.
- Await the outcome. To win the handicap bet, your player or team must overcome the handicap.
In other words, your player or team must beat the rival player or team by a margin that exceeds the handicap line.
Tips and Strategies for Handicap Betting
In this segment, we give our readers some tips and strategies to optimise their handicap betting adventure:
Obtain a good understanding of handicap betting, including European handicap lines and Asian handicap lines.
Chase the best odds. The odds offered on handicap bets may vary from bookmaker to bookmaker. So, compare the odds offered by different bookmakers and settle on the best offer.
Study the strengths and weaknesses of the players and teams involved, including head-to-head comparisons. Also, consider external factors such as weather, venue, and injury concerns. Such in-depth analysis will give you a good idea about the motivation and likely performance of the players and teams concerned.
Place bets on the most significant underdogs or favourites. You must be able to take advantage if the handicap is too low or too high.
Avoid pressure or high-stake games. Such games could end in low scores or unexpected outcomes.
Handicap Betting FAQs
Here are some of the most common FAQs on handicap betting:
What is handicap in betting?
When there is a clear favourite player or team in a game, bookmakers give an advantage to the underdog. Thus, the handicap meaning in betting refers to a handicap that helps to make the game more fair and exciting.
What does Handicap +0.5 mean?
A handicap of +0.5 means that the bookmaker has given a +0.5 advantage to one team or player over the other. A bet on the disadvantaged team will win only if such a team wins by more than 0.5 points or goals. All other results, including a draw, will result in a lost bet.
How can I place a handicap bet?
Visit a bookmaker and select a sport – such as cricket, football or basketball -- that allows handicap betting. Study the odds and handicap line offered on your preferred team or player. When you are clear about how much you stand to gain, you can make a handicap betting chart. Use the chart to help place your bet and await the result.
What is the meaning of Asian Handicap betting?
In Asian handicap betting, the handicap line on a player or team is expressed in fractions or decimals. Asian handicap rules out a draw. Consequently, there will be a clear winner or loser.
What is the difference between a whole-number handicap and a half-number handicap?
A whole-number handicap can end in a draw, while a half-number handicap cannot. When a whole-number handicap match ends in a draw, the bookmaker refunds the bet. By contrast, in a half-number handicap, the game will have a clear loser or winner.