What Does Handicap Mean in Betting?

04.11.2021 • AUTHOR: Beton NG
What Does Handicap Mean in Betting?

About Handicap

Handicap is one of those terminologies that you must have heard if you tried betting before. To some who understand the meaning of handicap, it allows them to understand wagers better. For those who are hearing for the first time or just don’t know what it means. It could be a cause for confusion.

So in order to help you get better at your online betting lingo. Today, we will look at What is a handicap? Why do you need to understand handicap meaning and many more. So, to answer the question, what is a handicap, it is a tool that can be used to take sports betting to a whole other level. Handicap means different things in different sports, however, we will be focusing on football for our examples.

What is Handicap in Betting?

Handicap betting is where one selection in an event is given a “handicap” to overcome in order to win. This is popular when strong favorites are playing, instead of placing a match bet at short odds, you can place a bet at longer odds with a 1 or 2 goal start, or -12 point for instance.

Handicap in betting is a numerical figure set by the bookmaker to counter any perceived biases in the abilities of the opposing teams. Through this, it provides the punter with more balanced odds because, at the end of the day, anything can happen in sports. This is often more appealing to punters as it creates more intrigue and insight into the result of the game and the bets placed by not allowing the implied probability to dictate the bet. By choosing handicap betting the punter’s bet must “overcome” the handicap in order to win, so you are betting on your selection with the handicap taken into account.

Football Handicap Betting

In soccer betting, you can make use of a handicap bet in the traditional sense, a three-way handicap or Asian handicap betting.

Traditional handicaps

When betting on a handicap market on soccer, the team supposedly less likely to win, given the odds, is awarded a goal or the “favourite” is given points before the match even starts as far as the bet is concerned. So, the favourite will start with a handicap of -1, -2, -3, etc.

Three-way handicaps

For example, Team 1 is the favourite to win so they start with a -2 handicap, Team 2 has lower odds with points awarded by the handicap to level the odds, so Team 2 starts with +2. To use the third option effectively, the handicap tie is -2. Essentially you are betting on the team that wins by the margin specified by the handicap.

Asian Handicap

In this section, we will be explaining as simply as possible the meaning of Asian handicaps. As the name suggests this form of betting originated in Asia. It all started when a group of high staking Asian backers requested a “draw no bet” wager – meaning that if the match finished in a draw then all bets were void. Due to the money on offer the bookmakers relented but the demands got even more complicated, such as “half my money back if it’s a draw”, and a whole new method of betting was established. At first, this betting revolution was confined to Asia but eventually, it filtered down into bookmaking worldwide. As such it is becoming more mainstream, but still very few people understand let alone take advantage of it. To put it simply in the market the team perceived to be the less likely winner of a match is given a head start, commonly termed as the ‘handicap’.

Handicap 0:2

You win if your team wins the match. If there’s a draw, your bet is split in half: one half is considered a win, the other half is considered a draw, and its stakes are refunded.

Handicap 1:0

You win if your team wins or draws the match. If it loses with a goal difference of one, your stake is refunded.


In this section, we will be looking at some handicap examples for different handicaps we have talked about so far. So we begin with an example of Asian handicapping:

Imagine United vs. City and the handicap are City + 2.5. This means that in order for a bet with City to lose, United would need to score 3 goals against them. So if the match ended United 2-0 City and you bet on a City win, you would win because City was going into the bet with a 2.5 goal advantage.

For a little more sophisticated example, Let’s look at an example of two-way handicaps:

Consider United versus. City and you’ll obtain the following handicap: +1.0, +1.5 for the city This implies that half of your wager is on City winning, drawing, or losing by less than one goal, while the other half is on City winning, drawing, or losing by fewer than 1.5 goals.

If the final result is United 1-0 City, half of your wager will be returned owing to a tie (United 1 – +1 City), while the other half will win (United 1 – +1.5 City).

European Handicaps

European handicap betting is essentially a three-way bet, akin to a 1×2 match outcome bet. As a result, it is sometimes known as “single handicap” or “three-way.” A handicap is placed on the outsider in any match if there is a considerable disparity in strength between the two sides in order to make it more difficult for the favorite to win the wager.

So far, the function is identical to Asian. The key distinction is that the European Handicap (abbreviated as EH) is always an integer value, allowing it to be matched with a goal differential. Instead of a -1,5 goal or -0,25 goal Asian, the European are always of the -1, -2, -3, etc. kind.

The Differences Between European and Asian Handicaps

Let’s start with the European handicaps. It’s a handicap with three possible outcomes: home victory, away win, and tie. Asians, on the other hand, do not allow for a draw, which allows bookmakers to provide better odds to their customers, who will also earn more value from their bets.
Asian handicap betting is typically represented by decimals such as 0.00, 0.25, and 0.50. So keep a lookout for numbers like 1.00, 1-25, and so on.
While European handicap bets provide the typical win or loss outcome in all situations, the option of having no tie with Asians handicap bets allows for a wager to be “pushed” and the investment to be returned to the player in the event.

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