Handicap betting much like regular betting requires you to stake your money on the outcome of a sports game. Depending on what your bet was, you can either win or lose money.
But unlike regular betting, handicap betting has a little twist to it which makes the game more exciting and fun to bet on.
If you want to understand what handicap betting is and how it works, then read this article to the end. We’ll be looking at the meaning, types, the difference between handicap and spread betting examples of handicap betting, and the top betting sites not on Gamstop.
What is Handicap Betting?
Handicap betting is used by bookmakers to make a sports game an even or balanced event especially when one team is superior to the other. So to level the playing field, the bookmakers will give one team a ‘handicap’ that they must overcome to succeed.
Here’s a simple illustration of how handicap betting works.
Imagine a professional 200m sprinter competing against a regular guy from the street with no racing history. The professional sprinter would win every single time. Betting on this would be boring and you would not get interesting odds.
Now, what if the regular guy from the street was given a 50m head start. This would make the outcome of the race harder to predict and more interesting.
In essence, one team’s outcome is given a virtual advantage (+0.5, +1, +2) while the other team’s outcome is given a disadvantage (-0.5, -1,-2) by the bookmakers to even the chances of the possible outcomes of both teams.
Handicap betting is mostly used in football, but there are also other sports where it can be applied like rugby, golf, basketball, tennis, and racing events, especially horse racing.
Types of Handicap Bets
- No Draw Handicap
No Draw handicap betting involves giving each team in a sports game half handicaps. Bookmakers do this to ensure that there is a guaranteed winner of the game being bet upon irrespective of the actual outcome of the game.
For example in a match between Leicester and Wolves, the bookmaker may decide to place a handicap of +1.5 on Leicester. If you’re betting on Leicester to win and the match ends in 3-2 to Wolves, your bet would pay out because of the +1.5 handicap making the score 3.5-3 to Leicester.
In the eyes of the bookmaker, since there are no half goals, it would be impossible for your bet to have ended in a draw.
- Handicap League Bets
A very popular type of handicap betting is handicap League betting where you make a handicap bet on a team’s performance throughout a season. How it works is, at the start of the season, the bookmakers will give handicaps to all the teams in the league depending on their expectations of each team’s likely performance.
Smaller or weaker teams are given a bigger handicap advantage and a scratch handicap (Scr) of zero is given to the league favorites to level the field.
From the handicap odds provided by the bookmakers, you can select the ones you want which contain different handicaps across all the teams in the division, and place your bet.
Unlike the standard handicap match betting where you calculate the outcome of the bet once the match you selected has ended, in handicap league betting, you’ll have to apply the different handicaps to each team in the division and wait for the season to end before you calculate the outcome of your bet to see if you were successful or not.
- Asian Handicap
Asian handicap is another type of handicap betting that started in Asia but has gained popularity all over the world. It’s currently the most used form of handicap betting.
It involves handicaps with half and whole numbers which makes it impossible for the outcome of a game to end in a draw. This is quite similar to the no draw handicap betting but the main difference is that Asian handicap has the possibility of “split handicaps” or double Asian handicap. This is a situation where your match selection can have one handicap with a half number and another one with a whole number. E.g Man City (-1, -1.5) Vs Arsenal (+1, +1.5).
This example shows that Man city needs to win the match by scoring two extra goals above Arsenal to be considered winners in the eyes of the bookmaker because of the handicap applied.
But if Man City wins the match by one goal the whole number handicap will result in a draw and the half number handicap will give Arsenal the victory. In this scenario, if you bet on Man City to win, instead of losing out completely, half of your stake will be returned and the other half paid back as winnings at the odds set by the bookmaker.
- European handicap
The European handicap is just like the Asian handicap betting which involves adding more points or goals to the lesser team to equalize the opponents’ chances. European handicap betting is different because it only uses whole numbers such as (+1, +2, etc) unlike Asian handicaps where you can have whole numbers and fractions like (+1.5, +1.75).
In European handicaps, there is a different outcome when the match ends in a draw. So if your handicap results in a draw, you lose your bet. For example, the Man City Vs Arsenal game. If you bet on Arsenal with a European handicap of +1 and the match ends in 2:1 in favor of Man City, the final score would be 2:2 when you add the handicap, resulting in a lost bet. But if both teams drew or Arsenal won, your bet would have won.
Here’s another example of the possible outcomes of a draw bet with a European handicap i.e you only win a bet if the final score is a draw. Let’s say you placed a bet on Man City (-1) and Arsenal (+1) to draw.
If Man City wins by one goal, your bet wins. If Man City wins by more than one goal, your bet is lost. If Arsenal wins, your bet is lost. If both teams draw, then Arsenal wins because of the handicap and you lose your bet.
Handicap Betting vs Spread Betting: What Is The Difference
The main difference between handicap betting and spread betting is in their use. Handicap betting is used to wager on the outcomes of a sport even while spread betting is used to wager on the outcome of the financial market.
Handicap betting is also known as point spread betting which is why it is often confused with the non-sports term ‘spread betting’.
Spread betting is a tax-free way for people (mostly UK and Ireland residents) to predict the rise and fall of the financial markets even without having an asset in the market. You can spread bets on different financial instruments like indices, Forex, commodities, and more.
Handicap Betting Examples
Now that you understand what handicap betting is, let’s look at some examples using football matches.
0.5 Handicap e.g Milan (-0.5) Vs Celtic (+0.5)
- Celtic will start the game with half a goal advantage
- If you bet on Milan and they win the match, you win your bet
- If you bet on Milan and the match ends in a draw, you lose your bet
- If you bet on Celtic and they win or draw the match, you win your bet
1 Handicap e.g Milan (-1.0) Vs Celtic (+1.0)
- Celtic will start the game with a one-goal advantage
- If your bet is on Milan, they must win the match by at least two goals for you to win your bet.
- If your bet is on Milan and they win by one goal difference, it’s automatically a draw and your stake will be refunded
- If your bet is on Celtic, then you’d only win if they win or draw the match. If they lose the match, your stake will be refunded.
1.5 Handicap e.g Milan (-1.5) Vs Celtic (+1.5)
- Celtic will start the game with a one and half-goal advantage
- There is no room for a draw here since the handicap is more than one goal
- If your bet is on Milan, they must score at least two goals for you to win your bet
- If your bet is on Celtic, you’ll win if they win the match, draw or concede by one goal
2 Handicap e.g PSG (-2.0) Vs Wolves (+2.0)
- Wolves will start the game with two goals advantage
- If your bet is on PSG, they need to win the game with a difference of three or more goals
- If your bet is on PSG and they win by two goals difference, your stake will be refunded
- If your bet is on Wolves, you’ll win your bet only if they lose by a single goal difference
- If your bet is on Wolves and they lose by two goals difference, your stake will be refunded
2.5 Handicap PSG (-2.5) Vs Wolves (+2.5)
- Wolve will start the game with a two-and-a-half-goal advantage
- If your bet is on PSG, they need to win the game with a difference of three or more goals for you to win your bet
- If your bet is on Wolves, you’ll win your bet as long as they don’t lose by a margin of three or more goals
The Five Top Bookmakers that Offer the Best Football Handicap Betting Odds
To get you started on your journey into handicap betting, we’ve compiled a list of the best sites/ bookmakers that offer the best handicap betting odds. Here they are:
Bet365 comes first on our list because of its credibility. The company is licensed in 2001 by the British gambling commission with over 20 years of experience in the betting industry and 53 million customers all over the world. It’s one of the best sites for bet lovers, because of its amazing odds and wide range of sports.
- Offers over 35 sports betting options
- Live streaming on thousands of events
- Impressive depth of bets and markets
- Friendly customer and support team
- Great mobile offering
- No loyalty scheme in place
888 Sport or triple eight sport as it is pronounced was founded in 2008 and has since become a well-known brand in the betting industry with a wide range of markets, bonuses, and great odds
- Wide variety of sports selections and betting markets
- In-play betting and live streaming
- Player-friendly mobile app
- Regular promos
- Delayed withdrawals
- Not wide enough range of sports and markets
Betfair is an online gambling company that was founded in 1999. It offers a variety of gambling services like fixed odds betting, handicap betting, poker, online casino, and online bingo.
- Betfair allows users to bet ‘for’ and ‘against’ a sports match
- Great for popular novelty bets like reality TV show winners
- Good welcome bonus
- You can place bets at odds set by other bettors
- They offer better prices than other markets
- Lack of casinos and poker in some countries
Bethard has been around since 2014. First as a gaming site but later expanded into gambling services.
- Hundreds of betting markets
- Easy site navigation
- Reliable customer support
- No mobile app for phones
Unibet was established in 1999 and since then they’ve constantly stayed at the top of its game by adding new features and services like odds boosts, live streaming services, cash-out in-play, and more.
- Bigger than the average welcome bonus
- Great live streaming service
- Easy-to-use app
- Quick deposit and withdrawal
- Sometimes limits big winners