What is handicap betting? Handicap betting explained

Handicap betting is one of the most common forms of sports betting, especially in points-based sporting events such as football, basketball, rugby, and tennis. However, you can also place such bets in racing events, particularly in horse and greyhound racing.

Handicap betting tends to affect the manner in which bookmakers present the odds here, and for this reason, it’s important to gain some solid understanding of this type of betting to be able to interpret the odds and subsequently get to wager on effective handicap bets.

Yan Zhylinski
Yan Zhylinski
Handicap Betting Explained

Also going by the name line betting, points betting, the spread, or Asian handicap betting is the process whereby a bookie turns on a sporting event in which there are varied odds into an even money contest. A majority of sportsbooks do so by giving some virtual advantage or disadvantage to some competitors in a match so that they even the field.

In points-based sports such as soccer, bookies try to create an even money contest by adding points or marks onto a side deemed the underdog. For example, if Arsenal are favorites to beat Chelsea, the bookie might give Chelsea a 2-0 handicap advantage.

If you go ahead and place a handicap bet on Arsenal to win, by they only manage to beat Chelsea by a single goal to nothing, based on the handicap that was there, you’ll lose your bet. Effectively, in the eyes of the bookies, Arsenal lost the game by 2-1.

You need to be very cautious when it comes to placing a handicap bet since the handicap only applies to the selection that a player bets on only. Similarly, if you get to wager on England vs. Brazil and the sportsbook of your choice sets the handicap at 3-0, your bet will pay out even if Brazils win by 2-0. The reason for that is simple. In the eyes of the bookie, England would have emerged the winners by 3-2.

How do bookies present handicap bets?

Using the previous example involving Arsenal and Chelsea, the handicap match betting might appear as follows:

Arsenal FC



Handicap Tie







Assume that the match ended in a 1-0 victory for Arsenal, but if you wager on Chelsea to win, you wouldn’t profit from the market. Arsenal would have needed to score as many goals as the handicap so that your bet pays out.

Suppose you wager on a handicap tie, then it means that you’d win your bet, as Arsenal did emerge victorious by the exact margin that is in the handicap. When wagering on a handicap tie, it’s the margin of the win as opposed to the number of goals or points acquired that matters. If you wager on Chelsea to emerge victorious, you’d win, since they effectively won the game by 2-1 in the eyes of the bookies.

If those competing in a match appear evenly matched, then there are high chances that you may see the term ‘scratch’. This means that there aren’t any handicaps or a chance to try Asian handicap betting, and the bookies will view punters as actual winners of the match.

So, why the name Asian?

A variant of handicap betting was made popular in Asia involving whole and half numbers to make the possibility of a draw impossible, similar to the no draw handicap match betting. The most differentiating factor concerning this type of bet is the high possibility of split handicaps, whereby players’ selection can have one handicap made of a whole number, and the other one with half numbers.

While this form of betting has its roots in Asia, today, it has spread to other parts of the globe, with punters seeing it as one of the easiest way of increasing their bankroll. Today, it’s not only prevalent in Asian markets but other places across the globe too. Asian handicaps offers players the ability to get their stake back and mostly feature a decimal.

How to get the most out of handicap bets

Do you intend at getting the most out of handicap bets? If the answer is yes, then you may want to begin placing this type of a bet is when the odds, the match result, or another preferable market that you want to play doesn’t offer some real value. With the help of handicap betting, you’ll notice the evening out of chances regardless of whether one team would have some ridiculous advantage over the other in an average sporting event. Of importance to note is that you won’t find this type of bets at sportsbooks only. Several exchanges offer some of the best odds in total when you compare them with bookies.

Top bookies that offer best Asian handicap odds

Several bookies in business offer punters a chance to wager on handicap bets. But not all of them are the best. Fortunately, there are a few established names where you are bound to enjoy some of the best odds when it comes to this type of betting. Some of the best ones include:

  • Unibet
  • Betfair
  • 888sport
  • Bet365
  • Bethard
  • Bwin
  • Melbet

The above offer some of the best odds when it comes to handicap bets. You may check out a few of them and even open an account with them to enjoy this popular type of betting.

The bottom line

Should you wish to try another form of betting, then you may want to try your luck with handicap bets. Besides coming with its own fun, this type of betting takes into consideration the performance of the entire team as opposed to a single outcome of a match. Try this way of betting today. Who knows? Probably, your luck may be here!

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Comments (1)

betting exchange
betting exchange

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