Handicap Bet Meaning

    handicap betting tips

    What is handicap betting? In sports betting lingo, the handicap noun refers to the advantage/disadvantage sportsbooks give to one team/player. Handicap bet has many synonyms, probably the most famous of which is the point spread bet.

    Sports betting handicap has nothing to do with any kind of physical or mental handicap. Instead, the player/team is handicapped by the bookie by taking a few points/goals off of them. In order to win in the bookie’s eyes, the player/team needs to compensate by scoring even more.

    Still not clear what handicap is and how to use it? No problem, I’ll explain it with a couple of examples!


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    Handicap Bet Examples

    Let’s imagine the English national team is playing against Germany in the final of the Euros. The handicap on the Three Lions is -1.5, what does this mean?

    It means that in order for the bet to win, it’s not enough for them just to win by 1. They need to beat the Germans with at least 2 goals difference!

    Why? Because they have to cover the -1.5 handicap in order for the bet to win. If the score is 3:1 for England, when you take the handicap into account, you get the score 1.5:1. And that’s a winning bet.

    However, if it were 2:1 for England, you would lose. Why? It’s obvious, in that case, the handicapped score would have been -0.5:1. And that would make the Germans win the handicap wager.

    The same rule applies to many other sports, not just football. For instance, you can bet on handicaps in basketball, hockey, horse race, American football, and other team sports.

    You can also bet on handicaps in individual sports like tennis. For instance, Djokovic -5.5 would mean that the total number of games he wins over the course of the match needs to be at least 6 games more than what his opponent wins.

    Handicap betting is also applicable in racing sports events, like horse race betting or Formula 1 betting. How it usually works is that your pick is given a time handicap.

    Betting on Advantage

    Handicap bets are not just about giving your team/player a disadvantage. You can also make bets in which your pick has a starting advantage over the opponent.

    If you bet England +1.5 against Germany, your bet is winning in three scenarios:

    • The English win the game by any score
    • The game finishes in a draw
    • England loses by no more than one goal margin.

    By practically making the opponent handicapped, you’re improving your chances of winning significantly. Sounds good, but the problem when the handicap bets in which your pick has an advantage is that they usually come with low betting odds.

    Actually, the only time when these sorts of bets come with a good value is when you’re backing an underdog.

    Different Types of Handicap Bets

    As I said before handicap bets have many synonyms, which can make things a bit complicated to comprehend. However, generally speaking, handicap usually refers to the one with three outcomes. Some also call it the European handicap or even the 1×2 handicap.

    The other version of this betting market is the Asian Handicap, which has two outcomes. This is a sort of bet that Americans often refer to as the point spread bet.

    Obviously, as the name suggests, the point spread is possible only when dealing with sports in which points are used, e.g. basketball, American football, baseball, hockey, etc.

    European Handicap Explained

    European handicap a.k.a. 1×2 handicap is the type of bet in which you have three potential outcomes to choose from.

    However, unlike the standard match-winner bet which depends on nothing but the actual outcome of the game, this bet is a bit more complicated. In this bet, you need to take the advantage/disadvantage into account.

    Once again, I think this is best explained with an example. And once again, I’m going to use the imaginary clash between England and Germany to explain my point.

    England -1 would be an example of a European handicap in this case.

    What this practically means is that for your bet to win, England needs to win by at least 2 goals difference. If it’s a 1 goal difference for England, it’s a draw in bookmaker’s eyes when the handicap is taken into account.

    Speaking of the devil, the draw is another betting option you can go for with the European handicap. If you bet draw on England -1 handicap, it practically means that the English need to beat the Germans with a single goal difference, e.g. 1:0, 2:1, 3:2, etc.

    Asian Handicap Meaning

    Asian handicap practically takes the draw out of the equation. How it does this is by using giving the point/goal advantage/disadvantage in the form of a number and a half, e.g. -9.5 points.

    What this means is that thanks to that decimal number, the outcome cannot finish without a winner.

    Let’s go to the NBA for this one. I am going to use a basketball match between Los Angeles Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans as an example.

    Los Angeles Lakers are killing it this season, New Orleans Pelicans not so much. That is why the team from the City of Angels is a huge favourite. Backing the Lakers would not bring you much profit as the odds are in the ballpark of 1.10.

    However, you can spice it up by betting on Asian handicap or as Americans would say a ‘point spread bet’.

    If the handicap is Los Angeles Lakers -9.5 points, it means that they need to beat the Pelicans by at least 10 points difference. It’s simple maths really, 10 points minus 9.5 equals 0.5.

    So, let’s say the game finishes 117:107 for the Lakers. What happens in this case? You win, of course, because even when the -9.5 points handicap is taken into account, the Lakers still have more points than Pelicans.

    With the handicap included, the score is 107.5:107 in Los Angeles Lakers’ favour. And that means that you’ve won your bet!

    Apart from betting on the Asian handicap in which your team gets a disadvantage, you can place a bet on just the opposite. In that case, you are the winner as long as your team doesn’t lose by more points than what the given advantage is.

    On top of everything, there’s also the ‘zero’ handicap, in which your team needs to win the match, but if a draw happens, you get your stake back.

    Asian Handicap (0) Explained

    You can think of the ‘zero’ Asian handicap as a form of a DNB (draw no bet). The draw is taken out of the equation, meaning that you have only two options before you. If your selection wins, you win. If it loses, you lose. And if the game ends in a draw, you get your stake back.

    Asian Handicap -0.25 Explained

    Asian handicap -0.25, sometimes referred to as 0,-0.5 handicap is a split bet. This bet consists of two bets, the first being the zero handicap and the other one -0.5.

    What this practically means is that if your selection wins, you win both bets. If it loses, you lose both bets. However, if the match ends in a draw, you will only lose the -0.5 handicap. The 0 handicap bet will return your stake.

    Considering that the 0 handicap is only a half of your bet, in the case of a draw, you will get half of your stake back.

    Asian Handicap -0.75

    Asian handicap -0.75 is also made up of two separate bets, which is why it’s often called the -0.5,-1 handicap.

    As you’ve probably already figured out, one half of your bet is the -0.5, the other is -1. In both cases, your team mustn’t lose or play a draw for you to win any kind of money.

    To win both bets and get the biggest winning you can, your selection needs to win the match by at least 2 goals difference.

    If your section wins by a single goal difference, you will win the -0.5 handicap, while getting stake return on the -1 handicap bet.

    Asian Handicap -1.25

    This bet is sometimes called the -1,-1.5 handicap by some bookies. The reason is that it consists of one -1 handicap bet and one -1.5 handicap bet.

    It is pretty similar to the previous type of bet I talked about. You will lose if your team loses or plays a draw. In order for you to win everything, your team needs to win by at least 2 goals difference.

    If your team wins by one goal difference, only one half of your total stake will bring you money. Your winning, in this case, will equal your maximum potential winning divided by two.

    So, if you’ve placed €10 on a -1,-1.5 handicap bet at the odds of 2.00 and your team wins by 1:0, how much money will you get? You will get half of your stake back to you, which equals to €5.

    If your team wins by 2:0, you will win both bets. In that case, your winning would be €10 times 2.00, which is €20.


    • Does handicap betting include overtime?

      Usually not, but it all depends on the sport. In football, for example, the score in the 90 minutes of the regular times is what matters. In basketball, on the other hand, the spread bet do take the overtime into account.

    • How did the Asian handicap get its name?

      This type of bet originated in Indonesia, which is an Asian country. From there, its popularity spread all over the planet. Today, this type of bet is commonly seen in European sportsbooks, as well as American and offshore books.

    • Can you bet on corners handicaps?

      You can if your sportsbook has this betting option in the offer. Although it’s not too common, this bet does exist. It works practically the same as the handicap based on goals. Which team gets more corners once the handicap is taken into account is the one that wins.

    • Can you use your bonus to bet on the Asian handicap?

      Yes, you can, as long as this bet is offered by your sportsbook. And let’s face it, most online bookmakers have handicap markets in their offers.

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