What is Handicap Betting? European and Asian handicap

Handicap betting is one form of sports betting which helps to ‘even out’ the contest in situations when there is a huge gap in perceived strength differential. This form of betting is increasing in popularity but despite that, many bettors still don’t understand what handicap is. If you didn’t know what is handicap betting before, follow this guide – it covers everything there is to know about this type of bet.

What is the meaning of handicap in betting?

Even though we don’t think about it often, all sporting events are actually at mercy of situational factors. Bookmakers or traders on betting exchange will interpret these factors to give them suitable odds. By measuring their success, they can determine their implied probability of winning the game and express it in a number (odds).

The difference in odds can sometimes be large and offer a little value and small returns on favourite. This is where Handicap bets step in – it evens up the market, by assigning a virtual deficit or surplus (handicap) to both selections. So, what is handicap in betting? It applies either positive or negative goal/point handicap to each side or a player, depending on which one is the favourite and which one is the underdog.

The favourite will be assigned a negative handicap while the underdog will get a positive handicap. Once the score is confirmed, if the selection was greater than the opponents (after the handicap was already applied) your bet will be successful.

How does it work?

Handicap counters the perceived differences in ability between competitors in an attempt to level the playing field and offer odds of better value. For example, if Real Madrid won four games in a row, scoring two times more than the opponent, you would expect them to win all the time. Of course, the odds would reflect that and as a result, they would be pretty low.

However, if all of those matches were at home, the result would be less certain. Effectively it would ‘even’ up the contest up by putting a handicap on Real. This is a typical example of how handicap betting works; one rival gets the advantage and the other disadvantage to counter the skill ability between two competitors. As a result, the odds on the overwhelming favourite become more appealing as the likelihood of the underdog to win is increased.

Handicap betting Markets

There are a few different variations to this type of betting. Every variation is a bit different but in general. However, they are all focused on the same thing – to ‘even out’ the match. The two main variations are European or 3-way and Asian. What is handicap betting in Asian terms and what is European Handicap?


Asian handicap betting

Asian Handicap markets are perfect for football traders who look for the alternative to the more traditional 1X2 bets. This is a variation on the no draw handicap match, as the draw is also eliminated here. They also offer the possibility to split the handicaps, where your selection is made up of a selection of whole, half or quarter numbers.

To clarify what Asian handicap really is, let’s take an example. Let’s say you want to bet on the Manchester United who is -1 on the single Asian handicap market, against Sevilla. If Manchester United wins by two goals or more, your bet will be successful. In case they win by a margin of one goal, the result is a push and your stake will be returned. In case the game ends in a draw or a win for Sevilla, the bet is lost.

The split Asian handicap divides your stake across two handicaps; for example, let’s say you want to bet on Manchester +1 and +1.5 against Sevilla. The game ends 2-1 to Sevilla. As a result, half of your stake (+1) will be returned as a game effectively ended 2-2. The other half (+1.5) will be deemed a winner as the game finished 2-2.5 to Machester.

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what is handicap in betting

Level Asian Handicap betting

A level Asian handicap is offered in cases where there is no perceived difference in the abilities of two teams. Both teams will start the game with 0 goals. So, essentially, you are betting on the overall winner of the game with the exception of the draw as a result. If the match ends level, your stake will be refunded.

Single Asian Handicap

Single Asian Handicap is ideal when there is a big difference in perceived ability between two teams. The supposed team with higher skills will be awarded a goal handicap to eliminate the difference in quality. For example, they will start the game with -0.5, -1, -1.5 or -2 goals.

Split Asian Handicap

The split handicap is available when the adjudged difference between two teams’ ability is not clearly defined. The market will allow you to split your stake on a team over two handicaps. For example; the favoured team will start with 0 and -0.5, -0.5 and -1, -1 and -1.5 goals. These markets are also commonly referred to as quarter goal Asian handicaps, in which case 0 and -0.5 would be listed as -0.25 or -0.5 and -1 would be 0.75 etc.

Benefits of Asian Handicap

There are many benefits to Asian handicaps. For example, you can react to match specifics which allows you to trade exactly as you would on any other football market. You can place bets pre-game to get trade-out opportunities or use the Asian Handicap market during the game to lock in a profit.

Even if the team you backed lost your bet can still win or be voided, depending on the handicap. This lowers the risk of losing your bet in comparison to the 1X2 bet. Asian Handicaps are markets of choice for many professional bettors as this market offers better value. Betting margins are lower as the draw was removed and they give you more chance of sustained profit.

European Handicap betting

European or 3-way betting gives bettors the opportunity to bet on the handicap with the option of a draw. You can also find it under the name ‘Single handicap’, as it is similar to the 1X2 bet. Selection the tie in handicap is effectively betting on the match to finish in a victory for the team receiving the virtual deficit (-1 and similar) – by the exact winning margin offered.

The function is in general, the same as in Asian handicap; the handicap is placed on the outside in order to make it harder for the favourite to win the bet. However, the significant difference between these two is that European is always an integer number, meaning that it can be matched with a goal difference. Asian is always -1,5 or -0,25 while European is always -1, -2, -3 goals etc.

In Asian handicap, the main target is to get rid of the draw while European actually has a draw as a result. That doesn’t represent the actual draw of the game but ‘equalizes’ the specific handicap set by the online betting house. Let’s take an example to show how it works; German National Football Team is playing against Andorra, at home. The German team has almost 100% chances of winning this match. The 1X2 bet odds for German team win won’t be bigger than 1.01. European handicap will favour the underdogs Andorra with a number of goals (in most cases 3 or 4) and Germany has to overcome those in order to be considered as the winner of the match. This makes batting on this match way more interesting as it is much harder to predict the exact outcome.

The ‘Draw’ difference

As mentioned before, the main difference between European and Asian handicap is the absence or presence of a draw result. However, that is not exactly what happens – there is actually an absence of a winning draw result. We know that European handicap has integer numbers but Asian can have it too – but a bit differently.

When placing a wager in -1 Asian handicap bet, if the favourite wins by 1 goal – you will get your money back. The bet will be considered a ‘push’ and you won’t win but you won’t lose either. On the other hand, if you place a -1 on European handicap bet and your team wins by one goal, you will lose the bet. The reason for that is because in European handicap – you can’t get your stake back.

The only was in which you could win that bet was if you placed a ‘draw’ bet, in which you expected a one-goal margin win by the favourite team or a player. This option does not exist in Asian handicap betting as it is just a 2-way bet.

European handicap betting in different sports

Besides football, there is a number of other sports where handicap can be used. The essence of bet stays the same. Betting of football or basketball or tennis – it all has the same rules. In tennis betting there can be games or even sets difference so watch out for that and don’t mix it up. Most of the betting houses have a handicap in an offer for volleyball, handball, water polo or even darts and snooker. European handicap can even be an option for betting on American sports like baseball or American football.

When is the right time to bet on handicap?

Betting on European or Asian Handicap odds represents a much higher risk than betting on 1×2. European handicap is available on the majority of betting houses, while Asian is not so widespread (even though it is very popular). If your favourite style of play is based on backing the stronger team to win (mostly in home matches), then handicap could be a great thing for you.

With these type of bets, you can earn a hefty profit. Especially if you find matches where the home team is expected to win by more than one goal. The odds difference can be huge sometimes; the 1.25 on favourite can be replaced by 1.60-1.70 for the same team winning by two goals or more. This can make a huge difference in your bankroll.

However, there are some disadvantages to this type of betting. In most cases, you are placing a bet based only on the team’s motivation. The team might not even push for a second goal if they feel like they already won the match. The same goes for both European and Asian handicap.