Please enter more than 2 characters!

Handicap Bet

Steven D. Thompson


Are you tired of backing favourites at super-low odds? Why not place a handicap bet then? With handicap bets, you get better odds for favourites and increase your chances of winning when backing the underdogs. Learn how handicap betting works and start winning your handicap bets now!

Looking for the best handicap bet odds?
Placing a bet at
Handicap Bet Explained Handicap Bet Explained
Table of Contents

    Handicap Bet Explained

    If you are a sports fan, you probably know that, in most matches, there are favourites and underdogs. Favourites have higher chances of winning but come with super-low odds. That's where handicap betting markets come in handy.

    English bookmakers use handicaps to level the playing field. They do this by applying a goal/point advantage or disadvantage to the teams. As a result, the teams become more evenly matched. That means the weaker competitor gets a head start, and the favourite has to overcome a handicap.

    Let's explain this. Let's say Manchester City are playing West Ham United in the English Premier League. Manchester City are a big favourite, so the bookmaker assigns them a one-goal handicap that they need to cover:

    • Manchester City (-1) - West Ham United (+1)

    That means that if you back City in the handicap betting market, they will have to win with two goals or more for you to have a winning bet (2-0, 3-1, 4-2, etc.). Of course, because the Citizens now need to win with at least a two-goal margin, you also get higher handicap betting odds.

    In contrast, if you back West Ham United with a handicap bet, you can win even if the Hammers don't triumph. For instance, if the match ends in a draw (0-0, 1-1, 2-2, etc.), you don't lose your bet. That's because the East London team actually wins over Manchester City in the handicap market with that one-goal advantage.

    Handicap Bet Examples

    The best way to show you how handicap betting works is to check out a couple of examples - a winning and a losing one. Please pay attention to how your team can win the game, but your wager can be a losing one if it doesn't overcome the betting handicap from the bookmaker.

    Winning Bet Example

    Let's say you want to back Real Madrid in the match against Cadiz in the handicap betting market. This is what the bookmaker gives you:

    • Real Madrid CF (-2) - Cadiz CF (+2)

    As we said, you backed Real Madrid to overcome the handicap and win with at least a three-goal margin. The match ended with the following result:

    • Real Madrid CF 3-0 Cadiz CF

    Because the Madrid-based side won with the desired margin and overcame the handicap, you won your bet. You would have also had a winning bet if Real Madrid won the game by a bigger margin (4-0, 5-1, 6-0, etc.).

    Losing Bet Example

    Let's say you now want to back FC Barcelona to win against their city rivals RCD Espanyol. You again opt for the handicap betting market, and this is what the bookmaker gives you:

    • FC Barcelona (-1) - RCD Espanyol (+1)

    Because you backed FC Barcelona, you want them to win the game with at least a two-goal margin to overcome the betting handicap. Unfortunately, the match ends with the following result:

    • FC Barcelona 2-1 RCD Espanyol

    This result means that in the handicap market, the final outcome was actually FC Barcelona 2-2 RCD Espanyol. So, even though Barcelona win the game in this example, you lose your handicap bet because the Catalan side didn't overcome the one-goal disadvantage.

    Sports with Handicap Betting Markets Sports with Handicap Betting Markets

    Sports with Handicap Betting Markets

    The great thing about handicap betting markets is that you can find them in most sports out there. Here's a list of the most popular sports that have handicap markets:

    As you can see, the list of sports is pretty extensive. However, bear in mind that handicaps will be expressed differently in different sports. For instance, in rugby and basketball, the handicap is expressed in points, while in football and ice hockey, it's in goals. In baseball, the handicap is expressed in runs, in tennis, it is in sets or games, and so on.

    How does Asian handicap betting work?

    Asian handicap betting is similar to regular handicap markets (also known as European handicaps), but it is also quite different. Most Asian handicap bets are placed on football matches. 

    The biggest difference between the two is that Asian handicaps are two-way betting markets (home win and away win only). In contrast, in the European handicap, there are three possible outcomes (a home win, an away win, and a draw). 

    In Asian handicap betting markets, there is no draw outcome. That's because the handicap is expressed as half goals, meaning you will see 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 next to the teams you want to back.

    Asian Handicap Betting Example

    Let's say that Brazil plays Australia in the FIFA World Cup. This is the Asian handicap betting market bookies might offer:

    • Brazil (-1.5) - Australia (+1.5)

    As you can see, if you back Brazil, the Brazilians will have to win with at least a two-goal margin. These are some examples of results that will work for you: 2-0, 3-1, 3-0, 4-2, etc.

    If you back the Aussies, even a one-goal defeat will result in a winning bet. These are some of the results that would give you a winning bet: 1-0, 1-1, 1-2, 2-1, 2-2, etc.

    It is obvious that in both situations, there's no way for the match to end in a draw in the Asian handicap market. The reason is simple - the half-goal advantage and disadvantage given to the teams.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What does +1 handicap mean?

    A +1 handicap means that even if your team draws the match, you will win your bet. That's because the team you backed was given a one-goal advantage before the match started.

    How do you win a handicap bet?

    If you back the team that is given the advantage (+1, +2, +3), you can win your bet even if the final result is a draw or a defeat (depending on the number of goals in the handicap). In contrast, when you back the team that is handicapped, it will have to overcome the disadvantage (-1, -2, -3) for you to win.

    What does +0.5 handicap mean?

    A +0.5 is an Asian handicap betting market. It means that your team will win even if the match ends in a draw. That's because of the half-goal advantage the bookmaker designated to your team.

    Are point spread and handicap betting the same?

    They are very similar and serve the same purpose. In point spread markets, one team is given a handicap of a certain number of points while the other is given extra points before the start of the game. That's almost identical to what happens in handicap betting markets.

    Our odds and reviews have been featured in:
    Sigma Logo Logo ESPN Logo Bloomberg Logo The Wall Street Journal Logo
    100% up to $1,000
    Welcome Bonus
    Play Now