Handicap Betting in Sports Explained

Handicap betting odds level the field so to speak between two sports teams. This gives the punter a supposedly easier chance of placing bets by eliminating the Draw.

In this section we have articles explaining what type of bet the Handicap is. Learn how to apply handicap bets through example.

We have separate posts on applying these bets to the following sports events. Asian Handicap (Football), Tennis Handicap, Basketball and Rugby Handicap Betting.

handicaps-bettingHandicap betting on sports is one of the most exciting, profitable and thrilling experiences you may ever have in your life.

Handicap betting has earned tremendous fame recently among sports punters worldwide. It allows bettors to bet on matches in which the odds are fixed in favour of one team or player, essentially giving them an advantage.

Handicap betting basically adds points to one side or the other prior to the actual event. This is done to try and level the playing ground between a favourite and a competing underdog.

Betting on handicap teams require a bit of thought.


Arsenal +1 v Chelsea -1

For instance, if the handicap adds 1 to the score of Arsenal, then it means that Arsenal are underdogs. This is because they are being given a head-start.

  • So a wager could be taken on Arsenal to hold on to that positive handicap, by winning or drawing the match.
  • If you wanted to place a bet on Chelsea to overcome their -1 handicap, then they would have to win by one clear goal.
  • So, if the regular match ends with a draw, the handicap match will show Arsenal as the winner.

Asian Handicap Betting

The Asian handicap bet is a relatively new type of wager which is offered on football matches. In betting, this is done by awarding one of the teams, the underdog, some goals or points lead.

Asian betting is a gift to bettors, because it eliminates one of the possible outcomes of a match. In a regular match, you would have a winner, a loser or a draw.

With Asian handicap betting, the draw is no longer an option.

  • A typical example of Asian handicap betting would be Chelsea having a -0.5 handicap when facing Arsenal.
  • This means that a wager on Chelsea only pays out when Chelsea wins the match.
  • A +0.5 handicap on Arsenal would pay out if Arsenal either won the game or the games ends in a draw.

Asian Handicap Bookmakers

See the live Asian Handicap odds from Bet365 bookmaker

Things get much more complicates when 0.25 goal or two-way handicaps are involved.

For example Chelsea could be a 0.25 goal favourite over Arsenal.

At first glance 0.25-goals looks very strange because you would think that it would basically mean the same as a 0.5-goal handicap because a Chelsea win still covers the -0.25-goals spread, while a draw or Arsenal win still beast the spread the other way.

However, in reality the -0.25 Asian handicap splits your wager into two halves.

The first half becomes a -0.5 handicap, while the other half becomes a 0-handicap (no-draw bet).

Therefore, if Chelsea wins the match the entire wager is paid out, but if the match ends in a draw half the wager is lost and half the wager is refunded.

Tennis Handicap Betting

If you’re new to tennis betting, handicap is one of the markets that punters solely depend on for regular profits. The reason being, in handicaps, you are not forecasting the actual winner of the match but on the performance of the player. A tennis handicap betting simply means that one player is given an advantage at the beginning. So when betting on handicaps it’s important to count the number of games not to predict on the actual winner of the match.


Federer vs. Del Potro- ATP Paris on 1/11/13

Potro was the favourite in this match; he had won the past three matches between him and Federer. Federer’s total odds were almost 2, but Betfred were offering 1.5 odds on Federer +3.5 games in the handicap market.

The handicap market in this case is all about the games won, it doesn't matter about who wins the game. At the end of the game, bookmakers add all the games together that each player has won. Whoever has the most games wins. The handicap here means that Federer will get 3.5 extra games added to his total. The event went like this:

  • Federer won the 1st set 6-3- With the 3.5 extra games, this meant that Federer was now winning 9.5 games to 3 games.
  • Potro won the 2nd set 6-4- With the +3.5 handicap, this meant that his opponent was winning by 13.5-games to 9-games.
  • The most important thing to remember here is that Federer is winning by 4.5 going into the final set.
  • If he is lucky enough to win two matches in the final set, your bet is safe.
  • If he loses the final set 6-2, the total score will be 15.5-games to Federer and 15 to Del Potro.
  • Federer won the 3rd set.

Basketball Handicap Betting

Basketball handicapping is a great service to use if you love the game and want to make profit. Most basketball handicapping services will take into account the general performance of individual players, the performance of the team, past playing history, injuries and results from previous years as just some of the factors which will affect the results of the game. It’s the combination of information and knowledge which can increase the possibility of you winning when placing a basketball handicap bet.

Betting on the handicap is a vital tool for punters when one team is highly favoured over the other. To balance the apparent favouritism in ability, bookmakers offer a handicap to level the playing ground.

See the above handicap odds from Bet365 bookmaker on basketball. The handicap number displayed as either – or + a figure, such as +6.5 points is added or subtracted into the final result to determine the match’s result for the purpose of the wager. This means that the handicap outcome is sometimes different from the actual outcome.


Indiana Pacers: (7.5) 2.050

Chicago Bulls: (-7.5) 1.862

  • If Chicago Bulls won the game (100-96), wagers on their handicap would lose.
  • This is because they started the match with -7.5 points, and therefore bookmakers would have to subtract 7.5 from their final results.
  • This makes the game result 92.5-96 in the Pacer’s favour.
  • If Chicago Bulls won 104-96, the handicap result is 96.5-96, which means Chicago Bulls still win.
  • This is referred to as covering the handicap.

The Bottom Line

Handicap betting levels the playing field via a hypothetical points or goal bias, giving punters an opportunity to find more value when supporting a highly favoured team compared to the traditional win-draw-lose bet.

When handicaps are applied to a football game it eliminates the chance of a draw. This is great for bettors because not only does it help you to win more if an underdog team manages to snatch a draw, but can’t quite manage a win, but it also helps to increase the odds of you winning.