What is Handicap Betting?

When it comes to gambling, we are really spoiled for choice as we are living in an age where most operators will go to incredible lengths to make the whole process as convenient and as easily accessible as possible and even reward your choice by giving out welcome bonuses and loyalty rewards.

But in the end, it all comes down to whether you enjoy online casinos offering pokies or you are more of a sports betting person. If you belong to the latter category, let’s take a look at something that’s been bugging fresh punters for a long time.

For those of you who are newcomers in the football betting world, you’ve probably found it fairly easy to understand the basics as most match betting options are not that complicated, but if you’ve stumbled upon handicap bets there’s a high chance you’ve felt somewhat confused.

To save you some unnecessary frustration, let’s take a look at what exactly is handicap betting?

The Basics

Handicap betting has always been a popular choice for football bets but also many other different sports around the world. In the simplest of terms, handicap bets are bets where one of the teams will be given a virtual advantage which will affect how the betting operator sees the final result. To make it even simpler, let’s try to explain it with an example.


Manchester City play against West Ham in the next match. Everybody knows that Manchester City are the favorites and they are most likely to win the game, so the bookie will add a handicap advantage to West Ham for the bet to level the odds.

For the sake of explanation, let’s say that the bookmaker added a 1-0 handicap advantage to West Ham. Now, if you were to put a handicap bet on Manchester City winning the match and they only finish with 1-0, this will mean that you will lose because the match will be considered a draw, since the bookmaker will see it as 1-1 with West Ham’s 1-0 handicap advantage.

Handicap Matches

If you understood the basics, it would not be very hard to understand how the bets work in real matches. For example, you would normally find something resembling the following bet at your bookmaker:

Manchester City (-2.0) vs West Ham (+2.0)

Handicap Tie (-1)

Now, let’s say the match ended with 1-0 for Manchester City. If you had bet on City to win, you would have lost the bet. On the other hand, if you placed a bet on West Ham to win, you would have won it, as per the handicap the match ended 2-1 for West Ham.

And the final bet you could’ve placed is the handicap tie, which is just as simple to understand. The handicap tie for this match is (-1), which means that for this particular handicap bet the final score is considered to be 0-0, i.e. anyone betting it would have won.

No – Draw Handicaps

To make handicap betting even more exciting, bookmakers offer different variations on the original bet that can seriously influence your chances of winning.

One popular bet is the no-draw bet, where there will be no chance of draws between teams, but only wins. This is usually done by adding decimal handicaps, like +0.5 or -1.5, etc. A simple example would be the following match:

Chelsea (+0.5) vs Liverpool (-0.5)

If you bet on Chelsea to win and the match ends 0-0, you will still win the bet as the bookmaker will see the result as 0.5-0 for Chelsea, per the half-point handicap.

Asian Handicaps

Another popular handicap bet is the Asian handicap, which is basically a handicap bet with two possibilities and no draws. For example, let’s say you have the following bet:

Man United (0.0 & -0.5) vs Man City (0.0 & -0.5)

If you decided to bet on Manchester United to win, you will win the bet if they win by any score. If the match ends as a draw, you will lose half of what you wagered and have half of it returned. If Manchester City won instead, you will lose everything. The same principles apply for betting on the other team.

The Bottom Line

Handicap bets are a great way to make your betting more exciting and win cash by wagering on the advantages bookmakers give. However, before you do so, make sure you completely understand the whole process as it will save you plenty of frustration when the time comes.