The Internet has brought about many changes when it comes to sports betting. Nowadays, most sites offer a wide range of different betting markets across a far wider range of sports than was ever previously available in betting shops. Live In Play betting is now commonplace (and extremely popular, especially on Bet365) and punters are more aware of all the different types of multiple bets available than ever before.
However, there is one area of betting that is something of a mystery to many punters who maybe have not experienced betting in this way. This is Handicap betting and there are various forms of it (usually named after where the original system was developed geographically).
In this article, we are going to take a look at some of the easiest to understand Handicap betting markets, both of which can be found on most popular bookmaking sites (and certainly on the trio of bookmakers we here at ISPM recommend).
The aim is that by the end of this article, you’ll have a rudimentary understanding of some of the most common forms of handicap betting, so that you can start to place bets more confidently and enjoy the vast number of additional betting opportunities betting in this way can afford you.
Let’s begin by taking a look at one of the most common forms of handicap bet, the Asian Handicap.
Asian Handicap betting explained
Asian Handicap betting is so called because it was developed in Asia for betting on a wide range of different sports, though it is mostly widely used nowadays on markets such as football and it is on a typical football match that we will use for our example explaining what Asian Handicap betting is.
For this market, a bookmaker such as Bet365 would take a look at the two teams participating in the match and using a complex set of calculations, work out what the handicap would be for each team to provide the user with a choice of two bets of roughly equal amount.
In the case of football, this is achieved by awarding teams positive or minus full or half goals.
The greater the disparity in the ability of each team, then the bigger the handicap will be for each team in order to produce two roughly equal betting options. This is best shown by means of two examples taken from forthcoming Premier League games.
Example One: Chelsea (-0.5) v Liverpool (+0.5)
In example one, two similar ability teams, Chelsea and Liverpool, are playing at the weekend and for this game (which is being played at the home of Chelsea), Bet365 has awarded Chelsea a -0.5 goal handicap (odds of 1.975), with Liverpool a +0.5 goal handicap (odds of 1.925).
Now if you back Chelsea to win with the 0.5 handicap, then only a Chelsea victory would see your bet win. If Chelsea draw, then the result is not a push as the -0.5 handicap means that with this applied, Liverpool win that bet.
On the other hand if you back Liverpool to win then any Liverpool win, or any draw would see the bet on the reds win as their handicap of +0.5 means that even if the game finishes level, the bet would be settled as Liverpool win.
Example Two: Manchester City (-1.5) v Norwich City (+1.5)
In this example, Manchester City are considered by Bet365 to be a much stronger team than Norwich City and as such, Manchester City have been awarded a -1.5 goal handicap and Norwich City have been awarded a +1.5 goal handicap.
What this means is that Manchester City have to win this game by two clear goals for any Asian Handicap bet on Manchester City to win. If Manchester City win by just a single goal, the match is drawn, or Norwich City win by any scoreline, then only bets on Norwich winning would be paid out.
If Manchester City win 2-1 for example and you have backed Manchester City, then you have to factor in the handicap. 2 goals -1.5 goals is just 0.5 goals. That means then City’s score is less than Norwich’s single goal and hence Norwich would win the match and your bet would lose.
Multiple stated handicap bets
In some cases where matches between teams are very close, there may be two Asian Handicap options listed (as in the Swansea (+0.5, +1.0) v Arsenal (-0.5, -1.0) game this weekend.
When this happens, your stake is divided between the handicap bets shown. So if you placed £10 on Arsenal to win then you would have £5 riding on Arsenal at a 0.5 handicap and £5 riding on Arsenal at a -1.0 handicap.
If Arsenal then win by two goals, then both your bets win. If Arsenal win the match by one goal however then you would receive your stake money back for the -1.0 bet (as this would be a draw) however your -0.5 portion of the bet would win.
If Arsenal draw or lose the game, then of course your bet would lose both portions.
It may seem complicated but Asian Handicap betting is relatively easy to understand and when used wisely can be a very lucrative form of betting as it offers punters a chance to almost double their money on each bet.
US sports game line betting explained
Another popular form of Handicap betting is Game Line betting in US Sports. In our example here we are going to use American Football as the basis, but similar bets are available across a range of US Sports, such as Baseball, Ice Hockey and Basketball.
There are many similarities between Asian Handicap betting and Game Line betting, the only difference being one began in Asia, the other gained popularity in the US.
In Game Line betting on Bet365, the handicap betting is listed under the term “Spread” and it is applied in terms of points (as it is points scored in American Football, rather than goals).
A typical Game Line bet on a game in the NFL would look like:
Miami Dolphins (+7.5) 20/23 V New England Patriots (-7.5) 20/21
If you use the same logic applied as when placing an Asian Handicap bet, you can see that the Miami Dolphins have a +7.5 handicap, this means that the Dolphins can afford to lose this game by up to seven points and any bet on them will still win. A loss by eight points and a bet on them would lose.
On the other hand, the Patriots would need to win the game by eight clear points in order for bets on them to win. Any other victory by a margin of fewer than eight points would see these bets lost.
Like in Asian Handicap betting, the greater the disparity in ability between the two teams according to the bookmaker, the higher the handicap for each team will be. For evenly matched sides, the handicap will be much lower.
In addition to backing the team to win in a match, you can also place Game Line bets on Over and Under the total number of points in a game, although this technically is not a handicap bet.
By using both Asian Handicap betting and Game Line Spread bets, you can give yourself a very simple and easy introduction to the joys of handicap betting, where the onus is on the bookmaker to set the handicap at the right level, or risk punters enjoying a very profitable day at their expense!