Handicap betting is a form of betting that attracts two-way business in a sports binary market when there is one big favourite and big outsider. In handicap betting, if the favourite to win a sporting event is a short price, most of the bets will be for that option. Bettors will avoid backing the outsider which means the bookmaker cannot balance the book. The handicap levels the playing field and equalises the chances for both outcomes. Bettors will place bets on both sides of the market so the book should be relatively balanced. Bookmaker quote each side of the handicap at the same odds. Here are the best betting sites for handicap betting:
As part of this guide, here are the answers to the most common questions related to handicap betting that gives the underdog a head start. However, be sure to continue reading for our advanced FAQs.
What is handicap betting?
Handicap betting is a feature of an online betting site. It is an option for most betting sports. Bookmakers strive to take money on two sides of a binary book so get some balance. The built in margin means a bookmaker could be in a situation where he wins money regardless of the outcome of an event.
Handicaps are used to generate business on both sides of a market so the bookmaker is not concerned with the outcome. Bettors like handicap betting because there are only two results and the odds seem relatively good. Handicap markets complement the best betting offers from online bookmakers, including welcome bonuses. Handicap lines or the betting odds fluctuate depending on the weight of money.
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How does handicap betting work?
Bookmakers offer customers handicap betting on many betting sports, especially those with a simple scoring system. A handicap is a start given to the outsider when the favourite is a short price. Making a book means creating a situation whereby the bookmaker wins regardless of the outcome of a sporting bet. The odds are usually the same for both options but there can be slight variances when one handicap line is bet on so much that traders change the line.
A handicap is a start given to the outsider when the favourite is a short price.
Handicap betting helps to attract turnover on both sides of a handicap market. Previously, the favourite attracted more bets and the price was cut. Handicaps are amongst the best betting offers that attract new customers who deposit funds and place bets. Bookmakers trade the handicap line or the odds based on the stakes for each option.
Handicap betting explained
The best way to illustrate handicap betting is through an example. A football match in which the favourite is playing at home creates the potential for a handicap bet. The favourites could be 1/5 to win the match in 90 minutes. The money buyers might be betting £1000 to win £200, but recreational players would not be interested. Let’s assume the handicap is 1.5 goals in favour of the home team. Handicap spreads are expressed in half goals to prevent a handicap tie and void bets. The home team start the game 1.5 goals behind their opponents in a mythical match.
Here is football handicap betting for a typical fixture when the favourite is 1/5 to win the match in 90 minutes. Customers who like handicaps would see this as amongst the best betting offers.
- Home Team -1.5 10/11
- Away Team +1.5 10/11
What is handicap in betting?
The handicap has created a close market in which there is no clear favourite or underdog. Bettors struggle to make a choice so some back the Home Team giving up 1.5 goals while the others back the Away Team with a start of 1.5 goals. Goals cannot be scored in half goals, so the half goal quotes are merely functional. There will always be a definite outcome and there will never be a tie. Bookmakers don’t like refunding void bets when there is a full goal handicap tie and that is why conventional binary handicaps in half units are popular bets.
Football handicap bets are settled in the following way if the score is 0-0. The away team wins the markets with a supremacy of 1.5 goals. If the final score is 2-0 to the favourites, they win the handicap market by half a goal. Bettors want the underdog or favourite to cover the spread when they have placed a handicap bet. Covering the spread means one team scoring enough additional goals to beat the handicap. The options on either side of the market are reasonably consistent in terms of the odds. The handicap winner is the favourite but the handicap lines and/or the odds change is response to the weight of money.
In some cases, handicap markets are three way markets and include the tie. So, customers can bet on the three options which are as follows:
- Favourite wins on the handicap
- Handicap draw.
- Underdog wins on the handicap
Typically, each option would be 7/4 and the handicap is one goal. Here are the three possible outcomes:
- The final score is 1-0 to the favourite so the outcome is a handicap draw,
- The final score is 2-0 to the favourite so the outcome it is a handicap favourite,
- Or the final score is 0-0 so the outcome is a handicap underdog win.
The handicap quote is related to the match odds. The bigger the favourite, the bigger the handicap. The most common handicap starts are 0.5, 1.5, 2.5 in two-way markets and 1, 2 and 3 goals in three-way markets. Handicap odds compilers use a chart which shows the equivalent handicap for the full range of match odds.
Handicap betting sports
Online bookmakers offer odds on up to 50 betting sports. The most popular bets are on the match winner which in many cases includes the tie. However, it is common for fixtures to bring together teams and players of differing abilities. Match markets can be uncompetitive when one option has an advantage in terms of form and ability. The bookmakers’ odds reflect this disparity so you get a short priced favourite and a big priced outsider. Sports in which this is common are suited to handicap betting. The following sports fit the bill most but it is by no means a comprehensive list:
Rugby league handicap betting is popular because of the scoring system and the number of uneven matches. Teams score points through tries, penalties, conversions and drop goals. The average number of points in a Super League match is about 44. The average winning margin is about six points. Home advantage is generally worth four points.
Here is a typical three way market and the equivalent line for handicap betting rugby:
- Home Team 2/5
- Draw 16/1
- Away Team 2/1
In this example, the handicap would be 8.5 points which is the start for the underdog. If the Home Team won by 10 points, the result is handicap favourite win. If the Home Team won by 4 points, it would be a handicap outsider win. Three-way rugby league handicap markets with the tie are rare.
In handicap betting football, the match result after 90 minutes is generally a three-way market including the tie because of the small number of goals. If the handicap on the favourite is the same as the favourite’s goals supremacy, it is a handicap tie. When the goals supremacy for the favourite is higher than the handicap, it is a handicap favourite win. Finally, in cases of the goals supremacy is lower than the handicap, it is a handicap outsider win in handicap football betting.
Here are other popular football handicap betting markets:
- Total point in the season.
- First half supremacy.
- Second half supremacy.
- Number of corners.
- Team goals.
Typically, these handicap markets other than for supremacy are expressed in half points with two options to eliminate the tie.
Handicap betting suits a number of other sports including snooker, rugby union, cricket, darts and golf. The theory is the same in that the underdog receives a start from the favourite to create a two-way or three-way market in which each option attracts bets.
Asian handicap betting
Asian handicap betting was invented in Asia, as the name might suggest. The system of handicap betting originated in Indonesia. The concept takes regular handicap betting a stage further. Asian handicap betting is becoming more popular in the UK because it allows more flexibility than normal handicaps expressed in half or full goals. Betting sites express Asian handicaps in a range from one quarter goal to several goals in quarter or half increments. The tie is not possible in Asian handicap betting. There are two potential outcomes which have an equal probability.
The use of quarter goals means the Asian handicap line is more accurate.
The objective for the bookmaker is to create a handicap which equalises the chances for both teams. The probability for both outcomes is about even. The payout is generally slightly less than even money in Asian betting to take into account the bookmaker’s profit margin. The use of quarter goals means the handicap line is more accurate. Bettors will bet on both sides of the market. With an even spread of stakes, the bookmaker will make money regardless of the outcome. The normal match result market can be uncompetitive so Asian handicaps make for more balanced betting markets.