Handicap Betting Explained – What Does Handicap Mean in Betting and How to Use It

Handicap betting

10 minutes

Last Updated: May 31, 2022


When you first start betting online, you’ll most likely stick to fundamental betting markets like wins and goals. But, as you dig deeper into this hobby, one of the best markets to explore is certainly handicap betting.

There are plenty of reasons why you should consider the handicap bet. That said, there are also a lot of things to learn about handicap in betting before you start using this bet.

Luckily, you’ve come to the most comprehensive handicap betting guide on the Internet!

We’ll cover everything from the basics of handicap, to different types of handicap betting, and finally, the most effective tips for this type of a bet. Without wasting any more time, let’s dive in!

What Is Handicap Betting?

Before we go into any intricacies, let’s first go over the handicap meaning. In layman’s terms, handicap betting provides one side with a virtual advantage and one side with a disadvantage for betting purposes.

It’s an alternative form of betting compared to traditional win betting markets. In some countries, handicap betting is also known as line betting or point betting.

If there weren’t a handicap, the stronger team or player would be easier to predict, but the odds on them would also be lower.

This way, by placing a handicap on the favorite in terms of a point or goal disadvantage, you can bet on the favorite at better odds or bet on the weaker side and still win if they lose by a tight margin.

Handicap margins are always represented with plus and minus suffixes. The favorite always has a minus in front of their goal margin, while the underdog always has a plus in front of their margin.

What is handicap in betting

For example, you’re betting on a rugby match between New Zealand and South Africa, in which New Zealand has a -7 handicap, and South Africa has a +7 handicap.

If you bet on New Zealand, they have to win with at least an eight-point difference for you to win. Contrarily, if you bet on South Africa, they need to win the game or lose by no more than six points for you to win your bet.

However, and this is crucial to remember, if you’re backing New Zealand to win with a -7 handicap and they win by 7 points, the bet is effectively a draw. In this case, you get your initial wager refunded.

Types of Handicap Betting

The definition and example we’ve gone over in the previous section cover the base principles of handicap betting.

When it comes to different types of handicap betting, sports bettors tend to disagree on which the best betting option is.

That said, there are two main types of handicap betting you should know and focus on. These are:

No Draw Handicap Match Betting

No draw handicap betting is similar to the fundamental principle of handicap betting we’ve discussed above. The main difference is that no draw handicap betting includes a .5 decimal.

So, instead of three possible outcomes, there are only two. Because the advantage isn’t rounded to a number like 1 or 2, you can only win or lose your bet. There’s no possibility of a draw.

This type of handicap betting is most popular in football betting but is also present in many other betting markets.

Taking football as an example, let’s say you want to bet on a match between Liverpool and Newcastle.

The odds on Liverpool are too low, so you want to try out a handicap. In this case, the handicap on Liverpool is -1.5, and on Newcastle, it’s +1.5.

What this means is that Newcastle starts the game with a virtual two-goal advantage over Liverpool.

So, if you bet on Liverpool to win with this handicap, they need to finish the game with at least two goals more than Newcastle for you to win your bet.

On the other hand, if you bet on Newcastle with a +1.5 handicap, you win the bet if Newcastle wins, draws, or loses by no more than one goal.

Asian Handicap Betting

Asian handicap betting shares many similarities with standard handicap betting and the no draw handicap betting variation.

Of course, it has some unique characteristics that make it different from previous handicap betting forms.

The favorite is deducted goals or points, while the underdog is awarded the same amount of points and goals.

Handicap sports betting

But, here’s where the main difference comes in. Asian handicap betting includes the previous two forms of handicap betting and adds a split handicap.

A split handicap, also known as a quarter handicap, always includes a number and a quarter fraction. An example of this would be a +1.25 or -1.75 handicap.

In other words, it combines a regular and decimal handicap to provide a middle value between the two.

This certainly sounds confusing at first glance, as you have more things to account for than with traditional handicap betting. But, don’t worry as we’ll explain everything.

With this split handicap bet, your bet is basically split into two separate bets. One part of your bet goes on one handicap and the other part of the bet on another.

Let’s take a look at a more detailed example to understand this better. For instance, you’re betting on a match between Manchester City and Aston Villa. Manchester City has a -1.25 handicap, while Aston Villa has a +1.25.

If you decide to place a bet on City, you would effectively be putting half of your bet on -1.0 and half on -1.5. So, what does this mean in terms of potential outcomes? Here’s what to expect:

  • You win both of your bets if City wins by two goals.
  • You win the -1.0 bet and lose the -1.5 bet if City wins by just one goal, so you get half your stake back.
  • You lose both bets if City draws or loses.

Additionally, the number of available possibilities becomes even greater when you consider that you can bet on -0.75/+0.75, -1.75/+1.75, and other options.

Such flexibility gives Asian handicap betting a great advantage over previous types. Moreover, while it is more complex to get into this type of handicap betting, you’ll have a much easier task finding suitable bets.

With all of this in mind, when you first start with these bets, it’s normal to have trouble calculating the betting results and payouts.

But, with a little practice, Asian handicap markets can be pretty easy to master and certainly very fun to bet on.

Best Handicap Betting Tips

Handicap betting can be wildly entertaining and also very profitable. With that in mind, to ensure you enjoy the latter part, you need to be cautious and make strategic and intelligent bets.

If you fully understand everything we’ve covered so far, there are a few tips we want to share with you that will help improve your chances of winning more often:

1. Shop Around To Get the Best Odds

Nowadays, there are many reputable online sports betting sites to pick from. Still, even though you can sign up with any of them, you’ll quickly find that every sports betting site offers different betting odds for different events.

Knowing this, doing a few minutes of research will always help you find the best odds and get the most for your money.

Handicap in betting

Of course, you need to be prepared to set up an account at the site where you find the odds, but it’s well worth it. Getting slightly better odds every time you bet can make a huge difference over time.

2. Know the Team’s Scoring Stats

The objective of placing handicap bets is trying to predict by how many teams a team will win or lose. Needless to say, knowing both teams’ scoring records can go a long way in providing you with valuable insight.

Plus, this is one of the simplest and quickest things to research when handicap betting, so there’s no reason to skip it.

3. Always Pay Attention to Current Situation

By “paying attention to the latest situation”, we mean keeping track of several essential aspects. Firstly and most importantly, it includes the two teams’ current form.

Naturally, there are no guarantees that one team won’t lose form in the match you’re betting on, but this is a significant indicator to pay attention to.

Additionally, you should also know whether or not either team has any injured or suspended players that are integral to their squad.

Lastly, you should consider both teams’ motivation. If one team is highly motivated or has a lot to play for, they can easily surprise a favorite that’s not so motivated.

4. Bet With Your Head, Not Your Heart

While this last tip might seem too vague or a cliché, it’s precisely that for a good reason. Handicap betting is very exciting, and you may want to use it on some matches you shouldn’t be handicap betting on.

Let’s say that your favorite team is playing their biggest rival.

You believe that they can win by a big margin, and you’re tempted to place a handicap bet on them, even if the situation doesn’t really warrant it.

In such a scenario, your decision-making could be clouded by your passion for the team, and you can easily make the wrong bet.

This is why you should always avoid betting with your heart. Instead, you should maintain a cool head and only bet on teams you’re sure to have the best chances of winning you a big payday.

Handicap bet

Although these tips are fairly straightforward to remember and don’t require any extensive experience, they can significantly help you record better sports betting results.

While no betting strategy guarantees wins, we promise you’ll see increased success if you choose to follow these four tips in addition to having a proper sports betting bankroll management strategy.


Handicap betting is getting increasingly more popular for a good reason. No matter which type of handicap betting caught your attention the most, we definitely recommend you include these betting markets in your future betting selections.

They can be extremely entertaining and ensure some nail-biting matches, especially when you use the handicaps to bet on underdogs.

If you took the time to read this detailed guide from top to bottom, you’ve learned every tiny detail you need to know about handicap betting.

Equally as important, you shouldn’t forget the top handicap betting tips we’ve discussed above. With that said, all that’s left now is to find a trusted online bookie and start employing your handicap betting knowledge!

Handicap Sports Betting FAQ

What sports can you use handicap betting for?

Football is undoubtedly the most popular sport for handicap sports betting. Additionally, you can place handicap bets on other major sports like tennis, golf, or rugby. All of these offer a suitable setting for exciting and potentially very profitable handicap betting.

When should you place handicap bets?

The best time to place handicap bets is when you find that basic betting markets like betting on the match result don’t provide you with good betting odds. Handicap betting helps you tilt the odds towards the underdog or bet on the favorite at slightly better odds

Can I place accumulator handicap bets?

Yes, handicap bets are great for accumulator betting, as they can provide you with great value.
You can even take advantage of Acca insurance and get refunds on your bets if you miss one selection on a betting ticket with five or more handicap bets.

What’s the best way to bet on Asian handicap betting markets?

There are many betting strategies for betting on Asian handicap betting markets. One of the simplest and most profitable ones is to always back the big favorite at a -1 or -1.25 handicap.
Oppositely to this, you can also back on smaller underdogs at +1.75. This way, you’re getting great odds and minimizing your risks.

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