What Is a Handicap Bet?
A handicap bet is pretty much the same thing as a point spread bet. The terminology is popular in the United Kingdom, Europe, and most of the rest of the world. Let’s take a look at a sample handicap bet from a UK based sportsbook that offers some more options for bettors.
This is four different games you can bet on, right? Wrong. These are several different handicap bets that you can make on a single game of soccer. Each of the individual rectangles is the same as the point spread bets we talked about earlier. For example, the first rectangle is betting on Liverpool at -3, getting paid 6 to 1. This means that if you take this bet you need Liverpool to win by four or more goals and you will get paid 6 to 1, or $600 for every $100 you wager.
Let’s say you think Liverpool is going to win the game, but you think they are only going to win by three goals. If the first bet were the only bet available, you wouldn’t be able to bet on this game unless you were a maniac. This handicap bet gives you more options, though! The next rectangle down is a similar bet except for this time it is Liverpool at -2, getting paid 13 to 5. If you take this wager, you need Liverpool to only win by three or more goals now, instead of four. If this happens, you will get paid at 13 to 5 or $260 for every $100 you wager. As you can see, this is more likely to happen, so you are going to be paid less for the bet. However, it does give you an option to bet what you want.
You could even take it a step further and take the next rectangle down and bet Liverpool +1. This means that Liverpool can tie or win by any amount of goals and you win your bet. As Liverpool is a huge favorite, you won’t be paid very well at all for this bet, but you can still turn a profit when you are right. You would be paid at 1 to 10 which means you would get $1 for every $10 you bet. If you bet $100, you would get a $10 profit on this bet.
All of this is exactly the same for betting on Southhampton except you use the spreads and odds payouts that are underneath their team. You can also bet on the tie in a lot of sports, especially soccer. In the above example, the spread points would be added to Southhampton for calculations. This means that if you bet +3, you would need Southhampton to lose by exactly three goals.
This may be more clear if you think of it as the actual score and then the sports bettor’s score. Let’s say that Liverpool actually kicked the ball through the goal three times, so the final score was the following:
This is clearly not a tie with the actual score. But! The sportsbook is spotting them three points in the bet we took so we add three to Southampton, and the sports bettor’s final score is the following:
This is a tie, and you win your bet. Does this mean that Southhampton and Liverpool actually tied? Of course, it doesn’t. This is merely done for the means of calculating the sports betting winners and losers.
Types of Handicap Bets
There are several different types of these bets that are offered. Let’s walk you through each of them and explain the differences. Once you learn these, you will probably be more knowledgeable than most recreational sports bettors! Now you can be the one teaching people about these different types of bets.
Standard Handicap Bets
These are the handicap bets that we have already talked about. These are your straightforward bets that pay out according to the spread and odds posted. Draws are treated as a loss with this format. If you just scrolled to this section first, scroll up and read the general section about handicap bets because this type is addressed extensively with some great examples there.
No Draw Handicap Match Bets
One of the main reasons that sports bettors like to bet is the action and excitement of winning and losing. Many sports bettors would rather take the risk of winning or losing than having the option of pushing (a tie) on their bets. For this reason, many sportsbooks offer what are called no draw handicap match bets. These are bets on an individual match that are designed so that there is never going to be a tie. In the standard handicap bet examples we used above, you saw that all of the bet options were in whole numbers. This allows for there to be draws.
What no draw handicap match bets do is use half numbers so there can be no ties. Instead of a line of -2, you might see a line of -1.5 or -2.5. Since half goals are not possible in sports, this would negate the chance of a tie.
Handicap League Bets
Handicap league bets are quite similar to the bets we’ve already talked about except you are now betting on a team’s performance across the entire course of the season. Bets are made at the beginning of the season before the first game is played and are not paid out until the last game of the season has been played. Here is a screenshot of some handicap league bets on Premier League soccer.
As you can see, each team is listed, followed by the adjustment or line change for each team, and then the odds that you would be paid out. If you notice, Chelsea has the word scratch next to their name. This is because they are the league favorite to win and all other adjustments are made about them. If your team is in first place at the end of the regular season after the adjustments are made, you will win your bet and be paid the posted odds. As you can see, the odds pay out fairly well on these bets as they are season long and are more difficult to win.
Remember with bets like this you can still be profitable by betting several options. Let’s say you think Chelsea is going to win, but you also think Manchester United, Liverpool, and Everton also have a shot. If you were to place a $100 wager on all four of these teams, you would still turn a profit! Let’s pretend you did this and say that your last pick Everton pulls it off and wins the regular season according to the sportsbook. Remember, they don’t have actually to win, they just need to be on top after the sportsbook makes the point spread/handicap adjustments to the final rankings.
Bet $100 on Chelsea, lose $100
Bet $100 on Man Utd, lose $100
Bet $100 on Liverpool, lose $100
Bet $100 on Everton, win $1600.
So even though you lost 75% of your best here, you still profited $1200 overall! Now you can see why these bets may not seem as wild as they may initially seem. You also get to enjoy the action for an entire season on one bet. That’s quite a bit of entertainment bang for your buck.
Asian Handicap Bets
The last type of handicap bet that we want to talk about is an Asian handicap bet. Don’t worry, you don’t have to be Asian to place this bet; it’s open to everyone. This form of handicap bet is set up through the use of whole, and half number point spreads to ensure that no draws are possible. The difference between Asian handicap bets and no draw handicap bets is that the Asian handicap bets have the possibility of what is called a split handicap outcome. Your bet will have a whole number and a half number line that are treated effectively as two separate bets, but all in the same bet.
These bets are less popular as of now, but most sportsbooks are starting to offer them as they are growing in popularity. The reason for the growth is that more people are starting to understand them and see that they can help you cut down some variance and risk, while still ensuring that there is no draw. The reason for the name is that these bets are growing extremely quickly in popularity in the Asian countries and betting markets. Most online sportsbooks are starting to offer these fairly regularly now.
Let’s take a look at a sample Asian handicap bet to make this make more sense. Some things are just better learned through getting your hands dirty. For example, imagine that you choose to bet Manchester United at (-1, -1.5). Half of your bet would be for Manchester United at -1, and a half would be at Manchester United -1.5. Let’s say Manchester United wins the game by one goal. You would push on your first bet and lose on your second bet. If you bet $100 on this, you would receive $50 back for the push and lose on the other portion of your bet.
Let’s look at one more example just to make sure you are clear. Here are the odds for a soccer match for an Asian handicap bet. We’ve included the payout odds this time as well so you can experience exactly what these will look like.
Everton (-2, -2.5) -105
Liverpool (+2, +2.5) -115
Let’s say you decide to bet $100 on Liverpool, and they lose the game by two goals. You would push on the first half of your bet and win the second half of your bet. You would receive your $50 back for the push and $43.48 in profit on your second bet. Basically, the sportsbook would hand you back $143.48 total, which would include $50 for the push, $50 for your original bet, and $43.48 for the push.
If Liverpool ends up losing the game by only one goal, you will win on both sections of the bet. You would be paid $86.96 in profit on your bet. The sportsbook would hand you back $186.96 which would include your original $100 wager and $86.96 in profit.
The Wrap Up
Hopefully, by now you are an absolute expert on point spread and handicap bet types. If you’re still confused on anything, take your time and reread through the examples we posted and it should slowly become clearer to you. Sometimes the math can be a bit confusing to people, so take your time. If you are ever confused with a bet, you are making online or at a casino, just ask support of the agent for help to clarify. They will be more than happy to assist you in making sure you’ve bet on exactly what it is that you want to bet on. Don’t worry, no one will laugh at you or give you a hard time because you are confused. We all were new to this one day, and they are specifically paid to help new bettors like you understand everything and have a much better betting experience.
These bets are extremely popular and a lot of fun to make. They allow you to bet on teams that you want to root for, but you know they aren’t going to win the game outright. It all comes down to betting on how you think the team will perform in regards to what the sportsbook thinks. If you can find teams that you think the sportsbook is undervaluing or overvaluing, you can make a lot of money by betting on your findings.