Handicap betting is one of the most played bets by users, and without a doubt, one of the most ‘owned’ types of bets in the world of online gambling.

But just as it is a concept that many newcomers to the industry are looking for and are interested in, handicap betting takes time to learn properly. It’s not easy to understand the concept itself until you’ve practised betting with it, so it’s a good idea to read up on tips for betting on these types of markets before you get started.

What does handicapping mean?

To begin with, we’ll start by explaining what a handicap in sports betting is based on the simple explanation of the word ‘handicap’.

If we go to the RAE dictionary, handicap is defined as “disadvantage or unfavourable circumstance”. And it is just that. In a certain match or event, we ‘add’ a disadvantage to the score of one of the teams or participants.

This handicap is obviously only theoretical, it only affects the betting market. And so, we have to calculate that, if we bet in favour of that team, in order to come out on top, we need them to win by more than the virtual handicap.

Where does the concept come from?

Handicap is a concept traditionally associated with the sport of golf (handicap of a player with respect to the par of a particular course), although in sports betting, handicap betting is used mainly in basketball, hockey, tennis or football.

Handicap betting: Example

If we look at the image below, we can see the handicap markets for a match between Chelsea and Burnley in the English Premier League:

Handicap betting: common handicap markets in a football match

Bets on which values are added to one or the other team, represented in brackets (+1, +2, etc.) assume an advantage of 1 virtual goal, 2 goals, etc… on the final result. Similarly, the subtracting values (-1, -2, etc.) ‘subtract’ 1 goal from any team.

This means that, virtually, if we play the Chelsea market (-1), for our bet, the match will start with a virtual score of 0-1 unfavourable to Chelsea.

Therefore, to win our bet, we need Chelsea to win by two goals or more in the real match.

This same logic applies to the other handicap markets in the example, and is extensible to any football match, in this case.

When to bet on handicaps?

Handicap betting is ideal for matches where one team is heavily favoured. For example, in a tennis match between tennis player A, number 1 in the world, and tennis player B, number 230, the odds in favour of the former will be very low, as he has every chance of winning.

This means that, if we bet on tennis player A and win our bet, we will obtain very little profit despite playing a very high Stake.

However, using the handicap, the bets will have a higher odds in favour of player A if, for example, the handicap we choose is that he wins by more than 6 games difference (in this case, it would be a handicap (-5.5).

A point: Why are some advantages and/or disadvantages in handicap bets expressed in numbers that are not round numbers (-1.5, +2.5…)?

The answer is quite simple: to avoid draws. When betting on a team to win with a handicap (-2.5) we know that they must win by 3 goals or more. There is no room for a virtual draw in these cases.

Basketball handicap

The handicap in basketball betting affects bets on the final result of a specific match.

The handicap, as can be seen in the image above, will be higher or lower depending on the opponents of the match in question.

The more favoured a team is over its rival, the greater the handicap disadvantage applied to the handicap in order for the odds of the bet in their favour to be competitive. Similarly, the underdog team will have a high favourable handicap applied to it.

Given the smaller range of betting markets in a sport such as basketball, basketball tipsters rely heavily on handicap markets.

Tennis handicap

In tennis betting, the handicap is applied to the difference in the final games on the scoreboard between the winning and losing player of a match.

As can be seen in the image above, the handicap in tennis is usually expressed in non-round numbers to avoid ties, something that does not exist in this sport.

Tennis is one of the sports where handicap betting is most interesting, due to the strict logic that usually prevails between favourites and underdogs in the vast majority of matches and tournaments throughout the season. By applying the handicap, it is possible to obtain greater profit by betting in favour of players who are a priori heavily favoured in a match.

Football handicap

In the King’s game, handicap betting concentrates on the markets for the winner of a match and the winner of each of the two halves of a match.

As can be seen in the image above, corresponding to a Copa del Rey match between Atlético de Madrid and Girona FC, the user can bet with handicap in favour of the final winner of the match, the team that will win the first half, and the team that will win the second half. The handicap is one of the most used markets in football predictions.

Asian handicap

There is not only one handicap in sports betting. There are several types of handicap betting that are worth knowing about.

Although it is not a type of betting market that is offered by all bookmakers, the Asian handicap is one of the most sought after terms by punters who are fond of online gambling. It is a different type of handicap to the one explained in this post, commonly known as the European handicap.

The main peculiarity of the Asian handicap is that it eliminates the possibility of a draw.

If there is a draw, the player can win back or lose the amount of his bet, depending on the type of bet he has placed.

Conclusion: Handicap, betting and timing

It is not advisable to use handicapping in sports betting if you are not familiar with the simpler bets beforehand. But, in any case, they are markets designed to win with our sports bets in matches with an apparent very favourable odds for one team and unfavourable odds for the other.

In this way, the unequal odds are ‘compensated’ and the odds become competitive for the bettor. They come in handy in both single bets and accumulator bets.

So now you know, learn and practice, because during the season these bets can be very useful for you.

Good luck!

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