Handicap betting is best thought of as a levelling of the playing field in terms of sporting events.
When there is an overwhelming favourite in a sporting event, particularly in points or goals-based sports like rugby, football, snooker or American football, a bookmaker will present a handicap market that is – in its purest form – designed to make it an even contest.
UNDERSTAND THE HANDICAP
Before placing handicap bets, be sure you clearly understand what you are betting on. You can use a handicap betting calculator, particularly in sports like rugby or basketball where the handicaps can sometimes be vast.
How does handicap betting work?
This generally involves giving the underdog a head start. For example, in a soccer match where Chelsea are favourites to beat West Ham, the handicap might be set to give West Ham a one-goal advantage. Effectively, if you strike a bet in this market, then West Ham begin the game one goal up for the purposes of your bet.
Similarly, in a rugby match where England are favourites to defeat Scotland, the handicap might see Scotland in receipt of seven points (expressed as Scotland +7 for a handicap betting example).
If you placed a bet on Scotland +7 in the scenario above, and England actually win the game by 6 or fewer points, your bet is a winning one in the handicap market.
Almost all events in points or goals-based sports now have a handicap market.
As the demand for betting options has increased, you can now employ alternative handicaps in most cases. With this option, you can increase or decrease the handicap based on the confidence you have behind the selection.
In the example above, England may be considered even-money to fulfil the seven-point handicap assigned to them. However, if you believe they have a credible chance of winning by more than seven points, you can increase the handicap (based on the markets offered) and therefore also increase the odds offered, e.g. England -10 in this instance might be 7/4.
NO DRAW BETS
Football betting has become hugely popular. Nothing frustrates punters as much as the last minute goal that denies their bet. As well as straightforward handicap betting, you can also consider handicapping options that remove the draw from the equation. In this handicap betting example, there are only two possible outcomes in a contest instead of three, with the draw no longer possible.
As with regular handicap markets, you can increase this handicap to +1.5 goals etc. if desired and the price will be reflected.
Similarly, if you were backing Liverpool as favourites in this example and you are extremely confident, you could handicap them by conceding a 1.5 goal start. This means that for your handicap bet to win, Liverpool must win the match by two clear goals.
Asian Handicap Betting
Asian handicap betting is a variation on the no draw handicap system. If you back a team to win on Asian handicap at -1.0, for example, your bet wins if the teams wins by two or more goals. If they win by 1, thus making your bet a draw, your stake is refunded.