Handicap betting allows bookies to make a sporting event more evenly matched. Imagine that you are about to watch a game between a strong favourite and a weak underdog. The handicap allows these teams to be more evenly matched before the start of the event.

Sportsbooks give one team in a game a ‘handicap’ which means that the team must overcome the handicap to win. Handicaps are often given to teams that are considered superior.

By giving the superior team a handicap, it makes the game far more even for the bettor to risk a stake. The field of play becomes level once the handicap is introduced. More markets are then given by the sportsbook on a particular game. Handicap odds increase the markets available to wager on a specific event.

What Is Handicap Betting?

Handicap betting works by forcing one of the teams to meet specific criteria before the game begins. It is sometimes called point betting or line betting. Basically, you are betting on a specific outcome of goals or points to be scored. A team will need to win or lose by a set number of points for the bet to win.

Handicap betting is typically used when a strong team plays a weak team. The betting value is low when a strong team plays a weak team. Therefore, to improve the value and entice people to wager on the game, bookies place a handicap on the stronger team.

The handicap is a virtual disadvantage to the superior team. Meanwhile, an advantage is given to the weaker team. The handicap prevents a game from being boring and predictable. It also provides more markets to wager on and allows bettors to potentially make more money in profits by wagering on a market other than the 1x2 market.

For example, Liverpool and Manchester City are playing in the Premier League. The sportsbook has given a handicap of 1.5. This is what it would look like:

Liverpool (1.5) vs. Manchester City (-1.5)

  • Liverpool are beginning the match with a 1.5 goal advantage. So, the game starts with Liverpool 1.5-0 Manchester City.

  • If you wagered on Manchester City to win, they would need a minimum of two goals for your wager to win.

  • If you wager on Liverpool, they have to either win the match, draw, or concede just one goal to win the wager.

Which Sports Offer Handicap Betting?

Handicap betting can be found for a variety of sports. It has become popular in football betting in recent years. Leading football betting websites will list handicap betting odds on all major matches and leagues.

You can also find handicap betting in other sports. Baseball has a version of handicap betting known as runline. In addition, ice hockey as a similar system called Puckline betting.

Essentially, handicap, runline, and puckline betting are all the same. You are wagering on a team to win by a specific margin of points or to lose by fewer than a specific number of points.

Handicap or Asian Handicap betting?

There are two types of handicaps, the European and the Asian handicap betting systems. The European handicap has three possible outcomes: win, draw, or lose. Asian handicap betting works by eliminating the possibility of a draw. Therefore, the Asian handicap only allows for a win or loss to occur in the bet.

Why Do People Bet on Handicap Markets?

Punters wager on the handicap markets because they allow for greater value in sports betting. For example, if Manchester City play Norwich City in a Premier League fixture, it is likely that City will win. They are the superior team and Norwich City are the weaker side.

Rather than wagering on Manchester City to win at low odds, punters can wager on the team's margin of victory over Norwich City. In addition, punters have the chance to wager on the margin of defeat for Norwich City.

The handicap gives punters an alternative betting technique to the traditional 1x2 bet. It increases the possible pay out a punter may receive.

What Does +1 Handicap Mean?

If a football team begins a match with a +1 handicap, it means they begin the match with a goal advantage. A bet on a team with a +1 handicap means that the team has to win the fixture or draw for your bet to be successful. If the team lost by one goal, your stake would be refunded.

What Does -2.5 Handicap Mean?

When betting on a football club at a -2.5 handicap, they must win the match by a margin of three or more goals for your bet to win.

What Does +1.5 Handicap Mean?

A +1.5 handicap bet on a football team means, they must win the match, draw, or concede no more than one goal for the bet to be successful.

How Do You Play Handicap Betting?

In a game situation, handicap betting provides one team or player with a deficit to overcome at the beginning of the event. The opponent receives a headstart. Handicap betting can be lucrative if you do your research.

Football Handicap Betting

Handicap betting is popular in football as it allows you to get more value on matches between strong and weak opponents. There are different types of handicap bets you can place on football matches.

There is no draw handicap betting and handicap league betting. Draw handicap betting works by eliminating the possibility of a draw occurring between two teams. This is done by providing a decimal handicap.

League handicap betting works similarly to traditional handicap betting. However, the difference is that you wager on one team's performance across an entire league season. Rather than an advantage being given to just one team, league handicap betting provides an advantage to multiple teams.

Best Handicap Betting Sites

You can locate European and Asian handicap odds on a number of betting websites. Before signing up to a betting site, be sure to read customer reviews. In addition, ensure the betting website has been fully vetted by a trusted third party.

The best handicap betting sites are:

  • SpreadEx
  • PaddyPower
  • Bet365

Handicap Betting Strategies

There are a few strategies for betting on handicaps. One is a handicap accumulator bet. You can combine several safe selections into one acca to return a sizeable profit. Accas are great for punters that want to wager a low stake with the possibility to return a large sum.

One of the key strategies is to do your research on the teams or individuals that are playing a specific game before wagering on a handicap line. This is a mistake many punters make. Rather than studying up on the game, they hastily make a bet on an outcome. This can backfire significantly.

While handicap betting is popular, it can be distracting to bettors. Expert bettors claim that it is easy to miss the value in the moneyline odds. Bettors shouldn't get wrapped up in the handicap to find value when it can also be found elsewhere.

Is There A Thing As Draw Handicap Bets?

The draw handicap bet, or no draw handicap bet, eliminates the possibility of a stalemate occurring. If a bookie gives you a decimal handicap, then the draw possibility is removed from the game.

If the handicap is made up of whole numbers, then a draw would result in a push. This means your stake would be refunded. A handicap draw provides you with two possible positive outcomes. You either win if your bet wins, or your stake is returned if the game is a draw.

What is Handicap League Betting?

Handicap league betting is similar to standard handicap betting. The biggest difference is that you are wagering on the entire league season rather than just one game. You are betting on a team's performance over the course of an entire league campaign.

The bookie will assign different odds to each team at the start of the season. You will place your bet on the team that you think will win the league. The favourite to win the league is given the “SCR” (zero advantage).

The rest of the league's teams are given odds based on the sportsbook's expectations. The league's weaker teams are provided more significant benefits than the stronger sides. The handicap betting advantage is spread across all of the teams in the league and not just the team you wager on.


Handicap betting is a popular way to bet on sports. It is available for a variety of sports including football, baseball, ice hockey, tennis, and much more. In recent years, handicap betting has become even more popular in football and it is regularly used rather than the more traditional 1x2 bet.

The reason handicap betting is used by punters is that it provides value for sports events that would otherwise lack a reason for punters to wager on it. The handicap makes a sports game between a strong team and a weak team more evenly matched. This is done by assigning a goal margin advantage to the weaker team or a goal disadvantage to the stronger team.

Handicap betting can increase the value of a bet. It can also raise the interest bettors have in wagering on a specific event.