27 June 2019
Handicap betting, also known as a spread or points spread, is a popular sports betting market which can be profitable to those who use fully understand it and use it as part of an analytical approach to betting.
What is Handicap Betting?
Handicap betting markets are used to level up the playing field in a sporting event, giving one selection a virtual advantage over the other.
For example, the betting favourite in a football match would start with a -1 handicap while the underdog in the match would start on +1. The betting odds would then be altered to reflect the handicap, with the draw still a possible outcome.
The decimal odds in the match result market for a match are:
• Team A – 1.62
• Draw – 3.5
• Team B – 4.75
Team A, the home team, are clearly the favourites to win this match here and will receive a -1 start in the handicap betting market. This means that if you back them, they must win by two or more goals to give you a winning bet. If you back the draw, you would be hoping for Team A to win by exactly one goal. You could also back Team B, with a +1 handicap, meaning they would give you a winning bet if the match finished in a real life draw.
As mentioned above, the betting odds offered will differ to those in the match result market. The handicap market with Team A on a -1 handicap look like this.
• Team A (-1) – 2.8
• Draw (Team A -1) – 3.25
• Team B (+1) – 2.2
You can see that the odds for a draw are pretty much the same, which suggests the bookmaker believes Team A will win by exactly one goal in the actual match.
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Normal handicap betting offers three possible outcomes, a home win, away win, or draw, with one team receiving a -1 or +1 handicap. Asian handicap betting is slightly different as you cannot bet on a draw.
However, a push may come into play depending on the set handicap which may mean a punters stake being returned if the scores are level after the handicap has been applied at full time.
The way the possibility of a draw is eliminated is by the use of half-goals, so the handicap is set at +0.5 or +1.5 etc.
This means that there is no chance of a draw, because if a match finishes 1-0 to a the side with a -0.5 handicap they would still win for the purposes of the bet.
If the handicap is a whole number in Asian handicap betting and the scores are level at full time after the handicap has been applied, the push will be used instead of taking bets on the draw pre-match.
In Asian handicap betting, you may come across certain selections with a 0 handicap. This means that if you back a team with a 0 handicap, they must win the match in real life to give you a winning bet. A draw in the match would result in a push.
A 0 handicap is effectively the same as placing a bet using the Draw No Bet market, although you may find the odds to be slightly different for the two markets depending on which bookmaker you use.
If you ever notice a quarter handicap, such as 0.25 or 0.75, this represents a split handicap bet. Meaning your stake would be split into two with half placed on the half number above or below and the other half placed on the whole number above or below.
Lets say a team had a -0.75 handicap. In this instance, half your stake would go on -0.5 and half on -1.
If the match finished 1-0 to the team with the minus handicap, the result for your bet would be 0.5-0 for the first part of your bet and 0-0 for the second part. Meaning you would win part of your bet and receive your stake back for the second part.
Some bookmakers may offer handicap betting on the final outcome of a league table, for example the English Premier League.
The team priced as betting favourite in the outright market would start on scratch (0), and the other teams would be given a points handicap depending on their chances based on betting odds. This maybe would be something like +4, +7, +9, +14 etc.
At the end of the season, every team will have their actual points added to their handicap value and the table will be altered accordingly. If the team you backed finished top of the table after every team had their handicap applied, you would win your bet. Place bets are usually available for this market as well.
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