What is a handicap in football betting?

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What is a handicap in football betting?

Learn the different types of handicap betting, such as level handicap, single handicap and split handicap



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Updated on 04 January 2019
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If you can get to grips with and master handicap betting and asian handicap betting, you will have the ability to understand and improve your betting decisions.


Understanding handicapping can also allow you to find more value within selections, which means you could find more options, which can provide you with the best matches for your next soccer wager.

Understanding the difference between two teams

The great thing about football, is that the two teams are completely different; the players, the stadiums, the win-loss record, the goals scored, the bookings and the free kicks, etc. All of this comes to together to ensure to form an opinion of the quality of each of the teams, which means that the teams could have a quality score.


The pundits may all believe that a top of the table clash may be won by the home team or the away team, but it all comes down to opinions of the perceived skills and quality of the two teams, which is identified by the odds.


Therefore, there must be a way to differentiate between the two teams and discovering what betting odds represent is a way of providing that differentiation between the two teams.


The differentiation between the teams would also take things into account, such as injuries, suspensions and other areas, such as home team advantage, etc. Everything is combined and considered, which changes the likelihood of one team winning in a one-off match against their opponent.

What is a football handicap betting?

Now, let’s get deep into an explanation of the handicap football betting…


If we’re focussed on the market perception of the differences between two competing teams, we can see that, there is likely to be a favourite (i.e. the team most likely to win the fixture) or the underdog (i.e. the team most likely to lose the fixture).


Even if the market perceives the likelihood of one team winning above another team may be small (or non-existent/identical), there is still a difference between the teams and this can be represented by the sports betting handicap.


We can reduce this market tendency to favour one team above another team, this means that the handicap can effectively remove the perceived quality of one team above another team, effectively levelling the sports betting playing field.


The levelling of the teams is conducted by placing a goal handicap on each side of the bet, so Team A may have a positive goal handicap and Team B may have a negative goal handicap.


This literally means that one team is given a goal head start over another team, which therefore, provides you with a much greater ability to find value if you’re able to accurately identify where the bookmaker has made a handicapping mistake.

The different types of football handicap/asian handicap


There are three main football handicaps:

• Level handicap

• Single handicap

• Split handicap

What is a level handicap in football betting?


This suggests that both teams are considered identical in terms of ability and the bookmakers or the market suggest there is not any quality advantage applied to any team.


Therefore, you must perform your own research with soccer stats and soccer match data, so you can place a wager on the team most likely to score the most goals.


This is like a draw no bet selection, where the draw is removed from the options. From a bettor’s perspective, you simply must decide which team will score the most goals within a fixture.


You probably guessed, but if the match ends in a draw, this means that the bookmaker will return your wager in full, as one team did not score more goals than the other team.

What is a single handicap in football betting?


This could be considered the most common and possibly the easiest to understand, as it signifies a perceived ability, circumstance or quality difference between the two competing teams. This quality difference is represented by a negative value placed against the superior team (as identified by the bookmaker), which identifies the goal head start applied to the favourite.


In most circumstances, you will see the classic; -0.5 goals, -1 goals, -1.5 goals, -2 goals, which signifies a 0.5 goal, 1 goal, 1.5 goals or 2 goals head start for the opposing team, respectively.


This means that the bookmaker has levelled the playing field and allowed the better to make a judgement, if the team with the handicap applied has the quality or ability to overturn the handicap and still win the fixture.


The table, below provides some examples, so you can identify how this would work for different handicap bets:

Goal Handicap Favourite Must Score to Win

-0.5 goals
Win by 1 goal to win

-1 goal
Win by more than 1 goal to win

-1.5 goals
Win by 2 goals to win

-2 goals
Win by more than 2 goals to win



Remember in the scenario above, there can only be a level score with a -1, -2, -3, etc handicap, as there is no such thing as a half goal. As with the level handicap, the draw will signify a ‘push’ and you will receive your entire stake.

What is a split handicap in football betting?


This is sometimes the most difficult to understand for bettors, but let’s go through it step by step to make sure we cover everything.


A split handicap is used when the bookmaker or market perceives the quality or ability differences between the two teams is small. It could be a top of the table clash, or a relegation battle, but the handicap is split, which means the goals advantage is shared between the opposing teams.

Your wager is equally split between handicap bets

The split handicaps are quite easy to identify: If you have a -1.25, 1.75 or anything that can be described as a fraction means that you’re dealing with a split handicap.



Therefore, if you’re looking at a -1.75 goal handicap, this means that the handicap is split between -1.5 goal handicaps and -2 goal handicaps and your wager is equally split between both goal handicap bets.


Let’s review a couple of examples of a split handicap against a favourite and an underdog...

If the sports favourite is a split handicap

Let’s use a split handicap with -1.25, as an example using the table, below:

Split handicap real handicap bet outcomes

-1.25
-1.0 and -1.50 If favourite draws the bet is lost

-1.25
-1.0 and -1.50 If favourite loses the bet is lost

-1.25
-1.0 and -1.50 if favourite wins 1-0 as the -1.0 bet is returned (as the handicap ends in a draw) and the -1.5 loses as the favourite has not overturned the -1.5 goals

-1.25
-1.0 and -1.50 if favourite wins 2-0 as the -1.0 bet is won (as the handicap ends in a win) and the -1.5 wins as the favourite overturns the -1.5 goals


Let’s use a split handicap with -1.75, as an example using the table, below:

Split handicap real handicap bet outcomes

-1.75
-1.50 and -2.00 If favourite draws the bet is lost

-1.75
-1.50 and -2.00 If favourite loses the bet is lost

-1.75
-1.50 and -2.00 If favourite wins 1-0 the bet is lost

-1.75
-1.50 and -2.00 If favourite wins 2-0 as the -1.50 bet is won (as the -1.50 handicap is overcome) and the -2.00 returns the stake as the favourite has drawn the match after the -2.00 goals handicap

-1.75
-1.50 and -2.00 If favourite wins 3-0 as the -1.50 bet is won (as the -1.50 handicap is overcome) and the -2.00 wins as the favourite overturns the -2.00 goal handicap


If the sports underdog is a split handicap

Let’s use a split handicap with +1.25, as an example using the table, below:

Split handicap real handicap bet outcomes

+1.25
+1.00 and +1.50 If underdog wins the bet wins

+1.25
+1.00 and +1.50 If underdog draws the bet wins

+1.25
+1.00 and +1.50 if underdog loses 1-0 the bet returns the stake

+1.25
+1.00 and +1.50 if underdog loses 2-0 both parts of the split handicap will lose.

+1.25
+1.00 and +1.50 if underdog loses by 3 or more both parts of the split handicap will lose.


Let’s use a split handicap with +1.75, as an example using the table, below:

Split handicap real handicap bet outcomes

+1.75
+1.5 and +2.00 If underdog wins the bet wins

+1.75
+1.5 and +2.00 If underdog draws the bet wins

+1.75
+1.5 and +2.00 if underdog loses 1-0 the bet loses

+1.75
+1.5 and +2.00 if underdog loses 2-0 the +1.50 bet loses (as the underdog loses the handicap below +1.50) and the +2.00 will return the stake

+1.75
+1.5 and +2.00 if underdog loses 3-0 the +1.50 bet loses (as the underdog loses the handicap below +1.50) and the +2.00 also loses (as the underdog loses the handicap below +2.00)


Take some time to review the handicap descriptions and the example pay out information, so you can understand how different handicaps work and you have greater knowledge of the higly flexible asian handicap betting markets.


Good luck!



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