What is Asian Handicap betting?

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What is Asian Handicap betting?

Do you understand Asian Handicap betting? Learn how to choose Asian Handicap bets and manage your long-term bankroll?



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Updated on 12 December 2018
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In this article, I’ll be guiding you through one of the most underused and underrated bet types there is – the Asian Handicap.


The lack of publicity Asian Handicaps receive continues to frustrate me. I think the main cause of this is people not understanding them. They sound complicated and scary, and this is enough to put people off. In reality, however, they’re extremely easy to understand. They also have an incredibly useful role, helping you to bet on matches which you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.  


After reading this, you’ll understand exactly what Asian Handicaps are, and how to use them to your advantage.


Let’s get started.

The basics of Asian Handicap betting


In short, Asian Handicaps (often referred to as AH’s) create a “fake” starting score. They give or take away goals from one of the teams in any given match, before a ball has even been kicked. This is the “handicap” that’s referred to in the name.


(The “Asian” part comes by virtue of this bet originating in Asia… as you might have guessed).


Here’s an example. Let’s say Manchester City are playing at home to Huddersfield. Man City would obviously be massive favourites – so much so that betting on them would be pointless.


But, with an Asian Handicap, you can have City “losing” before the game has even started. If you take a handicap of -2, that means – in your bet – City start the game 0-2 down. You then need them to win by three goals or more, in order to win your bet.


You can also give teams a positive “handicap” (I know that doesn’t make sense, but just roll with it!). So, in our previous example, you might take Huddersfield at +2. That means they start the game 2-0 up, for the purposes of your bet. If they lose the real game 1-0, you still win.


To summarise, Asian Handicaps simply create a fake score – customised however you want it – before the game has actually begun.

Single Asian Handicap bets


There are two main types of Asian Handicaps – singles and doubles. I’ll take you through singles first, and we’ll tackle doubles in the next section.


Single Asian Handicap bets are… exactly what they sound like! You place one bet, which can either win or lose.


Even within this framework, however, there are a nice number of varieties.


In the aforementioned example, we looked at round-number handicaps – +1, -1, +2, -2, and so on. You’re probably wondering what happens in the case of a draw, and the answer is that it’s still in play… kind of. If you take a round-number handicap, and your fake result is a draw, then the bet is void. You simply get your stake back. It’s the same as a “Draw No Bet” market, basically.


Instead of this, you can take half-point handicaps. You might take a team at -1.5, for example, or at +2.5. In this case, you’re removing the draw entirely from the equation. You can only win or lose your bet. This is obviously a riskier option, but – as you can probably guess – you’ll get better odds for it.  

Double Asian Handicap bets


So, single Asian Handicaps are easy enough to understand, right? Doubles are ever so slightly more complicated, but you’ll still get the hang of them easily enough.


Double AH’s – otherwise known as “split” Asian Handicaps – basically involve taking two handicaps in a single bet. You split your stake evenly between the two, and can win zero, one or both of your outcomes. You still bet on a single team with these bets – you simply take that team at two separate fake starting scores.


As an example, we’ll say that Liverpool are playing Manchester City at home. The odds on each team to win outright are very close. You like Liverpool, but not enough to take them straight-up.


In this case, you could take a split AH bet on Liverpool at -0.5 and -1. Half your stake will go on the -0.5, and the other half goes on -1. In this case, If Liverpool win 2-0, you win both bets. If the game finishes 0-0, you lose both bets. If Liverpool win the actual game by one goal – e.g. it finishes 1-0 – you’ll win your -0.5 bet, and get your stake back on the -1 (as they only “drew” in your fake game).


As a rule of thumb, you should take single handicap bets on games where there’s a clear favourite, and double handicap bets on games where the two teams are more closely matched. That’s because while the latter will net you lower odds, it also obviously gives you a higher chance of winning.

Why take Asian Handicaps?


There’s a whole lot to like about Asian Handicaps. Undoubtedly the best thing about them, though, is that they allow you to wager on literally any game.


Let’s take our opening example of Manchester City playing at home to Huddersfield. In regular circumstances, you simply wouldn’t be able to bet on this match. Everyone would know City were going to win, and they’d be favourites to such an extent that you’d have to bet a huge amount of money to make any significant profit.


You would be able to get spectacular odds on a Huddersfield win. The chances of that happening are miniscule, though – you might as well, set fire to that money.


Asian Handicaps unlock games like this, for all bettors. If you think City are really going to hammer Huddersfield, you can take them at -3.5, and you’d get good odds for doing so. If you wanted to be more conservative, but still back City for the victory, you could take them at -2. You’re still highly likely to win, and you’ll get significantly better odds than you would by taking City straight-up.


They have a role in closer games too. Again, let’s take our earlier example of Liverpool playing at home to Man City. You’d be highly nervous to bet on a home win, draw or away win here, because there’s simply so little separating the two sides.


Rather than taking any one result straight-up, you can roll a team to win and a Draw No Bet into a single wager, courtesy of a split Asian Handicap. There’s obviously still no guarantee that you’ll win, but you’re certainly increasing your chances.  

Are there any drawbacks?


Regular readers will know that I always try to provide a balanced viewpoint, for every gambling-related matter I discuss. In this case, however, there’s very little not to like about Asian Handicaps.


The biggest risk, as I see it, is that you simply make a mistake when you bet. Whilst I believe I’ve explained AH’s pretty clearly here, they do still take some getting used to. Rather than simply picking a result, setting your stake, and hammering the big “PLACE BET” button, you do need to put some thought into your handicaps.


Exactly how confident are you in your chosen team to win, or to not lose too heavily? Do you take the round-number option, and therefore incorporate the draw into the equation, or plump for the higher odds of the half-point handicap? Are you happy to just go with a single handicap bet, or would it be wiser to split your stake across a double?


These are all questions you need to ask yourself before you place a single Asian Handicap wager. As you can see, it’s a lot more involved than simply taking a home win, draw or away win.  


The only other drawback to Asian Handicaps is that they can net you less appealing odds than regular bets in some cases.


Specifically, this relates to underdog bets. The main attraction of wagering on an underdog, of course, is the tasty price you’ll get. AH bets still let you take the underdog. You simply take them with a pre-match lead, and hope they don’t get hammered too badly. But – because you’re taking on less risk in this case – you’ll obviously get lower odds too.


Final thoughts on Asian Handicap betting


Quite simply, I think Asian Handicaps are fantastic, and I’d really encourage you to start testing them out for yourself.


Primarily, I love the way that they open up essentially any football match on the planet for you to bet on (as long as your bookie is offering AH odds on it, of course).


I also love how flexible Asian Handicap bets are. Rather than being forced to simply pick one of three outcomes, you can think deeply about exactly how you think a match is going to go. Will it be a close-run thing, or a demolition job? Is there any chance of a draw, or are you sure your chosen team is going to win? Once you’ve settled on a prediction, you can bet on exactly what you think is going to happen.


There’s no significant downside to AH bets, either. As I mentioned earlier, make sure you fully understand them before getting involved, and be very careful that you’re picking the right market with your first few wagers. Once you’re confident in using Asian Handicaps, though, you really won’t look back.


Good luck!


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