Handicap Betting Types: What you need to know before you bet

Some time ago, last summer to be precise, we broke away from the usual content to talk to you about a very special type of betting markets: Handicap betting. If you are regulars on this Blog, and we certainly think so, we are sure you remember everything we told you about this type of betting. But we are also aware that time eventually makes you forget details, and that’s why we are going back to handicap betting as one of the most exciting little ‘worlds’ within the Sports Betting universe.

Let’s see… What did we make clear about handicap betting? That, basically, they were used in sports such as football, basketball, tennis or hockey, and that above all they are markets that can be used for events and/or matches in which there is a team or player that is heavily favoured over their opponent. By applying this ‘virtual advantage or disadvantage’ to betting odds, we were able to make them competitive even when betting on the favourite, and thus make them more attractive to the player.

This was the main conclusion, as we say, of our first instalment on handicap betting. But we also briefly touched on the different types of handicaps that exist, and that is exactly what we are going to delve into this time, adding some practical tips when it comes to using this type of betting. Lest you say we don’t make it easy for you to play it safe, here we go!

Types of Handicap Betting

As we have already explained, there are basically two types of handicap bets: the European and the Asian, and within the Asian, these can be full goal, half goal and mixed. The European handicap is, obviously, the most used in Europe and also, and the Asian handicap is one of the betting markets most used by more experienced players, and even professionals, as it requires more experience and, above all, more analytical skills, although it is equally exciting!

European Handicap

Let’s say we want to bet on the derby between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid that takes place on the next La Liga matchday. Taking a look at the Betting odds, they seem to give the white team as a strong favourite: in the 1×2, Madrid is priced at 1.72 to win the match, while the red and white victory is paid at 5.00$ per $ bet. A draw is priced at 3.80.

If we want to bet in favour of Real Madrid, but consider the odds for their win to be low, and wish to play at a higher odds, it is practical to use the handicap markets for the match.

As you already know (and if you don’t remember, let us refresh your memory), the brackets with the numbers after the team names mean the virtual advantage or disadvantage (the handicap) that we will apply to our bet. For example: if we bet on Real Madrid with handicap -1 (Real Madrid (-1) in the image), the derby, for the purposes of our bet and in a ‘virtual’ way, would start with 0-1 in favour of Atlético, so Real Madrid would have to win by 2 or more goals difference (2-0, 3-0, 3-1…) for our bet to be a winner.

Similarly, if we bet on Atletico Madrid with handicap +2 (Atletico Madrid (+2) in the image), we will be saying that, virtually, the match starts 0-2, and therefore, any draw or result that is not a Madrid victory by 3 or more goals difference would make us win the bet. Even a 1-0 defeat for Atletico would win the bet. As is logical, the odds fluctuate depending on the degree of difficulty of the handicap we want to bet on.

Asian Handicap

If we play the traditional Asian handicap, we will use the same explanation as in the European handicap, with only one variant: in the Asian handicap, as we have already explained, draws are eliminated. This means that, if after the final result, and with the handicap applied, there is a draw, we get our stake back. Continuing with the previous examples, if we play in favour of Real Madrid with Asian handicap -1, and the match ends 1-0, our bet will have ended 1-1, and therefore, we would be refunded the amount bet.

What is the big catch? Obviously, this advantage for the bettor means that the Asian handicap offers slightly less attractive odds. We sacrifice profit for safety.

Asian half-goal handicap

The first Asian handicap we have analysed is the full goal handicap, in which there are no decimals. However, decimals may appear. The half-goal Asian handicap offers markets such as, for example, betting on Real Madrid to win with a handicap of -1.5. This modifies a little the assumptions in which we win the bet or lose it, and ends up definitively eliminating the possibilities of a draw (for example, if Real Madrid wins the match in this case, we do not draw, but we still lose our bet as the final result is 1-1.5).

Mixed Asian handicap

For a twist, the more ‘geeky’ play this type of handicap, which ‘splits’ the amount of our bet into two different bets. For example, betting on Real Madrid to beat Atletico with handicaps of -0.5 & -1 will mean that, if we bet $5, $2.50 will be played on the -0.5 handicap, and another $2.50 will be played on the -1 handicap, and the bets will be settled independently. If we bet $10, $5 would be allocated to each scenario, and so on.

5 Tips on Handicap Betting

We end this review by listing a number of key tips that we think you should always bear in mind when you are going to use handicap betting, especially if it is your first time. They are not easy markets to understand, and therefore, they are tips that you should, at the very least, listen to:

  1. Learn first. Go through this tutorial as often as you need to, and practice with pencil and paper if necessary, before placing your first handicap bet. You think you’ve got it down, but then, when you lose a bet, you might ask yourself: “But didn’t I win my bet with this result?” Believe us, there are so many players who think they’ve got it down, and then it takes them a while to really learn the mechanics. Be very sure of how the handicapper works before you use it.
  2. Directly related to the first point is understanding when handicap markets are valuable, and when they are not. There is no point in using them in a close game, or at least not if you intend to go for a sure bet. In a theoretically very lopsided match, however, it does. When you know when a handicap bet is worthwhile and when it isn’t, then you will have internalised the mechanics.
  3. Look at the odds. There is usually not much difference between the odds displayed on handicap markets, and the odds that the bookmaker estimates that a particular outcome will occur. So if you see a 4.00 or 5.00 odds on a handicap market that you thought was very likely, think twice before you bet… or at least bet with the knowledge that you are taking a big risk. Don’t go crazy. That’s what reviewing the latest results of the two teams is for, to see if they match what you’re betting on.
  4. Check your mistakes. You probably won’t start off winning, or not by much, if you’ve never placed a handicap bet before. So be very methodical in analysing why you lose, and review the results of your team or your chosen player.
  5. Don’t obsess… and don’t overdo it. Having learnt the types of handicap bets, or that you like them a lot, does not mean that you must now always play those markets. We insist: learn to identify when an event requires them and when it doesn’t.

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