Handicap Betting - A Bet of Margins

In a contest between two opponents there must be a favorite based on comparative advantage but we know that sports depends on a lot of factors that can determine who wins and who loses a game. 

Bookmakers carry out their own investigations and represent the chances of a team or players success with odds which is simply the chance that each team or individual will win a sports game.

The perceived outcome of each fixture is revealed in the odds and the favorites are always offered little odds, which is a little value for the win. However, a football match could be won by different margins (1, 2, 3, 4… etc.). And this is where an increased value is offered in the handicap market.

So let us get straight to the handicap markets.

Different handicap betting markets

There are several kinds of variations of handicap betting that operate in different kinds of ways and it is important for bettors to know how each one of them works, what differentiates them from one another, only then can a bettor select the best handicap betting markets and the perfect time to bet. In this article, we focus on Asian and European handicap betting. 

Asian handicap betting

Asian handicap betting is a combination of no draw handicap markets where the possibility of a draw in a match is eliminated. However Asian handicap markets have split handicap market feature which allows bettors to choose from a selection of half or quarter numbers and whole.

In Asian handicap the difference between opponents varies usually from situational and dispositional variables like 

  • Form: This refers to current performances of the teams. 
  • Player availability e.g. injuries or suspensions
  • Financial Capability of such teams
  • Home Advantage
  • Away record
  • Historical performance.

Now bookmakers interpret these factors and positive ratings on each factor increase the chances of either team winning. Seeing that both teams could have close margins on the factor boards, Asian Handicap betting counters these abilities or by leveling the playing arena by removing the option of a draw, leading to better odds. 

This is done by applying a positive or negative goal handicap to each opponent depending on which is considered as the favorite or underdog.

There are three kinds of Asian handicap betting, the most common are:

Single Asian Handicap Betting

This is a type of Asian handicap betting that is used when there is an enormous difference in the abilities of the teams focused on. Therefore, the team which is adjudged as better gets a goal handicap. It is in a bid to reduce the quality of both teams for punters who want to place bets on them. 

Therefore, the better team can start the game with -1, -1.5, -2. 

Level Asian Handicap Betting

As opposed to the single Asian handicap betting, the level Asian handicap betting is used when there is no distinct difference between both teams. Both teams are deemed to be almost on the same level. Therefore, both of them start at zero (0).

This means that you’re basically betting on the overall winner of the game. If you bet on Team A and the team wins, you win. If the team plays a draw, your bet is void and your stake will be returned. However, if the team you stake on loses, you lose your bet. 

Split Asian Handicap Betting

The split Asian handicap betting refers to a situation where the difference between the abilities of both teams is not definite. It means that there can never be an accurate measure of the difference between their abilities.  

With this, you may split your gamble on a team over two handicaps. Your favored team can begin a game with -0.5 & -1, -2 & -2.5, etc goals. 


1. Whether your team loses, you can still win your bet. Your risk of losing is lower unlike a 1x2 market. In Asian handicap betting, the underdog is giving a shot at winning with 1.5 goal handicap while the favorites have to score more, unlike 1x2 there really is not a huge advantage, as both have to win clearly and convincingly, tipping the scale to favor the opponent with good winning factors.

2. Elimination of perceived bias to favor both sides. Since there isn’t a defined difference between both teams, bias cannot occur. 

3. Reduction of betting margins by removing draws to sustain profit on the long run

European Handicap Betting

The European handicap betting is a type of handicap betting that allows bettors to bet on the handicap tie option meaning that the match would finish in favor of the team given the (-1) deficit by the provided winning margin slated on the market. 

Let’s say the handicap betting market offers the following betting margins on a Chelsea vs. Watford match

Chelsea (-2) 

Draw/handicap tie effectively -2 

Watford (+2)

Now the game finishes 1-0 to Chelsea, supporting Chelsea to win would result to a loss as they didn’t cover the spread of the game as per the readings of the draw/handicap tie market, in other Burnley though losing the game, won the bet. Whether the bet was a handicap tie/draw, you would have lost either way. 

When betting on handicap draw or tie, the team with the (-) deficit either wins by the specified margin offered in the handicap market or by margin of victory. A score of 2-0, 3-1.4-2 would have won the bet nicely. It’s a bet of margins!


  • Only three outcomes. It’s either the home team wins, the match results in a draw or the away team wins. It’s pretty straightforward.
  • Backing the favorites can earn pointers a profit. More often than not, the favorites end up winning by big margins unless upsets occur. 
  • It is available on almost every betting platform. It is quite popular and it is why most bookmakers offer this betting option.
  • Due to its straightforwardness, there are no complexities with this type of betting. 

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