What is Handicap Betting?

Handicap betting is a form of spread betting in which one team is given an advantage or a handicap to make a bet more appealing. It is a common practice offered by many of the best betting sites for any game in which draws are possible, but sometimes it’s specifically used to bypass a tie.

In this article, you’ll find handicap betting explained clearly and comprehensively to eliminate confusion, but also to help you feel more confident when you decide to bet in this way.

12 Quick Facts for About Handicap Betting:

  1. Handicap is a form of spread betting that aims to even out the odds so a bet is more appealing to punters.
  2. Bookies can profit from this type of betting because it attracts more customers.
  3. The downside for bookies and bettors alike is that this type of betting brings a lower profit margin.
  4. A betting handicap can be presented as a plus or a minus followed by a number.
  5. When a team’s handicap is expressed as +1, for example, it means the team is considered an underdog and, for gambling purposes, its final score will be increased by one point.
  6. If the sign is minus, the team is the favourite. A -3 handicap means that three points should be subtracted from the final score for gambling purposes.
  7. If a match with a handicap ends as a draw, punters betting on one or the other team to win usually receive their money back.
  8. A special kind of handicap bet called ‘no draw handicap betting’ bypasses the draw result by introducing a half number.
  9. If a team has a +1.5 handicap, it will win even if the result is a tie.
  10. In league handicap betting, the favourite team receives a title of ‘scratch’ and all the other teams get positive handicaps according to their likelihood of winning.
  11. At the end of the season, the team with the most points with a handicap applied is considered the winner.
  12. Asian type of handicap betting lets punters split handicap bets and increase their winnings.

Regular Handicap Betting Explained

This is a practice that bookies such as Swishbet use when a contest pits two teams or individuals against each other and one has a higher probability of winning. Without the handicap, few would bet and the favourite would almost certainly win, with the bet yielding a meagre return. Betting on the underdog would result in a bigger win in the unlikely event of an upset, so in order to encourage bets, a handicap value is introduced. It is usually represented as ‘+’ or ‘-’ followed by a number that serves as a goal handicap value.

For example, let’s say there’s an Aston Villa vs. Manchester United match in which the betting odds are presented like this:

Manchester United (-1) 3/4

Handicap Tie (-1) 5/4

Aston Villa (+1) 7/4

If the result is 1-0 for Manchester, the punters who bet on Manchester to win will get their stake back, but without any winnings. Those who backed Aston Villa will also have their stakes returned after the addition of the handicap to the match result, because thus adjusted result is now a tie.

A handicap tie bet is valid only if the tie is within the handicap number margin. For example, if Manchester United wins against Aston Villa with a result of 2-1, the punter with the handicap tie bet will win, since Manchester won by a margin of 1.

No Draw Handicap Betting Explained

Bets without the tie result are even more attractive for punters since there are only two possible outcomes. Draws are eliminated via the introduction of a half-point value.

Suppose a punter backs Aston Villa vs. Manchester with a handicap of +1.5 in favour of Aston Villa. If the end result is 1-0 in favour of Manchester, the punter wins. This is because a handicap adjustment value of 1.5 is added to Aston Villa’s score, producing the final score of Manchester 1, Aston Villa 1.5. The half-point innovation is a neat mathematical trick that eliminates draws because it’s impossible to score half a goal.

Asian Handicap Betting

A special kind of no-draw betting was developed in Indonesia. It’s offered by many popular operators. Asian handicapping is also called ‘split betting’, as punters can choose two handicap bets, most often +1 and +1.5. If a bettor backed Aston Villa with +1 and +1.5 in a match where they lost 0-1, half of the stake will be refunded, since there’s a draw at the handicap value of +1. The other half will generate a profit, because the second handicap value is +1.5 in favour of Aston Villa.

League Football Handicap Betting

League football is one of the most popular forms of handicap betting and it is widely practised during the football season. Simply put, it involves selecting a favourite – a team that receives a handicap value of ‘scratch’ or zero. All other teams are graded in relation to the scratch team, and each gets a handicap based on the comparison: +1, +3, +16, and so on. At the end of the season, the handicaps and real points are added, and the team with the most points is the winner in the eyes of the bookie.


Handicap betting is a great way to make betting on one-sided contests more interesting. However, punters who haven’t had handicap betting explained to them can easily get confused by all the signs and numbers and make an ill-advised bet as a result. It is quite simple in essence, and it requires nothing but a single, simple arithmetic operation to adjust the final score, so make sure to get acquanted with the handicap system beforehand.

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