In this article we want to show you, what handicap bets are, how they work and how you can use them successfully! Precise examples and strategic considerations are also provided. This betting form is particularly popular with football bets.

Reading time: 3 min
Topics covered in this article:
  1. What is a handicap bet?
  2. What is the attraction of handicap bets?
  3. Which betting strategies can you pursue with handicap bets?
  4. Special form: How do Asian handicap bets work?

What is a handicap bet?

In the field of sports a handicap is the following: a certain point or goal target for the weaker participant as compensation towards the stronger one. What does this mean in terms of football sport bets? You place a bet on the result of a match whereby one of the two teams gets a bonus in form of a goal lead. So this team starts with a fictitious lead before the match kicks off. This can be a one goal lead or a couple of goals. In other words one could say that one team gets a certain number of goals added to the end result. The result of the handicap bet is therefore an abstract construct. For better understanding here is an example of a handicap bet 0:1:

  • Result real 2:0 | Result handicap 2:1
    no change to result

  • Result real 1:0 | Result handicap 1:1
    home win turns into draw
  • Result real 0:0 | Result handicap 0:1
    draw turns into visitor win

It doesn't make a difference for handicap bets if you add the goal or goals to the underdog or whether you subtract it from the favourite - the result or the game idea remains the same. This means that it doesn't matter whether the end result 2:1 becomes a 1:1 or a 2:2 - the handicap result is a draw either way.

What is the attraction of handicap bets?

Handicap bets have been invented for a simple reason: Betting odds are usually pretty low for a win of the favoured team for matches with a clear favourite and an explicit underdog. Cup matches of a Bundesliga team versus a lower class team or matches like Germany against Luxemburg would be two examples for clear favourites. Such sports bets are neither very attractive for the bookmaker, nor for the sports bettor. Now you counteract that with a simple trick: Since the underdog receives a significant advantage in form of a goal lead, the chances of success for the favourite are artificially lowered and the betting odds are raised. This way conservative odds become attractive ones. On the other hand the odds for the supposed underdog are being lowered of course. Let's look at it with the help of the cup match 1. FC Magdeburg versus Borussia Dortmund - Magdeburg receives a 1:0 or 2:0 lead with the shown handicap bets.

  • Result bet
    1 odds 10,50 | X odds 5,80 | 2 odds 1,20
  • Handicap bet 1:0
    1 odds 3,60 | X odds 3,80 | 2 odds 1,75
  • Handicap bet 2:0
    1 odds 2,00 | X odds 4,10 | 2 odds 2,75

So if you are counting with a high win by BVB, you should definitely consider the betting form handicap. So much to the original thought regarding this betting form. Now there is also the possibility for many events and matches to equip the favourite with a handicap bonus. Apart from the options 0:1 or 0:2 you can also place the alternatives 1:0 and 2:0. This selection can particularly be made for balanced matches and it makes sense in this case. Many betting providers already have this wide variety of possibilities in their standard portfolio and they also offer it for unequal matches. Of course then the betting odds for the favoured team, that is being equipped with an additional bonus, are being clashed to the ground. So the original thought of the handicap bet becomes obsolete.

Which betting strategies can you pursue with handicap bets?

In this chapter we want to present a number of strategic considerations that you can make with handicap bets. Most often handicap bets are being played, when there are clear favourite wins and bookies don't provide high odds for them. Then the supposed winner either receives a slight or big disadvantage, which raises the odds. Another popular betting strategy: You can make particularly high profits with a handicap bet on a draw (=HC X), when you suspect a close win. Apart from expected balanced matches, cup matches or international matches are well-suited. In these matches it is often the case that the favourite doesn't play with the top eleven and rests the most important key players. Sometimes the underdog simply is being underestimated. Cup matches in particular are known for developing an own dynamic. Especially away games can become very uncomfortable for favourites and are often only barely won. Let's take the match between Bayer Leverkusen and 1. FC Union Berlin in the cup. We assume you count with a close home win by the mediocre Bundesliga team Leverkusen against Union that is in current good shape - with a lead of one goal. Therefore you decide on placing a handicap bet 0:1 on a draw - so Union Berlin gets credited one goal. Here the different odds according to the betting form:

  • Result bet
    Tip 1 | Odds 1,30
  • Handicap bet 0:1
    Tip X | Odds 4,00

Let's assume you are right and Leverkusen wins the match 2:1. The handicap result would therefore be a draw of 2:2. With stakes of 10 Euros you can make a profit of 30 Euros instead of 3 Euros with this strategy. You should be aware that you naturally have a greater risk with this tactic. Before you bet on a draw with a usual result bet, you should check whether a handicap +/- 1 offers better odds! One thing beforehand - this is only rarely the case. This betting form is also very popular with live bets, especially in the form of half time/end result bets. Here the bookmakers react to half time results and interim results and constantly adapt the odds. If a favourite for example is down early in a match, handicap bets become pretty luring for many reasons. We want to present one scenario in more detail: Assuming the favourite is down 0:1 early and you then decide to place a handicap bet 0:1 on X: This means that the favourite would have to score at least two goals and win with a one goal lead that the bet is won, which is not unlikely. The betting odds can be unexpectedly high in such cases. It's obvious that you always need a little bit of luck in such scenarios. A good nose can pay off tremendously in the case of a win though!

Special form: How do Asian handicap bets work?

This interesting version of the handicap bet, that we want to recommend, will be explained in detail here. So much beforehand: Asian handicap gives you the opportunity to get back the whole stakes or parts of it.

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