Handicap Betting Explained

Handicap betting is one of the more interesting views of sports betting options that many bookies offer. It might appear confusing at first, but it gives betting a certain appeal since it gives teams a head start. 

Handicap betting provides a team with some type of disadvantage. This makes a team that is viewed as much better more equal to the other team that they are against. 

Top Tips For Handicap Betting

Handicap betting is another form of sports betting. It provides an alternative way to put two teams together for betting opportunities, even though one might be a clear winner, a handicap can make them more appealing. 

The top tips for handicap betting are:

  • Handicap betting explained
  • Single handicap in action
  • Examples of handicaps in other sports
  • Money checkup

Handicap Betting Explained

Handicap betting, as noted above, is geared towards making the team favored to win a little less dominant in a head-to-head matchup. For example, take this into account:

Say you have Michael Jordan playing one-on-one in his prime against an average basketball player from high school. Both are in shape, and the average guy can make a few jump shots. 

The problem here is, Jordan will win every single time head-to-head. One, because he is a professional athlete, but two, he is also considered one of the greatest to play the sport, especially during his time. 

To even the playing field, say they are playing a game to 21 points with regular two-pointers and three-pointers. But, the average guy gets a 10-point head start, and he gets the ball first. 

This handicap, even though it arguably still might not be enough for the average guy to win, is enough to make the betting side to this more interesting. You can see now how a handicap can be applied to more sports and different competitions. 

Single Handicap In Action 

Handicap betting markets are going to have a plus or minus (positive or negative) sign associated with a point system to either the player or team. The minus is the favorite, and the plus is the underdog. 

Let us take a look at an MLS example here:

  • 0.5 handicap: LA Galaxy (-0.5) vs. Los Angeles FC (0.5)

Los Angeles FC is starting this game out with a half-goal advantage. If you are betting on LA Galaxy to win, and they win, you win the bet. 

However, if you choose Galaxy to win and the game ends in a draw, you lose. If you choose Los Angeles FC to win, and the game ends in a draw or if they win, then you win. 

Take this up a step now:

  • 1.0 handicap: LA Galaxy (-1.0) vs. Los Angeles FC (1.0)

Los Angeles FC is starting this game out with a goal advantage now. If you choose Galaxy, they must win by at least two goals. 

If you choose Galaxy and they only win by one goal, it is considered a draw, and your money will be returned. If you take Los Angeles FC, you win if they win or draw. If they lose by only one goal, your money will be returned. 

One more notch up:

  • 1.5 handicap: LA Galaxy (-1.5) vs. Los Angeles FC (1.5)

Los Angeles FC is starting this game out with a goal and a half advantage. Since the spread is now a little over the previous two examples, the event of a draw is essentially eliminated or less likely. 

If you choose Galaxy, they must win by at least two goals for your bet to profit. For bets on Los Angeles FC, they have to win, draw, or only lose by one goal. 

Examples of Handicaps in Other Sports

Every sport should have some form of handicap betting available to them. Some are a little easier to have handicap bets placed on them due to the way of their respective point systems. 

Football is the most common, but other sports such as rugby, golf, and even tennis all use some form of handicap betting. 

Rugby will look similar to the MLS examples noted above. The handicap points will look greater since rugby is higher scoring. 

For golf, bookies will have handicaps placed on players' rounds of play. For example, +2 shots. 

Tennis is a little different but still follows along. Handicaps can be applied to sets or games. If it is applied to the games, then all the games from that particular match will then be totaled up to create the outcome. 

Money Checkup

Taking a look at your betting options is one thing, but making sure you have the right amount to even bet in the first place is another. Do not handicap yourself into making bad financial decisions if the money is not right or if you are using the money for bills to gamble. 

As such, gambling will take many shapes and forms. Handicap betting is another form of this, and you can easily lose money. The goal here is, of course, to win as many times as possible, but be prepared to lose sometimes. 

Handicap Betting Explained FAQ

What is Asian handicap betting?
This name is a reference to the rise and popularity of handicap betting in the Asian markets. The same general rules still apply but with a split handicap option.
How do I practice my strategy?
If interested in handicap betting but do not want to wager any money just yet, you can try to practice it first. When you want to wager on an event, look at what you have normally chosen and write down your prediction. This way, you can follow without having to have the stress of winning or losing.
What are the best sports for handicap betting?
As outlined in the guide, you can have handicaps for just about every sport. Some sports will have better opportunities than others, but that does not mean they are the best ones to bet on. It is ultimately up to you and your betting needs to decide what the best sport is. 
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