What Does -1.5,-2 Mean in Soccer Betting? How to read Asian Handicap?

When it comes to soccer betting, there is no betting system as popular as Asian Handicap, and you don't have to look far to figure out why many bettors prefer it. Not only does Asian Handicap introduce more flexibility to betting on soccer, but it also offers higher payouts.

In its essence, the Asian Handicap is a form of betting in which teams are handicapped according to their perceived strength so that the stronger teams must win by more goals for your bet to win. The same idea works the other way around for weaker teams, who are "allowed" to lose by a certain amount of goals.

Obviously, there is much more that goes into Asian Handicap than just that, and there are many benefits that come with using it over the standard 1x2 bet. So if you're serious about making money with sports betting, you need to learn what Asian Handicap is, how to read it, how it works, and ultimately how to use it in your sports betting endeavors.

What is Asian Handicap?

Asian Handicap is one of the most popular forms of betting and is primarily used in soccer betting. With it, you are either giving one team an imaginary lead of X goals or handicapping the other team who need to win by at least X goals for your bet to win.

The bookmakers use Asian Handicap to level the playing field when you have a match between a strong favorite and an underdog. The bookmakers do that by offering "lines" that range from zero to several goals, depending on the team's perceived advantage over the other.


For this example, we will take a look at a soccer match between two Serie A teams in Atalanta and Bologna. The bookmakers have priced Atalanta as -333 favorites and Bologna as a +800 underdog, indicating that Atalanta are a significantly stronger team.

If you were using the simple 1x2 bet, you would be left with only three options – either you bet on Atalanta, on a draw, or Bologna. This limits you as a bettor, both in choices you have to pick from and the payout you can receive.

Even if you believe that Atalanta can win the match with at least two goals to spare, you would be forced to take -333 odds and get paid the same profit as someone who just trusted Atalanta would win. 

This is where Asian Handicap steps in. 

With Asian Handicap, you are able to more accurately predict how the games end and get offered better odds for it. In this case, you would be able to bet on Atalanta with a -1.5 goal handicap at -111 and receive a bigger payout, awarding you for more accurately predicting how the game will end.

What Does -1.5 Mean in Soccer Betting?

As shown in the example above, the -1.5 is the Asian Handicap line, which you use to handicap one team when you expect they will win the match with at least two goals (or by more than 1.5 goals). 

We have to address the elephant in the room and explain why are there half-goal handicaps?

Obviously, there is no such thing as a half-goal in soccer; however, there is a good reason for the existence of half-goal handicaps. The best way to explain why half-goal handicaps exist is with an example of a positive handicap.


Let's take the same match between Atalanta and Bologna, where the line is set at 1.5 goals. As established above, if you believe Atalanta will win by two goals or more, you would back them with a -1.5 handicap since the final result (after factoring in the handicap) would still show Atalanta as the winner.

- A 2-0 victory for Atalanta would mean that the handicap result is 0.5-0 in their favor. A 3-0 victory would show 1.5-0; a 4-1 victory would show 2.5-1, and so on. 

When it comes to negative handicaps, you're betting on a team you believe will manage to win with at least X goals to spare. In contrast, with a positive handicap (+1.5), you're predicting that a team will not lose by more than X goals.

So if you believe Bologna will lose, but not by more than one goal, you would pick them with a +1.5 handicap. So, if the match ends with a one-goal victory for Atalanta, your bet will win since the final score (after factoring in the handicap) would show Bologna as a winner.

- A 1-0 victory for Atalanta would show 1-1.5 in favor of Bologna, a 2-1 victory for Atalanta would show 2-2.5, and so on.

In this case, the added half-goal tips the final score in favor of the underdog team since they will always finish half-goal ahead of their opponents. That is as long as they don't lose by more than two goals, force a draw, or win the match.

This brings us to the biggest reason why bettors use Asian Handicap – It eliminates the possibility of a draw.

How About Full-Number Handicaps?

The main idea of Asian Handicap betting is that it eliminates the possibility of a draw. But what about whole-number handicaps (ex. -/+2)?

If you choose to bet with full-number handicaps, there is a chance for the bet to end in a draw. However, even with full-number handicaps, you will not lose money on a draw.

If we assume that you bet on Team A with a +2 goal handicap and they end up losing 0-2, the final result (after factoring in the handicap) will show 2-2. Even though you failed to predict the winner, you will get your wager refunded.

The same principle would apply if you bet on Team B with a -2 handicap, and they end up winning 2-0.

When we talk about whole-number handicaps, we must also touch on +0 handicap, which is a handicap bet which doesn't give a team an advantage/disadvantage. But if you remember how Asian Handicap works, it should be easy to recognize that a +0 bet is the same as Draw No Bet (DNB).

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