What is Three-Way Betting (Handicap) in Soccer and NFL?

When you hear about handicap betting, many bettors will start thinking of two-way lines, which both punters and bookmakers commonly use. However, many bettors donโ€™t seem to know that there are also three-way handicaps, which - as the name would suggest - have three possible outcomes.

Even though three-way handicaps arenโ€™t as popular as two-way handicaps, itโ€™s essential to understand what they are and how they work if you wish to make money from sports betting. And thatโ€™s why we have created this guide, where we take a look at what is three-way handicap betting, and how you can use it when betting on soccer and NFL.

What is a Three-Way Handicap?

When youโ€™re betting on handicaps, you will be presented with two options โ€“ either you bet on two-way handicaps or three-way handicaps. The only difference between the two is the number of outcomes you can predict.

Soccer and NFL are two sports, where you have three possible outcomes. Either the game ends with Team A winning, a Draw, or Team B winning.

With two-way handicaps, you can bet on either team to win, whereas a three-way handicap offers you a chance to predict that the game will end in a draw. Outside of that, the three-way handicap works the exact same way as a handicap bet would.

Handicap Betting

With a handicap bet, you offered a chance to either handicap the favorites (by taking away goals/points from them) or give the underdogs an imaginary head start (by giving them a lead of X goals/points).

How Does Three-Way Handicap Work?

The three-way handicap line works the same way as any other line with handicap betting. The only difference is that you have three betting options โ€“ you can back either of the two teams or back the draw.

As with any handicap betting, the added or deducted points/goals are factored into the final score at the end of the match, with the said result then used to show whether your bet has hit or not. The result after factoring in the handicap is known as the handicap result. 


For this example, we will take a look at an English Premier League match between West Ham and Crystal Palace. West Ham are priced as -200 favorites, Crystal Palace are priced as +500 underdogs, while the draw is at +300.

West Ham -200

Crystal Palace +500

Draw +300

Since West Ham are perceived to be stronger, the bookmakers will offer you a chance to bet on them with a -1 goal handicap, while you will be able to pick Crystal Palace with a goal advantage (+1).

Assuming you have picked Crystal Palace with a +1 handicap, your bet will win if Crystal Palace beat West Ham or force a draw. This essentially means that you have placed an X2 bet.

On the other hand, a bet on West Ham with a -1 handicap means that youโ€™re predicting that West Ham will win with more than a goal to spare. If the game ends with a 3-0 victory for West Ham, the handicap result will show a 2-0 victory, while a 1-0 win for West Ham would result in a 0-0 draw.

How is Three-Way Handicap Different from Two-Way Handicap?

As mentioned above, the three-way handicap has three possible outcomes (1X2), while the two-way handicap has only two (12). In other words, with the three-way handicap, you can also bet on a draw.

Not only can you bet on the stronger team (with a goal disadvantage) or on the weaker team (with a goal advantage), but now you even have the option to put your money on a draw. Thatโ€™s an option the Asian Handicap betting doesnโ€™t offer you.


If we take the match between West Ham and Crystal Palace, the line will look as follows:

West Ham -1 โ€“ Draw (-1) โ€“ Crystal Palace (+1)

In this case, you can bet on West Ham and predict that they will win a goal or more. If you were to put your money on a draw, you would need West Ham to win by exactly one goal, while a bet on the underdog means that you expect Crystal Palace to either win or draw the match.

A bet on a draw essentially means that you agree on the bookmakerโ€™s view of the match. In this example, the bookmakers back West Ham to win by one goal; therefore, if you opt to wager on a draw, West Ham need to win by exactly one goal for you to make a profit from your bet.

Even though the presented examples include only soccer matches, the three-way handicap works the exact same way with NFL games. The only notable exception will be higher handicaps since scores in the NFL are generally much higher than in soccer.

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