When it comes to sport, we’re all pretty familiar with the term handicap. In golf, it’s a figure designed to increase your chances of making par, and in betting, it follows a very similar understanding.
It’s a market that is becoming increasingly popular, particularly as you can make a much tidier profit than you would by simply backing the Match Result market.
For new punters though, it can be an incredibly confusing market to understand on first glance. Thankfully, we’re here to help.
Below you’ll find all you need to know about handicap betting, including what it is and how you play the market.
What Is Handicap Betting?
Handicap betting may seem daunting but it is generally an easy concept to get your head around.
Handicap betting is essentially a market that doesn’t start both teams of on a level playing field but ultimately gives one team a head start.
This will usually be the underdog of the side and is often played when backing the favourite in order to increase their odds.
This is to account for the perceived strength of one team compared to the other. As you’d expect, this is a popular market during cup competitions when Premier League sides take on a lesser opposition.
How Does Handicap Betting Work?
The way Handicap Betting works is ultimately fairly easy to understand and can be played across a number of sports, ultimately any that have a scoreline.
A bookmaker or betting app will take a fixture and add a handicap before offering odds. A side must then overcome that handicap in order for the bet to win.
Let’s take mobile football betting as an example and a fixture between Liverpool and Fulham.
Naturally, Liverpool are large favourites for this game with the Paddy Power app offering the following odds for the Match Result market:
Liverpool – 1/12
Draw – 10/1
Fulham – 25/1
As you can see, the odds on the home side offer very little value, which makes the handicap market a little more appealing.
In the handicap market, Paddy Power would offer something like this:
Liverpool (-3) – 2/1
Draw (-3) – 10/3
Fulham (+3) – 5/ 6
The odds on Liverpool offer much better value in this case. However, to win Liverpool must overcome a three-goal handicap.
This means that the Reds must ultimately win by four goals or more in order for you to win the bet.
If you were to back the draw, Liverpool would be required to win the game by exactly three goals, while backing Fulham would simply require the away side not losing by any more than two goals.
You’ll often find you can choose from a selection of handicaps with varying odds. And this is displayed by the number in brackets beside the team name.
Other Handicap Betting Markets
There are a number of other handicap markets available to punters, however, all of which are worth exploring in your mobile betting app.
Below you’ll find a list of other markets to play as well as the traditional handicap wager.
First Half or Second Half Handicap
Traditional handicap betting is played across 90 minutes, however, it is possible to break a handicap up into halves with a number of bookmakers offering First Half Handicap and Second Half Handicap.
This means the handicap only applies to a particular 45 minutes, with the same rules applying. So if you placed a First Half Handicap bet on Liverpool (-1), the Reds would have to score two in the first half for you to win the bet.
Asian Handicap Betting is essentially the same as traditional handicap betting but without the possibility of the draw.
This is done by giving outcomes handicaps that are decimals.
So, for example, Liverpool may be given a handicap of -3.5 and Fulham +3.5. Because you can’t score half a goal, this removes the draw, with Liverpool requiring to score four goals and Fulham needing to avoid defeat by four or more.
Handicap betting isn’t limited to just fixtures and can be placed on outright league bets too.
It works in a similar way, with the favourite to win the league given a handicap of 0 with other teams offered handicaps which equate to points.
So, for example, William Hill’s Android App may be pricing as Manchester City to win the league. This would mean they would be given a zero handicap.
West Ham, on the other hand, may be given a handicap of +34. In order to win, the handicap added to a team’s total points must surpass the total number of points the champion won.
If Manchester City did win the league with 83 points, West Ham would need to earn 50 points throughout their season for you to win the bet.
What Sports Can You Play Handicap Betting?
While handicap betting is most popular in football, it isn’t strictly limited to the beautiful game. There are dozens of sports that can be played boosting your odds with a handicap.
Almost any team sports in which points are scored can be played with a handicap, while you’ll also find it in a number of individual sports too. Below you’ll find a list of some of the most popular sports in which to bet with a handicap.
- Rugby League
- Rugby Union
- Gaelic Football
- Australian Rules
Best Bookmakers To Play Handicap Betting
Most bookmaker betting apps will offer handicap betting. All the major players will have a wide range of sports to play across all major leagues and tournaments.
Paddy Power is perhaps the best for this, with all the markets mentioned above, while you really won’t go wrong with any of our favourite iPhone betting apps.
Simply head to our iPhone or Android apps page and find the bookmaker for you.