Handicap Betting

Steven D. Thompson


Experienced bettors know that the best way to get good odds when backing favourites is to bet on handicap betting markets. With handicap bets, you predict that a team will not only win but also overcome a deficit. So, it is not surprising that you get better odds. You can also benefit from that deficit and bet on the underdog, making long-shot bets easier to get right. Think PSG will win by three goals? Get the best handicap odds at our recommended top betting sites.

Table of Contents

    Handicap Betting Explained

    Handicap betting is very easy to understand. The bookmaker gives a goal or point advantage or disadvantage to the teams involved to level the playing field. For instance, if you are betting on the football match between Manchester United (+1) and Arsenal (-1) and you wager on an Arsenal win, the Gunners will need to win by two goals for you to win your bet. If they win by one goal only, Arsenal won't be the winning bet in the handicap market. In contrast, if you back Manchester United, you will win your bet if the Red Devils win but also if the match ends in a draw due to the one-goal advantage the betting site has given to the team from Old Trafford. Keep in mind that incorporating effective betting strategies, such as analyzing team form, injuries, and playing styles, is crucial for success in handicap markets.

    Handicap Betting Explained Handicap Betting Explained

    Handicap Betting Markets

    When you bet on handicap markets, you can wager on a variety of markets. In general, though, there are two types of handicap bet types - European and Asian handicap betting markets. Let's see how they work.

    European Handicap Betting Markets

    In European handicap betting markets, online bookmakers handicap the stronger team and give the same advantage to the weaker side. For instance, if you are betting on the match between Real Madrid and Real Betis, the bookmaker will give you the following handicap options:

    • Real Madrid -1

    • Real Betis +1

    So, if you back Real Madrid, the team must win by at least two goals. A one-goal win will result in a draw and thus a losing bet, unless you have wagered on the draw outcome, of course. In contrast, if you back Real Betis, you can win even if the match ends in a draw, as the bookmaker has given the team a one-goal advantage.

    Asian Handicap Betting Markets

    Unlike European handicap, where you can bet on three possible outcomes (Home Win, Away Win, Draw), Asian handicap markets eliminate the possibility of a draw. That doesn't mean 'draw' is not an outcome that can happen. However, when it does, it is treated as a push i.e. your stake is returned. Asian sports betting handicaps can be expressed as whole, half, or quarter numbers. When you bet on favourites, they are expressed with a "-" while a "+" is used for underdog markets. Let’s see some Asian handicap favourites and underdog examples:

    Asian Handicap Examples for Favourites

    Here's a brief overview of how Asian betting works when betting on a favourite for the match between Liverpool and Burnley:

    • Liverpool 0 (Liverpool win - Bet wins, Draw - Bet is a push, Liverpool lose - Bet loses)

    • Liverpool -0.25 (Liverpool win by 1 goal or more - Bet wins; Draw - Half of the bet loses; Liverpool lose - Bet loses)

    • Liverpool -0.5 (Liverpool win - Bet wins; Draw - Bet loses; Liverpool lose - Bet loses)

    • Liverpool -0.75 (Liverpool win by 2 or more - Bet wins; Liverpool win by 1 - Bet loses; Liverpool draw or lose - Bet loses)

    • Liverpool -1 (Liverpool win by 2 or more - Bet wins; Liverpool win by 1 - Bet is a push; Liverpool draw or lose - Bet loses)

    As you can see, with Asian handicap markets for favourites, your bet can win or lose, but it can also end in a push. You can also lose or win half of your bet, depending on the market and outcome.

    Asian Handicap Betting Examples for Underdogs

    Now let's look at what happens when you bet on the underdog. As you will notice, unlike the example above, all these markets are expressed with a "+" sign. These are the outcomes you will get if you bet on Burnley in the Asian handicap betting market:

    • Burnley 0 (Burnley win - Bet wins; Draw - Bet is a push; Burnley lose - Bet loses)

    • Burnley +0.25 (Burnley win by 1 goal or more - Bet wins; Draw - Half of the bet wins; Burnley lose - Bet loses)

    • Burnley +0.5 (Burnley win - Bet wins; Draw - Bet wins; Burnley lose - Bet loses)

    • Burnley +0.75 (Burnley win or draw - Bet wins; Burnley lose by 1 - Half of the bet loses; Burnley lose by 2 or more - Bet loses)

    • Burnley +1 (Burnley win or draw - Bet wins; Burnley lose by one - Bet is a push; Burnley lose by two or more - Bet loses)

    It is evident that the Asian handicap betting markets, both those for favourites and underdogs, are better for punters who want more variety and bigger control over handicap betting outcomes.

    Handicap Betting in Various Sports

    Handicap betting markets are prevalent in various sports and available at many sports betting sites. Whether in football, basketball, or other sports, handicaps provide more dynamic odds and increased excitement for punters. Below is a list of the top sports with handicap markets:

    The expression of handicaps varies between sports; for example, points are used in rugby and basketball, goals in football and ice hockey, runs in baseball and sets or games in tennis. Despite the differences, handicap markets add an exciting dimension to a wide variety of sports.

    How to Place Handicap Bets

    Even if you are new to online sports betting, you can place your first handicap bet in no time with Betpack's four-step guide. Here's what you need to do to start wagering on handicap league betting markets.

    • Estimated Time Needed: 05:00
    • Tools Needed: Account
    • Supplies Needed: Time
    Shortlist Secure Betting Sites Step 1

    Shortlist Secure Betting Sites

    First, narrow down your options to only reputable online sportsbooks by shortlisting licenced and secure bookmakers. If an online betting site has a valid licence and is regulated by renowned gambling authorities, it is usually a safe bet.

    Examine Handicap Betting Options Step 2

    Examine Handicap Betting Options

    Next, check the handicap betting selection. The best bookmakers offer dozens of different sports from football and basketball to horse racing and tennis. Focus on football, in particular, as handicaps are usually applied in football matches.

    Analyse Bonuses Step 3

    Analyse Bonuses

    Top betting sites have a wide range of bonuses. Quality bookies will often match your deposit in bonus funds or return your stake if you lose your bet through risk-free bets. So, it is always a smart move to find a generous sportsbook in New Zealand.

    Sign up and Place Your Bet Step 4

    Sign up and Place Your Bet

    Register an account with a top handicap betting site and make your first deposit. Then go to the sports betting section and find the handicap match you will bet on. Lastly, add your selection to the bet slip and enter your bet stake.

    Strategies and Tips for Handicap Betting

    Seasoned Kiwi bettors utilise handicap betting strategies to boost their chances. You can too. Check out some useful tips for betting on classic and Asian handicaps and see if they might work for you.

    Find Value in Lower Leagues

    Learn How Different Handicaps Work

    Manage Your Bankroll

    If you are betting on the upcoming Premier League game between Manchester City and West Ham, you won't be alone. Millions of bettors will be wagering on the final score and handicap markets. So, it will be hard for you to have an edge and get the best odds. Instead, try to follow lower leagues and bet on matches few punters wager on.

    When a team gets a half-a-goal advantage, it is different from a whole-number handicap. The whole number goal handicap may seem like easier to understand, but the half handicap may provide more value. So, before betting on the handicap score, learn the intricacies of handicap markets. This Betpack guide and our handicap betting FAQs are created with that goal in mind.

    From choosing the payment methods for your deposits to staying on top of how much you spend is crucial when betting on handicap markets in New Zealand. As a rule of thumb, your betting bankroll should not exceed the amount of money you can afford to lose.


    The handicap betting betting market allows you to get competitive odds even when betting on favoured teams and also helps you reduce the risk when betting on underdogs. However, to make the most of each handicap bet you place, you must join the best betting sites in New Zealand. These bookies have a fantastic range of handicap options, boast lucrative betting offers and give you the most competitive odds. Check out our Betpack reviews to find the best betting site for your next bet.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the Meaning of Handicap in Betting?

    In handicap betting markets, the bookmaker gives a goal or points advantage to one team and disadvantages the other. If the disadvantaged team has a one-goal deficit (-1), it will need to win by two goals. In contrast, if a team has a goal advantage (+1), you will win even if the outcome is a draw.

    How to Find the Best Handicap Football Betting Odds?

    To find the best handicap line betting odds, you need to join bookmakers that work with a low profit margin. Those betting sites will give you enticing odds for handicap bets and will like offer the same odds for other markets too.

    What is a Handicap Draw in Betting?

    A draw handicap is one of the outcomes in handicap bets. It happens when the disadvantaged team wins by the same margin as the number of goals/points in the handicap market or when the team with the advantage loses by the same number of goals/points as the handicap. For instance, if Manchester City (-2) wins by two goals, the result is a handicap tie.

    Is Handicap Bet Better Than Standard Bet?

    It depends, handicap bets offer potentially better odds for favourites and underdog wins, but also add complexity and increased risk. Choose standard bets for simplicity and a guaranteed outcome, or consider handicaps for exciting challenges and potentially higher prizes. Both have their pros and cons, the "better" option depends on your preferences and risk tolerance.

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