What Is a Handicap?

Handicapping is a historic thing in sports betting. When the difference in strength between the two teams is obvious, you need to balance it somehow and make the odds look equal for the event outcomes. This problem is resolved with the help of handicaps. Handicaps can be positive (assigned to the underdog) or negative (assigned to the favourite).

Let us take the surebet above as an example. Also, let us imagine that the final match score is 2:1.

The first bet H1 (-1.5) is on the victory of Team 1 (Spain) with a handicap of -1.5 goals. It would make the final score look 0.5:1 (since you deduct 1.5 from 2). You lose. The second bet X(0:1) is on a draw with a handicap of 1 goal for Team 2 (Costa Rica). It would make the final score look 2:2 (since you add 1 to 1). You win. The third bet 2(0:1) is on the victory of Costa Rica with a handicap of 1 goal. It would make the final score look 2:2 (since you add 1 to 1). You lose.

As you have noticed, the handicap format is different in these bets. H1(-1.5) is called an Asian handicap, and 2(0:1) - a European handicap.

Asian Handicap

The term “Asian handicap” was introduced by journalist Joe Saumarez Smith in 1998. An Indonesian bookmaker Joe Phan wrote to him and asked for a good translation of their “hang cheng” betting method. The suggested translation quickly spread all over the world.

This form of spread betting eliminates the draw outcome: the team can either win or lose. In case of a draw, the stake is returned. Asian handicap can be of several types:

Full lines: (1 or more goals) Half lines: (0.5 goals) Quarter lines: (0.25 goals)

Quarter bets can be actually split into two:

H(0.25) is split into H(0) and H(0.5). H(0.75) is split into H(0.5) and H(1.0).

This offers more bet variations. Each of the 2 parts gets half of the original stake. For example, the bet is on the victory of the first team with a handicap of 2.25. The odds are 1.8 and the stake is 100 USD. It will be equivalent to 2 bets with the same odds and 50 USD stake: H1(2) and H1(2.5). If the difference in points between the second and the first team is 1 or less - both bets win and the gain is 180 USD. If it’s 2 points - H1(2) is void and the stake is returned, H1(2.5) wins and the bettor receives 50+(50*1.8) = 140 USD. If it is 3 points, then the bet loses.

European Handicap

European handicap is a classic handicap method. It is different in a way that it gives three outcomes (win, loss and a draw) and uses integer numbers (-3, -2, -1, 1, 2, 3).

In the example above all 3 bets give a handicap of 1 goal to Canada. Let us imagine that the final match score is 1:1. Considering the handicap, the final score would be 1:2 (as you add 1 to 1) and Canada would be the winner. This gives us the following results:

Fist bet is on Belgium. You lose. Second bet is on a draw. You lose. Third bet is on Canada. You win.

In other words:

For you to win the first bet, Belgium needs to win by two goals or more. To win the draw bet, Belgium needs to win by one goal. To win the third bet, the game needs to end in a draw.