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What is a handicap?

European and Asian handicaps

 

Handicap – this is an amount, positive or negative, assigned to a certain team or, in general, to a participant in a sport event. It is presented with goals, points, sets, seconds, etc., depending on the type of sport. The final result is corrected by adding (subtracting) the handicap amount. The result obtained after such a correction is used for settling the bets with the assigned handicap.

Handicap is used to make the bets more attractive by equalizing the chances of the participants in the sport event, as well as to provide an opportunity for the punters to make their predictions of the outcome more precise, to optimize their profits, and in some cases of failure to limit and minimize their losses. Bets with a handicap are preferred by the punters most specifically in cases when there is a significant difference in the balance of forces of the teams (participants) in the sport event. By means of the handicap a balance of chances is maintained.

Let us review the application of the handicap with a practical example:

The football match Everton – Sunderland is forthcoming. Both bookmakers and punters consolidate around the opinion that Everton is an outstanding favorite in this match and is much more likely to win. Due to the subjective balance of the teams’ forces the bookmaker has proposed the following odds for the match outcome:

 

img-1

 

The anticipated victory of Everton is estimated at 1.40, but for punters who find it logical this odds of 1.40 may not constitute a sufficient stimulus to make a bet. Some of the punters are inclined to believe that the victory of the favorite team will be convincing i.e. a difference in the score of 2 or more goals will be achieved in favor of Everton. Led by their expectations, the punters will tend to bet on such an option but at greater odds. Bookmakers in their turn, driven by their desire to make bets more attractive and diversify their lines, will offer such an option. This is how you get to the necessity to assign a certain initial advantage (handicap) to one of the two teams, in this case – Sunderland. If the advantage (handicap) is selected to be 1 goal, then it is as if the match starts with a score 0:1. In such a case, bets made under the handicap conditions will be settled based on the actual score adding the handicap.

For example:

If the match ends with a score of 3:1, then, after the correction with the preliminarily assigned 0:1, you will get the score of 3:2 to settle the wagers. This means that if the bet was on Everton, then it will be winning after the correction as well. It will also be a winning in the event of a score of 3:0 achieved in the match, which after the correction will be 3:1. In general, for all scores where Everton wins the match with a difference of 2 or more goals, wagers on Everton will be winning. But what happens with the bets on Everton, if the team wins the match with exactly 1 goal difference? Then the actual score, after the correction of 0:1, will lead to a draw for the wager settlement. There are 2 types of handicap – European and Asian, which treat differently the even score obtained after a correction of the score reached with the preliminarily assigned advantage. We will review them successively.

 

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European handicap
The major characteristic of the European handicap is that it offers 3 betting options for settling the bets. These options refer to the score obtained after the correction of the actual result with the preliminarily assigned advantage. They are designated just like the main market of the event with 1-X-2 and bets made on them are settled as follows:

 

1 - wins in case of victory of the first team with a goal difference greater than the handicap assigned. 1 - wins in case of victory of the first team with a goal difference greater than the handicap assigned.
In our specific example with the Everton – Sunderland match this means that in order to be winning, Everton needs to win the match with at least a 2-goal difference. The amount of the handicap can, of course, be different for each match because of the specific difference in the teams’ classes.  The handicap may be announced as an advantage of 0:2, 0:3 etc. That is why the general definition for success of the bets on the favorite team is that it wins the match with a difference greater than the handicap assigned.

 

X-this option is a winning in case of a victory of the first team with a goal difference equal to the handicap assigned.
This option is an answer to the question raised above. The answer for the specific example is: if Everton wins the match with exactly one goal difference, then after the correction with 0:1 the result obtained will be a draw and the bets on the “X” option will be winning under the conditions of the European handicap. Whatever handicap is assigned for each particular match, a goal difference, which will lead to a draw after the correction, is needed.

 

2 - this option wins in case of a victory of the second team, if the result is draw or the second team loses with less than the handicap assigned.
For random handicaps- after a correction of the score achieved with the advantage assigned, the ultimate score obtained is to be in favor of the second team.

The European handicap for our example with the match Everton – Sunderland would look like this with the bookmaker:

 

img-2

 

So far, we can see that the handicap achieves some of its goals – the odds for victory of Everton has increased from 1.40 to 2.05 under the conditions of a handicap of 0:1. This satisfies the punters who think Everton’s victory will be convincing, i. e. with a difference of 2 or more goals. However, as we already mentioned, the handicap also aims at minimizing the punters’ losses in case of an unsuccessful prediction. How is this accomplished? Here, the Asian handicap comes to help as its opportunities sometimes allow the punter to get back his bet or part of it.


Asian handicap
This form of betting originates from the South Asian countries where it is especially popular among local bookmakers. It's originally called “hang cheng betting”. The term “Asian handicap” was coined by Joseph Saumarez Smith in 1998 – a British journalist and expert in the field of gambling.

Even a quick glance at the lines of the Asian handicap would make us notice one very essential difference from the European handicap. The Asian handicap offers only 2 betting options, the draw option being omitted. If there is a draw after adding the handicap, then all bets are settled as “push” i. e. they are refunded to the punter in the same amount in which they were made. In some cases of applying the Asian handicap it is possible to refund half the bet, while the other half is settled as winning or losing. This depends on the handicap amount and the score achieved. Let us return to our example of the match Everton - Sunderland. We would like to make a bet that Everton will win with 2 or more goals but we also want to benefit from the advantages of the Asian handicap by securing the case in which Everton wins with exactly one goal difference. The Asian handicap would be as follows:

 

img-3

 

A draw option is missing, all cases of victory of Everton with 1 goal difference lead to refunding of the wagers. But, as you will notice, the odds of Everton is considerably lower than it would be under the conditions of a European handicap. Securing has its price, though.

The application of the Asian handicap is universal i.e. it is not necessary to have an obvious imbalance of the teams’ chances. One of the most commonly used amounts of the Asian handicap is “0” i. e. no advantage is assigned to any of the teams but the opportunity is used to refund the bets placed on any of the teams in case of a draw. This is extremely practical for teams with balanced capacities. Let us review an example. At the match Sampdoria – Genoa the bookmaker offers the following odds:

 

img-4

 

We are impressed by the close amounts for 1 and 2, as well as by the relatively low amount of the odds for X. This is so because the two teams are relatively equal, while at the same time it is typical for the draw odds for the Italian A series to be lower than those for analogous matches from other European leagues. This is based on statistical data and is known by both bookmakers and punters who check the results on a regular basis.

So, we decide to bet on the victory of one of the two teams but in such a way that in case of a draw our bet is not losing but is refunded to us. We choose an Asian handicap with an amount of 0 and we find that the odds are as follows:

 

img-5

 

Again, they are lower than the 1-X-2 market, but as we already explained security has its price. This amount of the Asian handicap has become so popular that it is also used by bookmakers who do not offer Asian lines. It is known as “draw no bet” or the abbreviation DNB.

An Asian handicap with an amount of –0.5 is actually identical with the symbol 1 from the 1-X-2 market. This means the bets on it win only in case of a victory of the first team, they lose in case of a draw or victory of the second team. The opposite amount of +0.5 is identical with the bet X2 (double chance). This means the bets on it win in case of a draw or victory of the second team and they lose in case of a victory of the first team. Sometimes it is possible that the Asian handicap of -0.5 has higher odds than its identical option 1 from the 1-X-2 market of the same bookmaker. This is so because it is easier and respectively more profitable for the bookmaker to manage a market with 2 outcomes than one with 3 outcomes. The standard margin (profit) of the bookmaker is lower at markets with 2 outcomes which is an additional advantage for the punter. In the specific case the situation for a handicap of –0.5 is the following:

 

img-6

 

Sometimes a punter may be experiencing doubts as to what amount to choose for an Asian handicap, considering the fact that the different amounts bear different risks and respectively have different odds for paying the profit in case of success. In the last example, the difference between the odds for a handicap of 0 and a handicap of –0.5 is noticeable. Then it is logical to ask if it is possible to take a more moderate risk while at the same time achieve higher odds than those for the handicap of 0? It turns out that in the Asian handicap there are extremely flexible solutions for risk management. It is possible to choose intermediate amounts of the handicap through ¼ goal (or 0.25, expressed in decimal figures). This means the handicap amounts offered are 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, 1, 1.25. 1.50, 1.75 etc. as necessary for each particular case in order for the betting to be attractive. When you select amounts for the handicap ending in 0.25 и 0.75, it is assumed that your bet is split into two equal parts- each of the two parts is placed on the neighboring amounts.

For example, if you choose to bet $100 on a handicap of –0.25, the bookmaker splits your bet into two bets of $50 each, which are placed respectively on a handicap of 0 and a handicap of –0.5. Analogously, in case of a selected handicap of –0.75, the bet would be split into equal parts between the neighboring handicaps of –0,5 and –1.

The amounts ending in 0.25 and 0.75 can be recorded in various manners by the different bookmakers:

–0.25

–1/4

–0/0.5

0 – 0.5

pk and –0.5

Some of the manners of recording hint to the punter that this is the case of 2 amounts of 0 and -0.5 between which the bet will be split.

In relation to the example discussed, if you look at the odds for a handicap of -0.25, you will find the following amounts with the bookmaker:

 

img-7

 

Theoretically, it is to be expected that the odds of a handicap of –0.25 should be the arithmetic average of the odds of the composite handicaps of 0 and –0.5. However, in practice, slight deviations are possible. This is so because each amount of a handicap constitutes a separate market for the bookmaker. And a good bookmaker manages each market according to the volume and distribution of the bets wagered on it.

The 1–X–2 markets and the Asian handicaps offered for the match we discussed actually look as follows with the bookmaker:

 

img-8

img-9

 

Three handicap amounts have been selected whereby the odds are relatively balanced. It is of course possible to add more handicaps and the higher the amount of the negative handicap for Sampdoria, the higher its odds will be. Analogously for Genoa, the more the amount of its positive handicap is increased, the more the respective odds decreases. Some bookmakers offer different numbers of Asian handicaps depending on their betting model, as well as on the preferences of their users. Their attitude towards matches from the major leagues is also different from that towards matches from the lower divisions. The more popular the teams, the greater the variety of handicaps offered.

On the tables below you can see the distribution and settlement of bets on basic Asian handicaps:

 

Bets on the favorite team (negative handicaps)

 

Handicap

Split stake

Your team result

Wager settlement

0

full stake on 0

win

win

draw

push

lose

lose

– 0.25

half stake on 0

half stake on –0.5

win

win

draw

half stake push

half stake lose

lose

lose

– 0.50

full stake on –0.5

win

win

draw

lose

lose

lose

– 0.75

half stake on –0.5

half stake on –1

win by 2 or more goals

win

win by 1 goal

half stake win

half stake push

draw

lose

lose

lose

– 1.00

full stake on –1

win by 2 or more goals

win

win by 1 goal

push

draw

lose

lose

lose

1.25

half stake on –1

half stake on –1.5

win by 2 or more goals

win

win by 1 goal

half stake push

half stake lose

draw

lose

lose

lose

– 1.50

full stake on –1.5

win by 2 or more goals

win

win by 1

lose

draw

lose

lose

lose

– 1.75

half stake on –1.5

half stake on –2

win by 3 or more goals

win

win by 2 goals

half stake win

half stake push

win by 1 goal

lose

draw

lose

lose

lose

– 2.00

full stake on –2

win by 3 or more goals

win

win by 2 goals

push

 

Bets on the underdog team (positive handicaps)

 

Handicap

Split stake

Your team tesult

Wager settlement

0

full stake on 0

win

win

draw

push

lose

lose

+ 0.25

half stake on 0

half stake on +0.5

win

win

draw

half stake push

half stake win

lose

lose

+ 0.50

full stake on +0.5

win

win

draw

win

lose

lose

+ 0.75

half stake on +0.5

half stake on +1

win

win

draw

win

lose by 1 goal

half stake lose

half stake push

lose by 2 or more goals

lose

+ 1.00

full stake on +1

win

win

draw

win

lose by 1 goal

push

lose by 2 or more goals

lose

+ 1.25

half stake on +1

half stake on +1.5

win

win

draw

win

lose by 1 goal

half stake push

half stake win

lose by 2 or more goals

lose

+ 1.50

full stake on +1.5

win

win

draw

win

lose by 1 goal

win

lose by 2 or more goals

lose

+ 1.75

half stake on +1.5

half stake on +2

win

win

draw

win

lose by 1 goal

win

lose by 2 goals

half stake lose

half stake push

lose by 3 or more goals

lose

+ 2.00

full stake on +2

win

win

draw

win

lose by 1 goal

win

lose by 2 goals

push

lose by 3 or more goals

lose

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