What Is Handicap Betting?

Written By:  Will Rosen
Last Updated:  Dec 9, 2021

Human emotions

Handicap Bet – Betting With a Starting Advantage

In the following article, we explain everything you need to know about handicap betting with examples of how to win your bet, different sports where the handicap market works best, and how they work.

What Is Handicap Betting?

In a handicap bet, a betting provider grants the supposedly weaker team an advantage, which is subsequently added to the actual result. For example, in a handicap bet, a favoured team does not start with a score of 0:0 but is already arithmetically 0:1 behind before kick-off.

If the match ends 1:0 for the expected winner, the result of the bet after deduction of the handicap is 1:1. The decisive factor for winning is not the final result but the result plus the specified number of goals. This type of bet is used on the one hand to increase the chance of a tie between the two teams, and on the other hand, to increase the odds for a favourite to win.

Of course, the advantage granted to a team in a handicap bet does not necessarily have to be just one goal. The handicap with which a favourite enters the race is often two or even three goals.

Handicap League Betting

Handicap sports betting is about the final result of a match, just like classic three-way betting. If you already have a little experience betting, the Handicap bet is right for you. A handicap is based on a virtual advantage of a team. You take care of this virtual advantage when placing your sports bets. This is particularly exciting in matches where there is a clear favourite. If top choices in a league, such as FC Bayern Munich, are playing against outsiders, the odds for a Bayern victory is high, so profits are pretty low.

So if you bet on the underdog, you can expect correspondingly high odds. With a positive handicap, you ensure a fictitious lead for the underdog.

You can also give the favourite a negative handicap by creating a virtual disadvantage. In this way, you make an artificial head-to-head duel, which ensures high odds.

How exactly do handicap bets work at the bookmakers?  Let’s play through such a scenario of a handicap bet in football: With a handicap bet, you give the underdog a virtual advantage. Let’s assume FC Bayern plays against SC Freiburg. Here you can impose a handicap on Bayern Munich by providing a fictitious 0:1 score.

This would mean that FCB would have to win by two goals to win the match with home advantage. The higher the handicap, the higher the risk. At the same time, the odds and winnings are also higher. It is up to you to decide how much risk you want to take with your sports bet with the handicap. In football, sports bets and handicap bets, in particular, are popular wagers for the  Bundesliga, the Premier League, the DFB Cup and the Champions League.

But also for big tournaments, such as the upcoming European Football Championship, handicap bets are an excellent way to get EM betting odds with good value, even for games with clear EM favourites.

Examples of Sports Betting With a Handicap

Let’s explain how handicap betting works with a practical football handicap betting example. Let’s assume that FC Bayern Munich meets Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Cup. A win in a regular 3-way bet for Bayern brings odds of 1.5, a draw 4.0 and a win for Eintracht 6.0. Since we are convinced that Bayern will win, we want to place a handicap bet with a one-goal advantage for Frankfurt instead of a simple 3-way bet.

The betting odds on a Bayern win now increase to 2.5. The draw remains at 4.0 in our example, and a possible Eintracht win after handicap drops to 4.0. In our example, the result is 3:0 for the record champions, and after deducting the handicap, it remains 2:0 for the Munich team. So, in this case, our bet was correct.

Here is a table to illustrate how the final result changes with a handicap bet:

Regular betting Handicap Betting
0:0 0:1
1:0 1:1
2:0 2:1
2:1 2:2
3:1 3:2
0:1 0:2
0:2 0:3
1:1 1:2
2:2 2:3


For experienced bettors, there is another form of handicap betting, namely, Asian handicap betting, which is particularly popular – as the name suggests – in Asian countries. The term Asian handicap betting is an extension of the usual handicap bet where bettors can minimise their risk. Unlike the regular handicap bet, Asian Handicap betting gives you the chance to get all or at least part of your stake back.

How Does Asian Handicap Betting Work?

Let’s pick up where we left off with the standard handicap. With the simple Asian Handicap (-0), in the event of a draw with the handicap factored in, the stake is returned. The risk for the player is therefore reduced accordingly. However, there are other forms and gradations of this type of bet. For example, the -0.25 Asian handicap. In this case, only half the stake is lost in the event of a draw (again, taking into account the disadvantage).

The -0.75 handicap is different. Here, a handicap of two goals is assumed. In the event of your team winning by one goal after 90 minutes, the bet is considered half won with this betting technique. This means that the player gets his stake back and is also paid half the winnings. The 0.5 handicap is equivalent to a regular handicap bet. In this instance, Asian handicaps suit the playing field better.

Which Bookmakers Offer Handicap Betting?

Typically all bookmakers offer this betting variant. Especially in matches where the difference in level between two teams is very high, such as cup matches or international qualifying or friendly matches, bookmakers have a wide range of bets in their programme.

Can You Make Money With Handicap Betting?

Handicap betting is an excellent way to increase your odds and the associated potential profit. Hardly any betting strategy offers customers such a lucrative output with comparatively low risk—the odds for a favourite to win increase due to the fictional handicap. Handicap bets are also very popular as a system betting strategy because, unlike the combined bet, you do not have to predict every game correctly.

online soccer game bet technology

For Which Sports Are Handicap Bets Suitable?

Handicap bets are especially interesting for team sports like ice hockey or football. With football being one of the most-watched sports globally, handicap bets provide an excellent choice, as there are often duels between David and Goliath.

Handicap bets offer an excellent foundation for increasing the odds of the favoured team. In football, the half-time result (information on half-time final score betting) is often mirrored via handicap to be able to offer exciting odds for the second half of the match. For example, if Team A is leading 2:0, many betting providers offer odds with a 0:2 handicap for the second half.

In Summary

We hope this article answered your questions on handicap betting and that you will use the information to help better understand how it works. While it may sound complicated at first, it can be an easy way to make more money on your sports bets. If you’re looking for a more competitive and exciting betting experience, handicap betting may be the way to go. This type of gambling allows your favourite underdog team to compete against other teams with an even playing field.