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Handicap betting on football

There are two forms of handicap betting available for football betting and a lot of punters may only be aware of the one. The regular handicap betting is where a bettor will decide whether or not a team will overcome a goal disadvantage to start the game, or alternatively, decide whether a team can hold on to a goal advantage given to them at the start of a game. But offering better value is Asian Handicap betting because it has the huge advantage of regular handicapping in that it eliminates the push (drawn outcome).

Handicap Betting

Why are handicaps used? Well they can add value when the market prices on two teams playing each other are far apart. Let’s say that Bayern Munich were playing a game against Bolton. The Bundesliga outfit would be heavy favourites to win the match, so much so that they would be trading at a long odds-on price to win the game. That means the punter would have to risk a lot of stake for a relatively small return. But there would be little point in backing Bolton because they would be so unlikely to win the match.

So there is the dilemma, what to do?

Looking at a handicap would be one way to handle this. A bookmaker would set up the different lines of, for example, -1, -2, -3 etc on Bayern Munich as they would be favourites, and +1, +2, +3 on underdogs Bolton. Looking at Bayern Munich, you back them at a -2 handicap for a better price than you ever would have gotten on them in the match outright. But the handicap of -2 means that they would need to win by three goals for you to win the bet and this is called covering the spread. If they won by a two goal margin or less you would lose, if they won by exactly three goals that creates the push (see below).

If you had backed Bolton with a positive goal difference of +2 then you would need them to lose by a one goal margin or less. If they lost by a three goal or bigger margin than your bet would lose, and if they lost by exactly two goals then that creates a ‘push’ where you bet neither wins or loses.

The Handicap Push

What is the ‘push’? In all forms of betting, a push is where betting market is drawn after the handicap adjustment, causing the punter to lose. In the above example, if Bayern Munich won 2-0 they didn’t cover the spread of starting the game 2-0 down, so essentially they ended up drawing the game 0-0 (in the handicap adjusted result) which is why the bet didn’t win. So the drawn outcome is the push where the stake is normally refunded.

Alternative Football Handicap Markets

Handicap betting can usually be well utilised on the outcomes of league betting as opposed to match betting. Ahead of a new Premier League season for example you will find a bookmaker offering handicap odds. The outright favourite to win the league would be sat a 0 handicap and then the teams behind them who are likely to challenge for top spot will have assigned handicap marks. Let’s say Chelsea are at 0 as they are the most likely to win the league, you could then for example back Arsenal at +3, Manchester United +5 or Manchester City +2 to oppose Chelsea’s favouritism.

Arsenal at +3 could come in second place in the physical standings by two points, but because of their +3 handicap in the adjusted handicap they would win the league by one point and your bet wins! So the advantage here is that as long as Arsenal could get close enough, they wouldn’t have to win the league to earn you a payout. The nice thing about this form of football handicap betting is that you can generally look at how many points a team is likely to earn, given the history of the last few seasons and make a fairly decent, informed bet.

Asian Handicap Betting

Asian Handicap differs from regular handicapping in that it eliminates a drawn outcome, so you are left with a home win or an away win scenario. Let’s say you against back Bayern Munich -2 in an Asian Handicap and again they beat Bolton 2-0. Because this is a whole handicap, like in regular handicapping In this scenario you would get your stake refunded. But Asian Handicap offers quarter and half goal goal lines as well which are hugely valuable and is where the real value is.

Asian Handicap Half Goals

Manchester United and Manchester City are playing a big derby match. You have backed Manchester United at +1.5 Asian Handicap. The stake placed on that is split over two bets, half going on the +1 Handicap and half going on the +1.5 Handicap. So basically you are betting half of your stake on Manchester United either winning, drawing or losing by less than one goal, and the other half of the stake is on United winning, drawing or losing by less than 1.5 goals.

So if United lost 1-0 it would mean that the +1 part of the bets ends up as an adjusted draw so you get that half of the stake back, while the +1.5 part of the bet would win because of that extra half goal and you would be paid out on that half of the bet. So you would get a half win from your total bet. For a great guide, check out Wikipedia’s Asian Handicap table for quick reference.

Best Usage of Asian Handicap Betting for Football

The huge boon of Asian Handicap betting is the quarter goals options. Let’s say in a lopsided looking fixture of Arsenal v Bournemouth, you could perhaps back the Gunners at -2.75 Asian Handicap. The quarter goal (0.75 in this case) isn’t as confusing as it may appear. It simply splits the interval between backing Arsenal at -2.5 and backing them at -3, so you are essentially placing two bets. Half of your stake would go on Arsenal at -2.5 and half on Arsenal at -3.

Asian Handicaps offer a safety net and for the extra value that they are, they are a huge asset to punters. Let’s say though that Bournemouth really look good to perform well against Arsenal. The options you would have in the match outrights (where bookmaker margins are higher) is to either place two bets, one on a draw and one on a Bournemouth win. It’s that or gamble all on the underdog winning. However, for much better value you could probably look for a half goal Asian Handicap and back Bournemouth at say +0.75 which gives you the same coverage as a +0.5 bet and a +1 bet on them.

If Bournmouth performs well and just loses 1-0 then the +1 portion of the bet creates an adjusted draw so you would only lose half of your stake that went on the -0.5 part. If Bournemouth managed to earn a physical draw then that would have been a win for you. Extra coverage for a better price, so for just a little bit of lateral thinking in football betting, Asian Handicap betting can serve you much better than outright betting.

Handicap or Asian Handicap Betting Pros and Cons

The outcome of the quarter and half intervals in Asian Handicap betting, eliminating the push, has massive appeal. Instead of just backing a team at a whole handicap, you can cover yourself with two options in the same bet. That is where the real value of Asian Handicap betting is, and is something that regular handicapping misses out on. One huge advantage for punters in Asian Handicap is that bookmakers take very low margins on them compared to regular match bet odds. Not all bookmakers carry Asian Handicap betting, so find one that does, such as Bet365.