# What Does -3 or +3 Mean in Betting?

We have covered other forms of handicap betting elsewhere on this site, such as -2/+2 and -1/+1, so if you’ve read either of those pieces then you’ll already have a sense of how it works. If you haven’t then fear not as we’ll cover it here.

In essence, a -3 bet means that you think that one team is so superior to the other that they can effectively start the game three goals down and still win. On the other hand, a +3 bet is placed on the ‘weaker’ team and says that they will be able to win if they are given a three goal head start, so as long as they don’t lose by three or more goals, your bet is a winner.

## -3: Giving a Team a Real Handicap

In handicap betting, you’re essentially saying that one team is so much better than the other that they might as well start the game three goals down and they’ll still be able to win it. If you’re not that confident then you might want to explore the likes of -1 betting or -2 betting, which is a little bit less generous to the ‘superior’ team. When it comes to the -3 option, you’re saying that you have so much confidence in the better of the two teams that they will be able to win by at least four goals, which isn’t that common an occurrence in Premier League fixtures, to say nothing of other divisions.

The bet is usually offered looking something like this, if we assume that the superior team is Arsenal is the inferior one is Dagenham & Redbridge, just for the purposes of our example:

• Arsenal -3
• Draw -2
• Dagenham & Redbridge +3

We will come on to look at the +3 bet in a minute, for the moment concentrating on that -3. You can see that there are two options featuring -3, with the first being an Arsenal win and the second being a draw. That means that you are convinced that Arsenal are going to give Dagenham & Redbridge an absolute whalloping, so even if the Premier League side three goals down they would still be able to win. Provided Arsenal score four or more goals more than Dagenham & Redbridge, this wager would be a winning one even with the handicap taken into account.

A bet on the draw, meanwhile, assumes that Arsenal will still be superior and will score three goals more than Dagenham & Redbridge, but no more than that. In other words, your bet on that selection will only be a winning one if the final score is something like 3-0 to Arsenal, 6-3 to Arsenal or 4-1 to Arsenal. Once the ‘handicap’ has been taken into account, those scorelines would be 0-0, 3-3 and 1-1, respectively.

### Examples

Whilst it is relatively simple mathematics to say that you simply need to take three goals off Arsenal’s real-world score in order to figure out what the scoreline would be to the bookmakers in the world of the handicap bet, there is nothing quite like some examples to help you see what it is that we’re trying to get across. As a result, here is a look at a selections of scorelines alongside what the score would be if we included the handicap in the score.

As an aside, we noticed that putting the scores in the traditional British style, whereby there would be one score followed by a dash and then the other score, becomes quite complicated when you start adding in the minus sign. In the world of the handicap, a 1-0 win for the home side would become 1- -3 if the handicap was applied to the away team. As a result, we’ve decided to display these scores in the American style, which would have the score there as 1:0, or 1:-3. Hopefully that makes it a little clearer:

0:0 Draw Away Win (-3:0) Home Win (0:-3)
1:0 Home Win Away Win (-3:0) Home Win (1:-3)
0:1 Away Win Away Win (-3:1) Home Win (0:-2)
1:1 Draw Away Win (-2:1) Home Win (1:-2)
2:1 Home Win Away Win (-1:1) Home Win (2:-2)
1:2 Away Win Away Win (-2:2) Home Win (1:-1)
2:2 Draw Away Win (-1:2) Home Win (2:-1)
3:0 Home Win Draw (0:0) Home Win (3:-3)
3:1 Home Win Away Win (0:1) Home win (3:-2)
3:2 Home Win Away Win (0:2) Home Win (3:-1)
3:3 Draw Away Win (0:3) Home win (3:0)
0:3 Away Win Away Win (-3:3) Draw (0:0)
1:3 Away Win Away Win (-2:3) Home Win (1:0)
2:3 Away Win Away Win (-1:3) Home Win (2:0)

Once you get your head around the idea of the -3 handicap, it is relatively simple to figure out how the +3 works. This time, though, rather than making life difficult for one team, you’re making it easier for the other. The principle still works on the notion that one side is particularly superior to the other, but you think that the ‘weaker’ side will at least have a chance of winning if you give them a three goal head start.

A bet on the -3 says the team will win even if you take three goals off them, -3 Draw says they’ll win by exactly three goals and +3 is you swaying that the ‘weaker’ team will not concede three or more goals than they score.

### Examples

Once again, your understanding of the advantage given to the ‘weaker’ of the two sides taking part in a match will be enhanced by having a look at some examples of possible scores, which we’ll do here. For the purposes of consistency, we’ve stuck with the idea of the American version of the scorelines:

0:0 Draw Home Win (3:0) Away Win (0:3)
1:0 Home Win Home Win (4:0) Away Win (1:3)
0:1 Away Win Home Win (3:1) Away Win (0:4)
1:1 Draw Home Win (4:1) Away Win (1:4)
2:1 Home Win Home Win (5:1) Away Win (2:4)
1:2 Away Win Home Win (4:2) Away Win (1:5)
2:2 Draw Home Win (5:2) Away Win (2:5)
3:0 Home Win Home Win (6:0) Draw (3:3)
3:1 Home Win Home Win (6:1) Away Win (3:4)
3:2 Home Win Home Win (6:2) Away Win (3:5)
3:3 Draw Home Win (6:3) Away win (3:6)
0:3 Away Win Draw (3:3) Away Win (0:6)
1:3 Away Win Home Win (4:3) Away Win (1:6)
2:3 Away Win Home Win (5:3) Away Win (2:6)

If you’re trying to quickly work out how things will go with the bet, irrespective of whether you’ve opted for the handicap or the advantage, the best thing to do is to think about how close the scores are. If it is a draw, there will definitely be a winner as a result of the bet. If the team with the handicap has won by a significant margin, it will still have won regardless. If it is close, the likelihood is that the eventual winner will differ from the victor in real life.