What Does -2 or +2 Mean in Betting?

-2 / +2 betsElsewhere on this site, you’ll be able to read about -1 / +1 in betting and what that means. When it comes to -2 / +2, it is essentially the same thing but you’re making the handicap or the advantage even greater.

If you’re not sure what we mean then there is a really easy way to think about it: when you take a bet in which a team is -2, it means that they’re effectively starting the match 2-0 down. They need to score two goals just to make it 0-0 in the world of the bet. If you’ve opted for +2 then they’re two goals to the good and would need to concede three to lose, as far as the bet is concerned.

-2: Extending a Team’s Handicap

The whole point of handicap betting is that it is mostly done for teams that are considered to be particularly good. Imagine watching a match between Liverpool and Tranmere Rovers. Local rivalry aside, it would be quite a dull match to watch on account of the fact that Liverpool are a significantly better team than the Wirral-based Tranmere. As a result, you might want to think of a way of making the wager that you’re placing more interesting, which you can do by options for the bet that ‘gives’ Liverpool a handicap. A -1 handicap is one option covered elsewhere, so we’re looking at the -2 here.

By choosing to go for the -2 handicap you are saying that you think that Liverpool are at least two goals better than Tranmere. Normally bookmakers will give you three options for a bet, which will look as follows:

  • Liverpool -2
  • Draw -2
  • Tranmere +2

We will deal with the Tranmere +2 in a minute, for now focussing on those -2 options. In essence, what you’re saying is that you think that Liverpool are so good in comparison to their Merseyside rivals that they’re going to score at least two goals. If they were to do so then, in the world of the bet at least, they will have wiped out that handicap and made the scoreline 0-0. If you think that’s how things will end then you should place your bet on the Draw -2 market. If, on the other hand, you think the Reds will score more than two goals then you opt for the Liverpool -2.

Provided Liverpool win by three goals or more, you will will your bet. It doesn’t matter how many times Tranmere score, just that the Reds score three or more goals than the Wirralpudlians. Equally, if you’re betting on the Draw -2 then you’re saying that Liverpool will only win by two goals exactly. The score could finish 2-0, 4-2, 6-4 or any other variation, but as long as Liverpool only score two goals more than Tranmere then your bet is a winner. Rembember, handicap betting is only relevant when you think one team is better than the other and will out-score them.


Understand how the handicap system works is one thing, but seeing it play out in reality is quite another. You might think you’ve got your head around it, but the best way to make sure is to have a look at some actual examples and double-check your thinking. With that in mind, we’ve taken a look at some of the more common scores that you can expect to come across during a football match, whether you’re watching in the Premier League, the Bundesliga or an FA Cup, to name but three competitions that people tend to want to have a flutter one.

The problem with writing examples in the traditional British way of displaying the score, whereby you put the goals scored by one team, a dash, and then the goals scored by the other team is that that can look very confusing when you’re also adding in minuses. A 1-1 would become 1- -1 when written down. As a result, we’ve opted to display the scores in the American style of 1:1, which might upset some people but will hopefully make things a bit clearer.

Score Match Result -2 Adjusted Home Result -2 Adjusted Away Result
0:0 Draw Away Win (-2:0) Home Win (0:-2)
1:0 Home Win Away Win (-1:0) Home Win (1:-2)
0:1 Away Win Away Win (-2:1) Home Win (0:-1)
1:1 Draw Away Win (-1:1) Home Win (1:-1)
2:1 Home Win Away Win (0:1) Home Win (2:-1)
1:2 Away Win Away Win (-1:2) Home Win (1:0)
2:2 Draw Away Win (0:2) Home Win (2:0)
3:0 Home Win Home Win (1:0) Home Win (3:-2)
3:1 Home Win Draw (1:1) Home win (3:-1)
3:2 Home Win Away Win (1:2) Home Win (3:0)
3:3 Draw Away Win (1:3) Home win (3:1)
0:3 Away Win Away Win (-2:3) Away Win (0:1)
1:3 Away Win Away Win (-1:3) Draw (1:1)
2:3 Away Win Away Win (0:3) Home Win (2:1)

+2: Giving a Team a Bit More Help

If you’ve understood the principle of the -2 then it is easy enough to get your head around the other option with this bet, which is the +2. Rather than giving one team a handicap that it must overcome, this wager gives the ‘lesser’ side an advantage. The stronger team still needs to score plenty of goals in order to win, but this time you’ve put the advantage with the other side. Not only that, you’ve also decided that the other team is going to win. You are choosing to give them a two goal advantage, meaning that they will win the match as long as they don’t lose by two goals or more.


We don’t need to go into too much more detail about the way that it works given the above explanation, but it is still handy to give you those same examples again so that you can further confirm your understanding of the situation. Though there isn’t the confusion of 1 – – 1 as there was before, we’ll stick with the same American system when it comes to the scores for the sake of consistency. Here is how the advantage would play out with some real-world scores:

Score Match Result +2 Adjusted Home Result +2 Adjusted Away Result
0:0 Draw Home Win (2:0) Away Win (0:2)
1:0 Home Win Home Win (3:0) Away Win (1:2)
0:1 Away Win Home Win (2:1) Away Win (0:3)
1:1 Draw Home Win (3:1) Away Win (1:3)
2:1 Home Win Home Win (4:1) Away Win (2:3)
1:2 Away Win Home Win (3:2) Away Win (1:4)
2:2 Draw Home Win (4:2) Away Win (2:4)
3:0 Home Win Home Win (5:0) Home Win (3:2)
3:1 Home Win Home Win (5:1) Draw (3:3)
3:2 Home Win Home Win (5:2) Away Win (3:4)
3:3 Draw Home Win (5:3) Away win (3:5)
0:3 Away Win Away Win (2:3) Away Win (0:5)
1:3 Away Win Draw (3:3) Away Win (1:5)
2:3 Away Win Home Win (4:3) Away Win (2:5)

Regardless of whether you’re taking goals away from one team or giving them to another, the important thing to think about is the difference between the two scores. If it is a draw then one team is going to end up winning, whilst if there is a big gap between the sides then the team with the higher score is likely to still win.