Handicap Betting Explained

Handicap Betting ExplainedWhen it comes to placing wagers, punters are always on the lookout for a way to give themselves better value than the bookmakers will typically want to offer. One of the chief ways of doing so is by adding handicaps into your betting. Typically speaking, handicap betting is only offered when one team or player is significantly superior to the team or player that they’re up against. When that is the case, you will find that the value of betting on them is poor, so you can give them a ‘handicap’ to make it harder for them to win and therefore increase the odds.

Alternatively, you can give the weaker team a helping hand, which will make the odds on them winning smaller but increase the likelihood of a victory for them. Imagine a football match in which one team is significantly better than the other, for example. You could opt to place a handicap on them of -2, which means that they will have two goals taken off their total goals by the bookmaker at the end of the match. They will therefore need to score three or more goals more than their opponents in order for your wager on them to be a winning one, which is why the odds will be better.

Whole Point v Half Point Handicaps

Football in net

The second you start to have a look at handicap betting, you’ll notice that there are two main types that are offered by bookmakers. One of them is the whole point handicaps, whilst the other is half point handicaps. They are usually denoted by one of the following ways of writing them out, depending on the option:

  • -2 / +2
  • -2.5 / +2.5

As you can see, one of them is allowing for a draw or push option, whilst the other isn’t. In other words, if you were to bet on the -2 then you’d be saying that a team, if you were betting on football, would effectively start the match at -2. If they then scored two goals without reply the ‘score’ as the bookmaker considered it for your bet would be 0-0. From that point on, whatever the score is will determine whether your bet is a winning one or not. That is to say, a 3-0 win in the real world would be a 1-0 win in the world of your bet, so your wager would be a winner.

As a result, bookmakers will allow you to bet on a selection that would look something like ‘Draw -2’, which allows for the possibility of the team you’re betting on scoring exactly two goals more than the opposition. Alternatively, if you don’t want to give a team a handicap but still think they’re too strong for the opposition, you could bet on the ‘weaker’ team at +2. This would mean that they would start the game two goals to the good, so as long as they didn’t lose by two or more goals your bet would be a winning one, with draws then losing bets.

If you’d rather remove the draw from the possible outcomes altogether then you can bet on the ‘.5’ market. Because the vast majority of sports don’t have half goals, points or games, a bet on anything with a ‘.5’ in it will be a binary bet that will either be won or lost come the end of proceedings. Again, to use football as an example, if you bet on the stronger team at -2.5 and they win 2-0, your bet will actually be a losing one because the score as far as the bookmaker is concerned for your bet will be -0.5-0. Similarly, a bet on the ‘weaker’ team at +2.5 would mean that a 2-0 loss would still be a win for your bet.

Quarter Point Handicaps

Football team

As if to ensure that life is as complicated as possible, some bookmakers offer quarter point handicaps. These bet types are actually two handicaps covered by one. As with betting on an Each-Way market, you’re placing two bets and therefore your stake will be doubled. A £10 bet on +1.25, for example, would be one £5 bet on +1 and another on +1.5. You will also find that some bookies offer either +1.25 or +1.75, say. A £10 bet on the +1.75 market would be as follows:

  • £5 at +1.5
  • £5 at +2

You can pick and choose which of the bets you want to place according to how you think the event that you’re betting on is likely to go.

To add a further layer of complexity to the whole thing, some bookmakers offer quarter point betting but don’t label it as such. Instead, they offer you both of the options in the way that the bet is written, but it is the same thing. Here is an example from a random football match, giving you a sense of how it could look if they choose to put the quarter points in alongside the whole point handicaps:

SC Dnipro-1 Handicap SC Dnipro-1 Odds Panathinaikos Handicap Panathinaikos Odds
-0.5, -1 3.900 +0.5, +1 1.200
-0.5 3.100 +0.5 1.300
0, -0.5 2.730 0, +0.5 1.380
0 2.350 0 1.500
0, +0.5 1.890 0, -0.5 1.780

As you can see, it looks a little bit more complicated but is essentially the same bet based around the quarter point rather than the whole point. Regardless of whether you’re betting on quarter point or whole point options, they will be available to numerous different sports.