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Handicap betting tips - What is a Handicap bet and how do I place it?

Handicap betting is growing in popularity and we have a series of handicap betting tips to ensure that punters understand the nuances of the markets in order to make the most profits from their wagers.

Having a First Goalscorer bet or team to win a match bet is one way to do your punting but often there are games where there is a massive disparity between the favourites and the underdogs, meaning that it's difficult to spot any value in the straight win odds. It is for this reason that handicap betting is becoming more and more popular with serious punters but what exactly is handicap betting and how should you bet on the handicap markets?

What is handicap betting?

Handicap betting is where a player or team is given hypothetical points or goals by an odds compiler ahead of the match so as to offer a more balanced assessment of the contest. It usually only applies to sports where scores are marked in points although it does exist in horse racing in the form of winning distance betting.

The aim of a handicap is to level the playing field between a favourite and an underdog. A bookmaker will give the underdog an advantage of, for example, one goal and then offer odds on the favourites winning by more than that margin, the underdog winning when given the head start or a draw. Asian Handicap betting takes away the possibility of a draw but for now we'll look at European Handicaps.

An example of a Handicap bet

Celtic won 3-0 against Cliftonville in the away leg of their UEFA Champions League qualifying tie and so they are expected to comfortably win the second leg in front of their home fans. As such it is 1/25 that Celtic beat Cliftonville. There will be little to no punters wishing to risk £25 to win £1 and so they want more even odds, which means betting on the handicap market.

The bookmakers, aware of the first leg result, set the handicap line at three goals. This means that Cliftonville are effectively given a three goal start and so the odds are calculated on whether or not they can overcome this disadvantage.

Handicap betting options from bet365

At full time the bet will be settled based on whether Celtic managed to overcome the handicap. So, if they win 4-0 then the score for settlement purposes will be 4-3, while a 2-0 win would see a handicap 3-2 win for Cliftonville.

How to place a handicap bet

Once you have grasped the concept of handicap betting, it becomes a regular part of your punting armoury and will allow you to bet on games that were previously off limits. Betting on them online is as simple as placing a wager on a regular match, with a simple click adding the selection to a betting slip. Many of the big named bookmakers even allow customers to combine handicap results into accumulator bets, meaning that there really is no difference from a handicap bet and a bet on a regular result.

A handicap betting slip

Why place handicap bets?

The reason to place handicap bets comes back to the simple fact that having more options gives a greater advantage to those who know the most about a particular team. If, in the example used above, you have detailed knowledge of Celtic's home form and Cliftonville's form on their travels and also know the kind of team being put by both clubs then you will be able to form an accurate opinion on what the final result will be. Betting the handicap gives you the chance to make more from a victory or from a team that will fall to a valiant defeat.

This extra knowledge can sometimes be crucial in making consistent profits from sports betting. Often the bookmakers will set handicap lines according to odds as much as ability. Two teams can have identical win-loss records but their manner of victory may be vastly different, with one building their success on defensive solidity, and 1-0 or 2-0 wins, while the other may be committed to attack and regularly beat their opponents 5-1 or 6-2. This is where there can be some opportunities on a handicap bet that simply wouldn't be available on a standard win-draw-loss market.

Real Madrid regularly win by wide margins

How to avoid handicap betting mistakes

Like all betting, however, handicap betting is not without its pitfalls and it's absolutely crucial that punters know exactly what they are doing before they place a handicap bet. The crucial thing to remember is that in a European Handicap bet, there can be a draw, and stakes are not returned when it occurs. That means that a 3-0 win, when a handicap line is set at three goals, will result in a defeat. 

The other things to bear in mind is that sport is not a mathematical equation and that because a team has won by at least three goals in their previous meetings with a side then they will definitely do it again. Handicap punters are often caught out by assuming that teams superiority will be reflected in the final score but, in reality, the winners are as happy with 1-0 as they are with 4-0. How many times have you heard a manager utter the words: "the three points were the most important thing today" in a post match interview?

If you are to bet seriously on handicap markets then it is crucial that you study the sides involved and understand factors such as motivation and expectation, as well as simple ability. That way you will be able to spot when a line is value and when it is a trap from the bookmakers.

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Handicap betting tips - What is a Handicap bet and how do I place it?

Handicap betting is growing in popularity and we have a series of handicap betting tips to ensure that punters understand the nuances of the markets in order to make the most profits from their wagers.

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