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How handicap betting works in the sports betting scene
Dec 17, 2021, 5:01:00 AM

How handicap betting works in the sports betting scene

Sports betting has a rich history surrounding it. The number of bettors has grown in the digital age but the betting markets haven’t changed. Let’s talk about a popular betting market called handicap and find out how it works.

When you think about sports betting, you might only think of the wagers on the final result. The betting markets are deeper than that because you have hundreds of choices to choose from. Of course, final results and outright bets are probably the most popular markets in the world but you should try out other avenues too.

Betting has become a mainstream activity now because of the number of platforms that you can access through your phone. Since you’re on, you are already interested in the betting industry.

In this piece, we will discuss the handicap betting market and how it works. It might sound daunting and confusing at first but you will have an easier time understanding the market. You will realize that handicap betting is not that hard to understand given that the concept is easier to grasp compared to the real complicated markets like making wagers on players reaching a certain statistic in a game or a basketball game ending at a specific scoreline.

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What is handicap betting?

Handicap betting is when the underdog team is given an advantage. On the other side, the favourites are at a disadvantage when they are given a handicap. If you look at a handicap market in the NBA, you can see that a team like the Brooklyn Nets has the odds in their favour at +7.5 over a squad like the Charlotte Hornets.

The bettor will still win the game if the Hornets lose to the Nets by less than seven points. This might sound foreign to some bettors but handicap betting is arguably one of the best markets in the industry.

This market is useful because it flattens out the field for both teams. Most of the time, the betting world leans towards the favourites but the handicap market evens it out. When a team is stronger, they have to prove that they can live up to the expectations to win by a set scoreline. If a certain squad or player is stronger than the other, they should win convincingly rather than playing down to the weaker team’s quality.

Handicap betting is an alternative to the usual final result that most people are used to. In this market, you’re giving a certain outcome an advantage while the opposite will have to be under a disadvantage. That is the true nature of handicap betting and it makes the experience so much better than any other market.

How handicap betting works

Some new bettors have trouble dealing with handicap betting which is why they are not a fan of the market. However, they should try it out because it doesn’t only deal with results. You can also enter handicap markets for a whole season’s trajectory. If you’re betting on an entire Premier League season’s outcome, you can still see the handicap betting markets.

Manchester City is always near the top of the table in those markets which gives them a significant handicap compared to a non-contender like Burnley. Since a Prem season is reliant on a league table with points, you will see numbers like a +43 for favourites like Man City or Chelsea because they have to take a significant lead over the worst team in the league table. If they don’t reach that lead or even exceed it, you can expect the underdog side of the bet will win.

Almost every major sport has its own handicap markets. If you want to try them out, you should do so because this is a chance where you can take risks. Most of the time in traditional betting markets, you would have to adhere to the favourites and underdog statuses. In the handicap market, there is more nuance when it comes to the bets because you don’t have to rely on raw stats most of the time.

In terms of popular markets, soccer is the biggest sport in the handicap betting world. Basketball, football, rugby, and many more come close as the next choices but they are still chasing the Beautiful Game.

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How does a single handicap work?

The handicap betting market might be confusing at first but the values help immensely in what you want to do. For example, if you see a market with a 1.5 handicap, that is the value that the favourites need to match or exceed. If a team like Arsenal plays against Newcastle United, you can see that the North London squad will have a strong advantage over the Magpies.

This means that the Magpies will have a 1.5-goal advantage in the handicap market which makes it harder to bet on. This is why it takes skill and knowledge to succeed in the handicap market because you have to strategize to win your bets.

These handicaps make your betting experiences enjoyable because you can combine your knowledge of a particular sport and what you’ve learned from your research before making a bet. You should not make your handicap bets without knowing anything about the teams because you might fail miserably.

To win more bets, you should find the right balance between the stats and the research that you did. For the most part, bettors tend to follow the stats alone without consulting the other opinions from pundits or themselves. Watching the games is important because some bettors struggle to see why teams’ stats are skewed in a certain direction.

If you want to win your single handicap bet, you should look into why the stats look like that. If West Ham United has a strong handicap lead over Norwich City, you should look into what made that happen. The Hammers have been a strong team since David Moyes took over but this might be lost on the casual fan.

Handicap betting chart

If you are looking for a visual representation of how handicap betting works, a chart is probably the best way to answer people’s questions. Here is a table that captures how it works.

Handicap - Team result - Bet result

 •  0

    • Win - Win

    • Draw - Refund

    • Lose - Lose

      •   -0.25

    • Win - Win

    • Draw - Lose

    • Lose - Lose

      •   -0.25

    • Win - Win

    • Draw - Win half

    • Lose - Lose

      •   -0.50

    • Win - Win

    • Draw - Lose

    • Lose - Lose

      •   0

    • Win - Win

    • Draw - Win

    • Lose - Lose

These are just a short version of the tables that you can make with handicap betting because you can have data that is easily digestible. Bettors should be aware that with each escalating and de-escalating handicap. It is easier than most people think because you just have to look at the possibility of winning.

Handicap betting odds

When you are looking at these odds, you should not be afraid of what is present. They are the metric that you will have to use when betting on the games so you can earn the rewards. Some casual bettors think that this is the main reason behind some bets but you should learn to confirm the data behind these odds.

There are times where these odds will be harder to use which is why you need to enhance your sports knowledge. In soccer, you can watch the games or look at the advanced statistics so you can emerge victorious with your betting.

Whether it’s soccer, basketball, baseball, or any other sport, you should not look at betting odds as gospel. You should find more nuance in the betting scene as you continue on your handicap betting journey. It might sound difficult but it gets easier as time goes on.

While you’re not obligated to bet on handicaps, it will not hurt to sprinkle in some bets in this particular market sometimes. Regular betting should still be a big part of your time on these platforms but you should not just stick with that. If you want to earn more rewards, try branching out more. If you do so, you can find a favourable matchup and win more which makes the overall experience better.

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Handicap betting strategy

When it comes to creating strategies for handicap betting, you still have a good chance of winning if you follow the traditional tactics that you’re used before. Research is a strong part of the winning strategy when it comes to this market.

You need to be ready with the bets by having a good amount of knowledge to base your decisions on. It will be difficult at first but betting will eventually come second nature to you. Deepening your sports knowledge is the first step towards success in sports betting. You can analyze the games on your own and you don’t have to worry about thinking about the odds because you already know why those numbers are skewed towards a certain team.

It is difficult when you first enter the scene but it gets better as you progress. You should use your soccer or basketball knowledge to the test and try them out with sports betting. Of course, there will be growing pains because you can’t win everything. However, you should not rely solely on yourself and the odds. 

Relying on other outlets will not hurt because mistakes are inevitable. You should consult friends who are also in the betting scene and experts of both sports and its betting side. It is difficult to win every bet but you have the chance to succeed as long as you have a prime strategy.

When it comes to the odds that you see, those are supposed to be guiding tools and not deciding factors. It is difficult to find the right balance between these but you can succeed when you look into the previous games on their slate or even the head-to-head matchups from the two teams.

Going against the tide might be a legitimate strategy here as well. Of course, this is more difficult than the classic betting that you’re used to because the odds are not in your favour given the handicap that is set. This will include you betting on the favourites which are risky since they have to meet a certain standard.

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Where can I bet using handicap?

Betting has become a huge part of fans’ viewing experience of their favourite sports. You can even consider it as additional money for bettors. When you’re looking for a top platform that you can use for your handicap betting, is the best possible platform that you can go to place your bets. has all of the necessary markets that you would want in a betting platform as you compete for the reward. All of the lessons you learned will be key to your success in the betting world.

Handicap vs Spread betting

With spread betting, the focus is to create a level playing field similar to what handicap betting does. Spread betting is more popular in the United States while handicap betting is better in countries like the United Kingdom, France, among others.

While spread betting relies on moneyline odds, handicap relies on fractional or decimal odds which are mostly used in Britain and Europe respectively. They are not that different given their similarities but some people have their preferences.

Whatever you might prefer, you should understand why the two markets are popular. Winning is the exciting part of sports betting and these two markets give bettors a huge chance of earning rewards. Good luck and have fun!

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Words: Cholo Martin

Image: PA


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