Basics of Betting on a Classic Handicap

To begin with, here’s the definition of a classic handicap in betting: sports betting handicap is an advantage in goals (points, percentages, or other variables related to the betting event) that the organizer (bookmaker) gives in advance to a participant in a sports event program list for betting.

The handicap in the match between two teams (athletes) is realized mainly by giving the weaker team (athlete) in the duel a certain advantage in advance (in goals, points, percentages, etc.), while the favorite in that duel is deprived of the advantage (is handicapped) at the start. The limit or size of the handicap for a certain match is determined by the bookmaker, as well as the amount of the odds for a certain handicap. The final outcome of a handicapped event is formed by adding the goals, points, or percentages actually scored by the handicapped team or athlete to the number of goals, points, or percentages marked as a handicap.

Handicap in Football

Example: Barcelona – Valencia (+1)

In this case, Valencia is handicapped at the start with the advantage of 1 goal, which means that +1 goal is added to Valencia at the end of the match. If you play “H1”, you bet that Barcelona will win with at least 2 goals of advantage at home, which means that the results that make your bet the winner are all results with 2 goals (or more) in favor of Barcelona (2-0, 3-1, 5-0, 4-2…). If the match ends in a draw, or an eventual victory for Valencia, with this handicap, your bet is losing. You can also play a ‘counter-handicap’ if you think that the handicap limit is too high for a given pair (specifically here, you assume that Valencia will win, or at least earn a draw for some reason).

Note: In this example, the handicap of the football match is expressed in the format Barcelona – Valencia (+1), which practically means that the +1 goal to the number of goals scored by Valencia is added to the final result in the same match. The same handicap can be expressed as Barcelona (-1) – Valencia, which means that 1 goal of Barcelona is deducted from the end the result. The meaning is the same, and it’s often a matter of the bookmaker whether such a handicap will be expressed as Barcelona – Valencia (+1) or Barcelona (-1) – Valencia. After all, Barcelona (-1) – Valencia = Barcelona – Valencia (+1).

Advantage of betting on a classic handicap in football:

• If you’re convinced of a sure and convincing victory of your team in a match, it’s certainly better to choose the variant of handicap victory – because of the higher odds than in the case of a bet on the final outcome without a handicap.

The disadvantage of betting on the classic handicap in football:

• The possibility of losing bets, due to the limit set only to an advantage of ‘round’ goal, in the case of an end-result equaling to the handicap limit. Although the classic handicap, which first appeared in most countries, is only a derived version of the Asian handicap, the offer of an Asian handicap provides bettors with finer options and offers with 0, 0.5, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5 goal advantage.

Basketball Handicap

Example: CSKA – Alba (+9.5)

In this case, Alba is handicapped with +9.5 points at the start. This means that if you play “H1” (at CSKA), you assume that CSKA will win with at least 10 points difference (e.g. your winning bets are at 90-79 (+9.5) and the like). If, however, you think that CSKA will win with a result of fewer than 10 points difference, or Alba will win this game, you can play “H2”, where you win your bet at every result with the defeat of Alba fewer than 10 points difference or any eventual victory of Alba.

Note: most bookmakers have basketball handicaps in the format of e.g. 1.5 points, 3.5 points… etc. which eliminates the possibility of a draw (e.g. if the team wins with exactly 1 or 3 points). This benefits you as a bettor because it mathematically increases your chances of winning from 33% to 50%. If you have a choice, always choose to play at bookmakers that offer a form of handicap with over half a point because you have eliminated the possibility of a draw in such bets.

Advantages of handicap betting in basketball:

• Significantly higher odds per handicap than in the case of betting on the final outcome.
• Possibility of betting on ‘counter handicap’ – if you estimate that a certain team won’t lose with a difference greater than offered.
• The elimination of outcomes in a draw – increases the mathematical probability of winning to 50%.
• Existence of multiple handicap limits (Alternative point spread) under different odds.

Disadvantages of handicap betting in basketball:

• Often having tempting odds with high limits that are difficult to reach.
• Possibility of losing the bet in case of a draw when betting in some bookmakers.

Handicap in Tennis

Example: Rafael Nadal – Dominic Thiem

In tennis, two basic types of handicaps are most common: handicaps in games and handicaps in sets.

Handicap in Games

Handicap in games is most often expressed in the form -2.5, -3.5, -5.5, and the like.

Specifically, if you decide to play “H1” in games in the match Rafael Nadal – Dominic Thiem at the limit of -5.5 set by the bookmaker, you bet that Nadal will win by at least 6 games difference. This means that the winning result for you is (assuming you play 2 sets in total) 6-3, 6-3 for Nadal, which covers a handicap of -5.5 in games. If at this limit of -5.5 Nadal wins by a small margin, e.g. 6-4, 7-6 (3 games of difference), you lose the bet because your limit was that Nadal wins with a minimum of 6 games of difference.

Handicap in Sets

Handicap in sets is again expressed most often in the form -1.5, -2.5, etc. thus handicapping the favorite.

Example of a match: Nadal – Thiem, played in 3 sets won. Suppose that Nadal is the favorite, i.e. the odds on Nadal are lower, so he’s handicapped. If you choose a lower handicap limit of -1.5, bet that Nadal will win this match (played in 3 sets won) with a minimum of 2 sets of difference. This means the winning bets for you are 3-0 and 3-1 in the sets, regardless of the individual score in the games in each of the sets separately. If you still choose the limit of -2.5, you bet that Nadal will win this match with 3-0, i.e. without losing a set.

Counter Handicap

Also, for both types of handicaps in tennis (games, sets), you can apply the system of playing the ‘counter handicap’ if you think that the limit set by which the favorite is handicapped is too high.

In this case, you play Nadal – Thiem H2 (+2.5). Here you bet that Thiem will take at least one set. In that case, you win all bets on Thiem’s victory with any result, as well as all Thiem’s defeats with at least one or two sets won. You lose the bet at this limit only if the match ends 3-0 for Nadal.