Expert Guides : Handicap Betting

Handicap betting creates exciting opportunities for the bettor. There are two types of handicap betting, in the first bookmakers attempt to even up blatantly unbalanced matches (such as in football or tennis) and in the other handicap markets high scoring team sports are traditionally priced up with the same prices (but each team is then points handicapped to create a 50/50 betting chance.)

There are three sorts of handicap or spread betting in football: Handicap Match betting; No Draw Handicap Match betting; and Handicap League betting. A Handicap Match market may read as: MCFC (-1) 2/1; Handicap tie (-1) 9/4; Norwich (+1) Evens. If the result is a 3-1 win for MCFC, then:

MCFC win bets win because the handicapped score is 2-1

Norwich win bets lose because the handicap the score is 3-2 (NOTE, the handicap is only applied to the selection, not the opposition as well.)

Backers of the handicap tie lose because after the handicap the score is 2-1. For this bet to win the match scores would have had to be 1-0; 2-1; 3-2; 4-3.

No draw handicap betting excludes the draw outcome by applying a handicap of a half.

Handicap league betting covers a whole season. So say for the premiership the favourite will start at scratch, and all other teams allocated a plus handicap based on their odds of winning the competition. At the end of the season actual premiership positions will be adjusted by the handicap, creating a handicap result.

Lets look at tennis. Here the handicap bet is not on who wins the match but on who wins the most points, which are often not the same things. The bet is really on who plays best in the match, and the handicap is + so many games to the weakest player. Take player A with a =3.5 game handicap against Player B. If the first sets goes 6:3 to A then the handicap score is 9.5:3. If the second set goes 6:4 to B then the handicap score is 13.5:9. In the third set, as soon as player A wins 2 games he cannot be beaten on the handicap.

So examples like the above make uneven matches more interesting, and allow punters to squeeze value from underdogs who just have to put in a good performance and not necessarily win the event.

Some sports however are traditionally priced in handicap terms. These are usually high scoring sports such as rugby and baseball. Where there is a possible draw, such as in rugby then each team will be offered at 10/11, with the draw at say 20/1. The dominant team will then be given a handicap, say minus 10. If the actual result is 10-0 to the handicapped team for betting purposes it is a draw; at 12:3 bets on the underdog win.

Handball and Basketball prices are usually quoted at 17/20, prices less generous than rugby because they exclude the draw. Remember that it is the total points scores after application of the handicap that you are betting on, not who wins the game. Overtime counts in basketball, and whilst you can’t have a tie in a basketball game, you could have a handicap tie in which events bets are void. With handball it is 60 minutes play only scores that count, and again handicap ties are void. Although sports like basketball and handball are not really followed in the UK, these handicaps off great bettor value.

Most online bookmakers offer in-play handicaps on them. If you can choose three winners out of five bets you are making a profit with an even stake. The thing to look for is an in-play handicap where the handicap seems out of kilter with the score, particularly when they are well into the game. Particularly when there are lots of events on at the same time from obscure leagues (like the Dutch league 2; or the Italian women’s league B) bookmakers don’t always react quickly enough to actual events. You will often find occasions where the supposed underdogs are winning on point, but still being offered at a favourable handicap. The bookmakers are still scared of the form team coming back, but the underdogs are already halfway there.

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