Handicap betting - Explanation & Examples

Mateo Brekalo
Mateo Brekalo
Published: 14. prosinca 2023.

Handicap betting is widely popular, particularly in Europe among European bettors. Essentially synonymous with Spread betting, it is referred to as Handicap betting in Europe. In the United States, Handicap betting is predominantly presented as a spread between teams, offered and wagered as a two-way option, eliminating the possibility of a draw. The betting landscape has evolved to introduce more options and sports globally, leading to the availability of both systems in Europe, the US, and other regions. Another noteworthy alternative gaining traction is the Asian handicap, which we will explore in a separate article at a later time.

What is handicap

The name originates for obvious reasons: by deducting points or goals from one team or player, we essentially handicap the favorite. If a significantly stronger team faces a substantial underdog, the money line becomes an unappealing option for bettors. When the likelihood of one team winning is extremely high, the odds for the favorite will be very low, and bettors may not find value in placing bets on such slim odds.

European or 3 way Handicap

Let's consider a stronger favorite with a high chance of winning. In the following example, you will observe that the home team is heavily favored to win the game, resulting in very low odds for the home team's victory. Consequently, there is likely to be much less betting activity on that outcome compared to a more evenly matched market. To create a more balanced and intriguing market for customers, a common approach is to deduct points from the favored home team.

Example 1

In this specific case, the bookie has subtracted 3 goals from the home team, providing an alternative market to the straightforward winner market. This handicap market, with a 0:3 advantage given to the guest team, aims to present a more competitive and appealing option for bettors.

Evaluation of the bets

It is very easy to confuse a 2 and a 3 way Handicap and therefore you need to be sure which one you placed a bet on. In this case of a 3 way Handicap there is a possible push option.

Evaluation of 0:3 handicap: Placing a bet on outcome 1 would mean the team has to win 4 and more goals in order for the customer to win the bet.

If the home team wins by 3 the outcome X would be the winning one. It means that those who placed on 1 would not get a push, but their bets would be lost. As we added in this case 3 goals to the guest team they will need to lose with 2 or less in order for the outcome 2 to be the winning one.

More examples of 3 way Handicaps

Handicap 0:1
Outcome 1 won if : Home wins by 2 and more
Outcome X won if : Home wins with 1
Outcome 2 won if : Match is draw or guest wins

Handicap 0:2
Outcome 1 won if : Home wins by 3 and more
Outcome X won if : Home wins with 3
Outcome 2 won if : Home wins with 1, match is draw, or guest wins

Handicap 1:0
Outcome 1 won if : Home wins or match is draw
Outcome X won if : Guest wins with 1
Outcome 2 won if : Guest wins by 2 and more

2 way Handicap (Spread)

For sports in which the likelihood of a draw is less common or not possible, such as tennis, basketball, or volleyball, a 2-way Handicap is typically offered, eliminating the draw option from the choices. Another notable distinction from the 3-way Handicap is that the points or goals added are not always rounded to a whole point, but also very often to a half point, especially at the European bookies.

Example 2

In both screenshots above, you will observe the half points offered. One follows the European style with decimal numbers, while the latter reflects a typical US NFL game where you can choose different bookies for the most balanced spread.

The next difference is the option of having whole points, which are evaluated differently in the case of an even handicap score.

Example 3

Evaluation 2 way Handicap

If you placed a bet on a half-point handicap, the evaluation logic is essentially the same as the 3-way handicap. For instance, if you placed a -4.5 points bet for the home team, and they win by 5, the bet will be won by 0.5 points. This method of bets is for customers who don’t want to have a push option or and want to exclude the draw option.

If there is a whole point handicap like +3 for the home team, placing that option will be won if as long as the home team loses by 2 points or less, or they draw or win. In case they lose by 3 the bet will be a push and the bet paid back.

More examples of 2 way Handicaps

Half points

Handicap -1.5
Outcome 1 won if: Home wins by 2 or more
Outcome 2 won if: Home wins by 1, draw or guest wins

Handicap -0.5
Outcome 1 won if: Home wins
Outcome 2 won if: Draw or guest wins

Handicap +1.5
Outcome 1 won if: Home wins, draw or guest wins by 1
Outcome 2 won if: Guest wins by 2 or more

Whole points

Handicap -6
Outcome 1 won if: Home wins by 7 or more
Outcome 2 won if: Home wins by 5 or less, draw, or guest wins
Push if: Home wins by 6


Share this article?
Facebook Twitter Linkedin

Send it to your friends
Viber Whatsapp Facebook Telegram

Love what you're reading? Subscribe to our newsletter and have our articles delivered straight to your inbox, ensuring you never miss out on the latest updates.

Read These Next


Profitable live betting

Live betting profitability relies on preparation, statistical research, understanding odds algorithms, and sensing momentum shifts through live streams.


Betslip - Explanation & Examples

Bookmakers offer various types of bet slips, including single, combination, and system bets. Adding a bank match increases potential winnings.