Handicap betting is used to level the playing field when one team is stronger than the other. It gives the weaker team a head start in terms of points, goals or any other metric used to determine the winner. The handicap can be both positive and negative.

Handicap betting is also known as line betting, the spread or points betting. It is a way for bookmakers to even the prices they offer in the market. This type of betting can be used in cricket, football, rugby, tennis, basketball and hockey among other sports.

Handicap betting helps to balance the odds without controlling the potential obvious outcome between two mismatched teams. In a handicap bet, the bookmaker places the handicap on the teams. But, for the bet to be won, the handicapped team must overcome the virtual advantage or disadvantage regardless of the result. 

Handicap betting is done by the bookmaker to scale up the interest in a lopsided game. It gives punters the opportunity to win a lot more money compared to 1x2 betting.

For example, if Manchester United are the favourites to beat Norwich City, the punter assumes Man United will win even if a goal is taken away. Thus, the punter bets on Manchester United with a negative handicap of -1.

Considering the match ends with Manchester United scoring four goals, with the handicap being accounted for, the bet will factor in only three goals. So if Norwich City scored one goal, the punter wins as the handicapped score would be 3-1. 

The punter would win even if Norwich City scored two goals (handicap score 3-2 in favour of Manchester United). But, if Norwich City scored three goals, the handicapped scoreline would be 3-3 and the punter would lose the bet even though Manchester United won the match on the field.

Handicap betting: How does it work?

For example, take a football match between Everton and Liverpool. The odds are overwhelmingly in favour of Liverpool, who are considered the favourites. The handicap odds for the fixture, thus, will look something like this:





Everton (-3)


Liverpool (+3)


Everton (-2)


Liverpool (+2)


Everton (-1)


Liverpool (+1)


Everton (0)


Liverpool (0)


Everton (+1)


Liverpool (-1)


Everton (+2)


Liverpool (-2)


Everton (+3)


Liverpool (-3)


All the outcomes here are with both teams either with a goal advantage or a goal disadvantage. The numbers with the ‘+’ sign indicate the number of goals added to the team while numbers with the ‘-’ sign indicate the number of goals deducted from the team.

Let us take a look at the Everton (-3) result. This result means that Everton wins the match even if three goals are deducted from the final score, which is very unlikely as they are considered the weaker team. Hence, the odds on this result are very high. If the punter has bet ₹200 on the above, and if Everton win the game 4-0, the punter will receive a payout of ₹2,100.

If the punter bets on the Liverpool (+2) result, the odds are low as Liverpool are the favourites. If Everton win the game 1-0, the +2 handicap means Liverpool wins the game 2-1 and the punter who bets ₹100 receives a payout of ₹113.

Handicap betting types

There are three types of handicap betting i.e. level handicap bet, single handicap bet and spilt or double or Asian handicap bet.

Level handicap bet

Level handicap means that neither team gets any advantage or disadvantage. The handicap would be mentioned as ‘Juventus FC (0)’ and ‘FC Barcelona(0)’.

There is no tie or draw option in this type. The punter can choose between the teams and will win the bet if the chosen team wins the match. However, if the match ends in a draw, the bet is returned to the punter.

Single handicap bet

This is also referred to as ‘European handicap’. A single handicap bet works best when there is a clear difference between the abilities of the two teams. 

The example mentioned above in the article between Everton and Liverpool is about a single handicap bet. The handicap is added to the final score and the punter’s returns are determined based on the bet.

Spilt or double or Asian handicap bet

In Asian handicap, the bet is split between two results depending on the handicap. Here as well the draw is eliminated as a result. 

For example, Real Madrid are the favourites to beat Sevilla. A handicap of -1.25 is added to Real Madrid. In this case, the punter’s bet is placed on both -1 and -1.5. If Real Madrid wins by two or more goals, then both bets pass. In the case of a Real Madrid winning by a single goal, only half bet is returned and the bet is not paid out in case of a draw.

Websites that offer handicap betting

Dafabet, Bet365, Betway, 10CRIC, Parimatch and 1xbet along with other bookmakers offer handicap betting options.