What Is Handicap Betting? Beginner’s Guide

Betting terminology can confuse even the most experienced punters, and handicap betting is one of those ‘scary terms.’ Many of them skip the handicap section because they don’t fully understand the concept, unaware that handicap bets offer various benefits.

So, it’s about time you learn what handicap betting is and how it can help you earn more on the best UK betting sites.

What Is Handicap Betting? TL;DR

  • Handicap betting also goes by the name of line betting, point betting, or the spread.
  • Every betting house in the UK offers handicap betting.
  • A handicap in betting is a numerical figure balancing the odds between the opponents.
  • A handicap can be expressed as a positive or negative value.
  • Strong favourites come with a negative handicap, while underdogs have a positive one.
  • Asian handicaps offer only two possible outcomes of a fixture.

What’s Handicap Betting – Long Story Long

As we all know, sporting events often feature contestants of varying abilities. For instance, the FA Cup’s early rounds will sometimes match Premier League teams with the low-division ones. So, when Shrewsbury or Oldham Athletic arrive at Anfield to play against Liverpool, bookmakers will not offer high-value odds on The Reds.

Almost everyone expects Liverpool to win the match, and this perceived advantage lowers the odds. At this moment, handicap sports betting steps onto the scene. Everyone expects the favourites to win, but can they do it if they start with two goals down? Or three?

In essence, handicap betting evens out the playing field, reducing the favourite’s advantage. In our example, Liverpool might win easily, but it’s not every day you put four or five goals past the opponent.

The handicap raises the bar for the favourite while bringing it lower for the underdog. Thus, this betting method is all about creating a competitive market with proportional betting odds.

How Does Handicap Betting Work?

Now that you know the basics, it’s time to dive deeper into the world of handicapping. In other words, we should see how this process behaves at UK betting sites.

First, punters should differentiate a traditional three-way handicap from an Asian handicap bet. The latter provides only two betting markets by getting rid of the tie option and giving players even more breathing space. You’ll recognise it by the AH sign, while the classic handicap betting sticks with numbers in brackets.

Since we have handicap betting explained, we should now provide concrete examples. In the example above, you could see -1 in brackets next to Liverpool’s name. So, what does this mean? In essence, -1 shows an imaginary disadvantage of one goal that the team must overcome to win.

In simple terms, Liverpool must score at least two goals to win. If they end the game with a 1:0 advantage, your handicap bet will fail. Of course, other numerical values are possible as well. For example, pro golfers at PGA Tour often come with a -3 or -4 handicap.

But what handicap betting has to do with golf or other sporting categories. It’s simple — every sport has its favourites and underdogs, superior teams and the ones that hope to make a surprise. By placing a handicap, bookmakers are balancing out the contest. From rugby and cricket to basketball and horse racing, handicap betting is everywhere. For instance, tennis offers two types of handicap — set and game.

Speaking of variations, we should now check the specifics of handicap betting on football and horse racing.

What Does Handicap Betting in Football Mean?

In a way, our example involving an elite club and the one from a lower division illustrates the classic David-vs-Goliath situation. Nonetheless, the differences don’t have to be as drastic between the teams for a bookie to offer handicap betting. What’s more, you’ll find this option next to almost every fixture in the catalogue of the best betting sites in the UK.

So, what does handicap mean in betting on football? Like in any other sporting event, a handicap acts as leverage to reduce the perceived bias. In many cases, a straight bet is less rewarding than a handicap option due to the smaller odds. For that reason, handicap betting not only boosts the adrenaline but also potentially increases payouts.

To be precise, handicaps in football represent the number of goals scored or received even before the referee blows the whistle to start the match. Although this concept might sound paradoxical, handicapping in football is a common practice. The same goes for horse racing, so let’s check the situation.

What Is Handicap Betting in Horse Racing?

Handicaps in horse racing are not on the menu for every meeting out there, but high-profile events will provide this option. To name a few, we should mention the Grand National or the Melbourne Cup.

A handicap race features horses with extra weights allocated by the handicapper or a racing steward. Also known as the impost, the specified weight makes the favoured runners heavier, slowing them down during a gallop. Thus, the weight carried in the saddle evens out the field, making the race more competitive.

So, what’s a handicap bet on horses? Any wager where you back a weighted runner is a handicap bet. Stewards allocate the weights after studying various factors, primarily the runner’s past performances. Therefore, you could anticipate the handicap by looking at the horse’s form.

Remember, your selected runner must overcome the added weight if you place a straight win bet. That’s why handicap betting in horse racing introduces a new level of excitement, especially for the newcomers to the UK horse racing realm.

The Pros and Cons of Handicap Betting

The best online bookmakers can provide lots of betting opportunities, with handicaps significantly expanding options. Whenever we have a direct encounter between a favourite and a low-fancied contender, handicap betting saves the day.

If someone asks what handicap betting is, you can say that this method places a virtual advantage/disadvantage on a team. That said, the benefits of handicap bets include improved odds and increased enjoyment.

On the other hand, this double-edged sword makes handicap betting complicated for some punters. In other words, handicap bets require a deep understanding of betting markets if you want to be successful.

Hopefully, we answered the infamous ‘what is handicap betting’ question and we wish you luck in the competition against the best UK bookmakers!

Table of Contents
What Is Handicap Betting? TL;DR What’s Handicap Betting – Long Story Long How Does Handicap Betting Work? What Does Handicap Betting in Football Mean? What Is Handicap Betting in Horse Racing? The Pros and Cons of Handicap Betting
Table of Contents