Our Asian Handicap Betting Guide will help you know your money line from your half-ball handicaps in no time.


Since the early 2000s, betting on Asian Handicaps has become a popular way of betting on football. Both in Asia where it’s the main way of betting and in Europe, especially when it comes to one-sided games. Our Asian Handicap betting guide talks you through all you need to know.


Handicap betting on football

Imagine you’re watching Spain play Malta in an international match and you say to your friend ‘’I bet you Spain will win.’’ If your friend knows anything about betting he’d be likely to say one of the two following things. Either ‘’I’m not betting with you because of course they’ll win.’’ Or something along the lines of ‘’Ok, but if Spain win I’ll give you 2 Euros and if they don’t win you have to give me 10 Euros.’’ After all, it would be ridiculous to assume Spain had the same chances of not winning the game as they did of winning it.

But what if there was a third option? What if he said to you: ‘’I’ll tell you what: If Spain win by four or more goals, you win 10 Euros. If they don’t win by four or more goals, I’ll win 10 Euros.’’

That’s essentially the idea behind applying a handicap to any football match. It’s the same as when you play golf. By applying a handicap in golf, it means that whatever the difference in ability between two players is, you can have a competitive game because the stronger player needs to play much better than the weaker player. You could play against Tiger Woods and have a 50/50 game against him. If you’d been playing for say five years, maybe he’d have to play 25 shots better than you to win but if you came within 25 shots of his score, you’d win.

There are two main types of handicaps- Asian handicaps and 3-way handicaps. Here’s the difference.


Asian Handicap Betting Guide


What are Asian handicaps?


Asian handicaps as the name suggests, were created by Asian bookmakers to solve the exact same problem we started out by describing. Gamblers in Asia don’t really like the idea of having odds on football matches with favourites and outsiders. Instead, they enjoy betting on outcomes that have a 50/50 chance. By applying the correct Asian handicap, you can turn any football match into a 50/50 match irrespective of the difference in quality between the two teams. The ‘’correct’’ handicap which makes a match a 50/50 chance, is often known as the central line, or money line.

In the USA, it’s practically unheard of to bet at odds on US Sports. Every match in basketball, baseball or American Football has a handicap applied to it and gamblers bet on the favourite to overcome the handicap or the outsider to stay within the handicap. That’s’ also known as ‘covering the handicap.’


How are Asian handicaps worked out?


The money line handicap applied is reached just by using a mathematical formula worked out by looking at the match odds. So if the favourite is odds of 2.1 on the match winner market,then the central line will be -0.5. If the favourite is odds of 1.03 then the handicap will be -3.5. And so on.


The money line


Remember the Spain match? The odds on Spain to win might be about 1.03 and by giving Spain a handicap of -3.5 goals, you’re saying that there’s roughly a 50% chance that they’ll win by four goals and a 50% chance that they won’t.

The handicap is just a way of someone saying ‘’Ok Spain. This is how things are going to work. You’re going to start the match 3.5 goals down. That means you need to score four more than Malta in 90 minutes to win.’’

Of course the goal start is just theoretical. All that happens is that when the match is over, you take the final score and apply the handicap to it. ‘’Ok, so you bet Spain -3.5. They won 4-0 so yes, your handicap bet won. ‘’

Or ‘’Ok, you bet Malta +3.5 and Spain won 5-0. So this time your bet lost.’’

And of course there’s no such thing as half a goal. But it’s there for the same reason as you have an over/under 2.5 goals market. It’s to make sure the bet either wins or loses (we’ll come to the draw in handicaps in a minute).

So once we’ve given each match a money line handicap, it’s up to you to decide. Are you going to back the favourite to perform better than the handicap it’s been given? Or are you going to back the underdog to stay within the handicap?


Asian Handicap Betting Guide: Other handicaps


The money line is the most popular form of handicap because it makes a game a 50/50 chance. But bookies often apply other handicaps as well.

Other half-goal handicaps


The money line makes both outcomes (eg. -3.5 and +3.5) roughly odds of 2.0. But you can also choose to bet at different handicaps at bigger or smaller odds. For example, if you think that Spain will absolutely thrash Malta, instead of betting on them on the -3.5 handicap at 1.96, you can bet on them on the -5.5 handicap at odds of about 3.5. Similarly, you could play it very cautious and bet on Malta +5.5 though the odds on that would be very small, at around maybe 1.3.


Full goal handicaps


You can also bet on a team overcoming a full goal handicap. For example, you could bet Spain -3 against Malta. The obvious question then is what happens if Spain win by exactly three goals? For example, 3-0 or 4-1. The answer is your bet neither wins nor loses. You just get your money back.

The odds on Spain -3 would be a little shorter than they would be on -3.5. That’s because you’re being given the security of getting your money back if Spain win by exactly three goals on the -3 bet that you don’t get if you bet -3.5. If you bet -3.5 and Spain win by three, you lose your bet.


Quarter-ball handicaps


Ok, now it gets a little more complicated because there’s also a quarter-ball handicap. For example, Spain -3.25. So what does that mean?

Think of it this way. Half of your bet is on Spain -3 and half of your bet is on Spain -3.5. If Spain win by four or five goals then it’s a straightforward win for you. If they only win by two, then it’s a straightforward loss.

But if they win by exactly three goals then half of your bet is refunded (the half that was on -3) and half of your bet loses (the half that was on -3.5).


The 3-way handicap or European Handicap


Let’s go back to the Spain v Malta example. If you were betting on this market you’d have three options.

Spain -3

Malta -3

The draw

In addition to the obvious (the fact there’s a draw option) there’s a key difference in this market. If you bet Spain -3 on the Asian handicap, you get your money back if Spain win by exactly -3. But here you don’t. You only win if Spain win by four goals. That’s because of the presence of the draw selection. The draw selection allows you to bet that Spain will win by exactly three goals. Because predicting that a team will win by an exact number of goals is very difficult, you’d normally get high odds on the draw in this market.

You can read Betting Maestro’s guide to Asian Handicap betting strategies right here.


Mr Green is Betting Maestro’s recommended Sportsbook for all your Asian Handicap bets. Bet €10, get a €10 free accumulator bet when you open your account.

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