Handicap Meaning in Betting | What Does the Handicap Bet Mean?

Often, many bettors want to know what the handicap meaning is in sports betting and how this market can be used. Here you will find a detailed description of this popular market and examples of how it is used. 

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What is the Handicap Meaning in Betting?

In sports betting, a handicap bet gives one team a disadvantage to start the match. A handicap will mean one team has to overcome a certain number of points or goals to cover the handicap.

Usually, bettors use this market when one team is considered much better than their opponent. 

Handicap Meaning in Betting

Handicap bet Examples

Once you understand the handicap meaning, you can use it as an alternative market in many sports. Below you can see examples of how it is used in various sports. 

First, if a strong Premier League team like Man City plays Nottingham Forest, City will be the bookmaker’s favourite. But, it is unlikely the odds will be good for an outright Man City win.

As a result, players might favour handicap predictions as the odds will be higher. Therefore, a bettor could select a Man City -1 handicap. This would give Nottingham Forest a 1-0 headstart in the match. 

But to win the bet, City would have to win by two clear goals to cover the -1 handicap. For a winning bet, the final score would be 2-0 for City to cover their -1 goal start under the handicap bet.

Moreover, the market is especially popular in tennis betting. This is because certain players dominate the sport with an advantage over the lower-ranked players.

As a result, bettors are more likely to get good odds on Novak Djokovic to cover a handicap over an unseeded player. In tennis betting, handicaps work in terms of sets and games. 

For example, a punter could back Djokovic to cover a -3.5 game handicap in the first set. To win, he would have to win the first set by at least four clear games. 

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Handicap and Asian Handicap Predictions

Although the outright handicap is popular, it is also helpful to understand the Asian handicap meaning in sports betting. 

Simply, in an Asian handicap, decimals are used instead of whole numbers. This is to eliminate the possibility of a draw and a team must win the match outright. 

For instance, in basketball, the Denver Nuggets might play the Portland Trail Blazers. In this match, the Denver Nuggets would be considered the big favourites to win. 

Therefore, a bettor might want to give the Nuggets a -6.5 Asian handicap. To win the bet, Denver would have to beat Portland by at least seven clear points to cover the handicap. 


Like any sports betting market, there are pros and downsides to using the handicap option. Here we provide an overview of the positives and negatives of this betting market.

πŸ‘ Pros

First, one of the big pros of a handicap option is that bookmakers provide better odds for overwhelming favourites. In pre-match betting, teams that often win and perform well in a competition often have low 1×2 market odds.

As a result, selecting a handicap bet gives players better pre-match odds. 

Second, most bookmakers offer a huge amount of handicap options for many sports. For example, in football you can find handicaps often ranging from -1 all the way to -6, giving bettors plenty of options. 

πŸ‘Ž Cons

However, one of the big negatives of handicap betting is that a team has to perform well for the bet to succeed. Ultimately, your chosen team could still win the match, but not win the handicap bet as they have to score a certain number of points or goals.

In addition, handicap bets are not always available for some of the less popular sports betting options. Often, sports like handball, volleyball, esports etc get overlooked in the handicap market. 


Lastly, you can find answers to the most common questions about handicaps and why it’s an important feature in the betting glossary

In football predictions, the handicap means that one team starts with a numerical goal disadvantage to their opponent. Options include giving one team a -1. -2, etc, start to the match. Therefore, a team would have to win by one clear goal to cover a -1 handicap or two clear goals to overcome a -2 handicap. 

Also, handicaps are popular in NBA predictions. However the market works differently to football as points scores are used instead of goals. As a result, punters can select teams to cover a points handicap in basketball bets, also known as covering the spread. One team then could be given a -5.5 Asian handicap to overcome in a match. To win, the team would need to win by over 5.5 points. 

Currently, some bettors might use the betting provider Betway to place wagers. For many popular sports, Betway is likely to offer handicap and Asian handicap betting options. 

There is no handicap 1×2 bet available in sports betting. Instead, players can choose a 1×2 bet or a handicap wager. In 1×2 betting, both teams start on an even score, with no handicap to overcome.