Understanding Handicap Betting

While there are plenty of markets available for different sports, handicap betting is certainly a punter favourite. All top-rated bookmakers will offer handicap bets when the money line odds would be unfavourable for both the bettor and the bookmaker. Using a system of virtual points, handicapping is an ingenious way to provide punters with competitive odds on events where the outcome is almost certain.

Know the Basics

While the majority of sports bets offer decent odds, sometimes an event takes place where the two teams are so unevenly matched that the result is a foregone conclusion. This happens a lot in major sporting tournaments where less experienced teams take on the competition favourites in the opening rounds. Tennis tournaments are a good example where say Rafael Nadal would be set up against a wild card qualifier with a world ranking of 300 or 400. Nadal is almost guaranteed to win, but the question is by what margin?

If online sports betting sites put out money line odds on the match, Nadal’s odds would be so low that no one would even think of taking the wager. The payout would be so ridiculously low that the slight risk of losing would simply not make the sports bet worth your time. Similarly, the underdog would have huge odds, but the actual chance of him winning would be so low that the risk to reward ratio is not worth it. What ends up happening is that no one takes the bet and the bookmakers lose out.

Understanding the Point Advantage

To ensure that both the bookmaker and the bettor get something out of the wager, handicap betting is introduced. Sometimes this is known as the point spread in Basketball or Football. The idea is that the underdogs are given a virtual point advantage to make the match a little more even. For example, in Basketball, one team may be given a 20-point advantage by the online or mobile betting site. This means that even if the favourites win, they will need to win by more than 20 points for the bet to pay out. Similarly, if you are putting money on the underdogs and they lose by less than 20 points, the wager is still successful.

When to Pick Handicap Bets

Handicap betting is unique in that it relies on the bookmaker to create the point advantage and the subsequent odds. The more uneven the teams, the greater the point advantage given to the underdogs. Since this sort of levels out the playing field, the odds tend to be similar to those you will find on a money line wagers on a regular match. However, this is an advantage to using handicaps.

To offer handicap betting, the bookmaker needs to know how a team or individual will perform against their opponent. Since they cannot fully predict what will happen, they tend to generalise and use past results as a guide. This is not a foolproof option and many times they get it wrong. In some cases, they can hand the underdog a much higher point advantage than what they actually need.

If you have done your homework and you understand what the teams are capable of, you may just find the perfect opportunity to grab an easy win. It’s not easy to find value bets with online sports betting so when you see a wager where you are confident of the results and the payouts are good, you should jump at the chance. As always, be sure you have done all your research before you put your money down.