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Handicap Betting Explained

Handicap betting is a popular and dynamic form of sports betting that levels the playing field between two teams, giving bettors a chance to win even when the teams are mismatched. But what is handicap betting, and how does it work? This guide will walk you through the basics, types, advantages, and tips for using handicap betting effectively.

Handicap Betting Basics

Handicap betting, also known as line betting or point betting, is designed to even out the odds between a stronger team (the favourite) and a weaker team (the underdog). This is done by giving the favourite a handicap that they must overcome for the bet to win, or by giving the underdog a head start. Handicap betting explained in simple terms, it’s about making the competition fairer and the bets more interesting.

For example, consider a football match between Manchester City and Southampton. If Manchester City is given a -2 handicap, they need to win by more than 2 goals for a bet on them to be successful. Conversely, if Southampton is given a +2 handicap, they need to either win, draw, or lose by less than 2 goals for a bet on them to win.

Example Table:

ScenarioManchester City (-2)Southampton (+2)
Manchester City wins 3-0WinLose
Manchester City wins 2-0PushPush
Manchester City wins 1-0LoseWin
Southampton wins 2-1LoseWin

This table explains how different outcomes affect the bets depending on the handicap applied.

There are several types of handicap bets, each offering a unique way to engage with sports betting: Lets explain the different handicap bets further:

European Handicap

In European Handicap betting, handicaps are given in whole numbers. This type includes the possibility of a draw, which makes it simpler but can result in a push where the stake is returned.

Asian Handicap

Asian Handicap betting is more complex and eliminates the possibility of a draw by using half or quarter-goal increments. This type of betting is popular because it offers two possible outcomes and often provides better value.

Goal Line Handicap

Goal Line Handicap focuses on the total number of goals scored in a match rather than the final result. Bettors can bet on whether the total goals will be over or under a specified line.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Handicap Betting


  1. Exciting Options for Mismatched Contests: Handicap betting makes lopsided matches more interesting and offers better value.
  2. Potentially Higher Odds: Betting on a favourite with a handicap can yield higher returns than a standard win bet.
  3. Variety of Betting Opportunities: Different types of handicap bets allow bettors to tailor their strategies.


  1. Requires Understanding the Concept: Handicap betting can be complex for beginners.
  2. Riskier than Standard Bets: Adding a handicap increases the uncertainty and risk.
  3. Requires More Research: Successful handicap betting often involves deeper analysis and understanding of the teams involved.

Where is Handicap Betting Commonly Used?

Handicap betting is popular in various sports, each with its variations:


In Football, handicap betting is widespread, particularly with European and Asian handicaps. The nature of the game, with its potential for low-scoring matches, makes it ideal for handicap betting.

American Football

American football often uses point spreads, a form of handicap betting where the favourite must win by a certain number of points.


In basketball, point spreads are common, with handicaps applied to account for differences in team strength and scoring potential.

Other Sports

Handicap betting is also popular in sports like rugby, tennis, and even esports, adapting to the scoring and structure of each sport.

Tips for Using Handicap Betting Effectively

  1. Research Team Form: Always check recent performances, injuries, and head-to-head stats.
  2. Understand Different Handicap Types: Start with simpler European handicaps before exploring Asian handicaps.
  3. Analyse the Match Context: Consider the importance of the match, team motivations, and external factors.
  4. Manage Your Bankroll: Set a budget and stick to it, avoiding chasing losses.
  5. Use Multiple Bookmakers: Compare odds and handicaps across different bookmakers to find the best value.


Handicap betting offers a thrilling and strategic way to engage with sports betting, providing opportunities for higher returns and making mismatched contests more exciting. By understanding the basics, types, advantages, and effective strategies for handicap betting, you can enhance your betting experience and make more informed decisions.

Ready to try handicap betting? Sign up with Rhino Bet today and explore our extensive range of sports betting options.

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