If you've ever browsed a sports betting site, you've probably come across the term 'Asian handicap'. For those who have been wondering what this term means, this guide will explain how Asian handicap differs from normal betting, and what to consider when taking a punt.
Asian handicap is a form of spread betting, in which teams are handicapped according to their form before the game starts. Handicaps can be either positive or negative, and this is expressed as a figure, for example -1.0 or +1.0. This figure represents a goals headstart or a goals deficit given to the teams before kick-off.
Asian handicap requires you to bet on one team or the other, which reduces the number of possible match outcomes from three to two, by removing the option of a draw. Asian handicap is especially suited to football, as it's one of the only sports in which draws are a common occurrence.
With the handicap designed to level the playing field and make the chances of either outcome as even as possible, the odds involved in Asian handicap and the potential winnings available are usually quite low. For example, if Manchester City are playing Sunderland at home, it's safe to presume that City would be the overwhelming favourites. The odds on them to win would be very short, while Sunderland would be a long price. These sorts of matches, in which the outcome is highly predictable, tend to be less popular among punters than more closely matched encounters.
This is where the Asian handicap can make things a bit more interesting. Since the underdog is given a head start, you have a higher chance of them winning, while also still being able to make a profit on the result. Likewise, if you fancy the favourites to win by at least two or three goals, Asian handicap offers an alternative to betting on the margin of victory.
So, how does the handicap work in practice? Handicaps start at either 0.25 or 0.5 – some bookmakers go up in halves and others in quarters – so if you see odds with more than one decimal place, they are probably Asian odds. For matches in which one side is heavily favoured, the handicap could go up to 2 or 3, but you will find Asian handicap markets on all sorts of matches. The team that's favourite to win will always have the negative handicap, and the underdog the positive handicap.
To return to the example of Manchester City versus Sunderland, if you bet on Manchester City -1.5, then you need them to win by two or more goals for your bet to be successful. If you bet on Sunderland +1.5, then you need them to avoid defeat by two or more goals. You simply add the handicap to the team's score to work out the result. If the handicap you choose is a whole number and the final score is level once the handicap is taken into account, your stake is refunded. So if you bet on Manchester City -1 and they win 1-0, there is no winner and you simply get your money back.
Before placing an Asian handicap bet, it's always a good idea to check out the regular odds first, to get an idea of how heavily favoured one team is over the other. Asian handicap betting is more suited to matches where there is a greater gap between the two teams; that is, the matches that many punters tend to avoid. This also provides a greater choice of handicaps, as games in which the two teams are relatively closely matched might only offer handicaps of up to 0.5.
Asian handicap betting can seem complicated at first, but, with some practice, it's actually quite simple. Whether you enjoy it depends on what kind of gambler you are; if you like to bet on the underdog at long odds in the hope of winning big money, then it may not be so appealing. But if you're the sort of player who prefers to accumulate small winnings over time, Asian handicap can offer good value.
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