Understanding Asian Handicaps

Understanding Asian Handicaps
by Jason Green of Predictem.com

Recently Asian handicapping is becoming increasingly more popular in soccer betting. There are 3 options to bet on in general soccer betting, as you can bet on the home team, away team, or the draw. The goal of the Asian handicap is to reduce the bet’s outcome from 3 outcomes to 2 taking the draw out of the equation. Giving one of the teams a head start in the match does this. In the beginning the figures may seem hard to understand, but when you know the common handicaps it is pretty easy.


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The easiest handicap to know is the +0.5 handicap. This is given when one team is the clear favorite in a match. If the home team is supposed to win the away team will start with a +.5. If you bet on the away team the outcome of your wager will be:

- Home win - Lost bet
- Away win - Won bet
- Draw - Won bet

There is also a +0 handicap where the teams are pretty even and it is just like a regular soccer bet, but the draw will get you your money back (push).


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When one team is a heavy favorite at home you may see a handicap of +1. A half a goal is not enough for the heavy away underdog team to get a good start, so they are given a one-goal head start in the game. When the game begins the score is basically 1-0 with the underdog team ahead. The betting outcome of the game is:

- Away win - Won bet
- Draw - Won bet
- Home win by 2 or more goals - Lost bet
- Home win by 1 goal - Draw

Conversely, if you bet on the home team that would be seen as a -1 handicap the betting outcome is:

- Away team win - Lost bet
- Draw - Lost bet
- Home win by 1 goal - Draw
- Home win by 2 or more goals - Won bet

These types of handicaps can be added together in order to make other handicaps. There can be a handicap of +1.5, which means that the favorite has to win be at least 2 goals to win the bet and since there is a .5 there is no chance of a draw. Do not mix these types of Asian handicaps with the 1X2 handicap. A -1 handicap in the regular 1X2 handicap is the same as a -1.5 Asian handicap. A -1 handicap in the regular 1X2 handicap is the same as a +0.5 Asian handicap.

Many soccer bettors get confused with Asian handicaps of +0.25 and +0.75. You may ask yourself, how is a quarter goal handicap different then a half goal one? Obviously, if you bet on a team with a +0.25 handicap and the match is a draw, you should win the bet just like with a +0.5 handicap. This is pretty close to what really happens. When handicaps are quartered you are basically making a couple of separate bets. A +0.25 handicap is made with a 0 and +0.5 handicap bet. Your stake you make is divided by 2 and put on each separate bet.

If you made a bet on a team having a +0.25 handicap and the match is a draw, you will win half the bet you made. The +0 handicap bet you made is a draw and you get your original bet (stake) back and the +0.5 bet you made would have won, so you win. On the whole you win the bet, but you do not win as much money as if the handicap was at +0.5. If the lay a bet on a team that has the handicap of -0.25 and the match ends up in a draw, you would lose of your original bet.

The 0.75 handicap is basically made up of the +1 and +0.5 handicap and therefore if you lay a bet on a team with a handicap of -0.75 and they won by 1 goal, you win the bet. A handicap of +1.25 is made up of the handicaps of +1.50 and +1.

OK, so you may ask yourself, why deal with Asian handicaps if there are already 3 betting options in place? The answer is in the margin of the bookie.

With 3 betting outcomes the bookmaker can make a higher margin when pricing wagers.

Even if you look around for the very best 3 way odds the value of the book is still about 106% for a general soccer match.

With the Asian handicap the 2 betting outcomes make it so the margin of the bookie is decreased. If you shop around, when looking for a football match to bet on, you have the chance to reduce the margin of the bookie to almost zero on many football matches.