Handicap is a bet in which we add or subtract, for one of the teams/players, an additional value, e.g. goals or points, from the final result of a given match.
There are many uses for handicaps in sports betting, but as a general rule, one side wins and the other side loses. On this basis, a match is bet on, where the handicap affects the final result of the competition.
When watching a football match, you can often hear from the commentator that the team is playing with a handicap because they are playing the match at their own stadium. Other times, a handicap is mentioned if a key player cannot play in the rival team. All of this leads to the conclusion that a handicap means an advantage for one team and a loss for the other team. Handicap, however, applies not only to team games, because it can also apply to individual sports such as tennis.
Handicap bets give a team a one goal disadvantage (-0.5, -1 or 1.5 for example) for betting purposes. This can make matches with a superior team more equal and interesting to bet on. A team must score one goal more than their handicap to win a bet.
Handicap bets are an alternative way to bet on certain events. For example, if a pro 100m sprinter lined up against the average guy on the street, you would expect the pro sprinter to win every time. It would be boring to bet and you would never get interesting odds. How about if I give the average guy a 50m head start? This would make it more difficult to predict the outcome of the race. Suddenly, it would be more interesting to bet.
This is exactly how handicap bets work. You are effectively giving one outcome an advantage and the other outcome a disadvantage to smooth out something you are betting on.
Let us take the example of football as it is the most popular sport in the world. The number in brackets after the team name indicates the advantage or disadvantage applied to the handicap. Let’s take an example:
0.5 handicap e.g. Juventus (-0.5) – AS Roma (0.5)
- Roma effectively start the game with a half-goal lead.
- If you support Juventus and they win the match, you win your bet.
- However, if you support Juventus and the match ends in a draw, you lose your bet.
- If you support AS Roma, you win the bet if they win or draw the match.