Betting Reviews

Asian Handicap Betting Explained

When Saturday rolls around you flick through the fixtures to nail down the matches of choice. The trouble is, the result is either predictable and therefore offers pretty tame odds or it’s a bit more in the balance and leaves you open to losing your money. Sound familiar? Well, say hello to the Asian Handicap. No, it’s not a guarantee of winning. It sure gives you some serious options though and here we answer the question ‘What is an Asian handicap bet?’ 

Overview of Football Handicap Betting

The origins of the Asian handicap 

This is quite easy to explain. A handicap is a term used to weight something in the favour of one party thus maximising their chances of success. 

The fact it’s called an Asian handicap as opposed to a standard handicap is purely based on where this style of wager originally gained popularity. 

Believe it or not, if you’ve made any online football bets in the past, you will have already seen this form ofbetting in action – whether you knew it or not. Of course, a standard football bet would include betting on team A to win, the draw, or team B to win. But what happens when the odds are hugely in favour of one team? Well, this is where online bookmakers would provide handicap markets to level out the playing field, so to speak. This means you could explore such markets to get a potentially better return.

In football handicap betting, there are only ever two handicaps you will see. One handicap will be in favour of the better team, and one will be given for the weaker team. The favoured team is identified by a minus symbol and the weaker team is identified by a plus symbol. But this doesn’t apply to who will ultimately win the game, it is applied to the winning/losing margin in terms of the number of goals.

For example, you might see that Bayern Munich is given a handicap of -2 against a much weaker team in the Champions League. This would mean that Bayern Munich would need to win by 2 or more goals for your wager to win, if you backed this market that is.

What is an Asian handicap bet?

An Asian handicap is used in a match result bet. It provides one team with an advantage so rather than the game starting at 0-0 the bookmaker will acknowledge a weighted start point i.e. a head start. This might be one goal, two goals or three goals and so on. Half and quarter goals can also be used – more on this later. 

When you’re placing your bet, you won’t necessarily want to back a team with a falsified start position. Take the recent match between Manchester United and Bournemouth for example. The South coast club were rank outsiders with SkyBet offering odds of 17/1 for an away win. Why would you want to back Manchester United with a 1-0 head start? 

Instead, you’d generally look to position your bet as one of two things: 

Bournemouth to win with a handicap of plus X goals


Manchester United to win minus X goals 

Your odds will obviously flex with such a bet with odds for the Bournemouth win shortening and with a United victory they would increase. 

Full goal advantage

You may have noticed that the mention of a draw outcome in the above is missing. That’s because in an Asian handicap bet you only wager on a team plus or minus.

Where your handicap is in round numbers e.g. 1 or 2 and the weighted match ends in a draw – say Bournemouth plus 3 goals in the match with Man United – the handicap would have made the bet outcome 5-5 as opposed to the actual result of 5-2. The result would be a draw. Technically, your bet of Bournemouth plus 3 goals hasn’t come in but in the Asian handicap this sees your stake returned. 

Half goals

If your first thoughts on half goals was “how can you score half a goal” then you’re sort of on the right lines. You can’t. This is just a way bookmakers eliminate a draw from the potential result.

We’ll stick to looking at Manchester United and Bournemouth. Again let’s imagine you’ve plumped for Bournemouth but instead of plus 3 goals, you use the half goals market to bet on them with a handicap of 3.5. The half goals market makes the outcome of the draw is impossible and, as such, in our example you would have won the bet.

What about quarter goals?

This is where things become slightly more complex. You’d be forgiven for thinking this works exactly like half goals. It doesn’t. Strange I know. Instead, you have the option to bet on handicaps at .25 or .75 e.g. 1.25 or 1.75 and so on. 

The quarter goal handicap acts as an either or bet. How your bet is hedged depends on whether you plump for a .25 or .75 goal increment. If, for example, you use a negative 0.25 handicap then a win for your team ensures you win your bet and a loss for your team is a loss for you. A draw, however, earns you a refund of half of your stake.

The .75 handicap is similar but, using a negative 0.75 handicap example, you only win your full returns if the backed team win by two clear goals. If they win by one goal you receive half your stake back and the other section of the bet is paid out as a winner. Where positive quarter-point handicaps are used the same logic applies but with the pay-out structure flipped on its head.

A hypothetical example of football handicap betting

If this is still a relatively new concept for you, we’d like to work through a quick example to ensure that you fully understand what football handicap betting entails. As stated above, there is always a handicap given for the weaker and favoured team, with negative and positive symbols to indicate which is which, respectively. For starters, let’s run through an example for the weaker team.

A handicap for the weaker team

For this example, let’s assume that Manchester City is playing Burnley, at home. Naturally, Manchester City is the stronger team, and it would be expected that they would put several goals past Burnley on their way to victory. For that reason, you might see that a bookmaker puts the handicap for Burnley at +2. Remember – the positive symbol indicates the handicap for the weaker team. Essentially, this means that as long as Burnley loses the game by 2 goals or less, your bet would win. To add to that, if Burnley upset the odds and actually won the game, your bet would also win.

A handicap for the stronger team

To keep things as simple as possible, let’s use the same example given above, with Manchester City playing Burnley at home. Since Manchester City would be heavily favoured, you might see a handicap of -2 for Manchester City in this one. This means that the final score must finish with a margin of 2 or more goals in favour of City for the bet to win. Just to provide you with an idea, scores like 2-0, 3-1, or 4-2 would still mean that your bet wins. Again, this is just an example, and the actual handicap that is put in place might be different.

When would you use football handicap betting?

This is one of the main questions that people ask who are new to handicap betting. After all, why would you want to bet on a handicap rather than simply trying to pick the ultimate result of the game? We are glad you asked!

Better odds for handicaps

To continue on with our example above, if Manchester City played Burnley at home, you might find that the odds for Manchester City win would be less than 1.20. Obviously, this is terrible value if you consider the amount of money you’d need to risk for a substantial return. However, if you then go on to explore the handicap options, you might find that the odds are bumped up to 1.80 and even higher, depending on the handicap you choose to go for!

Live handicap betting

If you prefer to ignore the pre-match markets entirely and wait for the game to kick-off, this is another team you might want to check out the handicap markets. By waiting to see how the game works out in the first 15 or 20 minutes, you’ll find that the odds for the various handicaps shift around, and you can find some pretty large odds for handicap markets that previously didn’t look so hot!

What sites in the UK support football handicap betting?

Of course, to engage in these bets, you need to find betting sites that actually support such markets. Here’s the good news – in the UK there are loads of top bookmakers that serve up handicap markets for both domestic and international football games. To ensure that you only find the best of the best, we’ve shortlisted the ones that offer the best odds alongside the overall range of handicap markets right here.


Bet365 is a fantastic site for betting on football in general, but this is particularly true for the handicap markets that they create. While bet365 will always provide a standard handicap in the pre-match markets, the site also has alternatives such as Asian handicaps where you can try to improve the chances of winning the bet.

William Hill

For every single domestic football game that is played in the UK, you can be certain that William Hill will give you handicap options. In our experience, this site has a great deal of flexibility with their handicap options, and the odds are extremely competitive compared to other leading betting sites. In a nutshell, this means you could get a better return!


Ladbrokes is widely regarded as a football betting specialist, to begin with, so you’d assume that they do provide such markets. On that note, we can gladly report that Ladbrokes offers pre-match and in-play handicap options, with all of these markets also being available through a fantastic mobile app too.

A closing thought 

There you have it, a guide to the Asian handicap. Yes, it’s not the most straight forward wager you’ll ever place but once you have it mastered it will open you up to a whole new way of making money from the bookies.