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?’
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.
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.
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 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.