14.11.2023, 18:25
20.05.2024, 19:08

What is a Handicap in Football Betting?

Understanding what a handicap in football means will help the sportsbook client to bet with insurance on the main outcome, productivity, and statistical indicators of teams and athletes.

Handicap in Football: Betting with a Conditional Advantage

Handicap in football is a bet with a conditional advantage or disadvantage of a team based on the number of goals scored in a match or a statistical indicator.

Bookmakers offer the option of H (0) in their betting line – a bet on the winner without taking a draw into account.

Types of Handicaps with Calculation Examples

Bookmakers include 7 types of handicaps in the football betting line. For beginners, vivid examples help understand what a handicap in football betting means.

Zero Handicap

A zero handicap is analogous to a market for the victory of one of the opponents without a draw. Bets on the main outcome with insurance in the line are denoted as H (0). The odds for H (0) are lower than those for a club's victory.

For example, a bet of 1000 nairas at odds of 2.13 on "Arsenal" with H (0) in a match against "Manchester City".


  1. "Arsenal" wins – winning: 1000 * 2.13 = 2130 nairas will be credited to the player's account.
  2. A draw – the bookmaker will calculate the bet as a refund with odds of 1.00.
  3. In case of "Manchester City" success, the full bet loses.
In case of a draw, the customer does not lose money and gets the bet amount back.

The zero handicap can be compared to the "Double Chance" market. The odds on H (0) are higher, but there is no profit in case of a refund. If you choose 1X – the home team's victory or a draw, the profit will be credited to the account for any of these 2 outcomes.

Whole Handicap

Understanding what a handicap of (-5) or what a handicap of (+5) means in football is helped by calculation examples.

For a team with a conditional lag of 5 points to win, they need to win with a margin of at least 6 goals.

In case of a win with exactly a 5-goal advantage, the bookmaker will issue a refund.

A bet with H (+5) passes if the team loses by a difference of 4 points or less, wins, or draws.

In case of a defeat exactly by 5 goals, the bookmaker calculates the bet with odds of 1.00.

A bet of 750 nairas on H1 (-3) with odds of 3.60 in a Spanish La Liga match "Real" – "Elche" implies 3 calculation scenarios:

  1. "Real Madrid" wins with a score of 5:1 – winning: 750 * 3.6 = 2700 nairas.
  2. "Real" won 6:3 – the bookmaker will return the money to the client's account.
  3. The match ended with a score of 2:0 in favour of "Real", a draw, or a victory for "Elche" – the bet loses.

Fractional Handicap

The principle of calculating fractional handicaps is similar to that of whole-number markets. Bookmakers offer higher odds for fractional handicaps due to the lack of insurance – refunds.

For example, a bet of 900 nairas on "Girona" with H1 (-1.5) in a Spanish Segunda match against "Almeria" with odds of 3.15.

Calculation scenarios:

  1. "Girona" wins 2:0 – win: 900 * 3.15 = 2835 nairas the player takes.
  2. "Girona" wins 4:3, plays a draw with the guests, or "Almeria" wins – the bet loses.

Positive Handicap

A positive handicap in football indicates a conditional advantage over an opponent. The team starts with a lead in the indicated number of goals.

For example, a player bets 600 nairas on "Sassuolo" with H (+1.5) with odds of 1.54 in a match against "Napoli". The game starts with a score of 1.5:0 in favor of the hosts.

To win, the user waits for "Sassuolo" not to lose by a difference of 2 goals or more. Any other scenario will result in a loss of money:

  1. "Napoli" wins away at "Sassuolo" 1:0. With the advantage, the game ends in victory for the hosts 1.5:1. Win: 600 * 1.54 = 924 nairas for the football fan. The bookmaker will calculate the bet as winning in case of a draw or any victory for "Sassuolo".
  2. "Napoli" wins 3:1. The hosts with a preliminary advantage still lose with a score of 2.5:3 – the bet loses, the bookmaker calculates the bet in their favor for any victory of "Napoli" with a difference of 2 points or more.

Negative Handicap

In football, a negative handicap indicates a conditional lag behind an opponent; theoretically, the team starts the match with a defeat.

To gain a profit, a victory of the chosen team is required, considering the elimination of the lag.

A fan bets 1500 nairas with odds of 6.00 on "Lyon" against "Auxerre" with H (-2.5). The bet wins if the guests win with a difference of 3 goals or more:

  1. "Lyon" wins 4:1. With the preliminary lag, the guests win 4:3.5. Win: 1500 * 6 = 9000 nairas.
  2. "Lyon" wins 2:0. To eliminate the lag of 2 goals is not enough. With the handicap, the guests lose 2:2.5 – the bet loses.
  3. The bet loses in case of any victory of "Lyon" with an advantage of 2 goals or less, a draw, or a victory for "Auxerre".

European Handicap in Football

Gamblers who do not understand what a European handicap is, do not know how to understand handicaps in football.

A European handicap is a bet on the main outcome with the addition of an exact score or the final minimum difference in a football match.

Bookmakers record in the lines European handicap H1 (0:2), H2 (1:0), or X (0:3).

The first number in the line indicates the outcome, the second – the conditional score from which the match starts.

Examples of calculating a European handicap:

  1. If a football fan bets on H1 (0:1) in the "Augsburg" – "Hoffenheim" match, the game starts with a score of 1:0 in favor of the guests. "Augsburg" needs to win by at least 2 points. If the hosts overcome the conditional lag and win the match, the user wins the bet.
  2. If a player bets on H2 (2:0), the match starts with a score of 2:0 in favor of "Augsburg". To pass the bet, "Hoffenheim" needs to recover the lag and win the match with a minimum advantage of 3 goals.
  3. If a fan chooses X (0:1), a final draw with an initial score of 1:0 in favor of "Hoffenheim" will bring victory at any win of "Augsburg" by 1 goal.
Bets on the European handicap are not calculated as refunds by bookmakers.

Asian Football Handicap

An Asian handicap is a type of bet with insurance. In Asian markets, the bookmaker divides the amount bet on a football match into 2 parts between adjacent values, for example, H1 (2.25) – between H (2) and H (2.5), H1 (3.75) – between H (3.5) and H (4). A situation is envisaged where half of the bet amount will be calculated as a win or a loss, the other half – as a refund.

A user bets 2000 nairas on H1 (-1.25) with odds of 1.90 in the "Spartak" – "Sochi" confrontation. The bookmaker divides the amount between H1 (-1) and H1 (-1.5):

    1. "Spartak" won 2:0 – win. Both halves of the bet bring profit: 1000 * 1.9 + 1000 * 1.9 = 1900 + 1900 = 3800 nairas the client takes.
    2. "Spartak" wins 3:2, the bookmaker calculates H1 (-1) as a refund, H1 (-1.5) – as a loss: 1000 * 1 + 1000 * 0 = 1000 nairas.
    3. The match ended in a draw or "Sochi" won – both halves of the bet lost.
      1. If the client bet on H1 (-1.75) with an amount of 800 nairas and odds of 1.60 on "Rostov" against CSKA, the bookmaker divides the bet amount between H1 (-1.5) and H1 (-2):
        1. If "Rostov" wins by a margin of 3 goals or more, the bet is a win: 400 * 1.6 + 400 * 1.6 = 640 + 640 = 1280 nairas the client receives.
        2. If "Rostov" wins exactly by 2 goals, the bookmaker calculates H1 (-1.5) as a win and returns the amount for H1 (-2): 400 * 1.6 + 400 * 1 = 640 + 400 = 1040 nairas the player takes.
        3. If Rostov wins by 1 goal, CSKA wins, or the match ends in a draw – the bet loses.

Handicap on Statistics in Football

Bookmakers form tables of handicaps in the betting line for effectiveness and statistics.

In the yellow cards and corners betting line, you can choose H (0) – bet on the leader in warnings and corners without a draw.

By Cards

In the bookmaker's betting line, there are markets on the number of warnings in football matches. Instead of goals, fans predict the number of yellow cards – they choose the winner in warnings with a theoretical lag or advantage.

By Corners

In bets on corner kicks, a gambler can choose the winner by the number of corners served with a negative or positive handicap.

Strategies for Betting on Football Handicaps

Before betting on handicaps, effectively using markets, and winning bets over a distance, a gambler needs to choose a working game strategy.

Strategy on the Underdog

Experienced users bet on the weaker team with a plus handicap.

Criteria for choosing a strategy:

      • the underdog plays at home;
      • in the last 3–5 matches, the club did not lose hopelessly gave a fight to strong opponents;
      • the underdog has a reliable defence, the coach practices a defensive game model;
      • for the leader, the confrontation is not of decisive importance; a minimal victory or a draw will suffice.

When factors match, the football fan predicts what the score will be with the handicap. If the class difference between opponents is not too significant, you can bet on the underdog with H (+1.5) or H (+2.5).

Strategy on the Favorite

Bettors place a negative handicap on the leader.

Criteria for choosing a strategy:

      • the favorite plays on its field;
      • the team has many bright strikers in good form, the players regularly score in recent matches;
      • the game's result is of significant importance to the favorite, the club will not retreat to defense after scoring 1–2 goals, will ensure a solid advantage;
      • the underdog has problems in defense, in the last 5–10 matches the team concedes an average of 2 goals per game, the main goalkeeper or defenders are absent due to injuries, disqualifications;
      • the leader is interested not only in victory but also in the difference, for example, the tournament table takes into account the number of goals scored and conceded, the club wants to improve its indicator to take a higher place.

When factors match, it is necessary to choose a negative market, for example, a handicap of (-6) in football will win if the stronger FC wins by a minimum of 7 points.

Strategy with Insurance

H (0) is a bet with insurance. The bet is justified when betting on the success of the favorite is risky, for example, if the leader is not in optimal form, regularly loses points in games against weaker opponents, but the user is confident that the leader will definitely not lose.

The H (0) market allows earning a profit if the chosen team wins and in case of a draw, the bet amount is returned.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages Disadvantages
Zero, whole, and Asian handicaps allow betting with insurance. Complexities with calculations on European and Asian markets.
Possibility to bet in live and pre-match. Not always a detailed line in bookmakers.


Bookmakers accept handicap bets in the lines of various sports. If a gambling enthusiast understands how to calculate the outcome taking into account the handicap, he can place advantageous bets in football, tennis, hockey, basketball, and other disciplines.


What does handicap mean in football betting?

A handicap in football betting is a bet on a team's victory, the productivity of the meeting or statistical indicators, taking into account the conditional lag or advantage of one of the teams.

How to correctly calculate a handicap bet on football?

In order to competently calculate a handicap bet on football, it is necessary to conduct a pre-match analysis of the meeting, take into account the strength and motivation of the rivals, the position in the league table, the average performance, the style of play. These data will help to predict the final outcome and score, taking into account the conditional advantage or lag.

What is the difference between European and Asian handicap in football?

European handicap – a bet on the outcome of the match and exact score or minimum difference, does not provide a refund.

When accepting bets on the Asian handicap, bookmakers divide the bet amount into 2 parts between neighboring handicaps. For example, H (+5.25) – between H (+5) and H (+5.5); H (-3.75) – between H (-3.5) and H (-4).


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