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    How a Handicap Bet Works in Sports Betting

    The handicap market is a sports betting market that makes one-sided games more interesting and exciting.  This market levels the playing field when one side is better or more heavily favoured than the other. Handicap betting is a popular betting option for many sports bettors as it is usually offered across a wide variety of sports. In order to be successful with your handicap betting, you need to know what a handicap bet is and how it works. In order to win a handicap bet you need not only a solid understanding of the way handicap betting functions but how it applies to the sport you are betting on. At the The Gambler we are happy to share our betting knowledge in this beginners guide, to help you understand handicap betting, lets get started.

    What is a Handicap Bet?

    A Handicap bet is where one selection in an event is given a “handicap” they need to beat in order to win. You will usually find handicaps as a good betting option when strong favorites are playing. For a handicap bet, instead of placing a match bet at short odds, you can place a bet at higher odds with a 1 or 2 goal deficit, or -7 points for instance, you can also bet on the underdogs handicap which would give them a points or goal head start.

    The handicap is a set by the bookmaker to counter any perceived public biases or strengths in the abilities of the opposing teams. Handicap betting provides the punter with more balanced odds to bet on, providing better odds and a more exciting betting experience. This appeals to many sports bettors as it creates more outcomes for the result of the game, and even if you expect a team to lose you can still back them to beat the handicap. When placing a handicap bet, the punter’s bet must beat the handicap in order to win, so you are betting on your selection with the handicap taken into account. We found the easiest way of keep track is to apply the handicap at the end of a match. For example;

    Chelsea are -2 on the handicap against Bolton, for a handicap bet on Chelsea -2 they will need to win by 3 goals or more for the bet to win. Simply take the final result Chelsea 4 -1 Bolton and subtract Chelsea’s handicap of -2 from the final score, giving us a result of Chelsea 2-1, a win for those backing them -2.

    Handicap Bets for Soccer Betting

    On most South African betting sites you’ll find a three way handicap betting for soccer matches as it’s one of the most popular betting markets. This is how a handicap bet works for soccer;

    Two Way Soccer Handicap Betting

    When placing a bet on a handicap market on soccer, the team less likely to win is the underdog, while the side favoured to win is called the favourite. Both sides are given handicap points before the match for punters to bet on. Generally the favourite will start with a handicap of -1, -2, -3, etc, while the underdog will get a handicap pf +1,+2+3 etc. If the market is a two way market then you will get a push or a refund should the handicap fall on the line.

    Three-way handicap bets

    Three-way handicap betting allows the bettors to bet on all the different handicap outcomes, favourite, underdog and the draw, much like a traditional Win Draw Win bet. This means you are able to back the underdog, favourite and the draw on the handicap. For example, Chelsea is favourite to win so they start with a -2 handicap, Bolton are the underdogs and they receive a +2 handicap to level the odds. To bet on a handicap draw or tie you’ll need the score to be level after applying the handicap.

    Handicap Bets for Rugby Betting

    Rugby handicap betting takes on the same set of rules as described above for soccer, but is much more popular due to the amount of points usually scored in a Rugby match. The team with a negative handicap or the favourite needs to win the match by more points than the handicap While betting on the underdog requires them to lose the match by less than the handicap or to win the match outright.

    For example South Africa are -6.5 on the handicap against England. If you bet on South Africa -6.5  then the Springboks must win, draw or lose by less than the figure set (6.5) for a bet on them to win. If you are backing England +6.5 you’ll need them to win the game or lose by 6 points or less.

    Handicap Bets for Tennis

    There are two main types of handicap betting in tennis: The Set handicap and the Game handicap, the game handicap a bet is based on the number of games each player wins in a given match. As an Example Nadal +2.5 is playing against Anderson -2.5, Nadal losses 7-6 7-6, but would win on a +2.5 handicap as you total the number of games in match and then apply the handicap. So for betting purposes the final score would be Anderson 14 – 14.5 Nadal, so while Nadal lost the match the handicap bet of +2.5 would win.

    The handicap market is an exciting market that makes one-sided games more interesting.  This market makes the “playing field even” when one side is better than the other.  In this bet a handicap is given to the team that is considered better than their opposition.  It means that instead of just winning the match, they have to win by greater than the handicap in order to win in this market.  By the stronger team having to score more goals, the weaker team in reverse is given an advantage to win in the match.  The weaker side no longer has to win the game, as they are given a number of goals start before the game starts.

    Handicap Betting Tips

    Handicap betting opens up a world of possibilities for sports bettors, we’ve listed some of The Gamblers handicap betting tips to help you get the most value from your next bet;

    1.Use a good betting site

    You’ll want to use a betting site that offers handicap betting, most South African bookmakers do have the market but we recommend you stick to bookies that have a solid handicap offering. Many bookmakers will also offer alternative handicaps which give you a better chance of winning, but at reduced odds. Check out some of our recommended betting sites for handicap punters.

    2. Check the odds

    Odds can make a difference to your winnings in the long run, so you’ll want to bet on the best odds available. Do your research when planning a handicap bet, you’ll want to check several betting sites to see who offers the best handicap and odds. It’s always better to back the best odds in order to maximize your profits.

    3. Betting on Favourites

    Most sports bettors prefer betting on favourites, they’re favourites for a reason right! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do your homework on both sides. Often by putting in the time to check the team news and reports you’ll give yourself a more educated view on the match up and you might find that there is more value on the favourite than the underdog.

    4. Teams who are strong at home

    Teams playing at home are much more motivated to put on a performance as home ground advantage can make a huge difference. You’ll often find that strong teams, players or sides that are at home have a large handicap. This is usually for good reason and there can be some value backing them if they are in a good spot.

    5. Handicaps that are too big

    Often bookmakers will overcompensate if a strong team is in form and playing well. If you see a handicap that is much bigger than you’d usually see then there might be value backing the underdog on the + handicap. Sure they are likely to lose the game but are they really as bad as the handicap suggests? Well that’s where your research comes in, if they seem better than what the handicap suggests then bet on the +!

    6. Consider following a tipster

    There are many free and premium paid sports tipsters who share tips on handicap bets. It’s a great idea to follow these as you’ll get a much better idea of how other people bet on handicaps, as well as some bets you could take yourself.

    The Gamblers Verdict on Handicap betting

    The handicap is an exciting and fun bet across most sports, especially when the handicaps are very high!  Having a bet on what would otherwise be a dull match can make games very enjoyable to watch and bet on. Be sure to follow some of our tips to ensure you get the best handicap and the best odds. If you are still confused as to how handicap betting works then let us know in the comments below. Otherwise check out more of our Sports Betting Beginners guide if you are new to betting.

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