Handicap (handicap) betting in various sports

Today we will talk about handicap betting: what they are, what are the features of their use in different sports, and how to develop a betting strategy on them.

Handicap bets (otherwise called handicap) are often viewed as a slightly more complicated variant of money line bets (ie win-draw-lose). Some players are afraid to place such bets, sometimes even on a subconscious level, and after all, the handicap is nothing more than a positive or negative numerical value that equalizes the teams’ chances; therefore, there are many opportunities for successful betting.

It is clear that the most relevant for the favorites is the negative handicap, which they must “wager” in order to benefit the players who placed bets on this outcome. On the contrary, for outsiders the negative value of the handicap is more relevant, their “task” is not to let the favorite win back.

The basic principle of handicap betting is the same for every sport, but at the same time there are some specific differences, which will be discussed below.


In football, by definition, the lowest performance among all playing sports, therefore, placing bets with a handicap, the bettor actually has to predict, if not the outcome of the game, then at least the difference in the score.

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The handicap is set here on the number of goals scored: for example, if the favorite is given a handicap (-1.5), this means that in order to win such a bet, the team must win with a difference of two or more goals. Accordingly, in case of a bet with a handicap (+1.5) on the underdog, the bettor will win, even if this team concedes by one goal difference (and even more so if they draw or wins with any score).

Bookmaker Pinnacle regularly compiles handicap tables for English Premier League matches, which its clients can use to identify teams that surpass or, conversely, do not meet the expectations of the betting market.

In statistical analysis to predict the correct bets with a handicap, betters need to take into account not only the data of the current season, but at least two or three previous ones. A number of teams are traditionally unable to compensate for the handicap in most cases, and their results are incorrectly assessed both by the majority of players and sometimes by the bookmakers themselves.

American Football

In NFL (and other American football leagues) matches, the handicap is often referred to as “handicap”, the terminology is used to “justify the handicap” (meaning that the team won with the right handicap), and the performance of the teams in relation to handicaps is called the “handicap” performance .

At the same time, it is the American football betting market that is considered the most convenient for betting with a handicap: this increases the odds on winning favorites or increases the chances of outsiders to win.

It should be noted that it is the scoring system in this sport (seven points are awarded for a touchdown with an accurate shot on goal, three points for a goal from the field) that endows negative handicaps slightly below the indicated indicators, and positive ones slightly higher them, of particular value when placing appropriate bets.

Using this knowledge of handicap betting on American football, bettors can then develop their own strategies, taking into account, for example, ratings by the number of yards covered in one attempt.


Here the handicap is called the run-line, and, unlike other sports, its value is constant and always equal to 1.5. Thus, a bet with a handicap (-1.5) will win if the team wins by two runs, and a bet with a handicap (+1.5) will win if the team loses by one run or wins. However, bettors can still change the run line using an alternate handicap.

For baseball games, weather conditions and the size of the stadium are of great importance. By placing bets on the run line, players can, taking into account these circumstances, more accurately calculate the probability of the favorite winning with the expected number of runs, or, on the contrary, the ability of the outsider to survive, using the weather and arena as their advantages.


Basketball is a sport where the quotes for the favorite are often extremely low, and the probability of an outsider winning is very small, therefore, as in the case of NFL matches, bettors prefer to place bets with a handicap. The performance here is the highest among other team sports, and for league matches where quarters are played for 12 minutes (in particular, the NBA), often exceeds 200 points per game. Accordingly, the value of the points scored is not very high here, and the numerical indicators of the handicap can vary significantly.

Often, for odds of about 2.0 (meaning approximately equal chances of teams to win, taking into account one or another handicap), the numerical values ​​can exceed 20 or even 25 points, so the bettor should initially be well versed in the features of the game and the effective indicators of basketball teams for accurate forecasting.


Here the process of placing handicap bets has one distinct feature: bookmakers offer their clients a line of handicap bets on both games and sets.

Game Handicap is calculated as follows. If we placed a bet on Novak Djokovic’s victory over Stefanos Tsitsipas with a handicap (-3), and the Serbian tennis player won 3-1 (6: 2, 6: 7, 6: 4, 6: 4), then the total game score will be 24:19, which means that our bet is played.

At the same time, players can place bets on the victory of one or another tennis player in consecutive (−1.5) or non-consecutive sets (2.5). On the other hand, bettors have the option to place bets on a tennis player to lose in consecutive sets (+1.5 or +2.5).

Summing up, let’s say that all of the listed features of handicap bets must be thoroughly known and use advanced capabilities to predict accurate results for game sports.