Handicap Meaning in Betting | Guide for Ghanaian Bettors

Are you looking to learn more about handicap meaning in betting? We have all the details. To understand the handicap betting terms we have some examples to give you a clear explanation of this market.

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Handicap Meaning in Betting

Handicap betting is a sports betting market that is used to make a contest more even, especially where there are glaring differences in the strengths of both teams. Although handicap bets are growing in popularity, not all players understand how they work.

You can also check our handicap explained examples in our handicap predictions to give you an idea of how these markets are presented.

Handicap Betting Examples Ghana

Meaning of Handicap in Betting

The results of any sporting event depend on situational factors. Bookmakers offering betting services explore such factors and represent each team or playerโ€™s success chances through odds. Basically, odds are the implied probabilities of a particular team winning.

In some cases where the favourite team has almost every chance of winning, the odds difference may be too significant. This team will get a very little odds value that will reduce the returns of a player.

Handicap betting is designed to level up this disparity where a bookmaker assigns a virtual surplus or deficit (handicap) to every selection. Bookmakers offering this market will apply a positive or negative goal or point handicap to either side.

For the favourite team, the bookmaker will apply a negative handicap; for the underdog, the bookmaker will apply a positive handicap. At the end of the match, your bet will be successful if your bet selection is greater than the opponentโ€™s after the handicap is applied to the score.

How Does Handicap Betting Work?

This betting market works against the perceived differences between two teams by attempting to even up the playing field to boost the odds values. A perfect illustration involves veteran swimmer and Olympic champion Michael Phelps. It goes without saying that against average opponents, he would win all the time.

All bookmakers will place the odds at 1.01. The handicap market will imply that the average swimmer is given a 100m head start to level up the contest. In this case, Phelps will be handicapped to make the results less certain. The bookmaker gives the underdog a winning advantage and limits the favourite to improve the odds.

3-Way Handicap Betting

This handicap meaning in betting gives the bettor a chance to wager on the handicap tie option. The handicap tie means you bet on an event ending in a win for the team receiving the virtual deficit by the exact margin that the bookmaker has provided.

No Draw Handicap Betting

No draw handicap means that there is no option for a draw. The market guarantees that there will be a winner at the end of the match. For this reason, the bookmaker will allow half goal or half-point handicaps in outcomes where a draw may arise.

Asian Handicap

This is a variation of the no draw handicap result where draws are eliminated through split handicaps. Player selection will involve whole, half, or quarter numbers.

What Are Handicap Examples?

There are varieties of handicap markets. The handicap examples below represent various categories of handicaps, as discussed above.

Handicap Betting Example

This example is from the NFL featuring New England Patriots against Dallas Cowboys. The Patriots start the game as 4-point favourites represented as -4 points. This deficit means the Cowboys, who are the underdogs have a +4 points advantage.

The Patriots will have to win by five or more points to cover the spread in this bet. If the scoreline at the end of the match reads 21-18 to the patriots, the winner on the handicap market will be the Dallas Cowboys because the game ended 21-22 in favour of the underdogs.

3-Way Handicap Betting Example

The handicap meaning in football can be illustrated using a match. The margins for the three-way handicap on a game between Crystal Palace and Tottenham Hotspurs are listed below:

  • Crystal Palace: +2
  • Draw/ handicap tie: effectively -2
  • Tottenham Hotspurs: -2

Assume the game ends 1-0 in favour of Tottenham Hotspurs. Betting on Tottenham Hotspurs to win will result in a loss because they didnโ€™t cover the spread. The game is said to have ended 2-1 in favour of Crystal Palace. You also lose the bet if you placed the bet in favour of a handicap tie because Tottenham Hotspurs did not win by the correct margin specified in the handicap.

In this market, you should remember that a handicap draw refers to the margin of victory and not the actual goals scored. For example, in this case, Tottenham ought to have won with a scoreline like 2-0, 3-1, 4-2, etc.

Asian Handicap Betting Example

The handicap example will feature a split Asian Handicap that divides the stake across two handicaps. For instance, a player can bet on Everton, who are +1 and +1.5 against Aston Villa.

If the game ends 2-1 in favour of Aston Villa, half of your stake (+1) will be returned because the game is said to have ended 2-2. For the other half (+1.5), you will be regarded as the winner because the game will end with a 2-2.5 scoreline in favour of Everton.


Handicap betting should level the playing ground in a situation where the favourite team is too strong for the favourite. This is good news to bettors because the odds for the favourite will be boosted.

Another advantage is that the handicap market provides an alternative for bettors who do not like other markets like correct scores. While betting with a particular bookmaker, you can avoid other markets and settle for this one. Handicap betting is divided into many other varieties to increase the choices of a bettor. You can switch from one variety to the other and find the most suitable option for you.

One downside of the handicap bet is that it does not reflect the actual form of the participating teams. It relies on the subjective opinion of the bookmaker, hence undermining the statistical facts gathered by the bettor.

Boosted oddsDoes not reflect the actual form of the teams
An alternative market for players
Divided into various categories


We answer some common questions about this topic below.

The meaning of handicap in betting is where the bookmaker levels the playing ground by giving an advantage to the underdog and limiting the favourite.

This is a one-point/goal advantage for the underdog team.

Yes, they are similar because handicap winning results are based on whether a team covers the spread.

Handicap draw means you bet on an event ending in a win for the team receiving the virtual deficit by the exact margin that the bookmaker has provided.