One of the most popular (and shrewdest) forms of football betting is Asian Handicap betting and in today’s blog post I want to explain what they are, how they work and why you should start using them.
Loved by football betting syndicates and many shrewd punters alike – Asian Handicaps can be rightly off putting for those of you baffled by its terminology and talk of half goals, quarter goals and other strange phrases.
So with that in mind, I have prepared this special updated guide to Asian Handicaps – full of tips for beginners and hints that even experienced bettors will benefit from, so I hope you find it of use!
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Asian Handicaps: Just What Are They?
The Far East’s interest in football is matched by an almost insatiable appetite for gambling on the big games, especially the Premier League. The difference between Asian punters and most European punters is their preferred means of having a flutter. Asian gamblers prefer to level the playing field by covering the draw, through the use of handicaps while most European punters prefer the straight home or away win.
There are essentially two main reasons to use an Asian Handicap:
1. Cover the draw: With Asian handicaps, you will see two lines on offer instead of three. This is because the draw is incorporated into the bet. Depending on the handicap used, this might refund your money on a draw or even return a profit.
This first example shows the odds for a (0) handicap on a Man U v Man City game. This would have provided a refund (whichever team you backed) if the game had ended in a draw. The number 1 is always the home team (Man U) and 2 is always the away team (Man City).
2. Level the playing field: In most leagues, there can be some very lopsided games with the favourite very small odds and the underdog given very little chance. To make the game a little more interesting, you can give either team a multiple goal handicap. The aim is then to predict the number of goals a team might win or lose by.
This next example shows the (+2) handicap for a Malaga vs Real Madrid game, with the +2 handicap applying to the home team and the -2 handicap applying to the away team.
Madrid were 1.50 to win the match, but the -2 handicap had odds of 3.20. As the favourite, -2 means Real Madrid had to win by 3 goals or more for you to win. In fact they won 4-nil. A Real Madrid victory of exactly two goals would have returned your stake unharmed.
One of the best things about Asian handicap betting isn’t necessarily the type of betting but the bookmakers who specialize in this field. Bookmakers such as Pinnacle and Bet365, plus Exchanges such as Matchbook and Betfair offer huge limits and excellent odds.
Asian Handicaps: What Do All The Numbers Mean?
If you use our recommended football odds comparison site www.oddsportal.com, and click on the “AH” tab for the Asian Handicap odds for any game, you’ll see that with each game has a number of handicaps on offer.
The screenshot below is from a Zaragoza (1) vs Valencia (2) game that showcases a large number of handicaps:
The ‘main’ handicap is the one with the most bookmakers pricing up. In the example above, the +0.25 handicap is the most popular with 23 bookies pricing up, with the +0.5 also popular with 19 bookmakers putting up odds. The main handicap might change based on team news or weight of money. You don’t have to take the ‘main’ handicap, but more bookmakers pricing up usually means more competition and higher odds generally.
Handicaps are expressed as half or quarter goal numbers to eliminate the tie option. For example the -0.5 handicap is the same as a standard home win. The home team has to win by one goal to beat the half goal handicap. The away team is given a +0.5 goal advantage cushion, meaning you still win if there is a draw.
I could write reams about Asian Handicaps, but best way for you understand them is to look at the odds for some upcoming games and cross reference this page to double check you are understanding them correctly: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asian_handicap
Here are the most common Asian Handicaps taken from the page above:
Note: The quarter ball handicaps such as -0.25 might also be expressed as -0.5, (0) because these bets are half a (0) handicap and half a -0.5 handicap.
Asian Handicaps: Why They Are More Familiar Than You Think?
One of the quirks of Asian Handicap betting is that they can be exactly the same as other bet types, just with a different name.
Confusing I know, but it’s worth being aware of the differences!
For example, the -0.5 handicap is exactly the same as backing a team to win yet you’ll sometimes find different odds on what is effectively the same bet. This often happens if some bookmakers cut the win odds, but other bookmakers don’t move the -0.5 handicap as quickly.
The (0) handicap is exactly the same as a Draw No Bet and again you can get different odds from the same bookmaker despite this being the same bet.
The +0.5 handicap is the same as a Double Chance Bet and exactly the same as laying the opposition on Betfair. Laying the team you don’t fancy is a very popular bet on Betfair, but in our experience you can get better odds 90% of the time by using the +0.5 handicap if it’s the main line.
- -0.5 Handicap: AKA Win bet
- (0) Handicap: AKA Draw No Bet, AKA ‘Pick’.
- +0.5 Handicap: AKA Double Chance, Lay opposition.
Asian Handicaps: Why Bother?
Using an Asian handicap on a football match is similar to the reason you might use an Each Way bet in horse racing.
You think that the selection might ‘go close’, but being realistic it’s still a long shot. By using an Asian Handicap you can still profit from a game even if the team you backed didn’t win.
Asian handicaps can help you reduce the volatility in your betting returns and shorten losing runs by allowing you to profit or get a refund if an underdog ‘goes close’.
On the other hand, if you think the favourite is going to smash the underdog, then you might want to juice up the odds by giving the favourite a handicap of a goal or two.
For example, in this game below featuring Liverpool and Norwich, you might have fancied Norwich to get something from the game, but with best odds of 13.50, a Norwich outright victory was something of a long shot. A good option might have been the (+1) handicap with odds of 3.06. This meant you would have won your bet if the game ended in a draw and even had a refund of your stake if Norwich had lost by just one.
Asian Handicaps: When Not To Use Them
Sometimes covering the draw and adding ‘insurance’ to your bet is not actually to your benefit and it’s worth being aware of when this is the case.
Think of it in similar terms to say, buying a new fridge at £100 and being quoted a three-year warranty for £45. Just as you would have to question whether taking this ‘insurance’ is in your best interests, so to do you need to when Asian Handicap betting.
That is because if you always cover the draw when you don’t need to, you’re going to be out of pocket.
In most leagues across the world, the draw odds are generally bad value, because most bookmakers push the out the odds on the home and away team to attract business. They don’t compete on the draw as much because there is less interest in this outcome. After all, how many people do you know that back draws? Not many!
So yes, using a handicap might provide some comfort of a returned stake or profit in the event of a draw, but your bottom line might suffer if you use them all the time regardless of the match.
There is a price you pay for your insurance and that is lower odds. If you always pay for insurance when you don’t need it or over pay for it with poor odds, then in the long run you will lose out even if you do have shorter losing runs. It’s about getting the balance right.
Asian Handicaps: In Summary
Like many things in life, once you start to fully understand Asian handicaps, you can quickly discover that they are not that complicated after all.
Once you get to grips with the terminology of what +0.25 or -0.75 means for example, it will quickly start to make sense and it can really add a major string to your betting bow.
After all, the Asian Handicap markets are loved by betting syndicates and professional punters for one simple reason – they can be very lucrative if you get it right.
This is because Asian Handicap markets are very competitive with low bookmaker margins and great odds. All told, they are ideal for shrewd punters.
I hope this article furthers your understanding of this field and ultimately improves your bottom line – which after all is why we are here – to help you make money betting.
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Smart Betting Club Editor