Football Betting Handicap Explained: Why punters use them

Discover what handicap football betting is all about in our quick guide to this amazing bet option.

football handicap betting


If you’ve ever looked at a football game and wished the odds were a little more evenly balanced then you’re in luck. Football handicap betting is the best way to level out odds and give punters the freedom to bet on heavy favourites and big underdogs while also chasing hefty profits.

In this quick guide we’ll answer ‘what is football handicap betting’ and explain how it works with a few examples from the football world.

Learn why bettors enjoy football handicap betting and how they use them to bulk up their odds. You can also read our football handicap betting guide for a more detailed analysis of this bet option, including winners, draws and losers.

What is handicap betting in football?

Handicap betting in football is an alteration in the betting odds in order to ‘even out’ games that are uneven. A football handicap gives teams an imaginary goal advantage or disadvantage before the start of the game. In doing so, their odds on winning said game change.

For example, England might have a 1.5 goal head start in a match against Argentina. If you bet on England +1.5 they would only need to win, draw or lose by one goal for you to win your bet.

The idea of handicap football betting is to make betting on both dead-certs and big underdogs more viable. It’s also a great way to shore up safe bets by alternatively backing a heavy favourite to win with a goal advantage too.

Example of football handicap betting

There are various ways to apply a betting football handicap. We’ll start from the top with what are the most common forms of football handicap.

match odds

We’re going to use a game between Latvia and Wales as our example. Now, the match odds here are:

  • Latvia 6/1
  • Draw 3/1
  • Wales 1/2

Evidently Wales are firm favourites to win the game, while Latvia are underdogs.

Were you to bet £10 on Wales you’d only win £5 profit. So, to increase your odds and potential profit, you could use a handicap.

handicap betting

The handicap example we have here is:

  • Latvia +1 at 8/5
  • Draw +1 at 21/10
  • Wales -1 at 6/4

You decide to back Wales with a -1 handicap. As you can see, the odds of Wales winning -1 are now 6/4. Wales need to win by two goals for you to win your bet. A £10 stake earns £15 profit.

What if you want Latvia to win? Their match odds of 6/1 are quite high but will they outscore Wales? Perhaps not. So, you bet Latvia +1 at odds of 8/5. The odds are shorter, but Latvia only need to draw for you to win your bet. A £10 stake generates £16 profit even if it’s a draw.

The Handicap Draw is slightly more complicated. Here, you’re betting on the underdogs to lose by the exact goals margin spelled out in the Handicap Draw odds. In this example, Handicap Draw +1 means Latvia need to lose by exactly a goal for the handicap to apply its +1 and result in a draw.

Handicap football betting requires the draw option because there are three possible results in the game: home win, draw, away win. In sports such as tennis, where there isn’t a draw, the handicap is simply applied to Player A win or Player B win.

The handicap can, of course, extend further than just one goal. You might want to back Wales -2 at odds of 4/1, or Wales +2 at odds of 1/100.

This last example means Wales would need to lose heavily in order for you to lose your bet. However, a £1 wager here would only earn you 1p in profit.

Read more: All you need to know about handicap betting

Why people use football handicaps

People use football handicap bets to play with the odds and find a more suitable wager that they think will win. Handicaps can be hugely beneficial if you use them correctly. They can deflate the odds of underdogs and improve your chances of winning a wager. They can expand the odds of favourites without pushing the risk beyond your limits.

Here are some instances where you might want to use a handicap football bet:

  • To squeeze profit from a favourite – Handicap betting is most commonly used in football to get something out of big favourites. The idea is simple: apply a goals disadvantage to a firm favourite and hope they win by a fair few. In doing so, you get better odds. For example, backing Germany to beat Ecuador in the match odds might only get you a price of 1/2. However, back Germany at -2 and suddenly your odds become 3/1. Your profit potential is a lot bigger, even though the risk has increased.
  • To give underdogs a chance – Use the handicap to back an underdog, even if they eventually lose. For example, you could bet on Paraguay to beat Brazil at odds of 8/1, or bet Paraguay +1 at odds of 3/1. Your odds are smaller but you have a better chance of winning.
  • Accas – Handicaps in accumulator bets is a great way to rapidly boost your overall odds. It can work both ways. You might back France to beat Namibia with a +1 handicap at even smaller odds than usual, just to ensure that leg definitely wins. Or you might want to back France with a -3 handicap to increase their odds and increase your acca’s overall profit potential. Either way, you’ve used the handicap the way you want.


What do you think?