What is handicap betting

One of the major bets is a bet on handicap. Every sportsbook offers it in the line. These wagers allow making stakes on more beneficial terms. That’s why, the majority of pros use this very type.

Read related article: Exploring Handicap 1 in sports betting

It is often the case when the score of the event is predictable, that is to say, one of the teams is much stronger. Therefore, bookmakers offer small odds on Moneyline. Such bets are not so popular among players and to get rid of them, bookmakers invented the notion of handicap bet.

What Is Handicap betting?

At the initial stage, handicap allows to equalize competitors' chances if the chalk has obvious advantage over the outsider. Simply put, handicap gives a benefit expressed in figures (matches, scores, seconds etc.): decimal or fractional. We may also mark out negative (chalk) and positive (outsider) handicap.

US Handicap

American handicap may be either negative or positive. For instance -200 and +200.

Negative handicap

Negative handicap indicates how much you have to bet to win $100. So, according to the example above (-200), eventually you must bet $200 to earn $100.

Positive handicap

Positive handicap will help you figure out how much you get beting $100. Hence (+200), your profit will make up $200, if you bet $100.

Example of handicap in betting

Serie A, Napoli – Parma
Previous two events ended with 2:0 and 1:0

Betcity offers the very match in the following line:


Fractional Handicap

This handicap is mostly used in the UK to distinguish probability.

H2 (-1.5) – Team2 wins, H(-1.5), @2.00 (marked red).
Clear-cut win of Team2 (marked green) – @1.38.

We may see that bookmaker offers higher odds for handicap Team2 win. Therefore, your win would also be big. Let’s assume that the score is 1:3, handicap deducts from Team2 score. (Why do we deduct handicap? Because here it's negative. Positive handicap is usually added.) We have 1/1.5, that means that your handicap wager succeeded. Your sum would be multiplied by @2.00.

Everything is clear with fractional handicap: you either win or lose. Tie result is excluded. Unfortunately, it is slowly fading away, as decimal handicap is much more common in use.

Moreover, you may easily transform fractional handicap into decimal. Imagine having 7/5, you divide 7 by 5 and add 1:


Or another way:

Decimal (European) Handicap

The same teams, odds and score but the bet is F2 (-2). The game would end with tied score. In such cases bookmakers calculate your bet as 1. That is, you neither win nor lose. 
If you want to calculate the probability of team win in decimal terms, you need:

- Expected team win odds (e.g. 80%).
- 100% divide by 80%.


The given odds are known as decimal or European handicap.

Briefly summarizing, you may significantly increase your profit if only understand the initial concept. You have to be ready to either endure damages or celebrate a victory. Nevertheless, be very attentive while making a wager. Analyze future events by all means! It’ll lead you up to successful betting.

Artur Polianskyi
For today Artur has 12 years of betting experience, and he kindly shares his knowledge with the readers of our blog. In his articles, you will find many useful tips for different strategies and learn more about all types of bets.
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Artur Polianskyi
Dec 07, 2015
Artur Polianskyi
Dec 07, 2015