Asian Handicap Betting and It’s Use on Soccer Bets Explained
Updated: September 27, 2023
Betting odds, Handicaps or Asian Handicaps, are common across most major sports, including international soccer.
Given the vast network of soccer games going on across the globe (e.g. Premier League (UK), La Liga (Spain), Serie A (Italy), even recent upstarts like Major League Soccer (US), the odds makers have to cater to a wide range of preferences in certain markets.
Best Sportsbooks for Asian Handicap betting
What is Handicap Betting?
To start with, what is handicap betting?
If the teams were unbalanced in terms of talent (or age), it wasn’t uncommon for the weaker team to be given a one or two goal “handicap”
– it simply meant that the weaklings led the game 1-0 or 2-0 (depending on the handicap amount) prior to kickoff and the stronger team had to overcome that handicap in order to draw or win.
So if Team 1 had a 1-goal advantage (i.e., Team 2 had a 1-goal handicap), then Team 2 would have to beat Team 1 by at least two goals in order to win.Here’s a quick summary:
Table 1: Normal Handicaps, Explained
|Handicap||Actual Match Result||Handicapped Result|
|Team 1 (-1) – favorite
Team 2 (+1) – underdog
|Team 1 wins by 2 goals (2-0; 3-1 etc.)||Team 1 wins
Team 2 loses
|Team 1 wins by 1 goal (1-0; 2-1 etc.)||Draw|
|Match drawn (0-0; 1-1 etc.)||Team 1 loses
Team 2 wins
|Team 2 wins by any margin||Team 1 loses
Team 2 wins
The (-) sign in front of the handicap identifies the favorite team who has to overcome the handicap – think about it in terms of digging out of a hole (hence the negative).
The (+) sign denotes the underdog starting out with an advantage before kick-off.
The match result is what it is.
- But as the table shows, Team 1 must win by more than 1 goal to overcome the handicap.
- If they win by 1 goal exactly, the match is a draw after accounting for the handicap.
- If the match is a draw or Team 2 wins, they also win the betting position.
The outcomes shown in Table 1 above is how a European handicap works in terms of betting.So, if you bet on Team 1 after considering the handicap shown in Column 1, then:
- You win if Team 1 wins by at least 2 goals.
- You lose if Team 1 does not win by at least 2 goals, including if the result is at par.
The second point is the most important – with the European handicap, draws (as defined in Column 3) are (a) possible, and (b) result in you losing any bet that you placed on Team 1.
You can extend the situation for other handicaps.
For example, See Table 2 below.
Table 1: European Handicap (2-goals Handicap)
|Handicap||Actual Match Result||Bet Result|
|Team 1 (-2) – favorite
Team 2 (+2) – underdog
|Team 1 wins by 3 goals (3-0; 4-1 etc.)||Bets on Team 1 win
Bets on Team 2 lose
|Team 1 wins by 2 goals (2-0; 3-1 etc.)||Draw
Bets on Team 1 lose
Bets on Team 2 win
|Team 1 wins by 1 goal (1-0; 2-1 etc.)||Bets on Team 1 lose
Bets on Team 2 win
|Match drawn (0-0; 1-1 etc.)||Bets on Team 1 lose
Bets on Team 2 win
|Team 2 wins by any margin||Bets on Team 1 lose
Bets on Team 2 win
European handicap betting is very popular all over Europe and Africa. In many senses, it’s the simplest form of soccer betting once you factor in the handicap prior to kickoff.
The 1X2 style of betting takes into account three distinct outcomes. The numbers 1 and 2 represent individual teams, with Team 1 being the Home Team and Team 2 the Away Team.
Here’s how the designations break down:
- 1 refers to a Team 1 win
- X refers to a draw
- 2 refers to a Team 2 win.
1X2 betting than allows for bets that each cover two specific outcomes, namely:
- 1X – outcome where the Home Team (Team 1) wins or there’s a drawn game.
- 2X – outcome where the Away Team (Team 2) wins or there’s a drawn game.
- 12 – outcome where either the Home Team (Team 1) or the Away Team (Team 2) wins.
So, for example, if you bet against 2X, you are backing the Home Team to win.
The main difference when moving from European Handicaps to 1X2 betting is that the draw is factored in to the outcomes as part of a combination of events (or, in the case of 12, is the case where you lose if you bet against it).
Spread Betting is the Same as European or Straight Handicap Betting
The so-called point spread betting covers not only bets on win, lose or draw, but takes into account how much you win or lose by.
So, its possible to win but not cover the spread.
The “point” to note (ha ha!) is that point spread betting is pretty much the same as European Handicap betting – the latter expression being more familiar in Europe and the former in the US.
Replace the word “handicap” with “point spread” in Tables 1 or 2, you get to the same outcome.And then came the “Asian Handicap” betting, which is a form of Spread Betting but more friendly to the bettors.
The Origins of the Asian Handicap
Asian betting markets, especially in countries such as Indonesia, Hong Kong etc. had large numbers of sports bets being placed by individuals of relatively modest means.
As such, the punters adjusted by separating out the “Draw” outcomes and returning the money to the bettors.
We will describe this in more detail below, but this style of betting, called hang cheng betting locally, became a prominent part of the Asian betting scenery in the 1990s.
Towards the late ‘90s, some of the bigger punters wanted to offer this option to a wider audience. One of them, Joseph Phan, approached a well-known English sports betting journalist, Joe Saumarez Smith, to come up with a catchy name that didn’t sound foreign.
Without much thought, Smith suggested that hang cheng style betting be called Asian Handicap betting, to distinguish it from European Handicap betting.Though he didn’t know it at the time, Smith had ushered in a whole new phenomenon. Over the next 20+ years, Asian Handicap betting has gone from strength to strength in popularity and is now offered on many major betting venues and platforms.
How Does Asian Handicap Betting Work?
What does Asian Handicap Betting mean and how does it work?
There are different ways to explain Asian Handicaps (and there is the “standard” Asian Handicap vs. variations introduced by some noted punters), but two points stay true throughout:
- Asian Handicaps allow for the return of the stake (bet) in the case of a (handicapped) draw; and
- Asian Handicaps allow half and even quarter point handicapping, which results in wins or losses being split in half at times. While the actual match results are always in round numbers, the handicapping affects the results, as we explain below.
Let’s look at some specific situations to understand how the above situations come into play.
Asian Handicap Betting Explained
There are some variations of Asian Handicap betting, but let’s take the standard form – Single Asian Handicap.
The basic types of betting may be described using slightly different terminology in Asian countries, as opposed to the rest of the world. In particular:
- “One” Handicap, i.e., betting in whole number spreads, can be called “One Ball” in Asia.
- “Half” handicap, i.e. betting increments of 0.5, can be called “Half Ball” in Asia.
- “Quarter” Handicaps, i.e. betting increments of 0.25, can be called “Level Half” in Asia.
Draw = Refund
One of the basic characteristics of Asian handicaps is that betters get their moneys returned in case there is a draw (after adjusting for the handicap). So, Asian Handicapping reduces the three (win, lose or draw) outcomes down to two – since the Draw event is a wash.
- As an example, assume the handicap is 0 (so the teams are assumed to be evenly matched). In European betting, all bettors who bet on the Home team to win will lose their money in the event of a draw.
- In Asian Handicap betting, both Team 1 and Team 2 bettors get their money back.
However, there are slightly more complex outcomes possible when you allow for half and quarter point spreads.
Half Wins and Losses
Due to the possibility of half and quarter point spreads being bet, and based on the rules, Asian Handicaps can create many situations where bettors only lose (or win) half of their bets.
The situations of the half win or lose are created due to rounding the results to the nearest half.
The progression of bets illustrated in Table 3 below illustrates the above concepts further:
Table 3: Extended Asian Handicap Betting Outcomes
|Handicap||Favorite Team Result||Bet Outcome||Handicap||Underdog Team Result||Bet Outcome|
|Draw||Money Back||Draw||Money Back|
|Draw||Lose Half Bet||Draw||Win Half Bet|
|-0.75||Win by 2+||Win||+0.75||Lose by 2+||Lose|
|Win by 1||Win Half Bet||Lose by 1||Lose Half Bet|
|-1.0||Win by 2+||Win||+1.0||Lose by 2+||Lose|
|Win by 1||Money Back||Lose by 1||Money Back|
|-1.25||Win by 2+||Win||+1.25||Lose by 2+||Lose|
|Win by 1||Lose Half Bet||Lose by 1||Win Half Bet|
|-1.5||Win by 2+||Win||+1.5||Lose by 2+||Lose|
|Win by 1||Lose||Lose by 1||Win|
|-1.75||Win by 3+||Win||+1.75||Lose by 3+||Lose|
|Win by 2+||Win Half Bet||Lose by 2+||Lose Half Bet|
|Win by 1||Lose||Lose by 1||Win|
|-2.0||Win by 3+||+2.0||Lose by 3+|
|Win by 2+||Money Back||Lose by 2+||Money Back|
|Win by 1||Lose||Lose by 1||Win|
We marked a few specific outcomes above to illustrate the specific points about Asian Handicap betting.In the second block of possible results depicted above, people are either betting on a team that is favored to win by 0.25 (-0.25 on the betting table), or a team is expected to lose by 0.25.
- The result is a draw. On the one hand, the favored team did not cover the spread, but it failed to do so by 0.25 goals, or half of the stake – given that a draw is a 50% (0.5) outcome. So, the person betting on the favorite team only loses on half their bet amount.
- Similarly, the person betting on the underdog to win only wins half their bet, since they did not “fully” win by the draw.
- Similarly, if the bet is -0.75 and your team wins by 1 goal, you only get paid for half your bet. If you are on the losing side, you only lose half your bet.
Additionally, there are multiple instances of the bet being refunded due to a “draw” (after adjusting for the handicap), as shown in the table above.
Asian Handicap Calculator
Once you think through it, the logic above should be apparent. However, in case more help is needed, there are online Asian Handicap Calculators available, such as:
These tools will help understand and place bets using the Asian Handicap style of betting.
Types (Variations) of Asian Handicap Bets
Some examples include:
Double Asian Handicaps
The Double Asian Handicap is a double outcome bet. For example, you may be allowed to bet on the underdog at two odds – +1 and +1.5, and your returns follow the results.
Alternative Asian Handicaps
The Alternative Asian Handicap, often designated as AAH if your online sportsbook offers it, is more involved than the simple Asian Handicap, as explained below:
The point is that Asian Handicaps tend to be more innovative and flexible than European or straight points spread handicap betting, so you should be on the look out for what is being offered and if it makes sense for you.
Where to Place Asian Handicap Bets
If you live in the US, not every offshore betting site will offer the option to bet Asian Handicaps.
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Some other offshore betting sites that offer the option to bet according to an Asian Handicap are outlined in the following list:
Besides the bookmakers mentioned above, other sites that allow Asian Handicap betting include Ladbrokes, Pinnacle Sports, and Interwetten.
In Conclusion …
Asian Handicap betting is here to stay and is likely to grow more in popularity as the years go by. If you have not had the chance to study it, it’s high time you did.
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