What is Handicap in Betting?

Posted on February 28, 2023 - Last Updated on March 12, 2023

Whether you’re a fan of esports or traditional sports, betting is a major experience that connects the fans to their favourite teams and even brings fans ever so close to high stake action in matches. Bookmakers have provided various means of making betting much more immersive, one of these means is called a handicap. Now, what is handicap in betting?


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What is a Handicap in Betting?

A handicap in betting is a popular betting option in sports where a virtual advantage or disadvantage is given to the underdog or favourite team to level the playing field. This betting system aims to make the odds more even and the outcome of the game more unpredictable, thereby increasing the excitement for the bettors. This can also be seen in many betting guides, but we’re going to look deeply at this feature to understand the meaning of handicap in betting.

In handicap betting, a handicap is set, usually in the form of a goal or a point spread, to give an advantage or disadvantage to the team that is seen as weaker. For example, in football, if a team is given a -1 handicap, they must win by two goals or more to beat the handicap, while if they are given a +1 handicap, they can either win the game or lose by only one goal to beat the handicap.

what is handicap in betting pinnacle

Illustration provided by Pinnacle

Handicap betting is popular because it allows bettors to increase their odds and winnings, especially when betting on a strong favourite. By giving a virtual disadvantage to the favourite, the odds of an upset become higher, and the potential winnings for the bettor increase. Similarly, by giving a virtual advantage to the underdog, the odds of an upset become lower, allowing the bettor to place a safer bet.

Types of Handicaps in Betting

There are several types of handicap betting in sports, each with its own set of rules and regulations.

  • Asian Handicap: One of the most popular forms of handicap betting is the Asian Handicap, which originated in Asia. In this form of betting, the handicap is set in half-goals, allowing for a wider range of possible outcomes and increasing the excitement for the bettor.
  • Level Handicap: This type of handicap betting is similar to a European Handicap, but instead of a whole number handicap, the handicap is set at 0. This means that the favorite and the underdog have an equal chance of winning the bet, with the outcome of the game determining the winner.
  • European Handicap: This type of handicap is similar to a traditional point spread and is commonly used in soccer betting. A European Handicap is expressed as a whole number, such as +1 or -1. The team receiving the handicap must win by the exact margin specified, or the bet is considered a push.
  • Three-Way Handicap: This type of handicap betting is commonly used in soccer and allows bettors to wager on the outcome of a game, including the possibility of a draw. In a Three-Way Handicap, a handicap is set and the bettor can choose to bet on the favorite, the underdog, or a draw.
  • Quarter Handicap: This type of handicap betting is similar to an Asian Handicap, but instead of half goals, a quarter goal handicap is used. This type of handicap betting is popular in sports such as basketball where the final score can be a fraction of a point.

Read more about betting on the underdog here.

Why are Handicaps important in Betting?

Asides from the obvious question of what are handicaps in betting? Another great question is why are they important.

Well, there are several reasons why they are important and not just to sports betting as well, but to eSports and virtual betting too.

  • Increased Excitement: Handicap betting helps to make the outcome of a sporting event more unpredictable by leveling the playing field. This added uncertainty can make the experience of betting on a sporting event more exciting for the bettor.
  • Better Odds: By giving a virtual advantage or disadvantage to one of the teams, handicap betting can help to make the odds more even. This allows bettors to place a bet on a favorite team at better odds or on an underdog team with a greater chance of winning.
  • Risk management: Handicap betting can help to manage the risk involved in sports betting by providing bettors with the opportunity to place a safer bet on an underdog team or to increase the potential winnings by betting on a favorite team.
  • Improved accuracy: Handicap betting can help to improve the accuracy of betting predictions by taking into account the strength of both teams and allowing for a more balanced assessment of the likelihood of a win or loss.
  • Versatility: Different types of handicap betting, such as Asian Handicap and Three-Way Handicap, offer a range of betting options, allowing bettors to choose the type of handicap that best suits their betting style and objectives.

Betting Sites that offer Handicaps in Betting

what is handicap in betting

Handicap markets on crypto betting specialist, Thunderpick

The aim of this article is to better answer the question of what is a handicap in betting, the types of Handicaps in betting, and why they are important. A large number of traditional bookmakers and esports bookmakers offer handicaps in betting and here are some sites that may have great offers.


GG.Bet offers handicap betting on esports events. Handicap betting is a popular way for bettors to even the playing field in esports matches where there is a clear favorite, by assigning a virtual advantage or disadvantage to the teams in a match. This creates a more even betting market and allows bettors to increase their chances of making a profitable bet. Read our GG.Bet review for a comprehensive assessment of this platform.


MyStake Esports is a popular online betting exchange that allows users to bet against each other, including on handicap betting markets.


Pinnacle, a pioneer of the esports betting industry, is a bookmaker that offers handicap betting on a wide range of sports and esports events. Pinnacle offers players a dedicated Esports Hub with the best odds for betting on these events. Check out our Pinnacle review and ratings for more information.


Thunderpick is an online betting site that offers a wide range of betting options, including handicap betting on many different sports. Take a look at our Thunderpick review for a closer look at this crypto betting operator.

These are just a few of the many online betting sites that offer handicap betting.

Frequently asked questions

This should sufficiently answer the question of what is handicap in betting? And should equip you with all you need to know about betting on sports or eSports with a Handicap. Now that you understand the meaning of handicap in betting, it’s also important to read the terms and conditions and understand the rules of handicap betting before placing bets.

What are the risks of handicap betting?

Handicap betting can be more complex than regular betting, and it can also be more difficult to predict the outcome. Additionally, handicap betting can be risky if the handicap given to a team is incorrect or unfair.

How do I place a handicap bet?

You can place a handicap bet at a bookmaker or online betting website that offers this type of betting. Simply select the handicap bet you want to make, and place your bet by following the instructions provided.
Grant Taylor-Hill Avatar
Written by
Grant Taylor-Hill

Grant is a lifelong, multi-platform gamer with a passion for journalism and more than ten years' experience in the industry. He'll try any game once, and when he's not playing them, he's watching them, being as he is an avid esports fan.

View all posts by Grant Taylor-Hill