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What is a Handicap Bet?

In our continuing series of betting explanations, today we’re taking a look at Handicap bets. No, nothing to do with the Paralympic Games – instead, it’s a form of betting that can actually change the outcome of a given event. Handicap betting involves giving one selection a virtual deficit (a handicap) to overcome at the start of an event. If the chosen selection’s score ends up being higher than any opponents that have a handicap, it will be deemed the winner.


How does a Handicap Bet work?

Put simply, a handicap bet can be used to give one team a boost. If one competitor looks to be the clear favourite to win, bookmakers will sometimes compensate by giving other competitors a slight head-start. For instance, in a match between football teams in which Team A is predicted to win 4-0, the bookmaker might implement a 0-2 handicap, meaning that if Team A wins 2-1, the actual score is considered to be 2-3 in favour of Team B. Confusing? It’s easier than it sounds. Think of it as the weaker team getting two “bonus” goals.


Why choose handicap betting?

Handicap betting can be a great option if you feel that your chosen team has poor chances of winning. It can “even the odds” by boosting a weaker competitor in a race and makes the race more interesting by turning what should be a foregone result into something uncertain. After all, it can be boring to watch an event where who will end up winning is a foregone conclusion.

This type of bet isn’t always the best option for beginners. Careful consideration needs to be done in order to choose a team with the best chances, as even with handicap betting stronger teams do still generally dominate against weaker ones. If a certain team or player tends to win with a high margin but the handicaps tend to be low, it might not be such a good idea to back the underdog. But the addition of handicaps can change the outcome of certain games – so be sure to pick who you back carefully!