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Asian Handicap

 

Asian Handicap Betting Explained

When betting on football, punters are often stung by the draw which creates a third outcome when betting on the outright result of a game. That is, most people will bet on either Team A or Team B to win the match outright on the 1×2 market rather than bet on the draw. Should the match end in a tie, then punters who have bet on Team A and those that have bet on Team B will lose their bets whilst the bookies’ gleefully rub their hands.

With Asian Handicap betting though, the draw is essentially removed. This puts the two teams on more of an equal footing where the favourite is given a disadvantage and the underdog is given an advantage. This leaves the punter with just two choices – either back the team conceding the handicap (favourite) or back the team with the handicap (underdog).

This creates a situation more similar to other sports such as baseball or basketball where there are just two outcomes and the two mismatched teams are given as close to a 50/50 chance of winning as possible. With the added handicap, as both teams have around a 50% chance of winning, you are likely to see odds on the Asian Handicap line range from around 1.9 through to 2.1.

The handicap is expressed in either quarter, half or full goals and can be positive or negative. This means that it is not uncommon to see a range of numbers associated with the two teams in a match such as 0, -0.25, +0.5, +0.75, -1, -1.25, +1.5 etc. A plus sign means that the underdog has the advantage, the minus sign means the favourite has the disadvantage, and the number is the amount of goals in the handicap. So +0.5 means the underdog has a half goal head start, whilst -1 means that the favourite starts the game a goal down. This is pretty much the same concept as when you were playing football at school during playtime and would give a head start to the team that had the weaker side.

If you’ve never bet that way before, Asian Handicaps might at first seem a bit complicated or involving a lot of maths. However, when you get to grips with it and understand the concept then it is pretty straightforward and can change how you look at betting. I’m personally a big fan of Asian Handicap betting and rarely diverge away from this market when betting on football. Just like learning anything new, it will take, time practice and a few mistakes along the way – I know I’ve made a few – but it will be well worth it in the long run.

Asian handicap odds are offered by the majority of bookmakers, though the best odds are usually found with Asian bookies. I’ve found Dafabet, SBOBet, Bet365 and 188Bet are the four online bookies with the most generous odds.

There are three different types of Asian Handicaps – which probably adds to the confusion – which are explained in detail below:

The Full Goal Asian Handicap

The full goal Asian Handicap works by giving the underdog a head start and the favourite a disadvantage using a whole number or integer value, i.e. 1, 2, 3, 4 etc. The weaker team would receive a positive value (+1, +2, +3 or +4 etc.) whilst the stronger side would be handicapped with a negative value (-1, -2, -3 or -4 etc.) based on their perceived strength. The one exception is where both teams are given the 0 handicap to indicate that the teams are equal.

There are three possible outcomes to this type of Asian Handicap bet – either you win, you lose or you have your stake returned, which is known as void or push.

Let’s look at an example to make things easier to understand. On Bet365, the handicap for the recent Bundesliga encounter between Bayern Munich and Werder Bremen was set at -2 / +2, which means that Bayern Munich have a 2 goal disadvantage whilst Werder Bremen have a 2 goal advantage. The below explains what would happen to your bet based on the different match outcomes:

If the game ends in a draw

ScorelineBayern Munich -2 AHWerder Bremen +2 AH
0-0LossWin
1-1LossWin
2-2LossWin
3-3LossWin

If the game ends in a Bayern Munich win

ScorelineBayern Munich -2 AHWerder Bremen +2 AH
Win by 1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2)LossWin
Win by 2 (2-0, 3-1, 4-2)VoidVoid
Win by 3 (3-0, 4-1, 5-2)WinLoss
Win by 4 (4-0, 5-1, 6-2)WinLoss

If the game ends in a Werder Bremen win

ScorelineBayern Munich -2 AHWerder Bremen +2 AH
Win by 1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2)LossWin
Win by 2 (2-0, 3-1, 4-2)LossWin
Win by 3 (3-0, 4-1, 5-2)LossWin
Win by 4 (4-0, 5-1, 6-2)LossWin

As the above tables show, if you were to back Bayern Munich -2 AH at 1.80, you would only win the bet if the Bavarians won the match by three or more goals. If they won by a two goal margin, your stake would be returned as the bet is void, but if they won by one or drew or lost, then your money would be the bookies’ to keep. Similarly, if you backed Werder Bremen +2 AH at 2.10, you would win the bet as long as Bayern didn’t win by a margin of three goals – in which case you’d lose – or unless Bayern won by two goals – in which case your stake is refunded. Simple eh?!

The full goal Asian Handicap bet also helps to lower your risk as it incorporates the stake returned element. This means you can bet in the knowledge that even if your bet doesn’t win, there is a decent chance that you will have your stake refunded. In the example above, should Bayern not perform at top gear they are still likely to win and may even win by two goals, which would see your stake returned. Similarly, should Werder Bremen put in a herculean effort and have Lady Luck on their side, then it may be worth the risk of backing the underdog in the knowledge that even a defeat by two goals won’t see you out of pocket.

Half Goal Asian Handicap

The half goal Asian Handicap again works by giving the underdog an advantage whilst disadvantaging the favourite. As the name suggests, this is done in half goal increments rather than whole numbers as per the full goal handicap. The weaker team receives a positive half goal head start (+0.5, +1.5, +2.5, +3.5 etc.) and the stronger side is given a negative value (-0.5, -1.5, -2.5, -3.5 etc.).

In half goal Asian Handicaps, there are only two possible outcomes to your bet – either you win or you lose. The void or push option, as per the full goal handicap, has been eliminated as a team is unable to score half a goal.

Again, let’s take a look at an example to help bring this to life, this time a 2014 English Premier League game between Liverpool and Chelsea. On Bet365, the handicap for the fixture was set at -0.5 / +0.5, which means that Liverpool start with a half goal disadvantage whilst Chelsea start with a half goal advantage. The below tables explain what would happen to your bet dependent on the result of the match:

If the game ends in a draw

ScorelineLiverpool -0.5 AHChelsea +0.5 AH
0-0LossWin
1-1LossWin
2-2LossWin
3-3LossWin

If the game ends in a Liverpool win

ScorelineLiverpool -0.5 AHChelsea +0.5 AH
Win by 1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2)WinLoss
Win by 2 (2-0, 3-1, 4-2)WinLoss
Win by 3 (3-0, 4-1, 5-2)WinLoss
Win by 4 (4-0, 5-1, 6-2)WinLoss

If the game ends in a Chelsea win

ScorelineLiverpool -0.5 AHChelsea +0.5 AH
Win by 1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2)LossWin
Win by 2 (2-0, 3-1, 4-2)LossWin
Win by 3 (3-0, 4-1, 5-2)LossWin
Win by 4 (4-0, 5-1, 6-2)LossWin

As the above shows, the draw has been removed from the situation so your bet will either win or lose. If you back Liverpool at -0.5 AH at odds of 1.875, then you need Liverpool to win the game in order to make a profit. Should Liverpool fail to win, then the bet will lose. Looking at it from a Chelsea perspective, backing the Blues +0.5 AH at 2.025 means that your bet will win if Chelsea win or draw because they already are half a goal up – as long as they match Liverpool, then your bet wins.

Quarter Goal Asian Handicap

The quarter goal handicap is seen as the most complicated, but if you understand the full and half goal handicaps, then the quarter is not too dissimilar as it leans on concepts from both. Rather than full goal or half goal increments, this handicap is expressed in quarter increments. The underdog receives a positive quarter goal head start (+0.25, +0.75, +1.25, +1.75 etc.) and the favourite is given a negative start (-0.25, -0.75, -1.25, -1.75 etc.).

You may be thinking that if a team can’t win by half a goal, then how can they win by a quarter goal? This becomes clearer if we look at how some bookmakers write the quarter goal handicap. Some write it as I have done above, such as -1.75, but others write the same bet as +1.5, +2. As you can see from the second method, the value to the right of the comma looks like the full goal handicap whilst the value to the left of the comma looks like the half goal handicap.

Therefore, the quarter goal handicap automatically splits your stake into two, with half of your stake going on the lower value (in this case +1.5) and the other half going on the higher value (in this case +2). The two half stakes are then run as separate bets before being combined and settled as one bet. As an example, if you bet £20 on +1.75 AH, then £10 would be placed on +1.5 AH and the other £10 would be put on +2 AH.

Depending on the handicap you choose, there are four possible outcomes to your bet – you could win (both half stakes win), you could lose (both half stakes lose), you could win half and void half (one half stake wins and the other is stake returned), or you could lose half and void half (one half stake loses and the other is stake returned).

Again, let’s take a look at an example to help explain things better, this time a Europa League clash between Spanish duo Valencia and Sevilla, again from the 2014 competition. On Bet365, the handicap for the game was set at -0.25 / +0.25, which means that Valencia start with a quarter goal disadvantage (or half stake on 0 and half stake on -0.5) whilst Sevilla start with a half goal advantage (or half stake on 0 and half stake on +0.5). The below tables explain what would happen to your bet dependent on the result of the match:

If the game ends in a draw

ScorelineValencia -0.25 AHSevilla +0.25 AH
0-01/2 Loss / 1/2 Void1/2 Win / 1/2 Void
1-1? Loss / ? Void? Win / ? Void
2-21/2 Loss / 1/2 Void1/2 Win / 1/2 Void
3-31/2 Loss / 1/2 Void1/2 Win / 1/2 Void

If the game ends in a Valencia win

ScorelineValencia -0.25 AHSevilla +0.25 AH
Win by 1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2)WinLoss
Win by 2 (2-0, 3-1, 4-2)WinLoss
Win by 3 (3-0, 4-1, 5-2)WinLoss
Win by 4 (4-0, 5-1, 6-2)WinLoss

If the game ends in a Sevilla win

ScorelineValencia -0.25 AHSevilla +0.25 AH
Win by 1 (1-0, 2-1, 3-2)LossWin
Win by 2 (2-0, 3-1, 4-2)LossWin
Win by 3 (3-0, 4-1, 5-2)LossWin
Win by 4 (4-0, 5-1, 6-2)LossWin

As the above shows, the quarter goal handicap splits the stake into two. If you were to bet on Valencia -0.25 AH at 1.875, both parts of your stake would win if Valencia were victorious, both halves of your stake would lose if Valencia were defeated, or half your stake would lose (-0.25 AH part) and half would be returned (0 AH element) if the game was to end in a draw. With a £10 stake at 1.875, this would mean you are paid out £5 as this is your half stake returned.

If we look at Sevilla on the +0.25 AH at 2.05, both halves of your stake would win if Sevilla did, both parts would lose if Sevilla lost the game, or half your stake would win (+0.5 AH part) and half your stake would be returned (0 AH part) if the game ended in a tie. With a £10 stake at 2.05, this would mean you are paid out £15.25 [(£5 x 2.05) + £5 stake returned).

Why Use Asian Handicap?

Now that we understand the different Asian Handicap options, why should we use it? Firstly, as mentioned already, eliminating the draw gives you a better chance of winning as it increases the likelihood from 33.3% (3 outcomes – win, draw, lose) to 50% (2 outcomes – win or lose). This means that you are going to get odds close to even money regardless of whether you back the favourite or the underdog – this makes the bet much more appealing than betting on a heavy favourite at low odds. It also puts the draw on your side, giving you the option of having your stake returned which is not possible on the outright market or when you lay on the Betting Exchanges. From a psychological perspective, sometimes a void or push can feel like a win.

Many would argue that there is more value to be had in Asian Handicap betting when compared to other types of bets such as the traditional 1×2 outright market. This is because, generally, there is a lower margin associated with the Asian Handicap market due to the draw option being removed. With a lower margin, you are more likely to find value because your perceived odds and the bookies’ odds will be closer together.

Asian Handicaps also mean that your bet can win, even if the team you backed loses. This is one of my favourite types of bets and occurs when I think that the underdog is likely to put up a good fight but are unlikely to actually win. This can be a good strategy when favourites have played in the Champions League or Europa League mid-week so could be suffering from jet lag or exhaustion. You are unlikely to want to back the underdog outright for the win due to the very low likelihood of them winning, but you might think that the underdog will put in a good performance whilst the favourite could be under par.

I also often find that Asian Handicap markets can provide a slightly higher price than the traditional markets in some cases. Therefore, in the search for value and finding the highest price possible, it makes sense to do a quick check against the Asian Handicap markets to ensure you get that little bit extra. In particular, three of the traditional markets are exactly the same as three of the Asian Handicap markets – 0 AH is equivalent to the Draw No Bet Market, +0.5 AH is the same as Double Chance (Win or Draw) and -0.5 AH is equivalent to the outright win.

As an example, if we choose a game at random, let’s say the 1st leg of the Champions League tie between Real Madrid v Bayern Munich, we can see the fluctuation in odds between what are essentially the same bets but just written differently:

Asian Handicap BetAsian Handicap OddsEquivalent BetEquivalent Odds
Real Madrid 0 AH1.825Draw No Bet1.80
Bayern Munich 0 AH2.10Draw No Bet1.90
Real Madrid +0.5 AH1.45Double Chance1.42
Bayern +0.5 AH1.55Double Chance1.55
Real Madrid -0.5 AH2.375Outright Win2.50
Bayern -0.5 AH2.675Outright Win2.87

As the table above shows, if you fancied Bayern Munich Draw No Bet (i.e. stake back if the game ends in a draw), you would get 20p more per £1 if you went with 0 Asian Handicap rather than the more traditional Draw No Bet market. That would be extra profit of £20 if your stake was £100 just for choosing a different option of the exact same bet!

Obviously there can be the reverse situation too – if you went with Bayern Munich -0.5 rather than the outright Bayern win, then you would receive worse odds which would affect your pocket. The key point is to not only compare prices from different bookies’, but also to compare the same bet in different markets to ensure you are getting the best prices.

Next time you’re at a bookies’ or looking online, take a look at the Asian Handicap market and arm yourself with the information and examples in this article. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed once you get over the initial confusion!