Handicap Betting Strategies

The Handicap betting markets can be a profitable experience, even for novice punters who are not so familiar with the world of sports betting.

I’ve explained how the Handicap markets work, so here are my favourite betting strategies to use when delving into said markets.

Back the “minnows” with a Handicap advantage

I’ve had success in recent seasons by targeting international friendlies and qualifying matches and back the smaller nations with a +3/4 goal advantage.

The landscape in International Football has changed dramatically over the last decade as even the smaller nations dotted around Europe are becoming more organized and difficult to break down.

The classic David v Goliath match rarely serves up any big score lines anymore and I would suggest taking on the giants like Italy, Portugal, Netherlands and Spain on the European Handicap markets. You will find great value in backing the underdogs in these matches with a +2 or +3 head start – there are no easy games in International football anymore (well, apart from San Marino and Gibraltar).

But you get the point. Don’t be afraid to take on the big names in International football as it’s very difficult to win by a large margin these days.

Use the Alternative Handicap to give the underdog a bigger advantage

The standard Handicap on any match will be -1/+1 goal. And as I’ve mentioned in the first point, there are no easy games anymore. Smaller teams now rely on a defensive approach that is hard to break down, so you can find a very high success on your bets if you back the underdog with a +2 or +3 advantage on the alternative handicap.

Yes, the odds will be much smaller – somewhere around 1.10 to 1.25 mark for a +3 goal advantage but by combining two or three of these selections together you will get a good return on your money.

I tend to avoid matches where the underdog is playing away from home, but it’s down to personal choice and whatever works best for you.

READ: 7 Awesome Handicap Asian Handicap betting markets

Become “anti-goals” and look for low-scoring matches

The introduction of goals galore coupons and headline offers on exciting, open and entertaining games allures to the fact that everyone wants goals. And this is reflected in people’s betting patterns.

Bookmakers will take the majority of bets on OVERS on the goals handicap markets. However, I like to think from the other side of the coin and find matches where I believe there will be no goals, or very few goals – I particularly like using 1st leg ties in cup competitions. As these matches tend to explode into life in the second leg and fairly tentative first 90 minutes.

You can usually find better prices backing the under goal line on the handicap – my preferred choice is the under 3 goals line – so the bet would win if two goal or less are scored and the bet is refunded if 3 goals are scored (although be sure to check the terms with your bookmaker) – and it’s of course considered a loss if you see 4 goals or more.

Novelty Handicap Markets offer Good Value

I tend not to pay too much attention to the novelty bet markets but Bet365 offer an excellent range of handicap markets. In particular, the Premier League season handicap market will give you a good run for your money.

How it works is that every team (based on Bet365’s predictions) are given a points handicap. So Chelsea would start on 0 points, Man City on +1 and while Norwich would be given +42 points. Every team is priced at 15/1 to win the league and the team who sits top of the table with their handicap included wins the bet.

It offers good value as quite frankly the bookmakers do not know how to price this up and what handicap will turn out to be correct. So always be sure to check out any of the special handicap markets on offer to spot any value you think the bookmakers have missed.

Best Bookmakers for Handicap Betting

Handicap betting maybe the most straight forward of the handicap markets as it works in whole numbers (+1, +2 goals etc.). But I would still advise on selecting your bookmaker carefully.

Much like my Asian Handicap betting portfolio I like to ensure that I use a range of bookmakers to achieve the most profit possible. Here is an insight into my top three online sportsbooks for Handicap betting.


CoralAlongside Bet365, I also like to use Coral for Handicap betting. They are an established name in the UK and have had a presence on the high street for decades. Their online presence, however, has grown considerably over the years and they really caught my eye when it comes to Handicap betting.

Most of their competitors will only go up the -2, -3 goals on the handicap match betting on football but Coral will usually go much higher. So if you believe a team can cover the -4 or -5 handicap then Coral is the place to go and place your bets.

Admittedly, it’s quite rare I would back any team with a -4 goal handicap but there are occasions that these kind of bets make appeal. Barcelona and Real Madrid will often cover these kind of handicaps and the price on offer is much more appealing and worth the risk in certain circumstances.

Their website is also nice and user-friendly and withdrawal methods are quick and reliable too. All in all, Coral are a very useful bookmaker to have on your side.


betfair-logo-hi-resThe betting exchanges have taken a bit of a battering over the last five years or so as the competition among the traditional has the value shrink. But Betfair, however, is one betting exchange I would definitely advise using.

The odds on offer tend to be higher than using Bet365 or Coral for example, but yo do need to factor in the commission you will pay on winning bets. The big hitters will also need to be aware of the premium charge incurred on when your profit hits a certain limit.

But don’t be put off by this! The Handicap markets are plentiful and the liquidity is much higher than it used to be. Although a word of caution, if you are looking at a niche sport or league then you may need to make your bets closer to the event starting so the liquidity improves.

Betfair also have a reliable stable of tipsters and commentators that highlight specific markets and events to use Handicap betting – they also produce a stream of content that can only improve your betting and knowledge on the subject.

Final Thoughts

There is little competition for bet365 in my option when it comes to handicap betting. It won’t take you long searching through the site to see how good they have become.

That being said, they aren’t always best priced for their bets and that’s basically the reason that I also have both Coral and Betfair in my armoury should I need them. These three bookmakers combined have made a perfect portfolio of handicap betting sites and should suit the vast majority of punters out there.

Asian Handicap Betting Tips and Strategy


Now you understand the basics of Asian Handicap betting and which bookmakers offer the best value, you’ll need to find a betting strategy that suits the handicap markets.

To make the most out of the Asian Handicap markets you’ll need to adjust your mindset as the betting conditions have change with the draw being eliminated from the equation.

I like to follow the below points when using the Asian Handicap markets.

Analyse both teams and the match in detail

This may sound like an obvious point but you really need to understand the circumstances that surround the match you are betting on. As the handicap markets are very specific.

i.e. Backing Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace in the match winner market is very different to them covering the -1.5 goals on the Asian Handicap.

You should ask yourself the following questions;

  • Do Arsenal have any significant team news?
  • Are goal scoring chances limited due to injuries?
  • Do they have strong motivation for the game?
  • Have Arsenal got an important match just days later?

Arsenal may have a crucial Champions League game following this match so will they really push themselves if they go 1-0 up? Probably not, so the chances of them covering a handicap bet is low. Likewise, they might be coming off the back of a tough European trip and will be tired for this game.

All of this information has to be taken into consideration before making your bets. You might find that you change your original thoughts and back Crystal Palace with the +1.5 goals advantage – as even if Arsenal do win the match by one goal you still win the bet.

Oppose the leader by using in-play Asian Handicap betting

Another strategy I often use on the Asian Handicaps works on the basis of opposing the leader in-play in football matches.

It’s common knowledge that when a team takes the lead in a match they will often concede the next goal. This is down to various reasons – teams will subconsciously sit on their lead and the opposition will have the onus to push forward and attack.

Here is an example of an in-play match;

Reading 1-0 Leeds (30 mins)

The Asian Handicap market would be priced up accordingly:

Reading -0.25 = odds of 2.000

Leeds +0.25 = odds of 1.700

  • Here I would be tempted to back Leeds +0.25 as this market works on the basis the score is still 0-0.
  • There is a strong possibility that Leeds will score the next goal, even if they don’t and the score remains 1-0 your bet is considered a half win.
  • You will need to cast some judgment on how the match is being played out and you would want to use matches that are expected to be close affairs – don’t use this strategy when top plays bottom of the league!
  • You won’t get big prices using this strategy but your success rate should be high.

Don’t look at the Asian Handicap Odds before previewing the match

I would always advise people to make up their mind on a match or event before looking at the odds and handicap lines. You should always evaluate the match and have an idea of what score you think it will before checking the odds – this is especially crucial for Asian Handicap betting.

If not, you might be swayed by the handicap given to the team on the basis that is the line that bookmaker thinks it should be. You might see Man Utd are set at -2.5 goals against MK Dons in the League Cup but it doesn’t mean they will cover it.

Always have an idea in your mind before you look at the bookmaker’s handicap lines and odds. And never be influenced by their prices! It may sound obvious but you’ll be surprised how many people base their selections on the prices quoted by the bookmaker thinking that the favourite will always win.

Find “False Favourites” and oppose them on the Asian Handicap market

Another great way to make the most of the Asian Handicap markets is to find false favourites and back against them.

As the Asian Handicap market is designed to balance out sporting events, if you can find a favourite that is way underpriced then you can use this to your advantage and back the underdog with +0.5 goals start at a decent price – meaning that if the favourite fails to win then your bet is a winner.

An example would be looking to oppose the big teams (Man Utd, Liverpool, Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid etc.) when they have nothing to play for.

End of season matches against relegation or European chasing candidates are a prime example when to back the underdog on the Asian Handicap. The bookmakers will always price up the big teams as favourites in a match, but there are certain times of the season when they are considered to be false favourites.