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Betting Strategy

What are Asian handicaps?

Ordinarily when you place a bet on the outcome of a soccer match, you’d choose between home, draw or away. Asian handicaps were first introduced to provide a competitive price to a short-priced favourite. We explain how Asian handicaps work.

Updated 10/7/2020

Asian handicaps take an outcome with multiple possibilities - in a soccer match, three - and boil down your options to two. It’s a binary market. Asian handicaps are available in numerous soccer markets, but we’ll focus on full time results for the purposes of this article. Once you understand the basics, you can apply your knowledge any time you see Asian handicaps displayed.

Ordinarily when you place a bet on a soccer match, you’d choose between home, draw or away (aka a 1x2 market). When it comes to full-time results, Asian handicaps remove the possibility of a draw, leaving you with two options for the win - the home or the away team. Each team is weighted based on a number of factors, including but not limited to previous form, player availability and historical form between the two sides. These factors combine to provide a weighted “handicap” that gives the underdog an advantage (shown with a + sign) and the favourite a handicap (a - sign).

What is important here, and makes Asian handicaps attractive to sports bettors, is that your stake is more easily covered in the very real chance that a match ends in a draw.

There are different types of Asian handicap bets ranging from a quarter goal (0.25) to a whole goal (1 or multiples thereof), which are given in increments of 0.25. These give you an idea of the team advantage over one another, but also tell you how your bet is being placed. These are referred to as the "lines".

It may help to think of it as the underdog team being given a head start: an Asian handicap of +1 means the underdog team is awarded a virtual goal before kick-off, so if you were to bet on the favourite, you would have to consider them overcoming that free goal in the final result. Alternatively, add or subtract the handicap from the final result to calculate the Asian handicap winner.

An Asian handicap of +1 means the underdog team is awarded a virtual goal before kick-off

There are five possible outcomes to an Asian handicap bet - win full, win half, push, lose half and lose full. What this means in practical terms is that in the end you could win your bet entirely, lose your bet entirely, get your entire stake refunded, get half your stake refunded and win half at the stated odds, or get half your stake refunded and lose half.

If this all seems a tad confusing, examples to illustrate each scenario can make things clearer.

Here are the main Asian handicap options you’ll see at Cloudbet, using upcoming English Premier League matches to illustrate.

Asian handicap 0.25

With this option, the game starts with the score of 0-0.25 (a quarter-goal handicap). The underdog team receives the advantage of a quarter goal prior to kick off (+0.25). You can win, half-win, lose or half-lose your stake.

Example: Norwich City +0.25 (underdog) vs Brighton & Hove Albion -0.25 (favourite)

Let's say you bet on Brighton, the favourite, to win at a -0.25 Asian handicap market.

If Brighton wins, you win your bet. If the result is a draw, you "lose half" (see table below) - ie, half your stake is returned to you. If Norwich wins, the bet loses.

On the other side, let's say you bet on Norwich, the underdog, to win at a +0.25 Asian handicap market.

If Norwich wins, you win the bet. If the result is a draw, you "win half" - ie, you get half your stake back and win the other half at the stated odds. You are in profit on your bet. If Norwich loses, you lose the bet.

Asian handicap 0.5

In this case, the game starts with the score of 0-0.5 (a half goal handicap). The underdog team has the advantage of a half goal prior to kick off. This option removes the possibility of receiving money back if the favourite draws. You will win or lose your entire wager as it’s not possible for a team to score half a goal.

Example: Everton FC -0.5 (favourite) vs Southampton FC +0.5 (underdog)

Let's say you bet on Everton, the favourite, to win at a -0.5 Asian handicap market. This indicates they have the benefit, so they start half a goal behind Southampton. For your bet to win, you need Everton to win the game. A lead over Southampton of at least one goal ensures that despite the handicap, they’re ahead. In any other eventuality, you lose your money.

If Everton win, you win your bet. If Southampton win or the game ends in a draw, you lose your full stake.

On the other side, you bet on Southampton to win on a +0.5 Asian handicap market. For your bet to win, Southampton needs to win or draw. If Everton wins, you lose your bet.

Asian handicap 0.75

If you see this displayed, the game starts with the score of 0-0.75 (a three-quarter goal handicap). The underdog team has the advantage of a three-quarter goal prior to kick off. Because this is another quarter-goal handicap, you’re effectively placing two bets, one at the full goal line and one at the half-goal line.

Example: Watford FC -0.75 (favourite) vs Norwich City +0.75 (underdog)

For this example, Norwich City are here again - and still underdogs! But you're a Canaries fan so you're still going to back your team... You bet on Norwich to win with +0.75 Asian handicap.

Quarter-goal handicaps are a little more complicated, because in essence you are placing two bets: one on the full-goal (+1) line and one on the half-goal (0.5) line, with your stake halved between them. To illustrate lets say you place:

$100 Norwich +0.75 at odds of, for example, 1.94 =
$50 Norwich +1 at 1.94.
and
$50 Norwich +0.5 at 1.94

For your bet to win, Norwich needs to win or draw. If Watford wins by 1 goal, you will get a push on half your stake (Norwich +1 bet; $0) and lose the other half (Norwich +0.5; -$50). If Watford wins by 2 or more goals you lose your whole stake (-$100).

On the other side, if you bet on Watford to win with a -0.75 Asian handicap you need them to win by 2 or more goals to win your entire bet ($100 @ 1.94 = $94 profit). Mirroring the explanation offered above, if Watford win by 1 goal, you get a push on half of your stake (Watford -1; $0) and win the other half (Watford -0.5; $50@1.94 = +$47) at the stated odds. If the game is drawn or Norwich wins by any margin, you lose your bet.

Asian handicap -1

In this case, the game starts with the score of 1-0. Because it’s a whole goal advantage, there is a possibility of having your stake refunded.

Example: Crystal Palace +1 (underdog) vs Chelsea FC -1 (favourite)

In this example, if you bet on Chelsea to win at a -1 Asian handicap, to win your bet, you need them to win by 2 or more goals as Palace receives a 1 goal head start.

If Chelsea wins by a 2-goal or more margin, you win your entire bet. If they only win by one goal you get your entire stake back. It’s effectively what is called a "Draw No Bet".

If the match is a draw or Palace wins, you lose all your stake because the handicap was not overturned.

On the other side, if you bet on Palace to win at a +1 Asian handicap market, you need them to win or draw. If the match is a draw or Palace wins, you win at the stated odds. If Palace loses by 1 goal, you get your entire stake back. If Chelsea wins by 2 or more, you lose your bet because they have successfully overturned the one-goal handicap.

Additional Asian Handicaps

When teams can’t be split, you’ll see both teams with 0 next to them. This is known as a “pick ‘em” and means that in the event of a draw, both sides of the bet would get your stake back. No team has an advantage over the other. The odds will be slimmer but your risk is substantially lower. The 0 (zero) handicap is sometimes referred to as the "Draw no Bet" (or DNB) - as in, if the result is a Draw, there is no Bet, ie, a push.

You may also see different variations of Asian Handicaps on Cloudbet depending on how big the gulf in class. They’ll look like combinations of these Asian Handicaps, for example: -1.75 or +2.25. But the premise of working out the risk and potential winnings is exactly the same.

Bet with Cloudbet

A lot of bettors and tipsters will recommend getting to know how Asian handicapping works because once you do, it can be a good strategy to help grow your bankroll. It may seem complicated at first, but after a little bit of time it should get easier.

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So come put your new-found knowledge of Asian handicaps to great use and start betting with Cloudbet now!

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