What is Handicap Betting?
In simple terms, this refers to a scenario where one selection of a betting market for an event is given a ‘handicap’ to overcome, in order to record a win. Its regarded as a way for betting sites to even the market and make it more attractive to punters. For example, a theoretical deficit is applied to the final score of a match that hypothetically evens out the result.
In football, for example, the bookies virtually reduce one team’s score by the handicap (it could be minus 1 goal or minus 2 or more). So when the game finishes, the betting site knows the actual score, but there’s also the implied score for any handicap betting markets they have created for punters.
This is commonly used to offset the short odds often associated with heavy favourites, as it enables you to place controlled conditions on the win and theoretically lengthen the price in your favour.
Handicap Betting In Cricket
Runs: Imagine India were playing Ireland in a T20 match and were priced at 1/5 to win. That’s not an entirely attractive price for those who understand betting odds. 1/5 suggests India have a superior advantage over Ireland and the bookies are not prepared to lose too much if India win.
The data scientists and analysis will have viewed the probabilities of this game and decided on a handicap to virtually reduce India’s final score. Let’s suggest they predict India will score 230 runs and Ireland will fall short with a 50 run deficit of 180.
Instead of 1/5 for India to win based on the expected 230 runs, the bookies allow you to bet with the -50 run handicap on India’s final score and they give you odds of 1/1 for India. Which looks more appealing as a bet in terms of better odds. If India’s final score (minus 50 runs) still works out to be better than Ireland’s actual final score, then you’ve won. You’ve taken a handicap against India to win, you got better odds and your bet still won.
Wickets: With the same logic applied from the run handicap, betting sites will have a market for wickets, which is naturally an equally important factor in determining who wins and who loses. Bookies apply a virtual deficit to the number of wickets each team loses. So if the match came down to 1 wicket, as in India held their last wicket and Ireland lost all of theirs, the handicap may alter the outcome for a punter. In most cases, a wicket handicap is applied with a run handicap upon the completion of an innings.
In-Play Handicap Betting
If the match has started and one team has completed their innings, bookies might present a new handicap based on recalculating the run chase. Normally the principles are exactly the same, but you’ll find betting sites are more cautious with in-play bets, so the terms, the odds etc might be a little less favourable than prematch betting with a handicap.
This type of bet would be wagered in-play, while it’s just one of several handicaps that can be placed on teams to manipulate the odds listed and boost the value proposition of a particular selection.
Both Positive And Negative
Handicap betting is a three-way scenario where you bet on either team to win, lose or draw with a handicap applied. So in most cases, the reverse of the handicap is applied to create a similar bet.
From our above example, we see India win with odds of 1/1 with a -50 run deficit. You should see a similar separate bet for the reverse of that with Ireland +50 runs and a market for them to win with a positive handicap.
Handicap Betting Sites
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