How Handicap Betting in Cricket Works

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. It’s 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.

Some of the best sites for handicap betting in sport is bet365 and betway

Handicap Betting In Cricket Explained

Handicap betting in cricket is different from other sports. In other sports, there is typically only one way to win a match. For example, in football, it is about who scores the most goals. However, in cricket there are two ways to win, i.e., by either runs scored or wickets left in hand, this is dependent on which team bats or bowls first. 

Therefore, prior to a cricket match, the data scientists and analysts will have viewed the probabilities of this game and then decided on a batting or bowling handicap to virtually reduce the predicted dominant side’s final score or the number of wickets to make the match more even and consequently provide more appealing betting odds. 

Depending on which team bats/bowls first, will determine if the wickets or runs handicap is applied to either team.

For example, a handicap will typically look like this:

For the predicted dominant team – “-6.5 wkts / -40.5 runs” 

Or

For the predicted weaker team – “+6.5 wkts / +40.5 runs”

For the predicted dominant team, if you choose to take this bet, it means that you believe the dominant team will win the match by more than 40.5 (i.e., 41 runs) runs if they batted first or by 3.5 (i.e., 3 wickets) wickets or less if they batted second. 

For the predicted weaker team, if you choose to take this bet, it means that you believe the weaker team will win the match with 40.5 (i.e., 40 runs) runs added to their score if they batted second or you believe the predicted stronger team will not win the match by less than 3.5 wickets (i.e., 3 wickets) if they batted second. 

The handicapping system in cricket may be easier to understand when using examples. 

Handicap Runs Example: 

Imagine India was 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 wins.

Let’s suggest that India batted first and scored 200. If the bookies gave India a handicap of “-49.5 runs” at odds of 1/1. If you were to win this bet India would need to win this match by more than 50 runs. I.e., Ireland would have to score 150 runs or less in their 20 overs. 

The way this works is, if India’s final score with the handicap of minus 49.5 runs still works out to be better than Ireland’s actual final score, then you’ve won. Therefore, you have taken the option of a handicap against India to win, you got better odds and your bet still won.

Alternatively, you can place a bet on Ireland to win with a handicap of “+49.5 runs”. Thus, if you take this option, for you to win this bet, Ireland would either need to win the match or score 151 runs or more from their 20 overs. 

Handicap Wickets Example: 

Again, imagine if England were playing against Zimbabwe in a T20 match and were priced at 2/9 to win. This is not an attractive price for those who understand betting odds. It suggests that England are the bookies firm favourites to beat Zimbabwe.

Because England are firm favourites, let’s suggest the bookies give the more appealing option, in terms of betting odds, of 1/1 for England to win with a handicap of “-7.5 wkts”.

Let’s propose that Zimbabwe batted first and score 130 from their 20 overs. If you took the option for England to win with this handicap, England would need to successfully chase down Zimbabwe’s total of 130 only having lost two or fewer wickets. 

On the other hand, if you place a bet on Zimbabwe with a handicap of “+7.5 wkts”, England will need to have either failed to chase down the total of 130 or lost 3 or more wickets when if they were to successfully chase down the total. 

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 pre-match 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.

Series Handicap Betting 

Series handicap betting involves betting on which team will win a series after a handicap is applied. This will most likely be an international series and could be a T20, ODI, or Test series. Series handicap betting is much simpler and more similar to traditional handicap betting.

For example, let’s say Australia won a 2-match Test series against the West Indies 1-0. If a handicap was applied to the West Indies prior to the series of +1.5 (or -1.5 to Australia is the equivalent), then West Indies would win the series 1.5-1. Therefore, if you placed a bet on the West Indies, with the handicap, to win, then your bet would be successful.

Additional Information

  • If a match is abandoned due to outside interference, then bets will be void.
  • If a match is affected by weather or any other type of delay and there is a subsequent loss of overs from the match (in either innings), then all bets will be void.

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The following sites offer a great selection of handicap betting on cricket markets:

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