Asian Handicap Betting Explained
Last updated: 04/08/2016
In football betting, the value offered on 1X2 markets is sometimes limited, especially when backing favourites. You are probably already familiar with handicap betting, but may not know much about Asian Handicaps, often seen as a more obscure betting market.
It's definitely an interesting alternative for punters looking for new ways to bet and better value for their money. Read on and all will be explained!
Where does Asian Handicap come from?
The clue is in the name! This kind of bet originated from Asia, or Indonesia to be more precise, where it was originally known as hang cheng betting.
Some professional sports bettors in Europe were able to gain an understanding of this betting market in the early 2000s, and made big profits from it.
From then on, it became more and more common in Europe and nowadays many bookmakers offer this market on football matches, at least to some extent.
What is Asian Handicap betting?
Similar to regular handicap betting, Asian Handicap lines adjust the score of a match through an imaginary headstart or deficit for each side. This is useful when you don't want to wager on a sure thing because the 1X2 odds are too short. However, there are other additional factors which also make Asian Handicap an interesting proposition.
The handicap amount can be any number of goals in theory, but the main betting line will reveal the perceived difference in level between the two opponents. It is usually set to give two outcomes which are close to 50/50 in likelihood.
Let's look at the most common types of Asian Handicap bet and how they work.
Simple Asian Handicap
When looking at a market like this, a few observations can be made right away, which are general rules for Asian Handicap:
- Unlike 1×2 or regular handicap bets, you can only bet on two outcomes, rather than three
- The odds are quoted in decimals because they don't always convert into a common fraction
- The main betting line odds are close to even money
As we explained, the handicap line shows how the bookies see the two sides matching up. BATE Borisov are seen as favourites, but not by a huge amount as their handicap is only -0.5. Dundalk, the perceived outsiders, start with a headstart of +0.5.
Of course, half goals do not exist in football, but you have to look at it in the same way as with as over/under markets – having a half goal unit means that the draw outcome is removed.
So BATE Barisov would cover the -0.5 goal handicap if they won the match, no matter what the margin of victory. Any other result i.e. a draw or a win for Dundalk, would see Dundalk win this Asian Handicap bet.
Let's imagine you bet £10 on Dundalk +0.5 at odds of 1.88; here are the possible outcomes depending on the match result:
|Match result||Bet result|
|Dundalk win or draw||Win||£18.80|
0.0 Asian Handicap
When teams are so closely matched that it's difficult to pick a clear favourite, bookmakers might use 0.0 for the Asian Handicap line. This means that for the purposes of the bet, neither side starts with a handicap or headstart.
In this match, the bookmakers have deemed Qarabag and Viktoria Plzen to have a relatively similar chance of winning, although Viktoria Plzen are seen as slight favourites because the odds on them are shorter.
With no handicap or headstart for either side, there is the possibility of neither side winning on the Asian Handicap, should the match finish a draw. This would also apply if betting on a team with a -1 handicap and they won by exactly one goal.
That adds a third potential outcome, but remember that it is one you cannot bet on in the Asian Handicap market. In this scenario, bets are void and the stake is returned in full.
When you think about it, the 0.0 bet is actually exactly the same as the Draw No Bet market. In theory you would expect to get the same odds but surprisingly you can actually get better odds on the Asian Handicap.
Let's look at how that affects your potential returns from such a bet.
You bet £10 on Qarabag with Asian Handicap of 0.0 at odds of 1.98.
You also bet £10 on Qarabag with Draw No Bet at odds of 10/11 (around 1.91 in decimals).
|AH result||AH returns||DNB result||DNB returns|
|Qarabag win by 1 goal or more||Win||£19.80||Win||£19.09|
So if your bet loses or is voided, the returns are the same for AH and DNB. However, if it wins, the AH bet returns £0.71 more than the DNB.
OK, so it's not a huge difference, but heavy hitters should take note as if they are betting big, the sums in play will be more significant. Also, it's a matter of principle – you want to get every last penny out of the bookie for your winning bet!
Clearly the Asian Handicap offers better value if you are looking to bet on that kind of outcome.
Regular split stakes
Right, so this is where things get a tad more complicated – you didn't think it was that simple, did you?
You sometimes see two handicap values next to the betting selection, as shown here:
Half of your stake goes on each handicap, but the odds remain the same for each half of the stake.
So here a £10 bet on West Ham would mean:
£5 with AH -1.5 at odds of 2.00
£5 with AH -2.0 at odds of 2.00
|Match result||-1.5 bet result||-2.0 bet result||Total returns|
|West Ham win by 3 goals or more||Win – returns £10||Win – returns £10||£20|
|West Ham win by exactly 2 goals||Win – returns £10||Void – returns £5||£15|
|Any other result (West Ham win by 1 goal, draw or lose)||Lose – returns £0||Lose – returns £0||£0|
Meanwhile, a £10 bet on NK Domzale would mean:
£5 with AH +1.5 at odds of 1.8
£5 with AH +2.0 at odds of 1.8
|Match result||+1.5 bet result||+2.0 bet result||Total returns|
|Any other result (NK Domzale lose by 1 goal, draw or win)||Win – returns £9||Win – returns £9||£18|
|NK Domzale lose by exactly 2 goals||Lose – returns £0||Void – returns £5||£5|
|NK Domzale lose by 3 goals or more||Lose – returns £0||Lose – returns £0||£0|
As you can see, there is a reasonable chance of getting at least half your stake back. If you're not 100% sure because you think the outcome is going to be close, it's a good bet to consider.
Split stakes using 1/4 goals
Important: Some bookmakers show split stakes bets differently, using 1/4 goal measures. As if imaginary 1/2 goals were not complicated enough!
The 1/4 goal handicaps represent the average odds between the two split stakes handicaps. The following bets from a different website are the same as those above, only expressing the handicap differently:
Here, -1.75 is the average of -1.5 and -2.0.
Here, +1.75 is the average of +1.5 and +2.0.
Rest assured, there is no real difference between the bet; the stakes and returns calculations will still be the same. Just make sure you are aware of this difference so you don't have any doubts when placing your bets.
Now we have explained the main types of Asian Handicap, let's assess which bookmakers offer the best betting opportunities on this market.
Where to bet on Asian Handicap?
The availability of Asian Handicap betting varies a lot by bookmaker. Even some of the major sportsbooks, like William Hill or Coral, currently have no Asian Handicap markets whatsoever, which is a shame in our view.
Bookies with Asian Handicap options will always have a main betting line, giving around a 50/50 chance as explained above. For some, like Ladbrokes, this is the only Asian Handicap bet they offer.
However, others go beyond and allow you to bet on Alternative Asian Handicap lines. From our experience, Unibet, Bet Victor and Marathon Bet all have a few alternatives, but Bet365 are by far and away the kings of Asian Handicap betting.
On just about any match, even from less well known competitions, they have a range of alternative betting lines for Asian Handicap betting. Take a look at this selection from a German regional league match in August 2016:
In addition to the main betting line, the massive range of alternative Asian Handicaps increases the amount of different ways to bet. Whether you want a 50/50 shot or think there is value in one of the other selections, Bet365 has got you covered.
They also offer a ton of other Asian betting lines on the first half result, total goals or total corners, with the same principles discussed here.
Remember, just because Bet365 have the biggest range of Asian Handicap bets available, it doesn't mean they will always have the best odds on the selection you want to bet on.
Asian Handicap odds tend to vary between bookies, more so than other markets like 1X2. So it's always worth comparing odds to get the best value for your bet.
You can also find Asian Handicap lines on betting exchanges like Betfair and Matchbook. Sometimes the odds will be superior to sportsbooks due to the peer-to-peer setup. This is particularly the case on Betfair.
As we have seen, there are several positives which make Asian Handicap an attractive alternative betting market for football punters:
- Often greater value vs other types of bet e.g. 1X2, Draw No Bet
- Minimise losses with the possibility of at least getting half your stake returned
- Close to 50/50 shot with main Asian Handicap line
- Simple to calculate returns (once you understand the specifics!)
You may wish to introduce this type of bet into your betting routine, for variety and to increase your chances of winning more often.
Let us know how you get on and if you have any other favourite betting markets!
Tip: Remember that the result of your bet is not always linked to the match result. If you bet on a big handicap like -2.5 or -3, it is possible that your team could win the match and the bet still lose if the winning margin is not enough.
Recommended sportsbook for Asian Handicap betting: Bet365
Recommended betting exchange for Asian Handicap betting: Betfair