Handicap betting vs accas: which is most profitable?

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Accumulators are a great way of winning big from a small stake, but we all know how difficult it can be to win them – one bad prediction and the whole thing is ruined. For those of you on a cold streak, what other options are available?

We’re going to take a look at a type of wager that many punters overlook, and explain why it’s a great (and lucrative) way of turning your luck around.

What is handicap betting?

Handicap betting is gaining popularity amongst many sports fans because it gives players an enhanced amount of precision with their bets, and the potential to maximise their profits.

What often puts punters off is their complex nature, but with a bit of know-how and some perseverance, their appeal is obvious.

So, how does it work? As the name suggests, one side is given a handicap based on their previous form, and in order to place a successful winning bet, the team you back will have to surpass the handicap you chose before the game.

Handicap odds vs 1X2 odds

Here is an example from the start of the 2016/2017 Premier League season. Despite a poor campaign the season before, Chelsea are expected to bounce back and the bookmakers have them as 4/7 odds-on favourites at home to West Ham on the opening day.

1X2 Chelsea West Ham example

These kinds of odds are acceptable for an accumulator if you are looking to include many different strong favourites. However, we all know that favourites lose from time to time, so it’s better to choose a smaller amount of selections at better odds. By the by, a £10 single bet on Chelsea to win the match would return £15.71, hardly an amount to get excited about.

If you look at form or previous head-to-head results and think a team can win by more than one goal, you might want to take on the handicap market for extra value.

Chelsea West Ham handicap betting exampleHere, Chelsea are 6/4 starting a goal behind, certainly more appetising odds than the 1X2 market, IF you are confident there will be a bigger winning margin.

Alternatively, if you think Chelsea will win by exactly one goal, you could bet on the tie at odds of 5/2. You need to be precise to correctly forecast a result like that – as Brian Clough said, it only takes a second to score a goal – but if you pull it off, you will reap the rewards fully!

Handicap bet settlement

Let’s look at how bets on this market would be settled depending on the result of the match itself.

Match resultChelsea (-1)
bet result
Tie (West Ham +1)
bet result
West Ham (+1)
bet result
Chelsea win by
2 goals or more
Chelsea win by
exactly 1 goal
Any other result (Draw/West Ham win)LOSE LOSE WIN

The main handicap line is the one with the most balanced odds, evening out the perceived difference in level between the two sides. Usually this will translate into a 1-goal handicap, unless one side is seen as significantly stronger than the other.

Think a title-chasing team playing at home against relegation candidates. Then, the main handicap line could be 2 goals, as it was for Manchester City playing at home to Sunderland that same weekend. In theory it could be more and it often is in uncompetitive leagues where one or two teams dominate.

Alternative handicaps

Alternative handicaps are generally also offered on most matches, so you’re not limited just to the main betting line chosen by the bookmaker.

Chelsea West Ham Alternative Handicaps

Of course the odds vary wildly between different handicap lines – there is pretty much no point betting on Chelsea with a 2-goal headstart as you are risking a lot for very little gain. Even in an accumulator, it would add very little value.

Asian handicap

Asian handicap is another variation on handicap betting which has its own particularities, compared to the traditional handicap markets we are used to in the UK.

This format creates a market where either team provides punters with approximately a 50/50 chance of getting a correct outcome. This is why odds remain very close across the market, because the system creates a two-outcome scenario, with no betting available on the tie.

Many punters have taken to Asian / handicap wagering when the two teams playing are considered to be very equal. However punters can also opt for a much higher handicap if one side is heavily advantaged, and make the most of the higher odds.

Tip: For a full guide to Asian Handicap betting, read through our guide here

Advantages over accas

Reducing potential losses

For punters on a cold streak, the switch from accas to handicaps is a logical one. For starters there is the option to get half of your stake refunded through Asian handicap wagers, should half your selection come in for split stakes selections. If you’re on a bad run this is a great way of minimising your losses.

Often punters get caught out by surprise results in close fixtures, when predicting the match before it happens is virtually impossible. Here you can make a cautious 0.5 / 1.0 hang cheng wager based on the current form of each team and essentially give yourself a 50% chance of at least getting half your stake.

Fixed odds are rarely more lucrative than a handicap wager, unless you’re betting on a particularly audacious bet, such as Leicester City winning the Premier League… It’s a more achievable way of making serious money without having to put your faith in an audacious and frankly unlikely acca.

While it’s fun to draw up a big acca with 4+ teams, it’s very rare that all of your predictions will come true.

Maximising profits

Moving away from the cautious aspects of handicap betting, there are also advantages for those who might be on a poor run with their accas, but want to continue making wagers of a similar nature.

If you have a weekend when several very strong teams are playing weaker opponents the option of handicap betting is clear.

For example, were Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and Bayern Munich playing rivals who were floundering at the bottom of their respective leagues, a 4-team acca on them to win would not return very much at all, because the odds on them triumphing are very low.

However, should you opt for a 2, 2.5 handicap bet on these sides instead you will get much higher odds, more likely something in the 1/2 range, instead of, for example, 1/10 for a straight win. This means you can maximise your profits on very probable outcomes.

What’s more, you can combine handicap wagers into highly lucrative accas, with less chances of losing and greatly inflated odds.

Below are two different 4-fold accas, one on Asian handicap markets and the other normal winning team selections. While the first wager is more ambitious, in that it requires a number of high scoring performances in a tough international competition, the potential rewards are very high. If those were league sides playing bottom of the table opposition it would offer a very realistic wager with high potential profits.


Ultimately handicap betting offers five key things.

  • Higher possible profit margins
  • The potential to receive a portion of your stake back, even if your bet is unsuccessful
  • An opportunity to get the most out of one-sided games (Real Madrid vs. Malmo for example)
  • With an Asian Handicap acca, if one part loses you will receive the equivalent part of your stake back
  • Increased flexibility when it comes to winning results

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