Make it simple
Wait. So betting on Liverpool +0.0/-0.5 is more simple than betting on them to win? Well, it might not sound it, but yes. Asian Handicaps are a way of reducing football games to a two-way result. There are no draws. You just make a simple yes or no decision.
If you want a primer on Asian Handicaps then head here, but it’s simply reducing football to a win or lose outcome with no draw. You do this by giving a headstart to one team. The other side of that is the handicap. A simple example would be Liverpool -0.5, which means Liverpool begin with half a goal handicap.
You win if Liverpool do and lose if they draw or lose. Or you could have -1.5, which means they need to win by two goals or more. The opposing team here will have a +0.5 goal headstart, which means they win if it’s a draw or if they win. In games where both teams are equal in ability, you might see a -0.0 handicap, which means nobody has a head start and in this example, a draw is a no bet (also known as a push). In other words, if it’s a draw it’s money back.
You can also split stakes like you do in an each-way horse racing bets, with two bets on two different outcomes, but in every case, the result is a simple win or lose. And a handicap draw means money back. Split stakes bets are slightly different, as in the example above of Liverpool +0.0/-0.5 you win if Liverpool win but also get half your stake back if they draw. These can also be shown as +0.25 but mean the same thing.
But each bet is the same at heart, you’re taking draws out of the equation and making the bet about how much better one team are than their opponents.
Make it more interesting
Let’s face it some Premier League games between the top and bottom tier, can be over before the whistle is blown.
We all know what the result is going to be and backing odds of 1.2 or lower isn’t going to get the heart pumping or the bankroll bulging. But Asian Handicaps can make a dull, predictable game into a 90-minute thriller (or heartbreaker).
Because Asian Handicaps are essentially a bet on how much better Team A is compared to Team B they create a much more level playing field to bet on and watching Watford trying to snatch a last-minute consolation against Man City to win your +1.5 bet brings a whole new dimension to things. It also allows you to think more deeply about games and really make your knowledge of how teams play pay off.
And you’re rarely limited to a single handicap option.
You will find the majority of the money settling on the main handicap line but if you fancy one team to cut loose then find a bigger handicap market and bigger odds, or vice versa if you want to play a bit more cautiously but still get better odds than the 1X2. Asian Handicaps bring a level of flexibility and control to your betting and allow one-sided games to come to life.
Smooth out bad luck
As anyone who has bet on football, especially the Premier League or Champions League, will tell you the luck can sometimes be stacked against you. Great bets can turn into terrible ones with one refereeing error, one deflection or one crucial injury. You can’t avoid bad luck in this game but you can definitely try and reduce its influence on your betting bank by decreasing the swings.
Asian Handicaps are designed to help smooth out variance by handicapping games so they become, at least in theory, an even contest. They become a coin flip, and it’s just up to you to choose heads or tails. That may sound implausible when betting on Liverpool vs Cardiff City but that’s why they are such a great betting option.
When betting on underdogs then can bring in both the draw and even the loss market onto your side. For example, a +2 handicap means a win, a draw or a loss by one goal is a winning bet while a loss by a margin of two goals is money back. It’s a long way from backing 10.0 shots and hoping.
Squeeze out more value from favourites
Mismatches in ability can lead to some very unattractive looking betting heats. Backing Man City at 1.25 might look like a good way to build a small profit but backing them at -1.75 on the handicap for close to evens gives you the opportunity to squeeze a bit more from your bet if you think they could really turn it on against a weaker side. That doesn’t mean every odds-on favourite is a gift on the Asian Handicap market, but that is where the skill and the fun comes into it.
You need to recognise just how well the market is rating the relative supremacy and the ability of the favs to really turn the screw and punish their opponents.
Just because a team is expected to dominate their opponents doesn’t mean they will start banging in goals left right and centre. Some matches it may pay to back against the hot favs on the handicap even though you’re convinced they can’t lose.
One other aspect that might surprise you to learn is Asian Handicaps can sometimes offer better value than the outright markets even when the bets are exactly the same. The price for the Asian Handicap on the -0.0 market can be better than the equivalent draw-no-bet market and the -0.5 can be better value than the win only market on occasion. It’s always worth a look.
You can win when you lose
One of the best aspects of Asian Handicaps is the built-in hedging contained in many of the goal lines you get.
While the classic AH line might be +0.5, taking out the draw, you will see a lot of +1 style lines where a draw is a push with all bets refunded or +0.0, +0.5 where half the stake is refunded for a draw.
What these bets do is allow you to place bets where you are less confident safe in the knowledge you won’t lose it all if you call it wrong. For bets where your knowledge base is relatively limited or where you think there is the potential for a game to play out differently than your expectation, it can be hugely valuable to keep an element of safety first onside.
And that’s really the beauty of Asian Handicaps. They can be both a bet you opt for when you’re uncertain and one you head to when you couldn’t be more confident. It’s a betting market every serious bettor needs to understand and have in their arsenal.