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European Handicap Explained

Staff Writer in Soccer Betting Strategies 19 Nov 2021

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The European handicap holds an interesting position on most online sportsbooks. Most punters have heard of Asian Handicaps, but its simpler cousin remains a much bigger mystery.

Either way, both types of football handicap bets are extremely valuable for careful, strategic bettors. If you’re looking to win money with sports betting on a consistent basis, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with both. Handicap betting markets quite often boast excellent betting value.

In this simple guide, we’ll take a close look at what European Handicap means in football betting.

What is European Handicap in Football Betting?

The European Handicap, also known as the three-way handicap, is a sports betting market that gives an advantage or disadvantage to one of the possible outcomes in a given bet. In football, this (dis)advantage comes in the form of one or more goals. The intent is to level the playing field between favorites and underdogs and offer more interesting betting options.

At heart, the European Handicap is a simple 1X2 bet. It has three possible outcomes – home win, draw, or away win. That’s why it’s sometimes called the three-way handicap. However, one of these outcomes is made more likely by providing it with a “lead” before the match begins. Alternatively, it can also make a certain outcome less likely by giving it a penalty before kick-off.

If you’re completely new to handicap football betting, we’ll explain through an example.

European Handicap Bet

European Handicap Example

Let’s say your looking at a straightforward full-time result (1X2) bet. Team A, the home team, are the clear favorites, with Team B being the underdogs. Backing underdogs is statistically a bad idea because they’re likely to lose. However, if you make a +1 European Handicap bet on Team B, you can add a +1 bonus to their score. For the purposes of resolving the bet, it’s like the team started the match with a 0:1 lead.

Effectively, team A would have to score once just to get to a tie, and at least 2 goals to win. Conversely, if team B manages to draw the game, they’ll be considered the winners as far as your bet is concerned.

Obviously, the results of the actual game can be quite different. For instance, the real game might be a tie in the above example, but your bet will win if you bet on Team B. This is partly what makes European Handicap betting predictions difficult to get right. The situation in the field is not necessarily the same as with your bet, and vice versa.          

How to Use European Handicap in Football Betting

There are two main types of handicap bets – positive and negative.

Positive handicaps give one side an advantage, like in the above example. This advantage is essentially a +1, +2, +3 (and so on) adjustment to their score. Usually, such an advantage is given to the underdogs to increase your chances of winning.

Of course, applying this adjustment also shortens the odds significantly. The bigger the advantage, the smaller your potential winnings are.

Conversely, a European Handicap football bet can also be a disadvantage. For example, you can give the favorites a -1, -2, or -3 (…) penalty to their score. This would also increase the potential returns, but make it much harder for the team to confirm the bet. For instance, a -2 handicap would mean the team has to win with a difference of at least 3 goals.

These are the main ways punters use European Handicap in football bets. Either to increase the likelihood of success at the cost of smaller returns or to increase their profits at the cost of increased risk.

What’s the Difference Between European Handicap and Asian Handicap?

Those of you familiar with Asian Handicap bets might be a tad confused at this point. Don’t Asian Handicap bets essentially do the same?

Well, the main difference between Asian and European handicaps is that the Asian variant does not allow draw results. It’s a two-way handicap compared to the three-way European variant.

In practice, this means that real Asian Handicaps have a decimal point. They usually look like +1.5, -0.5, and so on.

That said, +1 and similar whole-number Asian Handicaps do exist. However, they usually work like a Draw No Bet wager and push in case of a draw.

However, we’ve seen some online sportsbooks describe three-way handicaps as Asian. In most cases, that’s just a simple misnomer. Some sportsbooks, however, purposefully lump these two types of football betting markets under the same “Handicaps” category.

Still, the existence of a decimal point in the handicap is a dead giveaway whether it’s Asian or European.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Staff Writer


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