How do handicap bets work?

If you’re new to sports betting, chances are you might be confused by some of the terms used in this form of gambling. A good example of this would be the term “handicap”, which is a type of wager that most new people have no idea how it works nor how they could use it to their advantage.

If this is your case, don’t worry! We’ll tell you all about handicap betting and you’ll be an expert at it at the end of this article.

The “handicap” wager (also known as “spread”) is actually a pretty simple concept to understand as, in simple words, it is a type of bet that gives one team or player an advantage or disadvantage before the game starts.

Handicap betting is a very popular type of wager among sports bettors and across many different sports, mostly because it provides them with greater flexibility and freedom when placing their bets, which encourages them to put their money on results they feel more confident in.

You see, unlike money-line wagers that simply allow you to pick a team to win, handicap wagers open many new possibilities for bettors and provide them with a whole other layer of excitement.

How? Well, handicap betting allows you to predict whether a particular team will win or lose by a certain number or by more than a certain number of points/runs/goals, making the odds more balanced and attractive for bettors.

Let us use this example to put some perspective on it. Team A is playing against Team B in a basketball match. Team A is the favorite to win, so they have lower odds than Team B, let’s say -500 for Team A and +600 for Team B, which leaves us with pretty straightforward and even kind of boring possible bets.

So, what can handicap betting offer us in this case? Well, the handicap options will allow us to bet on something more interesting like it is the possibility of a particular team winning or losing by a specific margin.

Do you think Team A will not only win but demolish Team B? Do you think Team B has a chance to pull off a major upset? Then handicap betting will certainly be your go-to option.

You’ll see Team B (the “underdog”) has been given a handicap that adjusts its score accordingly, while on the other hand, you’ll see Team A (the favorite team) has simply been given a set number of points to win. Meaning you’ll come across bets like -12 for Team A and +12 for Team B.

If you bet on Team A with a handicap of -12, they have to win by more than 12 points for you to win your bet. And if you bet on Team B with a handicap of +12, they need to lose by less than 12 points or win the game for you to win your bet.

If the point spread is exact, meaning Team A won by exactly 12 points or Team B lost by exactly 12 points, then the bet is called a push. This means that the original wager is returned to the bettor and no winnings are doled out.

Keep in mind that, when betting on the handicap, you are betting on the margin of victory and not the actual points/runs/goals scored by a team.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that you can come across more than one handicap bet for each team, thus expanding your betting possibilities.

This means that you could see handicap bets for the favorite team of a matchup going from a low -1.5 all the way to a -20.5 or more, this of course depending on the sports you’re betting on, how significant the difference is between both teams, and of course, the particular sportsbook you’re using to place your bets.

So now that you know how handicap bets work, why not give them a try next time you do some sports betting? As you can see, they can be a lot of fun and rewarding if you do your research and analysis right.

Just remember to always gamble responsibly and only bet what you can afford to lose.