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Football Betting Basics

Asian Handicap Odds - A Comprehensive Explanation
by Jason Ong

Asian Handicap is a form of odds for football-betting which originated in Asia, hence it's name. It offers many advantages to the traditional Fixed Odds betting and is increasingly popular with punters and bookmakers alike today, in Europe and other parts of the world outside Asia.

Why Asian Handicap

Essentially, Asian Handicap eliminates the possibility of the Draw. In Fixed Odds, you would make a bet on three possible outcomes, Home, Away or Draw. Asian Handicap allows you to bet on a 50/50 proposition - just pick one of the 2 sides in a match.

Whilst betting on one of just 2 outcomes makes things simpler, another reason why Asian Handicap is enjoying increasing popularity all over the world is because most of the betting public bet on favourites and Asian Handicap makes it much more enjoyable to do so.

Firstly, you will tend to get even (or close to it) money on your bets in Asian Handicaps.
Winning 12 cents for every dollar you put on your favourite team isn't all that exciting when you bet on a Homewin with Fixed Odds (typical for say, a Man United v Derby match).

By giving the weaker team a goal handicap, the bookmaker is able to offer you better price lines when you bet favourites. This also makes the match much more enjoyable to watch when there are goalfests and your team is winning you money on Asian odds.

Of course, there are times that even when your team wins the match by one goal, you still lose your bet, as the goal handicap given to the other team is more than 1 goal. Conversely, you can bet on the weaker team, which might lose by a goal, and still win the bet.

Asian Handicap is best explained through an example and the first and simplest Asian Handicap we should look at is the 1/2-goal (sometimes called half-ball in Asia) handicap.

Half-Ball Asian Handicaps

Consider the match, Arsenal v Tottenham, where Arsenal is deemed to have some advantage over Tottenham by the market. Hence a possible scenario is that the bookies would give bets on Tottenham a half-goal handicap.

This is typically denoted by bookmakers as:

Team Asian Hcp Returns
Arsenal -0.5 1.95
Tottenham +0.5 1.95

Effectively, as far as Asian Handicap bets are concerned, the score for this match would be

Arsenal 0  
Tottenham 0.5  

even before the match has begun - that is, Tottenham starts with a half-goal advantage.

In reality, there's no such thing as a half-goal. However, in Asian Handicap, a half goal is higher than no goals, and so on.

Hence, if the match's actual score ended as 1-1 after 90 minutes, bets on Tottenham would win, since the effective score would be 1 - 1.5. This is the same for all Draw scores between the 2 sides as Tottenham would always be half a goal up over Arsenal if the scores was a draw.

Essentially, the Asian Handicap is added to or subtracted from the total goal tally of the team depending on the whether the team is giving or receiving the handicap.

Half-ball handicaps can be denoted as either (-0.5), or (-1/2).

Higher Half-Goal Asian Handicaps

Similarly, there are -1.5, -2.5 and higher half-goal handicaps.

When a team like Manchester United is playing at home with a team like Sunderland, the handicap Man U would be giving Sunderland would probably be (-1.5).

Team Asian Hcp Returns
Man United -1.5 1.95
Sunderland +1.5 1.95

Hence, for bets on Man U to win, Man U would have to score 2 goals or higher, more than Sunderland.

Let's see this for a few scenarios in case you're not convinced.

Team Actual Score Asian Hcp Handicapped Score Result
Man United 0-0 -1.5 -1.5 : 0 LOSE
Sunderland 0-0 +1.5 0 : 1.5 WIN

(Results will be the same for all Draws: 0-0, 1-1, 2-2, etc)

Team Actual Score Asian Hcp Handicapped Score Result
Man United 1-0 -1.5 -0.5 : 0 LOSE
Sunderland 1-0 -1.5 1 : 1.5 WIN

(Results will be the same for where Man U scores only one goal more than Sunderland: 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, etc.)

Team Actual Score Asian Hcp Handicapped Score Result
Man United 0-1 -1.5 -2.5 : 0 LOSE
Sunderland 0-1 +1.5 0 : 2.5 WIN

(Results will be the same as where the actual score favours Sunderland: 0-1, 1-2, 0-2, 2-3, etc.)

Team Actual Score Asian Hcp Handicapped Score Result
Man United 2-0 -1.5 0.5 : 0 WIN
Sunderland 2-0 +1.5 2 : 1.5 LOSE

(Results will be the same for any actual scoreline where Man U scores 2 or more goals than Sunderland: 2-0, 3-1, 3,0, 4-1, etc.)

Full-Goal Handicaps

Asian Handicaps can also be in the form of full goal handicaps, that is. -1, -2, or 0 handicaps.

Level Handicaps (0)

When it's a Level-Handicap (0), it means neither team is giving the other any handicap.

The team that wins in the actual scoreline wins the bet.
However, in the event that the match results in a Draw, the bet is considered void and no money exchanges place - this is different from Fixed Odds where if you bet on the hometeam, you lose the bet even though your team did not lose the match but drew with the other team.

Level Handicaps can be denoted as (0), Level, LVL.

Other Full-Goal Handicaps

Same as for half-goal and other handicaps, full-goal handicaps are simply added to or subtracted from the teams actual goal tally.

Team Asian Hcp Returns
Liverpool -1.0 1.95
Aston Villa +1.0 1.95

Hence, if Liverpool was giving Aston Villa a one-goal handicap, bets on Liverpool would draw if Liverpool scored only one goal more than Aston Villa at the end of 90-minutes.

Any result where Liverpool scores more than one goal above Aston Villa's goal tally, bets on Liverpool win.

Any result where Liverpool scores the same number of goals or less than Aston Villa's goal tally, bets on Liverpool lose.

Quarter-Goal Asian Handicaps

Quarter-goal handicaps might be a little more complicated but is actually quite simple to understand. Basically it just means that half the amount of your bet is based on one handicap, and the other half on another handicap.

The quarter-ball handicap can be denoted as (0,-0.5) , (-1/4) or (-0.25).

When you place a bet on Arsenal at home against Man United, Arsenal might possibly be giving a quarter-goal handicap to Man United (probably for home advantage).

A quarter-goal handicap was originally expressed as 'Level-Half' which meant that if you had a $100 bet on Arsenal, $50 would be on Arsenal on zero (0) or Level Handicap (LVL), and the other $50 on Arsenal on half-goal handicap (-0.50). Hence, the expression, Level-Half.

Therefore, if the match ended in a Draw:

The level-handicap portion of your bet would be void (as explained in Level Handicaps above).
- No money exchanges hands.

The half-goal handicap portion of your bet would lose, since Man U would effectively have a half-goal more than Arsenal.
- You lose $50.

Hence, the overall effect would be that you lose half your bet when you bet on a team giving a Level-Half Handicap to the other team, when the actual scoreline is a Draw.

If Arsenal won by any other scoreline, then your bet would win in full, since any goal Arsenal scores more than Man U, would be enough to overcome the Level-Half Handicap.

Similarly, if the actual scoreline favours Man U, then all bets on Man U would win in full, and not just for half the amount as in the case when it's a Draw.

There are also variants of the quarter-goal asian handicap where it's (-1, -1.5) [also denoted as (-1 ¼) or -(1.25)] and (-2,-2.5) and

Three-Quarter Goal Asian Handicaps

Three-quarter goal handicaps are combinations of -0.5 and -1 goal handicaps.

Hence, if bets on Juventus give (-0.5,-1) to Udinese, half the bet amount would be on Juventus to give -0.5 handicap and the other half on Juve giving -1 goal handicap.

Hence, if Juventus wins the game by just one goal, bets on Juve would win the half that was on -0.5 handicap, and draw the half that was on -1 handicap. Overall, bets on Juventus would win half.

Juventus would have to score more than one goal above Udinese's goal tally for bets on Juve (-0.5,-1.0) to win in full, since then, both handicaps would be cleared to win.

Should the game end in a Draw or should Udinese win the match, bets on Juve would lose as both handicaps would not have been cleared.

Three-quarter goal handicaps can also appear in higher denominations - (-1.5,-2.0), (-2.5,-3.0) and so on.

(-0.5,-1.0), (-1.5,2.0), (-2.5,-3.0) can be denoted as (-3/4), (-1 ), (-2 ) or (-0.75), (-1.75), (-2.75).

Asian Handicap Total Goals

Asian Handicap also can be used to bet Total Goals.

If you see odds like:

O 2.25 1.95
U 2.25 1.95
Note: 2.25 is the same as (2,2.5)

That means, if you bet on Over 2.25 and if the scoreline is 2-0, 0-2 or 1-1 (total goal tally is 2), then you would lose half your bet, as you would have drawn the bet on Over 2 goals and lose the bet on Over 2.5 goals.

Bets on Under 2.25 goals would win half in the event total goals is 2.

For goal tallies 3 and above, bets on Over 2.25 would win in full and for goal tallies 0 and 1, bets on Under 2.25 would win in full.


If you see odds like:

O 2.75 1.95
U 2.75 1.95
Note: 2.75 is the same as (2.5,3)

If you bet on Over 2.75 and the scoreline is 3-0, 0-3, 2-1 or 1-2 (total goal tally is 3), then you would win half you bet as you would have won the bet on Over 2.5 and drawn the bet on Over 3.

Bets on Under 2.75 goals would lose in half when the total goals is 3.

For goal tallies 4 and above, bets on Over 2.75 would win in full and for goal tallies 0, 1 and 2, bets on Under 2.75 would win.

The author, Jason Ong is a key member of the Silver
Circle Team and works closely with J Armstrong in
research, handicapping and the identification of
exploitable betting opportunities in European football.

Click here to learn more about the author and The Silver Circle.


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