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How to win money betting on Asian Handicap markets

Asian Handicaps are, on the face of it, one of the more complex areas of betting on Betfair. But, as football trader James Eastham explains, they are not actually that complicated and can open up entire new avenues for your football betting.

What is Asian Handicap betting?

It's a bet on the outcome of a football match where the two teams are given a handicap - which can be positive or negative - before the game starts.

Er... what do you mean?

The handicap is a figure such as +0.5 or +1.0 or +1.5, or -0.5 or -1.0 or -1.5. This figure represents a goals headstart or a goals deficit awarded to the teams before kick-off.

Right. I think I get it...

An example - Manchester United v Crystal Palace. Man Utd will be a very short price to win the game - say, [1.2]. A price like that means very few people will be interested in betting on a Man Utd win. Crystal Palace will be a very long price, and very few people will be interested in betting on a Crystal Palace win, either.

This is where the Asian Handicap comes in. On the Asian Handicap market, United will be given some sort of negative handicap, such as -2.5. This figure represents a goals handicap before the game - literally -2.5 goals. That's the handicap Man Utd start the game with. And Crystal Palace will be given a positive goals handicap, such as +2.5. 

So you have to overcome the handicap to win your bet?

Exactly. So if you've bet on Man Utd -2.5, you need them to win by three goals or more to win your bet. If you've bet on Crystal Palace +2.5, you need them to avoid defeat by three goals or more to win your bet. You basically add the handicap to the actual scoreline that occurs in the game. That's one of the advantages of the Asian Handicap - it can add interest to a game where the outcome is considered a foregone conclusion.

What price would Man Utd -2.5 be?

That depends on the market, but obviously it would be a bigger price than on Man Utd simply to win the game.

Is there only ever one handicap per game?

No - for any given game there are plenty of different positive and negative handicaps for you to pick from. For Man Utd v Crystal Palace, you'd find Man Utd -1.5, Crystal Palace +1.5, Man Utd -2.0, Crystal Palace +2.0, and so on. The handicaps available reflect, to some degree or other, the relative strengths of the teams. And the odds for each handicap will differ, of course. The odds on Man Utd -1.5 would be shorter than the odds on Man Utd -2.5 because Man Utd stand a better chance of overcoming a -1.5 start than a -2.5 start.

Say the Asian Handicap I've picked is a round number - e.g. -1.0 or -2.0 - as opposed to a half number, and the handicap gets equalled by the actual scoreline in the game. What happens then?

In that case you simply get your stakes back. Imagine you back Liverpool -1.0 v Norwich City. Liverpool win 2-1. The handicap has been equalled. So in this instance your stakes will get returned.

What about Asian Handicaps like +1.0&+1.5 or -1.0&-1.5 - i.e. where two numbers sit together. What's that all about?

It looks complicated but it's really not that complicated at all. With this sort of Asian Handicap bet your stakes are split equally across the two handicaps listed.

Let's say you bet on Liverpool -1.0&-1.5 against Norwich. Half your stakes go on Liverpool with a -1.0 goal start, the other half on Liverpool with a -1.5 goal start.

As always, you simply add the actual scoreline from the match to the handicap bet you've placed. So if Liverpool draw or lose the match, your bet loses, because you've failed to overcome the handicap. If Liverpool win by a single goal, you lose half your stakes (the half placed at -1.5) and get half your stakes back (the half placed at -1.0). If Liverpool win by two goals or more, your entire stakes win.

Do you only find Asian Handicap on games that the market considers a mismatch?

No, you find Asian Handicap bets on all sorts of matches, including games that are likely to be closer. On a game like Chelsea v Arsenal, you might have a sneaking suspicion Arsenal will win but you're not 100% confident. By backing Arsenal +0 Asian Handicap, you give yourself the safety net of getting your stakes back if the game is a draw. In this instance, the +0 Asian Handicap market works exactly the same as the DRAW NO BET market.

What about in-play? Can you bet on the Asian Handicap market in-play and use it for trading?

You can - during a football match prices on the Asian Handicap change according to match circumstances. In this sense you can use the Asian Handicap market to trade exactly as you would any other football market - i.e. you can place bets before the game because you think it will offer cash-out opportunities, or you can use the Asian Handicap market during the game in order to lock in a profit.