Asian Handicap Betting Strategy

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
6 minute read

Asian Handicap Betting StrategyAsian handicap betting strategy is a form of betting on soccer in which teams are handicapped according to their most recent form. A stronger team must win by more goals for a bet on the team to grade as a winner. Essentially, it is a form of spread betting. Asian handicaps typically range from one-quarter goal to several goals, in increments of half- or even quarter-goals. Most importantly, Asian handicap betting reduces the possible number of outcomes from three (in traditional 1X2 betting) to two by eliminating the draw outcome. This simplification delivers two betting options that each have a near 50% chance of success.

Asian handicap bets are both good and bad for betting sites. They help bookmakers minimize risk by balancing the number of bets on each side of the soccer match. But on the other hand, Asian handicap markets are typically low margin offerings that do not contribute as significantly to the gross win as higher vigorish betting options like 1X2 soccer bets. The term “Asian handicap” was popularized by Joe Smith when he asked an Asian bookmaker, in Indonesia, to provide a translation of “hang cheng” betting. The biggest draw of Asian handicap betting is that it simplifies soccer betting, which happens to be the most wagered sport in the world.

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Asian Handicap Strategy – Explained

Unlike most other sports, particularly American-based sports, soccer is one of the few sports where ties or draws are a routine outcome. However, when betting an Asian handicap, the tie is taken off the table. It’s easy to see why this form of betting has become so popular. Betting on a match to draw isn’t particularly appetizing to most sports bettors. It’s also especially frustrating when your pick on a home or away side ends in a draw.

Asian handicaps have taken a page from American betting markets and are similar to point spread wagers on football and basketball. Although, their closest cousin to American sports betting may be NHL puck line and run line markets respectively. The goal of the bookmaker when offering an Asian handicap is to create odds between the favorite and the underdog to level the playing field between the two sides; that is expressed in goals. The team that is favored will be laying points or goals while the underdog is getting points or goals.

Asian handicaps begin with a quarter goal line but can go as high as 2.5 or 3 goals depending on how far apart the sides are regarding skill. With quarter goals, pushes are rare in Asian handicap markets but are still possible if the handicap doesn’t have a 0.25 or .5 attached and is a round number. Asian handicaps are highly predictive markets. The match total, along with the handicap, gives us the best barometer of the game and is usually the closest estimate to the final score.

Asian Handicap (-0.5) Bet Example

This an example of an Asian handicap between two premier league teams. Manchester United is the favorite, which is signified by the: (-0.5). Chelsea is the underdog and is getting a half a goal, which is expressed as (+0.5).

Manchester United (-0.5) 1.95

Chelsea (+0.5) 1.95

Since Man United starts with a half-goal handicap, they must win the match outright and by one goal or more for you to win your bet. Chelsea can either win the match or tie for Blues’ backers to win their bet. Remember, since the handicap is Chelsea +0.5, if the score ended in a 1-1 draw, the extra half point would give Chelsea the win. As mentioned above, it’s vital to note that if this game had a handicap of 1.0 or 2.0 goals a push would be in play.

In the case of Asian Handicap -0.5 example, if the favorite won by exactly one or two goals, depending on the handicap, stakes from both sides would be returned. The above odds are listed in decimal odds format, which is the standard for betting markets across Europe. These odds converted into moneyline format come out to -108. That’s lower than the standard -110 vig charged on most sides and totals.

Profitability In Soccer Handicap Sports Betting

Building on the above example, most Asian handicaps markets offer considerably less vigorish than other major markets. Instead of taking lopsided action on a particular side, the Asian handicap allows bookmakers to facilitate balanced action on both sides.

Asian Handicap Betting Strategy Explained Because the action is generally more balanced, this allows bookmakers to take in a larger amount of money on these markets. Their commissions are lower than other higher vigorish markets, but the increase in action usually makes up for the decrease in vig. Of course, low vig markets are something we should targeting as sports bettors, making Asian handicaps markets to target if you’re betting soccer. They’re almost always going to have less vig than traditional 1X2 markets, also known as match betting.

The savings can be substantial. Many match betting markets operate with 10% vig or more while Asian handicaps operate as low as a 3% vig at some sites. Over the long term, this will save bettors tens of thousands. Overall, Asian handicaps will offer you the best bang for your buck when betting on soccer.

Asian Handicap Strategy – Conclusion

Sports gamblers have a tendency to wager more on favorites than underdogs. This is also true in Asian handicap markets. Many see the top clubs across Europe and are enamored that they can lay just one goal. This pushes a lot of money on favorites, which is a bias that both the public and oddsmakers both seem to have.

It’s important to remember when betting Asian handicaps that the vast majority of managers aren’t out to embarrass their opponents. Once they get a lead, and the victory is in hand, most won’t continue to press. This allows teams that have lost the game to score a late goal or two, which can sometimes be enough to turn a losing bet into a winning one. Or a winning bet, into a losing one, if you have the favorite.

We recommend bettors lean towards taking underdogs, but regardless of which side you decide to bet – Asian handicaps should be your first choice if you get the itch to bet soccer. You’re always going to get the best price compared to traditional markets, and you will only have to worry about two potential outcomes.

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About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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