Handicap Betting in Football

Handicap betting is becoming more and more popular for gamblers betting on football, with the longer odds tempting punters in on games where there is a heavy favourite. If you don’t know what handicap betting is or you need to give yourself a little refresher course, then read on.

What is Handicap Betting?

Simply put, handicap betting is giving one of the teams a head start in terms of goals and the odds then reflect this. For example, if you thought Team A were going to comfortably beat Team B, you could give Team B a 2 goal head start and the odds would reflect this and you would be able to make more money from a 3 goal victory for Team A.

An Example:

As you can see from this example of the upcoming game between Real Madrid and Manchester United in the USA, Real Madrid are available at odds of 3/1 to win the game with a -1 handicap. This means that Manchester United would be given a virtual one goal head start in the game, so if you bet on Real Madrid at these odds and they only won the game 1-0 then you would lose your stake.

To win this bet, you would need Real Madrid to win the game by at least two clear goals, so if the game finished 2-0, in terms of the bet it would finish 2-1 with Manchester United’s virtual goal.

Odds Handicap bet365
Fig.: Odds Handicap Ladbrokes

The more of a handicap you give a team, the longer their odds are. This is why handicap betting has become more and more popular in football, with people regularly adding handicap bets to their accumulators.

It is not uncommon to see teams like Barcelona and Real Madrid have a -3 or -4 handicap in games as this is the only way to make the odds worthwhile. As you can see from the example, if you give Real Madrid a -3 handicap, then it boosts their odds up to 14/1. Obviously, this is a huge gamble, as it would require Real Madrid to win the game by four clear goals, but it is easy to see why people are often tempted in by big handicap bets.


Handicap betting can be a great way to improve the odds when betting on a favourite in a game, but be careful not to get carried away and give them too much of a handicap otherwise you could easily end up losing the bet.