Also known as “Asian line betting,” Asian handicaps betting got its start in the Far East, where it has become the region’s favourite type of football wager. In standard 1X2 betting, there are always three results possible: the home side wins (1), the two sides draw (X), or the away side wins (2). Asian handicaps were specifically developed to take away the possibility of a draw. That means every bet must be either a clear winner or a loser.
The elimination of draws is accomplished by assigning a half point or more to the underdog’s score and removing a half point or more from the favourite’s total before the match begins. For example, in the case where Side A is believed to be the weaker team, a starting score of +0.5 might be assigned to them, giving them a half goal advantage prior to the start of the game. No draw can occur thereafter.
On the other hand, the stronger Side B receives -0.5 points prior to game time. It will be necessary for them to score at least one goal more than Side A to win the meeting and the wager. The reduction of their score by a half point ensures that there is no way the bet can result in a draw.
Long the most popular form of football wagering in China, Asian handicaps have been warmly welcomed in Europe. Almost all high street bookmakers now feature some form of this win-lose wager, in addition to their traditional win-draw-win option. Similarly, many online sportsbooks have their Asia handicaps offers now listed in a section all by themselves, separate from standard wagers.
The benefits of playing Asian handicaps are several. Above all, the bettor receives a better chance of winning than is possible with traditional odds. That’s because the true odds of making a correct selection are very near 50-50. There is less to consider with only two results possible rather than three. Moreover, stakes tend garner returns more frequently, as would-have-been draws are resolved as winners owing to the half point edge obtained.
In cases where the match-ups is strongly tilted toward one side over the other, such as when a top team is matched against one facing relegation, the Asian handicaps can be larger than a half point, such as two and a half points or more. Spreads like this allow fans of the underdog to bet and win even if their team gets badly beaten.
For the most evenly matched fixtures, oddsmakers may assign a half point to the underdog and no handicap at all (0) to their opponent. This, of course, creates the possibility of a draw for those betting on the favourite. Should that occur, rather than losing the bet, either the entire wager is deemed as a “push” and reclaimed or else half of the original bet is returned. Once more, this is still a better wager than losing the whole stake whenever matches end in a draw.
For bookmakers, Asian handicaps betting is a sword that cuts both ways. On the plus side, it helps them “balance the action” on either side of the bet, which in turn means risk is reduced and larger positions can be taken on big matches. On the negative side, such betting reduces their profits; that’s because the markets for Asian handicaps are typically made available at a small margin.
One recent innovation in Asian handicaps betting is known as “quarter goal betting.” Rather than giving half points, it enables the splitting of a wager into two parts, one based upon a half goal and the other upon a difference of a full goal. For instance, a £10 wager on Side A at ¾ is the same as a £5 bet on Side A at +0.5 and another £5 bet on Side A at a one goal handicap. Many bookmakers call this a “two-way handicap” or a “split handicap,” too.
By mixing Asian handicaps bets with their traditional wagers, many bettors find they gain more winning options while at the same reducing potential risk. Hedging bets is also possible, particularly when gaps in the odds for Asian handicaps vary greatly among bookmakers, creating an opening for the chance to win on both sides when scores are close.