European Handicap Betting

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The term ‘handicap’ as it relates to Sports Betting is a reference to a well-established practice whereby a bookmaker assigns an advantage to a weaker team in the form of points or goals. In theory, this should level the playing field for both sides. For sports betting, the handicap bet outcome is determined by applying the handicap margin to the match result. Even though you’ll find handicap betting across many sports, the practice has become commonly linked to soccer bets. The reason is owing to the rise in popularity of European and Asian Handicap over the past few years.

European Handicap betting: What is it?

Another commonly used name for European Handicap is three-way handicap. The explanation for this is as follows. For every event, there are three possible bets, the first of which is based on a match ending in a draw. The second is a bet on the stronger team (handicap disadvantage), or finally, a bet on the weaker team (handicap advantage). It is the option of a draw which primarily distinguishes European Handicap from Asian Handicap.

european handicap

How does European Handicap work?

To explain the mechanics, we’ll give you an example of a fictitious matchup between Albania and Brazil. Let’s say that the handicap for the teams is as follows: Albania (+1) and Brazil (-1). The odds for the three possible match results are as follows:

Albania (+1) wins: 4.10

Draw (-1): 3.90

Brazil (-1) wins: 1.65

If Brazil were to win by two (or more) goals, then the bet on Brazil (-1) is the winner. If Albania wins by a goal the Draw (-1) bet results will win. If Albania draws or wins, then Albania (+1) bet wins.

It is not unusual for bookmakers to offer several European Handicap markets for a match allowing a bettor to find the best bet for them. Getting comfortable with European Handicap does mean that you must get familiar with some terminology. Take, for example, the following market:

EH 1 (-1): 1.55

EH X (-1): 3.80

EH 2 (+1): 4.00

The number ‘1’ refers to the home team, whereas the number ‘2’ refers to the visiting team (or the away team). The ‘X’ refers to a draw.

european handicap functionality

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Asian Handicap Vs European Handicap

As previously mentioned, the main difference between the two handicaps is that European Handicap has an option to draw (tie). With Asian Handicap, when a match ends in a draw, then the stake is returned to the bettor.

To explain the mechanics, we return to our fictitious matchup between Albania and Brazil. The odds could be for instance:

Brazil (-1) 1.75

Albania (+1) 2.25

Under Asian Handicap there would be no winner if Brazil were to win by one goal, and the bettor’s stake would be returned. Often, quotes for Asian handicaps are stated in terms of half-goals to eliminate a draw outcome. European Handicaps will always be quoted in whole goals.

The decision of whether to use European Handicap or Asian Handicap comes down to a matter of preference. One could argue that understanding European Handicap is simpler. This is because of Asian Handicap’s variety of options, including whole-ball, half-ball and quarter-ball handicaps. That said, some bettors have a preference for Asian Handicaps since there’s only two betting options instead of three to wrap your head around.

asian vs european handicap

Betting Strategies in European Handicap

The European Handicap betting strategy shines in the case of matches seen as one-sided. Although a strong team at home against a weak opponent offers little value in the sense of a traditional fixed odds market, there is still a way of making money. Consider a scenario where Premier league team Chelsea is playing at home to Hull. Although the outcome would seem all but obvious, it may be that Chelsea has a big tilt coming up after this one, and your gut tells you that Chelsea is going to be more focused on that game and not so determined to score as often. Betting on Hull to draw or win using European Handicap can earn you a return even if Chelsea wins the game.

european handicap strategies


Bettors who are after the ability to call draws will find that the European Handicap is an excellent way of moving away from the strictly winner market. Relative to its Asian Handicap counterpart, it’s more straightforward to grasp since it does not use quarter or half goals. Since the betting outcome mirrors the three possible results of a match, followers of fixed-odds betting will find it easier to follow. European Handicap shines particularly in one-sided games where it is possible to make money by estimating the level of superiority one team holds over its competitor, making it an essential component of a soccer bettor’s overall strategy mix.