European Handicap Betting

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The handicap is a well-known and long-established device in sports betting, by which a bookmaker gives an advantage in points or goals to the weaker team, to theoretically even out the chances of both teams. In sports betting, the handicap margin is added to the final result to determine the outcome of a handicap bet. Although handicap betting is widely used across many sports, it is particularly well-known in football betting, where the European Handicap and the Asian handicap have grown steadily in popularity in recent years.

What is European Handicap betting?

The European Handicap is also known as the three-way handicap because for every event it offers three possible bets. You can choose to bet on the weaker team with a handicap advantage, the stronger team with a handicap disadvantage, or the draw. This third option is one of the main aspects that differentiates the European Handicap from the Asian Handicap.

european handicap

So how does it work in practice?

Let’s take a fictional match between Brazil and Albania. The handicap for this game might be Brazil (-1) and Albania (+1) and odds would be available for all three outcomes:

Brazil (-1) – 1.65
Draw (-1) – 3.90
Albania (+1) – 4.10

In this European Handicap market there are three outcomes. If Brazil wins by two or more, then the Brazil (-1) bet is the winner. If Albania wins or the game finishes as a draw, then Albania (+1) is the successful bet. If Spain wins by exactly one goal, then the Draw (-1) bet wins.

Bookmakers often offer more than one European Handicap market for each game, so you will usually be able to find the bet that suits you. It is also important to be familiar with the terminology used in European Handicaps, where 1 refers to the home team, 2 to the away team and X to the draw, so the above market may look something like this:

EH 1 (-1): 1.65
EH X (-1): 3.90
EH 2 (+1): 4.10

european handicap functionality

Play European handicap at Mr Green

Comparison with Asian Handicap

The most obvious way in which the European Handicap differs from the Asian Handicap is that is offers a draw option. With Asian Handicaps, there are only two outcomes, and if the bet ends in a handicap draw, then the bettor’s stake is refunded.

For example, an Asian Handicap version of the market detailed above might look like this:

Brazil (-1) 1.65
Albania (+1) 2.35

With this Asian Handicap, if Brazil were to win by a single goal, neither bet would be a winner, and the bettor would have their stake returned. As a result, Asian Handicaps are often quoted in half-goals which eliminates the draw, whereas European Handicaps are always in whole goals.

It is also fair to say that the European Handicap is simpler to understand than the Asian Handicap, which has many varieties, including quarter-ball, half-ball and whole-ball handicaps. On the other hand, some bettors prefer Asian Handicaps as they only have two betting options to weigh up. As with all areas of betting, deciding which Handicap to use is a matter of personal preference and weighing up which suits your particular style.

asian vs european handicap

European Handicap Betting Strategies

The European Handicap comes into its own in one-sided matches. If a strong team is at home against a weaker team, there is often little value to be found in the traditional fixed odds market, but the European Handicap can offer a route to profit. For example, imagine Chelsea playing a home Premier League game against Hull. They may be a very short price in the fixed odds market, but perhaps they have a big Champions League game coming up and you suspect they may not be going all out to put up a big score. By backing either the draw or Hull in the European Handicap, you can still profit even if Chelsea, as expected, win the game.

european handicap strategies


The European Handicap is good introduction to handicap betting for bettors who want to try something other than the traditional winner market. As it does not use half or quarter goals, it is simpler to understand than the Asian Handicap, and by mirroring the three traditional outcomes of a football match, it is easier to follow for those used to fixed odds betting. It is particularly useful in one-sided games, where profit can be made by correctly judging the degree of one team’s supremacy over another, and as such is an important part of any football bettors’ strategy.