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European handicap explained and differences to Asian handicap

With so many different terms displayed on betting sites, it can be tough to lose track.

Handicaps are particularly confusing sometimes as they are so different to a lot of the other bets available on a typical bookmaker website.

You are not just betting on one team to win, after all, there is another factor at play to complicate matters somewhat. So handicaps can be tricky.

Asian handicaps and European handicaps are the most common types of handicaps used by bookmakers, so this guide will tell you everything you need to know about how they work.

Being able to take advantage of European and Asian handicaps adds a string to the bow of anyone hoping to win money by gambling, so read on for more information on this topic.

The differences between European and Asian handicaps    

Before we get on to the differences between European and Asian handicaps, it is worth giving a quick recap of what exactly a handicap is and how they work on betting sites.

A handicap essentially means positive and negative points - or runs, or goals, depending on your chosen sport - are given to teams in a sporting event.

So if you bet on Slovan Liberec v Slavia Prague in a 1. Liga football match, a handicap bet would in essence give one of the teams a goal headstart.

European and Asian handicaps are not quite the same, so you need to make sure you know the difference between them before you are ready to place any bets using these options.

Let's start with the European handicap bet. This offers three potential outcomes to a bet - home win, away win and draw. 

Asian handicaps do not include an option for the draw, which in theory means bookmakers can offer more attractive odds to their users, who in turn receive more value from their wagers.

Decimals are used to display Asian handicap options on a betting site, so look out for these. Typically they will run as follows: AH 0.00, 0.25, AH 0.50, 0.75, 1.00, 1.25, 1.50, 1.75 and so on.

Whereas European handicap bets are always either won or lost in every single scenario, having no tie option in an Asian handicap bet means there is a chance the bet could be 'pushed', with the stake returned to the player in the event of this happening.

How does European handicap work?    

European handicap means the same as a single handicap, while bookmakers will sometimes refer to this type of bet as a three-way handicap or in some cases a 1X2 match result bet.

Handicap bets can be useful in the event of a team - if we take football as an example - being a huge favourite to win a match and therefore they are being offered at very low odds.

In this situation there is little value to be gained from including them on a bet due to the low returns that would be on offer, but the handicap offers a way to make more cash.

So what exactly are you looking out for on a bookmaker website when looking to place a European handicap bet? The next part of our guide will explain exactly how this works.

European handicap structure    

Let's use a 1. Liga game between Slovan Liberec and Slavia Prague as our method for making sure European handicap is explained again. 

Odds will be presented on a bookmaker site looking something like the following: Slovan Liberec -1.00 | Draw -1.00 | Slavia Prague 1.00.

You win a bet on Slovan Liberec if they win the game by two or more goals, while a bet on Slavia Prague only loses if the game ends in a tie or a win for the home team in this instance.

In matches where there is a very strong favourite, handicap options might go up to four or even five goals, for example if a national team such as Germany were playing minnows San Marino.

European handicap bets are particularly useful when backing a strong home team to win a game. If they are a short-priced favourite for a game, the handicap is a way to get more value out of including them on a selection and therefore increasing potential winnings as a result.

Anyone confused about odds as a result of the system can check out a European handicap calculator which will help to show the returns that are possible from this type of a bet.

That explains the European handicap and how it works by using a European handicap example, but what about the Asian handicap?

Asian handicap in a nutshell    

With the European handicap explained, now we move on to the Asian handicap. As mentioned above, having no tie option is the main thing that stands out as a difference between the two.

Decimals are used to display the Asian handicap options available to a sports fan, although it is worth noting at this point in the guide that not all bookmakers run Asian handicaps as an option.

The figure 0.00 on the Asian handicap represents the draw - otherwise known as draw no bet or DNB - so if you placed a bet on Manchester United at 0.00 and they won the match, then the bet is also a winner. In this situation, the match ending in a draw would see the stake returned. Of course, if United were to lose the match then the bet would also go down as a loss as well.

If we step up a level to -0.50, a bet on United here is only a winner if they win the game. Both a draw and a United defeat would result in the bet being lost. 

At -0.25 and -0.75, the Asian handicap starts to get a little bit more complicated to work out. Here, the bet is split into two parts when it is placed, with an even stake on the adjacent handicap amount. This means that half of the stake could be returned to the player, which is better than nothing after all! 

Summary of the differences between European and Asian handicaps    

European handicap means, as we covered a little earlier on in the guide, the same as a single handicap, whereas the Asian handicap is a different type of bet that can involve split stakes.

In truth, Asian handicap betting is a more advanced betting strategy. European handicap predictions are widely available for those who want to take advice on their wagers, but the Asian handicap remains a little more niche despite becoming much more popular in recent years.

Both the European handicap and the Asian handicap can be useful, though, so it is worth keeping them in mind as options when browsing a betting website for your next wager.