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European v Asian handicap - What's the difference?

What's the difference between European and Asian handicap? VOdds created this all-inclusive guide to handicapping!

You've probably heard a thing or two about handicap betting. Handicaps can be used in almost all sports events but mainly in global sports such as football, basketball, baseball, volleyball and even tennis.

Although handicap betting is one of the most common types of markets in sports betting, many punters still don't have a good grasp on them. There are actually two main types of handicaps: European and Asian.

So, if you're one of those who believe they can profit well from them and want to learn more, here's a quick guide to help you understand this market better.

What are European Handicaps?

More popularly known as the three-way handicap, the European Handicap is similar to its Asian counterpart but it's much easier to take in. It works by giving an advantage or points to the underdog by providing them with a 'lead' at the beginning of a match, or a 'penalty' to the stronger team.

These points are added or subtracted before the start of an event. Your bet wins or loses after the final outcome of the event is adjusted based on the handicap you put your bet on.

However, unlike in the Asian Handicap market where a draw isn't possible, this type of betting offers three potential betting options – win, draw and loss, hence, why it's called the three-way handicap.

European handicap betting also uses whole numbers as opposed to the non-integral numbers used in Asian handicap. Furthermore, it also functions similarly to 1X2 betting.

Here's an example to help you grasp the concept better.

Manchester City is playing at home against Watford and have a 100% chance of winning the match. European handicap will favour the underdogs, which in this case is Watford, with a number of goals that Manchester City must overcome in order for them to be considered the winner.

Regardless of the final outcome of the match, if the European handicap is at 3 goals, Manchester City will be considered the winners only if they win by more than 3.

Consequently, bets placed on Watford will win the bet even if they lose with less than three goals. The match will be considered a draw if Man City matches the handicap and wins by exactly three goals.

What are Asian Handicaps?

The Asian handicap betting market is perfect if you're into something less common as 1x2.

In a nutshell, Asian handicap involves giving the stronger team a goal handicap, and the weaker underdogs a goal headstart. Therefore, in order for a bet to win, you must back the team with the higher score, considering their respective handicaps or advantages.

The goal of Asian handicap is to guarantee that a game will not end in a draw. Hence, by removing the chance of a draw, you will only have two options: to either bet on the home or away team.

So, for example, say you bet £1000 on the weaker team where Team A is the underdog home team with 0.75 Asian handicap and Team B is the stronger away team. Price = 1.90

To win a bet placed on Team A, they have to win or at least end the game in a draw. Otherwise, if Team A loses by more than two goals, you lose the bet.

On the other hand, if you place a bet on Team B, they will receive a -0.75 goal handicap. Therefore, to win the bet, Team B must win the game by at least two goals. If they win by 1 goal (0-1, 1-2, or 2-3), you only win half of your stake. Furthermore, if it ends in a draw or Team A wins, you lose.

The handicaps can vary between quarter-ball (0.75 and 0.25), half-ball (0.5) and whole-ball (1, 2, etc) handicaps, where whole-ball (sometimes full goal) is the most popular.

Now, while Asian handicap sounds complicated at first glance, it actually makes things simpler by guaranteeing a winner because of the handicaps. On top of that, the Asian handicap market is also known for having low spread and better prices compared to European handicaps.

The difference between European and Asian Handicap

While the two handicap betting markets can be similar, their differences can be classified into three parts: symbols or representations, number variants, and match outcomes. We will discuss further on each one below.


One of the key differences between these two types of betting handicap methods is on how they use different symbols for representation.

In Asian handicap betting, its focus is on a specific team's skill so it uses non-integral symbols such as '-1.5' and/or '+1.5' to be added or subtracted to the stronger and/or weaker teams.

Meanwhile, since European handicap betting offers a draw score and is more fixated on relative ability, it uses ratio such as '0:1'.

Number Variants

Another difference to help discern these two is in how they use number variants.

As mentioned above, Asian handicap betting has many varieties, including quarter-ball, half-ball and whole-ball handicaps as opposed to its European counterpart which makes use of whole number variants only.

Match Outcomes

Lastly, and most importantly, the key difference between these two is its respective match outcomes.

In the Asian handicap market, there are only two possible outcomes – to give a lead to the home or away team. Meanwhile, in the European handicap, there are three possible results to choose from. Bettors can either pick between betting on home, away or draw.

European v Asian Handicap: Which is better?

While some punters are more used to European Handicaps, Asian Handicaps have started to grow more in popularity because you only have to weigh two options. However, in deciding which Handicap to use, it all comes down to what works for you, and where you will get higher profit. If you want to start betting on better Asian Handicap prices, check out this sportsbook aggregator and win more!

You can find more on the subject at Asian handicap betting guide - Asian handicap explained (2020)

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