Explaining A Betting Handicap 

A betting handicap is applied by online bookmakers like bet365 or Betfred in order to attempt to level the playing field when it comes to wagering on a match. In a handicap bet, one side of the wager is assigned a goal disadvantage, while the opposing side accesses a goal advantage.

The margin of the assigned betting handicap at Paddy Power is based upon the disparity of the two sides in a match. For example, in the English Premier League, a title-contending club such as Manchester City would be assigned a goal handicap were they facing a side seeking to stave off relegation such as Norwich. 

This handicap can be as little as 0.5 of a goal. One goal or 1.5 goals are other commonplace handicaps. Suppose Manchester City were listed as -1.5 in this match against Norwich. What the number means is that City must beat Norwich by more than one goal in order for a wager on them to be classified as a winner. So if Manchester City wins 2-0, those who bet on City will cash their tickets. However, should Manchester City win 2-1, those punters who back Norwich will be in the money.

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Balancing The Books

Handicap wagers are popular ways for bookmakers to generate action on what should be lopsided ties in FA Cup or Carabao Cup action. Let’s say mighty Liverpool is drawn at home to play against Lincoln City of the EFL League One in an FA Cup third-round match.

As a straight bet, only the true faithful die-hard supporters of Lincoln City are going to be willing to wager on their lads to go to Anfield and leave as victors.

However, if bookmakers are giving Lincoln City +3.5 goals, suddenly Liverpool needs a win by a four-goal margin to cash as winners of the match. The hope is that this handicap will generate action on both sides of the wager and in essence, balance the betting books.

It should be noted that handicap betting can sometimes lead to massive upsets coming in as winners. During the Group Stage of the 2021-22 UEFA Champions League, tiny Sheriff Tiraspol, the first side from Moldova ever to reach the group stages of the competition, were drawn away to mighty Real Madrid.

The Spanish giants were set as 4.5-goal favorites over their Moldovan rivals. However, Sheriff Tiraspol stunned the football world by not only covering the bet, but winning outright 2-1 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.