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What is an Asian handicap?

Asian handicap betting is a form of handicap betting that effectively eliminates the draw outcome.

Asian handicap betting is most commonly associated with sports betting on football. The bookmaker generally handicaps the favoured team by either a half number, e.g. 0.5 points or goals, effectively eliminating the draw as it is not possible to score a half point or goal; or a full number, e.g. 1.0. If the handicap is a full number, this means that it is possible for the handicap bet to result in a draw; this is called a ‘push’ and sees the bookmaker refund the bet.

Asian handicap bets that eliminate the draw are similar to line bets, as they also use a handicap using a half number to eliminate the third result. Asian handicap betting is more complicated though, as half or full numbers can be used as the handicap, and; there are sometimes two handicaps, known as a double handicap. A double handicap effectively splits the wager in two.

Asian handicap betting examples

Asian handicap betting is best explained using examples of each type of wager. The first we look at is a handicap involving a half number that eliminates the draw result.

Asian Handicap betting example

Asian handicap where the draw is eliminated

Let’s use the same Arsenal vs West Ham example we used to explain handicap betting. However, this time, Arsenal is handicapped by 1.5 goals. The Win Draw Win odds are:

Arsenal $1.36, the Draw $4.50 and West Ham $6.50.

The odds suggest Arsenal is strongly favoured to win. The bookie then handicaps Arsenal by 1.5 goals, and the market adjusts:

Arsenal $2.20 (-1.5), West Ham $1.70 (+1.5.)

In this scenario, Arsenal needs to win by two goals or more for the punter to collect the $2.20 win. If they don’t, those that backed West Ham to get within 1.5 goals will win. Note, there are only two results as the draw result is eliminated.

  • Arsenal (-1.5) win – Arsenal win by 2 goals or more
  • West Ham (+1.5) win – Arsenal win by 1 goal, the match is a draw, or West Ham wins.

Asian handicap where the draw is refunded

An Asian handicap wager where the draw is refunded is similar to a Draw No Bet wager. Let’s use the same English Premier League soccer match to explain how it works.

This time the bookie handicaps Arsenal 1.0 goal, leaving the market to look like this:

Arsenal $1.65 (-1.0), West Ham $2.25 (+1.0).

Note, there is no price for the draw. If the match results in a draw after the handicap, eg. Arsenal win 2-1, then the bet stake will be refunded. See a list of the possible outcomes below:

  • Arsenal $1.65 (-1.0) win – Arsenal win by 2 goals or more
  • Draw (-1.0) – Bets refunded – Arsenal wins by exactly 1 goal
  • West Ham $2.25 (+1.0) win – The match results in a draw or a West Ham victory

Betting sites that offer Asian handicaps

Most betting sites do offer Asian Handicap betting on major league soccer. It will likely be hard to find markets on lower European leagues, but the best UK betting sites do offer handicap betting. Be careful, that each has a different way of presenting their markets, Asian handicap markets may be available under ‘handicap betting’. Some will offer double handicaps, some draw result refunded; on the big matches, you may find all three variations of Asian handicap betting.

A double Asian handicap

Sometimes a bookmaker creates an Asian handicap market with two handicaps eg. -0.0 and -0.5. If you place a bet on this market and select Arsenal, your wager is effectively split in two. The possible outcomes are listed below:

Arsenal $1.33 (-0.0,-0.5), West Ham $3.30 (+0.0, 0.5).

  • Arsenal win by 1 goal or more – Both bets win
  • The final result is a draw – 50% of stake loses, 50% is refunded
  • West Ham win – The full stake is lost

Origins of Asian Handicap betting

The term ‘Asian Handicap’ was coined by journalist Joe Saumarez Smith in 1998 when he was asked by Indonesian bookmaker Joe Phan to come up with a name for ‘hang cheng betting’.