European Handicap is a method of betting that requires a team to not only win a match, but win by a certain clear margin of goals. It is similar to Asian Handicap betting but provides less cover. The two most common European Handicaps are -1 and -2, and they act in the same way as the -1.5 and -2.5 Asian Handicaps which you can read about here.
The handicap is applied to the team you are betting on and can be thought of as a pre-match deficit. For example, if you are placing a football bet and bet on a team -1 European handicap, they are starting -1 goals behind their opponent at kickoff.
To win the bet, your team must erase this deficit, winning by at least two clear goals which would give them a +1 advantage.
Pros and Cons
- Pro - European Handicap betting offers a method of cashing in on teams that are expected to win comfortably when the odds are not valuable enough to bet on alone.
- Pro - Unlike with Asian Handicap betting, the option to bet on a handicap draw (essentially predicting the exact margin a team may win by) provides the opportunity for big wins and provides a third option in the market for tight games.
- Con - European Handicap betting is generally a more risky way of betting as it does not offer the opportunity of taking your money back in some situations, like with Asian Handicap betting.
- Con - There can be a big difference between losing a game and losing it by a clear two or three goal margin. Even the poorest of teams at the top level may more often than not only lose out narrowly, and that's another way in which this market presents a risk.
A European Handicap acts similarly to Asian Handicaps such as -1.5, -2.5, -3.5 and so on. The European Handicaps you will see on your bookmaker will be anywhere from -1 to -4, and in some cases higher. For the purpose of better understanding how this bet type works, it's best to replace the word handicap in your head with the term 'deficit that needs to be erased'.
That term offers the most simple way to look at a betting handicap and that will become more apparent as we take you through a detailed breakdown of this betting market. By now you may be well versed in the match betting market, but if not, you should first read aboutmoneyline betting here.
What is a European handicap
We know that every football match starts 0-0. That level playing field is something every team is entitled to. But we also know that when you have one particularly strong team, say Barcelona, against one particularly weak team, that level playing field soon disappears. Not only are Barcelona favoured to win the game but they're likely to win it by three, four, five goals, maybe even more.
Games like that will never truly be even because some teams are just that much better. The problem for us bettors is that's reflected in the odds. Barcelona might be at best 1.15 to win the game, and that's no real use to us. European Handicap betting has created a way of betting that overlooks the match results and truly reflects the ability and expectation of each particular match situation. It creates a level playing field and much better odds for punters.
Let's use a fabricated game as an example. Team A are at home to Team B, and Team A are expected to win comfortably. They've been in good form, scoring plenty of goals and conceding few. Team B are in poor form, losing their last five away games, but they've not been beat by that big a margin in most of them.
Team A odds are 1.10, Draw is 11.00 and Team B is 17.00
There's no real value in betting on Team A and even if you can find a way to argue there is, what's the point? You'd need to risk £1,000 to make just £100. European handicap betting will look at the gap between the teams and how that gap could be reflected in the score. It may be Team A is deemed most likely to win the game 3-0 or 4-0 all things going to forml, so the European Handicap may be set at -3. EH stands for European hHandicap.
Team A -3EH at 1.90, Team A 3 Team B +3EH at 1.90
There are three markets here, just like win/draw/win. The first market, -3EH, refers to how many goals the home team must win by. +3EH refers to that fact the away team must lose by fewer than three goals, and the option in the middle will always give you the option to bet on the favourite to win by exactly that amount of goals. So, those numbers above probably look pretty foreign to you, so let's break down what it all means. Keep in mind how European Handicap is a way of ignoring the match market and placing a handicap (deficit that needs to be erased) to create better odds and a more even betting match-up.
How a European Handicap works
In the most basic terms possible, a handicap is an imaginary scoreline placed on a team at kick off. Every game starts 0-0, but a handicap means there's an imaginary score (deficit or advantage) in the background that a team must overcome in 90 minutes for a winning bet to be achieved.
Keeping to the above example, let's say you bet on Team A -3E (European Handicap). The game will start 0-0, but the handicap score at kick off is 0-3. Imagine that despite the game starting 0-0, the team you've bet on is actually 3-0 down at kick off. What you need from that position is the team to win as far as that handicap imaginary scoreline is concerned. In this case, nothing less than 4-3 will do. Whilst the game may finish 4-0, the handicap will say 4-3. The deficit that has been put in place has been erased and overcome, meaning a winning European Handicap bet. The same logic applies to a -1EH, -2EH and so on. At -1EH, the game starts 0-0 but you're team must win by two clear goals, meaning their handicap win will be 2-1. With -2EH, your team must win by three clear goals, winning the game 3-0 or 4-1 but winning that imaginary little handicap game 3-2 or 4-2.
|European Handicap||Deficit to overturn||Minimum FT score||Handicap Score|
|-1EH||One goal||eg 2-0||eg 2-1|
|-2EH||Two goals||eg 3-0||eg 3-2|
|-3EH||Three goals||eg 4-0||eg 4-3|
|-4EH||Four goals||eg 5-0||eg 5-4|
There is also a basic sum which can be used to understand and reflect how a team must perform to win a European Handicap bet. This sum is shown below using -3EH as an example.
The game starts 0-0, and the imaginary scoreline created by the handicap is 0-3. The home team must erase this and beat it. If you're unsure of how many goals a team needs to win on a European Handicap bet or if they have won one, then just take the negative number which is the handicap and add to that the amount of goals a team has won the game by. If the number you end up with is positive, the negative handicap has been overturned and you've won. If the number remains negative, your team haven't done enough and you've lost.
Example equation: Your team wins 5-1. 5 minus 1 equals 4. Your team has won by 4.
The starting European handicap was -3, so we now have to work out if the team we bet on have overturned that handicap by turning a negative number into a positive number.
Handicap outcome: (Our handicap) -3 plus 4 equals 1. The number is a positive number, meaning the team has beaten the European Handicap.
The other side of the handicap
Similarly, just like with the Asian Handicap, it is also possible to use the European Handicap to back the underdog, which means reversing the above thinking to produce a winning bet. This involves giving that team an advantage at kickoff, or a head start, if you like, that your team must protect in order for your bet to win. To continue the same example as above, Team B at +3EH, means that they start the game with a positive handicap of 3 goals, or a 3-0 head start. For the bet to win, that advantage must not be eradicated by Team A, meaning that if they keep the losing margin to two goals or less, then you will have a winning bet.
|European Handicap||Advantage to Protect||Maximum FT score||Handicap Score|
|+1EH||Zero goals (must draw or better)||eg 0-0||eg 1-0|
|+2EH||One goal||eg 0-1||eg 2-0|
|+3EH||Two goals||eg 0-2||eg 3-2|
|+4EH||Three goals||eg 0-3||eg 4-3|
As you can see, rather than hoping for a large winning scoreline, you are hoping your team will keep the scoreline at tight as possible to protect the positive handicap. It is a useful method of getting reasonable odds on a team that is expected to lose, and can be an excellent way of of identifying a good value bet.
Who uses European Handicap?
The European Handicap betting market is exclusive to football and more likely to be used by a professional bettor than a casual punter, however there is more of a crossover and balance between the two here. A casual punter may be more drawn to this market than an Asian Handicap market for its bigger odds and less professional feel. A professional bettor may take issue with the higher risk and the removal of that safety cushion that Asian Handicap betting can provide.
Having established that there is no safety blanket as with Asian Handicap betting, giving us much higher risk, we've also established that with risk comes reward and that may be fine in many people's books.
A professional bettor remains slightly more likely to use this market than a casual punter, who will probably take the straight-forward option of combining single bets.
If a team make a habit of winning or losing by the narrowest of margins, using the handicap draw option where you can predict a team will win or lose by exactly one goal is likely to produce attractive returns.
Got the hang of the different bet types? See how successful tipsters make their mark by exploring our betting strategy guides.