What is Asian Handicap? | Sports Betting For Beginners

Let's say Liverpool play against Leyton Orient in the FA Cup. Liverpool are clear favorites, and you are looking to place a bet on them to advance to the next round. However, when you find out that the odds on a home win is only 1.1, you are reconsidering your initial decision.

In games where there is a clear favorite, the odds might be unfavorable. Therefore, bookmakers offer a handicap in order to create desirable bets on both the favorite and the underdog.

In the example above, the odds book could look something like this:


Liverpool -1.5  (1.90)   |   Leyton Orient +1.5 (2.10)


When determining the outcome of your bet, 1.5 points will either be added to Leyton's score or subtracted from Liverpool's. If the final score turns out to be Liverpool 2-0 Leyton Orient, a bet placed on Liverpool will result in a win. If the final score is 1-0, the bet on Liverpool is lost.


Full, Half and Quarter Goal Handicaps:

The Asian handicap can be divided into three categories, depending on its value. The full goal handicap consists of only whole numbers, for example +1, +2 or +3. This means that a draw is still possible, and in this case, your stake will be returned.

The half goal handicap could look like +0.5, +1.5, +2.5 etc. This eliminates the possibility of a draw and reduces the number of possible outcomes from three to two.

The quarter goal handicap is nothing but a mix between the full and half goal handicaps. Let’s take an example of +1.25. In this case, your money is split in two: One-half goes to a bet with the handicap of +1. The other half goes to a bet of +1.5.

With the quarter goal handicap, your bet can end in more ways than two. Consider a handicap of either -0.25 or +0.25, and the following results:

Asian Handicap Table

Asian Handicap Table

You placed a bet on handicap +0.25, and the game ends in a draw. Half of your bet(placed on handicap 0) is lost, while the other half(placed on +0.5) is a win. This is known as a half win. In the opposite case where a handicap of -0.25 is followed by a draw, your bet would result in a half lose.

In another example, consider the handicaps of -0.75 and +0.75:

Asian Handicap Table

Asian Handicap Table

This time, the half win is achieved if you place a bet with handicap -0.75, and your team wins by 1 (The half on -1 is lost. The half on -0.5 is won). The half lose comes into play if you place a bet with handicap +0.75, and your team lose by 1 (Half on +1 is won, half on +0.5 is lost).


Do you know the different odds types? 

We have written articles explaining them: 

How to bet? The 10 Step Trademate Guide to Improve Your Betting

Here are some key concepts you should know about, educational resources, tools and practical steps you can take to improve your betting.

1. Find value from odds deviations at bookmakers.

Different bookmakers offer different odds, which are possible to exploit through value bets. What a value bet is and how they occur is covered in these articles

2. Start with clearing signup bonuses on the soft bookmakers.

The majority of soft bookmakers offer bonuses with a turnover requirement, e.g. a 10x. You can use arbitrage to clear these bonuses. For instance let’s say you are betting on an Over / Under in a basketball game. Bookie A offer 2.05 in odds on an over, while Bookie B offers a 2.05 in odds on under. By placing $100 on each side, you have a surebet with a guaranteed profit of 2.5%. [ 1 / (1/2.05 + 1/2.05)]. Remember that you’re goal is to clear the bonus, so you can go break even by taking 2.0 and 2.0 or even go slightly below. Just make sure that your bonus is large enough to justify taking bets with a slightly negative expected value.

3. Know that “tipsters” who are profitable would never give away their advice for free.

Most tipster make money from affiliate deals with bookmakers where they get money if you use their links to sign up to the bookmaker site or by getting a percentage of losses made by bettors. If a tipster has an actual edge or inside information they will act upon this themselves. Only once they have taken a position in the game will they be willing to give up this information. The result being that they get better odds than you. For instance if a tipster recommends Troy at home versus South Florida in the NCAA at 1.75. They could take an earlier position at 1.80. Once people start following their advice and the market drops to let’s say 1.65 they can take a bet on the other side to make a surebet. Most tipster also don’t want to give away their track record and for the once that do, there is no guarantee that they have not simply deleted some of the bets they have lost. For the tipsters who actually do show you their full track record, the sample size is often very low. If they only place 250 bets a season for example their results will mainly be down to luck. There are two good articles on Pinnacle, which covers how to evaluate tipsters track records and survivorship bias.

4. Don’t bet on accumulators.

This article covers the maths behind why were created to make you loose a lot of money

5. Not having a staking strategy.

Even if you are placing profitable trades, without a correct staking strategy, variance could wipe you out. So what does a profitable staking strategy look like? Well there’s two options you can deploy profitably. A flat stake, and a proportional stake.With a flat bet size, you either put the same wager on every single game, or you put the same wager on games that have the same odds and edge. Flat bet sizing is fairly easy to use, but it's hard to select a proper size. A size too big will increase the chance of going broke, while a size too low will not yield big enough profits.A proportional strategy is where you place a certain percentage of your current bankroll on each bet. Kelly's Criterion is a formula that maximizes the growth rate of your bankroll. You should be aware that following the Kelly Criterion is high risk. You can reduce your risk by following for instance 30% of whatever the Kelly Criterion tells you to. I’ve also made a video where I explain the Kelly Criterion and how to apply it in betting.

Alternatively you can read this article about bankroll management using the Kelly Criterion for sports betting.  

6. Know how bookmakers work and measure by whether you are able to beat Pinnacle or the closing lines of the other sharp bookmakers.

You can read about the closing line here. 

7. Not tracking performance or analysing your game.

Lack of knowledge and analysis of your performance against the bookmakers is one of the biggest factors in not becoming a profitable long-term sports trader. Whether you are a poker player or day trader, keeping track of your results enables you to determine whether your strategy is working and whether you are running good or bad. This can in turn enable you to change your strategy for the better. When trading sports you should measure your performance versus the closing lines of the sharp bookmakers. If you are able to consistently place bets where you get better odds than the bookmakers closing lines you should be profitable in the long term.

8. If you are profitable at the soft bookmakers you will be limited.

This article covers some tips to make you stay under the bookies radar and make your accounts last longer. In this section you can find interviews with industry insiders and their advice for avoiding limitations

9. Market liquidity = information

The bookmakers employ top sports experts and data scientists who take in huge amounts of information on everything from lineups, injuries and team form to place their initial odds line. In other words, information is used to calculate the probability of let’s say Arsenal beating Tottenham this weekend. One of the best sports traders in the world is Tony Bloom, the owner of Brighton Football Club and the betting syndicate Starlizard (http://read.bi/2fiaisZ). According to Business Insider, Starlizard employs 160 workers who spend their day crunching statistics and building their own computer models for calculating the odds of sporting events, e.g. Arsenal winning. To run a company of Starlizard’s size and pay all the employees, the betting size and volume needs to be huge, in the range of hundreds of thousands to millions of pounds per bet. If they believe that the bookmaker are giving odds of 2.0, when their own calculations say that the true probability of Arsenal winning is 1.9. They will bet a large amount on any odds above 1.9, causing the odds to drop until it reaches 1.9. It is not possible to place large bets on the soft bookmakers, so the professionals perform their betting at the sharp bookmakers who offer higher stake limits on games. Once the odds goes down on one side, it will inevitably rise on the other. So now the odds of a draw or away win could be at 3.40 and 3.90 respectively. Now, someone else might believe that there is value to be had by betting on an away win based on the information they possess. They will then place a bet on Tottenham to win, shifting the odds line again. Eventually the odds line will reach equilibrium, where no-one is willing to place any more money on any of the game’s outcomes. If you are going to place $1 million on the outcome of a game, you better make sure that you get it right, if not you will go out of business over time. This also implies that when someone is willing to place such high stakes on a game, they possess information that suggests that this is a profitable bet. Thus one can draw the conclusion that the more money is placed on a game (liquidity) is equal to information. Watching and analysing these high-liquidity markets, allows you to follow big movers such as Tony Blom. Essentially giving you access to their positions and information.

10. Some good free tools and resources are:

This article covers some good free tools and resources to improve your betting.


Rookie Mistake #1 in Sports Betting: Accumulator Betting

Accumulator betting is generally a terrible idea. There are some exceptions to this rule, but 9 times out of 10 you should run a million miles from accumulator betting. The reasons are simple. Your hunch bet, which on average is losing 10% of your stake every bet, compounded with another 3 hunch bets, is actually making you lose on average 34% of your stake.

For example, let’s say you place a £10 on a 4 leg accumulator at 60 in odds. The bookmaker is essentially saying this will happen 1 time every 60 times. However, you should be getting odds of 91 (average payback at 90% giving 0.9^4 = 0.6561, 60/0.6561 = 91.45). That means the bookmaker has an edge of 34% over you.

Doesn’t sound very fair does it? That’s why bookmakers are spending millions on advertising accumulators

Don't bet on accumulators

Don't bet on accumulators

Essential tools and resources for sports traders and bettors

This post is a summary of tools and resources that can help you improve as a sports trader.



Oddsportal is a free service that allows you to compare the odds offered by different bookmakers in one place. They also have a surebet (arbitrage) and some other nice to have tools.


Flashscore is another free service that is great for keeping track of the score on the trades that you have placed and for checking the results. They also have an app and if you create a user, you can get notifications whenever there is a goal in a game you want to follow.

Odds Converters

Using an odds converter enables you to quickly see the relationship between decimal, American, fraction odds and implied probability. 


Betting brokerages enables you to place trades at the sharp bookmaker’s with one account. It reduces the hassle of managing multiple accounts in addition to increasing the speed with which you are able to execute trades. At Trademate we are currently using Sportmarket as a brokerage to perform our betting in at the sharp bookmakers. Other brokerages include AsianConnect and PremiumTradings. 




In addition to being one of the bookmaker's with the highest liquidity and payout rate, Pinnacle has some great educational content on a range of topics that are important for sports traders. We have included some of our favorites below:




Developing prediction models



Tony Bloom and Starlizzard - One of the world's most profitable sports traders. 


A stats centered blog run by Nate Silver that covers American sports. Nate is known for his predictions on Baseball and past US elections. 


Trademate’s youtube channel where we trade live in the European betting markets and discuss key topics in sports trading.

Trademate Slack Community

If you are not already a member, join our community on Slack to discuss betting. Just ask for an invite.

Finally, don't forget to check out the other articles at our content center.