How does the Handicap market work in Soccer?

The handicap market is where you bet on a team that begins the game with a disadvantage (or handicap) and needs to score more goals in order to beat the opposition. Alternatively the opposition is given a head start at the beginning of the game, and can win the game by just drawing the match (or winning outright).

Handicap Market (90Min)
Man United (-1)
Burnley (+1)


The handicap market is an exciting market that makes one-sided games more interesting.  This market makes the “playing field even” when one side is better than the other.  In this bet a handicap is given to the team that is considered better than their opposition.  It means that instead of just winning the match, they have to win by greater than the handicap in order to win in this market.  By the stronger team having to score more goals, the weaker team in reverse is given an advantage to win in the match.  The weaker side no longer has to win the game, as they are given a number of goals start before the game starts.

In this market the stronger team will start with negative goals at the start. If you back the stronger team to win the game on the handicap, you will need them to win the game by more goals than what they were deducted at the start.

In this market the weaker team will start with more goals than the stronger side.  Therefore they have to either win the game, or they need lose the game by less goals than they were given at the start.

Here is an example:

Chelsea is playing Wolves, and Chelsea is the stronger team.  The handicap market could well look like this:

Chelsea (-2) vs Wolves (+2)

Because Chelsea is the stronger team here, they will start the game2 goals behind.  If you believe Chelsea will win the game by more than 2 goals, then you will back Chelsea (-2). Chelsea must win by 3 clear goals for this to be a winning bet.

Because Wolves are the weaker team, they will start the game 2 goals ahead.  If you believe that Wolves will either win the game, or lose by less than 2 goals, then you would bet on Wolves (+2).  If Wolves win the game outright or lose by just 1 goal, then this option is a winner.

Note that the goals are only deducted or added to the team that you bet on.  It does not take off goals from both sides.

Here is a score line scenario:

Chelsea 4-1 Wolves

Here are the difference between the scores is 3 goals.
Therefore if you bet on Chelsea (-2), you would minus 2 goals from Chelsea’s score.
Chelsea scored 4 goals, if you minus 2 the score line will now be Chelsea 2-1 Wolves.
Here Chelsea has still won the game even though they had a handicap of 2 goals.  If you bet on Chelsea (-2), then you would be a winner.

If you bet on Wolves (+2), you would add 2 goals to the Wolves’ score.  Wolves scored 1 goal and adjusting for the handicap the result would now be Chelsea 4-3 Wolves.

Therefore even though Wolves had a 2 goal head start, they still did not manage to win the game on handicap.

You can also bet on the game to be a tie/draw.  For instance if the score line was:
Chelsea 3-1 Wolves

Chelsea are (-2), then you would minus 2 goals from Chelsea’s score.  The score line is now Chelsea 1-1 Wolves, so the game is a handicap draw.
Likewise, Wolves  are (+2), and you add 2 goals to the Wolves score, the score line would be Chelsea 3-3 Wolves
Therefore the scores are tie, and if you bet on the tie on the handicap, you would have a winning bet.

If the result was a draw at 90 minutes with the score Chelsea 1-1 Wolves then you must adjust for the handicap, in this instance Wolves  (+2) would be the winning selection, with a handicap result of
Chelsea 1-3 Wolves

The handicap is an exciting and fun bet, especially when the handicaps are very high!  It can make the most average games very enjoyable to watch.