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What is European Handicap

Asian Handicap enjoys the lion’s share in global handicap betting, as it is the more popular way of trying to equalize both teams winning possibilities. However, this is not the only handicap betting you can choose. In fact, the European Handicap is older than Asian Handicap, used by European-based online bookmakers way long before the Asian way became popular.

This article will help you fully understand the European Handicap function and of course will point out the differences between European Handicap and Asian Handicap, so it will be easier for you to choose the best way of betting, which increases your winning chances.

How does the European Handicap work?

European handicap is basically a 3-way bet, similar to a 1X2 match result bet. That is why it is also found as “Single handicap” or “3-way handicap”. In any match with a significant difference in strength between the two teams, a handicap is placed on the outsider, in order to make it harder for the favorite to win the bet.

So far the function is the same with Asian Handicap. Here is the significant difference: the European Handicap (abbreviated as EH) is always an integer number, meaning it can be matched with a goal difference. Instead of placing an Asian Handicap of -1,5 goals or -0,25 goals, the European handicap is always of a -1, -2, -3 etc. kind.

As in Asian Handicap the main target is to get rid of the draw result (with a non-integer handicap you can actually win or lose the bet), the European Handicap actually has a “draw” result. Which is not, of course, the actual draw of the game, but the “equalizing” of the specific handicap set by the online bookmaker.

European Handicap Example

The German National Football Team is playing at home against Andorra and have an almost 100% chance of winning the match. The 1X2 bet odds for a Germany win should not surpass 1.01. The European handicap favors underdogs Andorra with a number of goals (usually 3 or 4), that Germany has to overcome in order to be considered as the winner. This makes betting on this match far more interesting as it is harder to correctly predict the outcome of the match.

Regardless of the final result, if the European handicap stands at 3 goals, Germany is considered the winner only if they win by four goals or more. Respectively, whoever backs Andorra, will win the bet even if they lose with less than three goals. The match is considered a draw if Germany matches the EH handicap and wins by EXACTLY 3 goals.

European Handicap Structure Explained

European handicap bets usually appear like this:

Team A (-2) - Draw (-2) - Team B (-2)

What does this mean? Let’s take a closer look:

  • Team A (-2): If you back this option, you win when the team in question wins by three goals or more.
  • Draw (-2): In this case, you win if the match favorite wins by exactly two goals.
  • Team B (+2): The last option favors the outsider of the match. Your bet will be considered a winning one if your backed team either wins the match, gets a draw, or even loses by one goal.

Difference at “draw” bets

I already mentioned that the main difference between European and Asian handicap is the absence of a draw result. This is not 100% right: The correct wording is “the absence of a WINNING draw result”, as in Asian Handicap too there are integer-number handicaps. But there’s a huge difference.

When you place a wager on a -1 Asian Handicap bet, if the favorite wins by one goal, you’ll get your money back, as the bet is considered a “push”. You don’t win, you don’t lose either.

On the other hand, if you place a -1 European Handicap bet and your team wins by a single goal, then you will lose your bet. That is because in Euro handicap betting you can’t get your stake back. The only way you could have won that bet, would be if you had placed a “draw” bet, where you expected a one-goal margin win by the favorite. This option does not exist in Asian Handicap, given that it’s a 2-way bet.

When to bet on European Handicap?

If you choose to bet on European Handicap odds, you should know that you are taking a much higher risk than in 1X2 betting. The truth is that EH odds are easily found, as they are available on almost every online bookmaker on the market (Asian Handicaps are becoming popular, but they aren’t offered everywhere).

If your favorite style of play includes backing stronger teams to win, usually at home, you should definitely take a closer look at European handicaps. You can earn a hefty profit, if you find matches where the home team is expected to win by more than one goal. The odds difference could be huge, as 1.25 odds on a favorite, could be replaced by 1.60-1.70 odds for the same team winning by two goals or more. This can definitely make a difference on your bankroll.

The disadvantages of this style of play are pretty much the same with Asian Handicap. In most cases, you are placing a bet relying only on a team’s motivation, as a team might not push for a second goal if they think they have won the match.

What to watch when choosing European Handicap?

Here are some tips to follow before placing a European Handicap bet.

Recent form: Has the favorite enjoyed broad wins or narrow ones? Did the underdog play well in recent away matches or lost by more than one goal?

Home/Away matches: Their current records indicate a significant behaviour, which you should know before betting.

Weather/Pitch: In case of rain the pitch becomes heavier and it’s more difficult for the favorite to overcome the handicap.

Match motive: Is the favorite motivated to win by more goals than one or it’s a boring tie, as nothing is affected by the result?

Club relations: Are they hostile or friendly? In case of a friendly crowd, huge goal differences should be avoided.

European Handicap strategy

Using the European Handicap is in fact trying to increase offered odds for certain bets on favorites. However, all matches with a significant odds difference are not the same. You should focus on specific types of matches, such as:

  • When there’s an undoubtedly huge quality difference between the favorite and the underdog, meaning the favorite will find no difficulty scoring a lot of goals.
  • When the favorite team has a strong offensive record alongside the underdog’s difficulty of keeping a clean sheet.
  • When a team which is considered a favorite is coming from a shocking result (a defeat by an inferior opponent last week, a humiliating midweek cup elimination or a huge defeat at an international competition) and is really motivated to strike back.
  • In case of backing the underdog, look out for games where the favorite faces significant injury/suspension problems or has real trouble with the coach and his relation with the players.

Motivation is the key

In the Germany vs Andorra example mentioned above, a win by one or two goals would give Germany the three points they need. They would not gain anything if they won by more goals, which in term, brings the added risk of a favorite relaxing, especially on huge handicaps. There is nothing more frustrating than watching a strong team slow down their tempo and not push for another goal, as they’ve secured a win but unfortunately, not our bet.

You should also be more careful about odds estimations and defining the meaning of a “worthwhile bet”. European handicap odds are always better than simple 1X2 odds, making it extremely easy to get carried away instead of making a careful estimation.

Looking for better odds

The European handicap is offered as an alternative betting choice in an increasing number of matches, even among opponents who, theoretically, have the same chances of winning. In this case, the EH is not used to balance the strength difference, but to give more tempting odds to the prospective winner.

Let’s say a Barcelona-Real Madrid derby has been scheduled on a neutral venue. If there are no significant absences, the odds should be around the same for both teams. Online bookmakers will offer European handicap odds for this match, only this time, the odds overcoming the handicap are much higher. For example, if a Barcelona win is offered at 2.20 in a 1X2 bet type, in European Handicap -1 the odds for their win would be over 3.50.

In this case, European handicap is recommended when we are positive of a team’s win and would like to pick better odds, with corresponding risk.

European Handicap in other sports

European handicap is found in other sports besides football, however the essence remains the same. In basketball, for example, a points handicap exists that includes a draw. In order to win a draw bet, the favorite must once again match the said handicap. We can also find it at tennis betting (games or even sets difference), on different team sports such as volleyball, handball and water polo or even individual sports such as darts and snooker. Some online bookmakers offer a European handicap option even in American sports, like baseball or American football.

Conclusion

Most punters choose to bet on European Handicap to take advantage of this difference, the “draw” result. This means that they bet on the favorite to cover the exact number of handicap offer (i.e. in case of 1 goal handicap, the favorite to win by one goal). This is a bet of high risk, as a punter actually seeks a limited range of scores to win, but the odds offered are really worthy to try.

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