Asian handicap betting explained

Last Updated on 17/10/2021

The Asian handicap is a form of spread betting first introduced in Asia towards the end of the 20th century. Over the last two decades it has spread to western betting markets, becoming the preferred type of bet for millions of sports fans worldwide, including in Canada. Mainly applied to football, but also used in other sports, the main aim for the Asian handicap is to reduce the advantage a favourite holds in a sporting contest – and boost the chances of the outsider. Confused? We’ve written this Asian handicap guide to help!

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An introduction to the Asian handicap bet

The Asian handicap bet first originated in Asia, where it was known as ‘hang chang betting’.
An Indonesian bookmaker called Joe Phan wanted to export this wagering method across the globe using his newly set-up online bookmaker, but he thought that western audiences would fail to connect with the traditional term.
So, he asked a British journalist called Joe Saumarez Smith to come up with a new phrase to describe this particular form of handicap bet. Smith – who would go on to become a professional poker player – coined ‘Asian handicap’ in a blog, and the name stuck! Nowadays, the vast majority of online bookmakers, including, offer ‘Asian handicap’ in their sportsbook. How does the Asian handicap work?

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Asian handicap betting: how it works

The best sport to use to illustrate the Asian handicap is football, or soccer. This is because draws or ties regularly happen in football, whereas they are a lot rarer in other team sports. In other types of betting market, such as 1X2 betting, the draw is one of three possible outcomes. This means that if the punter places a wager on either the home or the away team to win and the game finishes up in a tie, they lose the bet. The Asian handicap bet is designed to take the draw out of the equation and, in doing so­, applies a handicap/headstart to either team depending on whether they are the outsider or the favourite to ensure a more level betting environment.

So, how exactly does the Asian handicap create a more even chance of either side winning the bet in contests which would otherwise be seen as punters as mismatched? Well, the favourite – the team seen as most likely to win the match and usually ‘odds-on’ in other forms of betting – are given a goal deficit by the bookmaker before kick-off, while the outsider is usually given a corresponding headstart. The aim of the bookmaker when they’re putting the odds together is to keep the chances of either side winning the contest as close to even as possible – this is a direct opposition to 1X2 betting, where nine times out of 10, the home team or the better side will generally have shorter odds than the opposition.

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Asian handicap: the different versions

Asian handicap bets are renowned for their flexibility which makes them hugely popular both with beginners – who appreciate their relative simplicity – and more experienced gamblers who are able to see their high potential for returns.
In the next few sections, we are going to explain to you what the three different types of Asian handicap are. In doing so, we will use a number of real-life examples just to make it easier to understand.
These three different types of bet are known in Canada as ‘whole-goal’ handicaps, ‘half-goal’ handicaps and ‘quarter-goal’ handicaps. You can discover more about each one below:

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Whole goal Asian handicaps

The whole goal handicap is the most basic and simplest to understand of the Asian handicap bets. The headstart/handicap given to each team is always a whole number, so the Asian handicap whole goal bet as listed in the sportsbook will appear as follows for a Champions League tie between favourites Bayern Munich and rank outsiders Anderlecht.

  • Bayern Munich -2
  • Anderlecht +2

The odds for each selection would also appear next to each side, for example:

  • Bayern Munich -2 1.44
  • Anderlecht +2 2.25

Or, using fractional odds:

  • Bayern Munich -2 4/9
  • Anderlecht +2 5/4

In the bet displayed above, Anderlecht will start the tie with a two-goal advantage over Bayern Munich. If, then, you wished to place a wager on Bayern to win the match, they would need to do so by three goals or more for you to win. If they lost, drew or only won the game by one goal, you would lose the bet. Should Bayern emerge 2-0, 3-1, 4-2 and so on winners, the bet would be drawn, or ‘pushed’ – and your bet would be refunded.

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What is a half-goal Asian handicap?

When answering the question, it’s important to look back at the whole goal handicap and consider how some punters might not want their bet to be drawn, or ‘pushed’. Therefore, most online bookmakers also offer a ‘half-goal’ handicap. As you very well know, it’s impossible to score half a goal in football, so in this market there’s no opportunity for the bet to be drawn. Going back to our previous example, the ‘half-goal’ handicap example would be listed like this:

  • Bayern Munich -2.5
  • Anderlecht +2.5

Again, the bet would work exactly as explained above, but this time a two-goal Bayern win would result in the wager being lost. The Germans would need to finish at least three goals of Anderlecht for you to pocket a return.

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What is a quarter-goal Asian handicap?

A lot of bookmakers also offer a quarter-goal Asian handicap, which is a combination of the full goal and half goal handicaps, split between two bets. Listed as 0.25, 0.75, 1.25, 1.75, when you place a wager on one of these outcomes, your stake is split into two.
An example would be:

Handicap: Bayern Munich -2.25 (-2 and -2.50)
In this instance, half of your bet is on Bayern to win by two. The other half is on the Germans to win by three goals or more.
If Bayern won the game 2-0, the first half of your bet would be refunded as a push, while the second half would lose.

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What is an alternative Asian handicap?

When using online bookmakers, you may have seen the phrase ‘alternative Asian handicap’ used and wondered what it means. However, there’s no need for you to be confused. Most bookies will have a main offering, whereby the handicap is standardised. The alternative handicap is simply an Asian handicap that is offered at a different value to the normal one.

So a bookmaker’s standard Asian handicap might be 0.5:

  • Bayern Munich -0.5
  • Anderlecht +0.5

And their alternative will be anything that isn’t this half-goal handicap:

  • Bayern Munich -1
  • Anderlecht +1
  • Bayern Munich -1.5
  • Anderlecht +1.5
  • Etc.

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Did you know?

Before placing a quarter-line Asian handicap bet, some punters find it useful to draw up an Asian handicap table which fully outlines what can be won and lost given a particular combination of results. Say you’ve placed a bet of $100 on a Bayern Munich -1.25 bet at odds of 2.0. This means that $50 of your money goes towards the Bavarians winning with a goal handicap of -1.0 bet, while the other half is placed on Bayern to win with a goal handicap of -1.5.

The table shows what you stand to win or lose for each outcome:

  • Match Result Lose by 1 Draw Win by 1 Win by 2 Win by 3+
  • 1st bet (Bayern -1.0) Lose $50 Lose $50 Bet refunded Win $50 Win $50
  • 2nd bet (Bayern -1.5) Lose $50 Lose $50 Lose $50 Win $50 Win $50
  • Total Lose $100 Lose $100 Lose $50 Win $100 Win $100


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How do odds work for Asian handicap bets?

You’ll be pleased to know that the way the odds are listed for Asian handicap bets is the same as with many other types of bet. Depending on how you have your settings displayed with your online bookmaker, the odds will be listed in a fractional, decimal or American format.
If you’re not sure what these are, why not take a look at our guide explaining what betting odds mean?
The main difference with Asian handicap betting is that there are fewer selections for each match than in other types of format, such as 1X2 betting. As we’ve discussed, with Asian handicap betting, the overall aim is to manufacture a closer field.

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Are there any other types of Asian handicap bet?

The types of Asian handicap bet we’ve outlined so far have centred around wagering on the result of the match. However, you can also place what’s known as an Asian total bet, which involves predicting the number of goals scored in a game. As with the match result bets, this works on whole, half and quarter lines.

Bayern Munich v Anderlecht – 2 goal line

This is a bet for there to be more than two goals in the above game. Either side can score the goals, it does not matter but if there are fewer than two goals scored, you lose. If there are exactly two, the bet is pushed and if there are three or more, you win.

Bayern Munich v Anderlecht – 1.5 goal line

As a half line bet, there’s no push possible here. So, if there are two or more goals scored between Bayern and Anderlecht, the bet is won. If there are one or fewer, the bet will be lost.

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In-game Asian handicap bets

Lots of online bookmakers also offer in-play Asian handicap markets, so you can place an Asian handicap bet once a football match has begun.
This can be a great way to find value odds – especially, for example, if Bayern Munich (the favourites) have gone a goal down early on to Anderlecht.
The odds for them to win by more than two clear goals will now have lengthened considerably, and you can take advantage of this by placing an in-game Asian handicap bet on them.

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Facts check

Remember when we said that the ‘Asian handicap’ is called ‘hang cheng betting’ in Asia? Well, the different lines also have alternative names over there. ‘One ball’ and ‘half ball’ are the terms used for the ‘whole goal’ and ‘half goal’ handicaps, for example.

Can you place an Asian handicap bet on other sports?

Although all the examples we’ve given so far have been from football, the Asian handicap bet can also be placed on lots of other sports, including right here at Think of the bet as one which aims to level the playing field between two mismatched opponents and how many sports there are where this regularly happens. Then you’ll realise that the Asian handicap could be applied to cricket and tennis, as well as North American sports such as basketball, baseball, American football and, of course, Canada’s beloved ice hockey.

As with most things in betting, the answer to that question will largely depend on the bookmaker you pose it to! Some bookmakers love Asian handicaps as, due to their flexible nature, they actually attract customers who would not usually place a bet. However, others might not see them so positively. This is because, with fewer outcomes than 1X2 betting and other forms, there is less of a margin and the bookmaker won’t make as much money.

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Asian handicap bets: can you cash out?

With, as with most other online bookmakers, punters can cash out early on selected bets. This feature is highly popular, as it gives you extra control over your wager and allows you to maximise your profit and minimise any losses you might be hit with.
So, do Asian handicap bets qualify for cash out? Asian handicap bets usually do qualify, but the exact answer to this question depends on the online bookmaker that you’re betting with.
If you’re not sure as to whether you can cash out on your bet on, get in touch with our support team who’ll be more than happy to help advise.

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Conclusion: why you should place an Asian handicap bet

The Asian handicap is a great way to bring the fun back into betting on football, as well as a whole host of other sports. When you place a wager using other betting systems, such as 1X2 betting, it can be difficult to turn a profit – there are more possible outcomes and the odds aren’t as good, because in sport there is no such thing as an even contest. With the Asian handicap, this isn’t so. With whole goal, half goal and quarter goal handicaps, you can be flexible about how you wager your money, and you have more opportunity to get a return for your stake. Despite only recently being introduced to markets outside of Asia, the Asian handicap is popular with punters – and it’s here to stay!

Asian handicap is just one of the many different markets we offer here at We’re one of Canada’s premier online sports bookmakers and with us, you can place wagers on hundreds of sporting fixtures across dozens of different disciplines across the world. All you need to do to get started is get registered with us – it’s totally free! Once you’ve signed up to an account, it’s simply a case of depositing your funds and then making your betting selections. It’s as easy at that! Our site is very user-friendly, but if you have any doubts be sure to send your questions to our friendly and professional support team, who will get back to you right away.

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