Find european handicap tips, examples, systems and strategies. Read our explanation article and become successful in european handicap betting.

What is European handicap in betting

Most bettors put wagers on straight bets not taking advantage of handicaps and thinking the handicap is a very sophisticated and hard to understand type of bet. Actually, the handicap bet is quite straightforward bet type, which gives advantage to one of two teams or to an individual athlete.

Handicaps are one of the most important types of wagers, as very often two teams have similar abilities and the odds for one of them to win are too low. The handicap system helps bookmakers and punters get better odds for tight games and offer additional benefits in case one of the teams is pretty stronger than the opposing team.

There are basically two handicap systems in place – European handicap bet and Asian handicap bet. In this article, we will focus on explaining what European handicap means and will point out at the differences between the European handicap betting and the Asian handicap.

You should know that the European handicap system, although being used widely for offering odds for football matches, is also applicable to a variety of other sports as well. You can find handicap bets in different sports such as volleyball, handball, baseball, hockey, American football and tennis.

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What does European handicap mean

As we said, there are two main handicap systems: European and Asian handicaps. Understanding and using European handicap is easier compared to Asian ones.

Under the European handicap definition, bookmakers give a lead to one of the two sides in a game, which is usually the weaker side or the underdog side. This is made to offset the advantage of the stronger side and also to get better odds for the game’s final result.

There are many tight games and games where the one side is markedly weaker from the opponent and thus the handicap gives better chance to the underdog and increases the odds by adding a risk component.

Bookmakers’ symbol for European handicap is EH while Asian handicap is shown as AH.

How European handicap works

Unlike the Asian handicap where no draw is possible, the European handicap rules allow for all the three outcomes from a game – win, draw and loss. It is very similar to a 1X2 match result bet and that is the reason for the European handicap to be called also “Single handicap” or “3-way handicap”.

A whole number or points/goals are added to the weaker side, the underdog, and the same number of points is subtracted from the stronger side, the favorite. These points/goals are added/subtracted before the start of the game and your bet wins or losses after the final result of the game is adjusted for the handicap.

A major meaning of European handicap in betting is that you use whole numbers to add or subtract goals/points to the handicap as opposed to the non-integral handicaps in the Asian handicap. The European handicap is always -1, -2, -3, etc. while in the Asian handicap you can have -1.25 goals/points or -1.5 goals.

You can best understand what European handicap means by exploring the examples in the below section.

European handicap example

Let’s use an example scenario for European handicap in football, as this is the sport where the most handicap bets are being placed.

How does European handicap work in this case? Below we provide a European handicap table for a football match between Manchester United and Manchester City where United is the home team.

If you are using European handicap betting system, the odds at your favorite bookmaker will look like this:

  • Manchester United (-1) – 1.25 odds
  • Draw (-1) – 3.54 odds
  • Manchester City (+1) – 2.50 odds

Given the fact that this is a tight derby but Manchester United play on their own turf, Manchester City are provided with a slight advantage of one goal ahead before the start of the game. On the other hand, you have an option to bet on all the three possible outcomes – win, loss and draw.

If the home side wins by two or more goals then a bet on United to win is winning. That is because only one goal is subtracted from the total number of goals scored by Manchester United.

If United wins by one goal (1:0, 2:1. 3:2. 4:3, etc.), then a bet on draw wins as one goal is subtracted from Man United’s total score.

In case the game ends in a draw or Manchester City scores more goals, then Man City wins as one goal is added to their total number of goals.

The above handicap is usually shown as euro handicap 1 (0:1) or (1:0) depending on whether the sportsbook is giving a head start to the guests or the home team. You can also find bookmakers displaying it as European handicap 2-0 or European handicap 0:2 when more than two goals difference is required for one of the teams to be considered a winner.

In the first case, a handicap of minus two goals is applied to the home team while the second method of displaying European handicap means that two goals are added to the away team’s final score.

Basically, the European handicap 0-1 meaning (or any combination of zeros and integers) shows that the respective number of goals/points are added to the away team and respectively subtracted from the final score of the home team.

European handicap vs Asian handicap

Even experienced bettors sometimes do not understand how does the European handicap work in comparison to the Asian handicap.

A main difference between the European handicap (EH) and the Asian handicap (AH) is that when you place an Asian handicap wager it is split in two. If you bet on the home team (0.0/-0.50 handicap), your wager wins when the home team wins by one or more goals. If the teams draw, half of your bet is losing and half of your bet is being refunded.

The same rules are reversed when you bet on the away team (0.0/+0.5 handicap). This way, an Asian handicap wager is a double bet.

Moreover, the use of only whole numbers for European handicap makes a huge difference because with Asian handicap you can place wagers with handicaps such a +1.25, +1.5, -1.25, -1.5, etc.

If we use the above example of a match between Manchester United and Manchester City, and we have an Asian handicap for Manchester United (-1) / Manchester City (+1), any win by Man United with one goal difference is a push and the bookmaker refunds the bets on both teams. When we have the same handicap in the European handicap system, and we have a win by

Manchester United with one goal more, all wagers for a win are losing. Only a bet on draw wins in this scenario under the European handicap, as one more goal for Man United means that we subtract one goal from their score or alternatively add one goal to the away team, which results in a draw.

In this European handicap soccer example, we can convert the handicap from European to Asian system in the following way:

  • Manchester United to win with handicap -1 equals Asian handicap -1.5;
  • A bet on draw (-1) has no equivalent in Asian handicap;
  • Manchester City to win with handicap +1 equals Asian handicap +0.5.

Another major difference is related to draws and draw bets. If you place a win bet on a -1 using Asian handicap bet, if your team wins by one goal, the wager is considered a push and your bet is refunded.

In contrast, you must place a draw bet on a -1 European handicap wager in order to win. If you bet on win at odds -1 and your team wins by just one goal, then you lose your bet. It is not refunded as under the Asian handicap.

European handicap tips

What’s European handicap in betting means for punters? In reality, this alternative betting method gives you better odds even when the two teams are of equal quality and strength. How’s that?

Let’s use the same example again.

Manchester United and Manchester City are playing for the FA Community Shield Cup. This is a match between the champions of the previous Premier League season and the FA Cup winner, so the game is held on neutral ground at Wembley Stadium.

This way, there is no home and away team and both teams are at about the same level and have about the same chance to win this trophy.

If you place a straight 1X2 bet type on this match, you will probably get odds somewhere in the range of 1.9 – 2.2 for the current Premier League champion, which is usually considered a stronger team compared to the FA Cup holder.

If you use European handicap in this football example, however, you can get odds as high as 3.50 and over for the favorite. In any case, you must be quite convinced one of the teams will win to place a handicap bet, as you take higher risk.

After we have European handicap explained, you can easily spot that this wager type is very suitable for backing stronger home teams to win by more than one goal or specific number of points. Apart from football, that is how European handicap in basketball and other sports works.

The only difference is that the handicap in these sports usually has higher values as more goals/points are scored in these other sports. Thus, you can have a European handicap in basketball that bookmakers will offer as:

  • Real Madrid (-7.5)
  • CSKA Moscow (+7.5)

If Real Madrid wins the match scoring 7 points more than CSKA, a bet on win for them is losing as 7.5 points are subtracted from their final scoring result.

Furthermore, you can get even higher European handicap odds as you bet on bigger goals/points difference. For instance, one goal difference for the favorite might offer odds of 1.75 but a bet on the favorite to win by three or more goals might produce odds of 3.5 or more.

Simple strategies for European handicap betting

A simple betting guide to take advantage of the handicap wagers is to take advantage of the specifics of the European handicap draw.

As we said, there are a good number of tight matches across all the football leagues within Europe. What you need to do is to find, say, three games that are going to be tight but for which you have a strong favorite. There is no need for more matches; a combination of three football games can provide you odds in the range of 50, which is more than satisfactory.

You need not put big wagers on these three matches as well, because at these odds you can win a pretty hefty sum by betting, say, 5 or even less on each match.

The system requires to bet on a draw with European handicap at -1 for the favorite (usually the home team), which means the home team to win by one goal. So, you bet X at handicap of -1. Most tight matches end with one goal difference but you still need to select your games very carefully.


Handicap betting offers a good method to get better odds on games and matches where you have strong favorite and respectively low odds. Furthermore, you can successfully use handicap wagers when you are convinced that one of the teams is to win but with a low margin. Of course, you can turn to handicap wagers wherever you want, as you will always get better odds with a handicap bet.

We at azBookmakers strongly recommend using the European handicap system if you are a novice bettor because it is more straightforward compared to the Asian handicap. With the European handicap betting you only need to add or subtract a certain number of goals/points from one of the teams while you can still bet on any of three outcomes – win, draw or loss.

The European handicap rules are really simple while providing a powerful tool to get access to better odds and increase your winnings.

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