Understanding Sports Betting Handicap Lines
You can bet on different sports in many different ways, and placing a bet on a handicap line (also known as Spread for American sports) is one way to bet in many sports. For sports like soccer, this bet type is available but only used sparingly, while sports like American football, rugby and basketball use this as the main market to bet on. There are many different ways to use a handicap line, you can use it to get a better price about the favourite you fancy, or use it to give your underdog fancy a head start in the game. However, it is vitally important that you understand the line, and you know what it means and how you bet works on it, if you do this then you are on your way to being a successful handicap bettor.
The Two Way Handicap Line
This is the most common line you will see, with just two possible outcomes. For things like total points betting, the two outcomes are over or under the line, while for game betting the two outcomes are the two teams involved in the game. To ensure there is no chance of a tie, whatever the line is, it will have a .5 at the end of it, for example, 6.5. This ensures a draw is not possible.
The Three Way Handicap Line
As the name suggests, there are three potential outcomes on a three-way handicap line, the two teams involved in the game plus the draw. This should increase your odds on the selection you choose, and it also opens up a completely different way of betting on the handicap, that is to back the draw.
When you are backing a handicap draw you are not backing a draw in the game, but a draw using the handicap. For example, if a team are -6 favourites to win on the handicap, if you back the draw then you are backing them to win by exactly six points.
What you are backing here is that the bookmakers will be correct in their prediction. They create their lines based on what they think will happen in the game, and if you bet for the line to be correct, by backing the draw then what you are placing your bet on is the bookmakers being correct.
Adding Value When Backing Favourites
One of the main reasons that people use handicap lines is to add value when they are backing a favourite. For example, a basketball team may be 1/5 to win the game outright, but by using the handicap and backing them -8.5 they are 10/11 to win. Of course, by doing this you are adding further risk, and that is that not only do you need them to win, but you need them to win by nine points or more.
However, if you think that the team you are backing are going to win by a double-digit scoreline, and the handicap line is below that, then it is certainly something to consider. While many people would not consider putting on a single bet at 1/5, there are plenty who would happily back a single at 10/11, and for this reason, the handicap line will always be a way of getting extra value when you bet.
A Way to Back the Underdogs
We all like to get behind the underdogs in life and by using a handicap line you can do that with your betting, without giving yourself little chance of winning. When you back an underdog on the handicap line you are covering a variety of different outcomes, far different to when you back the favourite using the line. When you back the favourite you cover one outcome, and that is they have to win the game, and by a margin greater than the handicap. When backing the underdog, you cover three different outcomes and they are:
- The underdog to win the game by any scoreline
- The game to be a draw
- The underdog to lose, but only by a margin smaller than the handicap
This is giving you three chances to win from one bet, and that is why the underdogs are a great bet on the handicap line. Even though they have little chance of winning the game overall, by adding the handicap line into things, their chances of winning shoot up dramatically.
Handicap Lines are Different, so Shop Around
When you are placing your handicap bets it is vital that you compare the different bookmakers and see what lines they are offering. The prices will usually be very similar with each bookmaker, but the lines are something they all create individually, and these can vary from time to time.
You should always look to go with the best line to suit what you are backing. If you are backing a favourite, you want to find the lowest line possible. Therefore, they have to win by the least amount for you to win your bet. When backing an underdog, look for the biggest line, so they have the biggest advantage possible in the game.
The difference between taking the best and worst lines out there could be the difference between a winning and a losing bet. For example, if -6.5 is available with one bookmaker on a favourite you are backing, but you take the -7.5 line that is available with another bookmaker, you could cost yourself a winner. Should the team win by seven points, the best line would have won, but your line would have lost on this occasion.
Just by shopping around and getting the best line available, you will make your betting more profitable, and give yourself more winners. Remember, the bookmaker creates their lines based on what they think will happen in the game. If they are the experts that they think they are, their predictions will always be close, and that means a difference of just one point in the line, could be the difference between you having a winning or a losing bet.