With the World Cup in full swing, probably more than half the world’s eyes are focused on this exciting feast of football (soccer to Americans). Undoubtedly, this tournament attracts more sporting wagers than any other event on Earth.

But while punters in the US, UK and Europe focus their attention on the odds of a particular team winning a match, or even the World Cup itself, here in Asia, where most of the betting takes place, we’re not worried about how many goals will be scored, or which long shot like Spain (as high as 16-1) could win the tournament – we just bet on the individual matches using a method called Asian Handicap.

About Asian Handicap Betting

The name is kind of a misnomer – yes, it was originally designed to appeal to Asians when it comes to betting on the result of football matches, but in reality it’s no different than any other handicap you might see in other sporting events.

What it is?

For example, a typical offer here might be Brazil giving a half-ball to Argentina were these two teams to meet up. Or perhaps Germany giving 1-1.5 balls to Angola.

In the US, this is no different than the New England Patriots giving 6.5 points to the Raiders, or in baseball, Boston getting 1.5 runs on the run line from Atlanta. In the UK, everything seems to be based on odds – but an example might be your friend, a snooker ace, giving you a two black (14 points) handicap just to make things interesting – otherwise you wouldn’t dare play him for a beer, would you?

Asian Handicap is a simple, easy way for friends to bet against each other so that they have an interest in both sides. Bookies, of course, offer Asian Handicap odds in order to balance their books, the same way that a UK or US bookie might raise or lower odds in order to balance the bets on each side of the equation.

Keeping it simple

One of the primary factors which makes Asian Handicap appealing is that there is no longer any need to bet on a draw. Now I don’t know about you – some of you could be experts at predicting draws – but I personally prefer having a result, or on occasion, my money back when the handicapped result ends in a draw. One of the things that irritates me most when betting US or UK lines is that, unless you bet on a draw, you lose your bet when the two teams finish tied at the end of 90 minutes plus injury time.

How it works

So in a nutshell, here’s how Asian Handicap works… for the sake of interest, let’s say that Germany and England are meeting in the final match (sorry Brazilians…).

The likely odds on a matchup like this would be … umm… zero. That’s right – almost exactly what you would expect from a US or UK bookie (well, not technically true, since in the UK everyone’s going to bet on England anyhow). In even matches such as this, an Asian bookie would simply offer 10/9 or 10/8 odds just for differentiation. Between friends, we’d just call it even and one guy will take England, and the other will reluctantly take Germany but at least take comfort in the fact that Germany is playing before a home crowd…

The fun starts when it comes to mismatches. Let’s say that Brazil are playing South Korea for third place. The odds on a matchup like this would probably be Brazil giving 1-1.5 goals to South Korea.

Here’s an explanation of how it works. Team A lines up against Team B…

  • Team A giving 0-0.5 goals (also known as 1/4 ball handicap) – in this situation, if Team A wins, it collects the full bet. If Team B wins, it collects the full bet – but in a draw after 90 minutes, Team A would have to pay half the bet to Team B because it gave Team B the advantage in a draw situation.
  • Team A giving 0.5 goals (1/2 ball handicap) – if Team A wins, it collects the full bet. If Team B wins OR DRAWS, it collects the full bet because Team A gave a half-goal (also known as half-ball) handicap.
  • Team A giving 0.5-1 goals (3/4 ball handicap) – if Team A wins, it collects HALF the bet because it gave an advantage of up to one goal. If Team B wins or draws, it collects the full bet.
  • Team A giving 1 goals (1 ball handicap) – if Team A wins by one goal, all bets are returned. If Team A wins by more than one goal, it collects the full bet. In all other situations, Team B collects the full bet.
  • Team A giving 1-1.5 goals (1 1/4 ball handicap) – if Team A wins by 1 goal, it pays half the bet because it gave the advantage to Team B for a one-goal win. If Team A wins by more than one goal, it collects the full bet – any other result Team B collects the full bet.

Offering the bet to friends

In an online situation, you would probably see something like Germany 0.5 England – which would mean Germany is giving a half-ball handicap to England. Offline, with friends, you might state the odds as “Germany half ball England”, which means exactly the same thing. Assuming you are offering the bet, your friend would then simply respond with “Germany” – meaning he’s willing to take Germany and offer a half-ball handicap – or “England” which means he’ll happily take your half-ball offer.


Asian Handicap is quickly gaining popularity outside Asia as well because of its simplicity, and the lack of a need to cover a draw result as well. It’s a lot easier for betting between friends as well – imagine offering 10/9 odds to your friend, and he bets $25… and having to go through the hassle of calculating what that’s worth…

Much easier to say “I think England is a half-ball better than Germany” or “Brazil’s definitely worth 2 balls against Angola”. Much easier to remember – and much easier to collect your winnings!