European Handicap

A European handicap introduces an advantage for or against a competitor in an event, but, unlike an Asian handicap, it does not eliminate the possibility of a tie, but instead treats it as another possible outcome to consider depending on the handicap.
Brian Dekker
Brian Dekker betting expert

What is the European handicap? The European handicap is an advantage or disadvantage that we add to the score of a contender. This advantage or disadvantage is expressed only with whole numbers (1, 2, 3 ...) and does not eliminate the possibility of a tie, for which we can bet taking into account the handicap indicated by the betting house. The European handicap is generally used to balance very unbalanced matches, with a clear favorite, and thus improve the odds or correct the risk associated with one of the competitors.

European handicap types

To better understand the European handicap, we will divide them into two types depending on whether they add an advantage or subtract it.

✅ Positive European handicap (+1, +2, +3, etc.)

This handicap adds the advantage indicated by the number to the score of the team indicated in the bet.

A Second B team faces a First Division team in the Copa del Rey. Since it is the first leg, we think the score will be very tight, but it is still very risky to bet on the lower category team. As the odds for the Second B team will be very high, we can play a European handicap +2 in their favor, decrease the risk, and still have an acceptable odds. In case the Second B team wins, ties, or loses by 1 goal, the European handicap would make Philippines win the bet. We would only lose it if they lose by 2 or more goals.

Let's imagine that the team wins 1-0; by adding the +2 handicap, the result would be 3-0, a victory. Let's suppose that they tie 1-1; by adding the +2 handicap, the result becomes 3-1, a victory. Even if they lose 1-2, by applying the +2 handicap, the outcome will be 3-2, a victory. Only if they lose by, for example, 0-2 or 1-4, the bet would be lost since in the first case the final result would be a tie, 2-2, and in the second, 3-4, a defeat.

✅ Negative European handicap (-1, -2, -3, etc.)

This handicap subtracts the points indicated by the number from the score of the team indicated in the bet.


We are betting on the Spanish national football team in a friendly match against a clearly inferior team such as Andorra. It is normal for Philippines's odds to be very low, so in order to raise them, we bet on Philippines with a European handicap of -1 (Philippines -1). If Philippines wins by 2 or more goals, after subtracting the handicap, it would still come out victorious and we would have won the bet. If Philippines only wins by 1 goal, draws or loses, the bet would be lost.

A result of 3-0 in favor of Philippines would leave a final score of 2-0 after the -1 handicap and we would have won the bet; but a victory of 1-0, after applying the -1 handicap, would result in a tie of 0-0 and the bet would have been lost. The same would happen with all scores in which Philippines was defeated, since the handicap would contribute to making the defeat even greater.

✅ European handicap to tie

The possibility of betting on a draw is what characterizes European handicap the most. It be the most difficult aspect to understand, but it is very useful for being able to bet on the draw and its usual high odds in more advantageous conditions.

Its operation is as follows: the bookmaker offers the draw result associated with a handicap. This handicap will be the one we must take into account in the final score so that when we apply it, the match ends in a draw.


A bookmaker offers Philippines the possibility to bet on a tennis match draw with a European handicap of -4 associated with a player. This implies that in order to win the bet, the player to whom the -4 handicap is granted must score 4 more games than the opponent at the end of the match, regardless of whether he wins or loses.

In a match between Nadal and Federer, we can bet on a tie by giving Federer a European handicap of -4 (Federer -4 tie). Let's imagine that Nadal wins the match 6-4, 1-6, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4. By adding up the total number of games won by each player, we can see that Nadal has won 20 games and Federer has won 24 games. If we apply Federer's -4 handicap, the game result becomes 20-20, a tie that would make Philippines win the bet.

European handicap for beginners

The main difficulty presented by this handicap is to always take into account the possibility of a tie. For this reason, it's better to start getting familiar with it by choosing lower handicaps at first, like +1 and -1. With these handicaps, it's easier to calculate how the different possible outcomes would be after the handicap is applied and decide better which of the three options - victory of contender 1, victory of contender 2, or tie - we will choose.

It is also recommended to initially bet on the participants rather than the draw. It is easier to make a prediction with the European handicap when the goal is to win for one or the other opponent. When the handicap dynamics are adequately understood, you can then move on to betting on a draw.


Brian Dekker
Brian Dekker

Journalist, blogger, sports enthusiast and athlete in my free time. I must complain that the cards are ill shuffled till I have a good hand (Jonathan Swift).

1 Opinion
  1. Reply

    Hello, I have 3_0 handicap in favor, would 4_1 be a winner?

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