How does Handicap Betting work in Basketball?

As a sport, basketball is extremely popular which is why almost all bookmakers offer markets for it. When it comes to betting on it, basketball handicap markets are among the most popular bet types.

We are going to share important information on handicap betting and explain basketball handicap betting in detail

In the following guide, we follow this Basketball Handicap Betting guide and we take a closer look at sportsbook providers that offer basketball betting markets. Additionally, we will compare bookmakers and the bonuses they offer when it comes to this betting type.

Most basketball bets are placed on the NBA which means basketball handicap bets offered by bookmakers are mostly about the NBA. On top of that, these US-based matches come with the highest odds.

Basketball Handicap Markets at a Sportsbook

Bookies are not offering handicap bets only on basketball but also on many other sports. The team, which the bookmaker classifies as weaker, is given an advantage. After it’s decided which team is weaker, fictitious points are added to the actual score. As a result, the favorite of the bet, which the bookmaker assumes will win the match, is faced with a greater challenge and the two teams are theoretically equal. Basically, the favorite is “handicapped” by a certain amount of points. This makes both sides equal in the eyes of the bettor.

For this reason, the bookmaker can offer balanced odds on a basketball match. The regular bet for the favorite to win would have extremely low odds. It’s not worth it to create a bet under extremely small odds which is where handicap betting comes into play.

How does Handicap Betting work in Basketball?
How does Handicap Betting work in Basketball?

Classic Basketball Handicap

How to bet on basketball online? In a classic basketball handicap, all the markets that can be used for moneyline bets are available for placing handicap bets as well. In a – 1.5 handicap, the bet is won if the favorite wins with at least a two point advantage. Some bookmakers offer a draw option in their handicap bets. In that case, the handicap is based on whole numbers.

Example of basketball handicap bet

For example, the favorite is put at a – 3 points handicap for a certain game. If they win by exactly 3 points, the outcome of the bet is a draw. Bookmakers that offer this bet type are rare because it’s not as popular as the Asian Handicap that is a 2-way bet. Winning with a draw only happens in European Handicap. In classic Asian Handicap betting, if a draw is caused with the bet, the outcome is void and the stakes are returned.

These bet types are much better than regular moneyline or 3-way bets because you don’t have to guess the winner. If a favorite is put on a – 7.5 points handicap, even if the favorite wins, if they do it with 7 points or less, you still win your handicap bet.

How does handicap betting work in basketball?

Handicap Betting is a bet in which the bookmaker equips the house-high favorite with a fictitious lead. In basketball, this is done by adding a certain amount of points to the weaker side. At the end of the match, the points will be added to the match outcome. In some cases, the normal betting markets of 3-way bets can be used as well.

For that reason, there are basketball handicap bets on the win, on a draw, and on defeat. So, one option is to back the weaker team and place a bet where you handicap the favorite. However, another option is to back the weaker side entirely. For instance, you place a + 4.5 Handicap bet on the weaker side. If they lose by 4 points or less, you will win the bet even though the team lost.

How does handicap betting work in basketball when a draw occurs?

This only happens when a handicap is a whole number. A lot of bookmakers offer this bet type even though it’s not really popular. For example, your bet is – 5 Handicap on the favorite and he loses by exactly 5 points. If that happens, you still win your bet.

However, this is only the case in European Handicap and even then, the bookmaker mostly just refunds the stake. On the other hand, Asian Handicap allows only 2-way betting, where the possibility of a draw is removed.

Example of How does Handicap Betting work in Basketball

In our example, team A is playing against team B with a – 3 handicap for the favorite “A”. In other words, three points are added to the result of team B. The bettor wins this bet if:

  1. Team A wins by less than 3 points
  2. Team A wins by exactly 3 points
  3. They lose the match

Still, this only happens in European Handicap betting. In Asian Handicap, the only way the player will win the bet is if Team A wins by less than 3 points or if they lose the match.

Handicap Betting Calculator
Handicap Betting Calculator

Alternatives to Handicap Betting

There are many alternatives for players who prefer to bet on something else. When it comes to basketball, the over/under totals markets are the most popular ones. You can bet over/under on the final score of the match, sometimes including OT. However, you can also bet on over/under for each quarter, or for a half. On top of that, over/under bets can also be placed on each team individually. Additionally, bettors can place bets on players instead of teams. For instance, in a game that involves the Los Angeles Lakers, bettors could be that LeBron James will score Over 32.5 points. This also works for rebounds, assists, and blocks.