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A European Handicap is a type of wager where a whole number of points or goals is added to the underdog and accordingly subtracted from the favourite. The bet is settled on the outcome of the event after adjusting for the handicap.
European Handicap bets, like Asian Handicap wagers, give a head start to the underdog, however unlike Asian Handicaps, they do not reduce the betting market to two selections. These markets are typically offered on football fixtures, although they could also apply to ice hockey and other low scoring sports.
Below is a European Handicap for an international football friendly between Spain and South Korea.
Spain (-1) – 1.65 odds
Draw (-1) – 3.90 odds
South Korea (+1) – 4.10 odds
This handicap gives a one goal head start to South Korea and is effectively a head-to-head (1×2) market with an adjusted number of goals.
If Spain wins by two or more goals then Spain (-1) wins. If Spain wins by exactly one goal then the draw (-1) wins. If South Korea draws or wins the game then South Korea (+1) wins.
Note that Draw (-1) can also be written as Draw (Spain -1) or Draw (South Korea +1).
This market above is often represented as follows:
Spain vs. South Korea
EH 1 (-1): 1.65
EH X (-1): 3.90
EH 2 (+1): 4.10
EH denotes European Handicap (as opposed to AH for Asian Handicap), 1 refers to the home team, X refers to a European Handicap draw, and 2 refers to the away team.
Bookmakers may offer more than one European Handicap market for the same event. For example another market for Spain vs. South Korea could be:
Spain vs. South Korea
EH 1 (-2): 2.75
EH X (-2): 4.00
EH 2 (+2): 2.00
Comparison to Asian Handicap
With Asian Handicap wagers you can have handicaps such as +1, +1.25, +1.5, +1.75 and +2, while European Handicap wagers can only have handicaps in whole numbers (+1, +2, etc.).
With an Asian Handicap market of Spain (-1) / South Korea (+1), if Spain won by exactly 1 goal the result is a push and both bets are refunded. In the case of a European Handicap, a one goal victory for Spain would result in a loss for the Spain (-1) and South Korea (+1) wagers. Only the draw (-1) wager would win in this case.
Referring back to the example above:
– The Spain (-1) wager above is equivalent to a Spain (-1.5) Asian Handicap.
– The draw (-1) wager above has no Asian Handicap equivalent
– The South Korea (+1) wager is equivalent to a South Korea (+0.5) Asian Handicap.
Combining Asian Handicap and European Handicap Wagers
Those who commit arbitrage may combine European Handicap and Asian Handicap wagers to guarantee a profit. For example the three bets below cover every possible scenario and could be exploited for a guaranteed profit.
Arsenal v Norwich
EH 1 (-2): 3.50
EH X (-2): 4.15
AH 2 (+1.5): 2.17
Note that AH 2 (+1.5) is equivalent to EH (+2). Arbitrageurs often combine AH and EH wagers because the odds disparities occur between Asian and European bookmakers. Asian bookmakers tend to offer Asian Handicap wagers while European bookmakers offer European Handicaps.
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