When someone does sports betting for the first time, they often encounter strange numbers next to the odds displayed on sports betting site. These terms usually indicate the “selection”, or outcome, that these betting odds refer to. Common terms that you may encounter include 1.0, -0.75, 2.25 and more. So, what do these really mean? Allow us to explain further.
Underdogs and Favoured Teams
During sports betting, there are usually two sides or teams that go against each other. The difference between two teams can vary. Usually, there is a team that is better than the other, and they have a bigger chance of winning. There are also times that a team may seem evenly matched with another team, and anybody is favoured to win among them. But to explain betting, we shall refer to one team, as an underdog and the other as a favoured team.
In the simplest form of sports betting, the bettor’s wager on which side they think will win. This is usually a 1:1 type of bet. However, to add more thrill to the betting and put more value on the stakes, bookmakers add a handicap so that mere wagers on a team won’t win outright.
The Asian Handicap
The most common of these betting handicaps is the Asian handicap, which was named as such because its earliest example was invented in Asia. It is also sometimes referred to as a “point spread bet” because the selections in these bets require wagering on a team and the exact points they will win or lose by.
Asian handicaps are expressed in decimal numbers, such as 0, -1.25, +1.25, -1.5, +1.5 and so on. Except for the 0 or neutral handicap, the handicaps have a – or + sign in front of them. The minus (-) sign is assigned to the assumed favoured team, while the plus (+) sign is assigned to the assumed underdog. This represents that the favoured team needs “to be subtracted from” and the underdog needs “to be added to” to create a level playing field. The number in the handicap (e.g. -1.5, +1.5) represents the point spread. Single-digit handicaps are common in hockey betting, where the scoring is low and rarely exceeds 5 points.
Suppose there’s a match between Liverpool and Arsenal, with Liverpool being the favoured team and Arsenal being the underdog, with an Asian handicap value of 1.5. Liverpool (-1.5) has to win by a certain number of points to win the bet; in this case, they need to win by 2 goals.
However, if a favoured team wins, but does not meet the so-called point spread or go over it, the bettor either gets a “push’ or refunded the same amount, lose a portion of the total payout (usually half of it), or lose their whole stake. In the example above, suppose Liverpool only wins by one goal, they lose the whole wager because they did not meet the 2 goals required.
Conversely, if the bettor wagers on Arsenal (+1.5), they naturally want them to win to get the total payout. But even if they are unsuccessful, the bettor can still win the full amount if their bet falls within the point spread. So if Arsenal either draws 2-2 or loses 0-1, the bettor still wins the whole payout because the “underdog team” has beaten the odds and was able to fall within the point spread.
For a better understanding of how the Asian handicap works, refer to the comprehensive table below for each handicap:
Don’t Be Scared of the +1.5!
The next time you encounter either a -0.75, -2.00 or even a +1.5 when talking about sports betting, don’t be scared and pull back your wager! Sportsbooks usually show a wide variety of these handicaps and odds, so you can bet on the odds closest to the outcome you feel will take place. This can also give you the confidence to bet on an underdog team that has a chance and has high odds attached to them (e.g. 2.04, 3.12) because if they fall within the spread during a loss, you can still win big in your payout!
So, the next time someone asks you what does +1.5 mean, you can explain it to them better, and you can bet more confidently with a bigger chance of a grand payout!