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Asian Handicaps: Making Sense of These Soccer Bets

Betting on "The Beautiful Game" brings some new concepts to the table for many sports bettors used to the traditional 'Big 4' American sports. One such concept is the Asian Handicap (or Asian Total) which some sportsbooks also refer to as a Quarter-Ball bet. The image above is how you will often see this betting line expressed at the majority of books that offer these lines.

Let's focus on the upcoming Wolves vs Man City game for this example. Man City is a huge favorite at -410 on the 3-way moneyline. The spread or handicap is Wolves +1.5, +2 -120 or Man City -1.5, -2 +104. Quite simply put, if you wish to bet the spread on this game, your wager is going to be split exactly in half into a bet on each of these spreads. I will express this for members as +1.75 or -1.75 (this is where the Quarter Ball name comes from since these bets will have an increment of 0.25 in them!).

That's it, that simple. You now have 2 half-sized bets on this game packaged as one; that's the asian handicap / quarter ball bet.

Why are these bets so popular in soccer betting?

Because of the low-scoring nature of the sport, moving the spread by 0.5 goal increments is a large move and one that will capture a lot of the outcomes for a particular game. And we've talked about this a lot in the past, but a fair price for each 0.5 goal is around 70 cents in the betting line.

Sticking with our example above, a fair price for Man City -1.5 is about -131. Jumping to -2, we would set that around +139. The Asian Handicap of -1.75 will basically average those 2 prices together and package them both to you at +104!

Asian Totals work exactly the same way

You should be able to spot that there's an Asian Total on the Wolves vs Man City game also and it's the most popular one, 2.75. The most common result for a soccer game to land on is 3 goals. Because of this, you will see a lot of 2.75 totals (2.5, 3) when the game has an even higher probability of hitting or exceeding 3 goals. It allows the bettor to take a lower price on the odds, and it allows the sportsbook to only pay out half the win if the game falls on exactly 3 goals, since the second half of our bet is on Over 3 and just pushes if the game finishes 2-1.

You will also see 2.25 (2, 2.5), 3.25 (3, 3.5), 3.75 (3.5, 4) and other variations of Asian Totals. But the 2.75 is by far the most common.

We play quite a lot of Asian Handicaps and Asian Totals

The most common Asian Handicap lines are:

  • -0.25 / +0.25

  • -0.75 / +0.75

For the -0.25/+0.25 we are involving the Draw, No Bet or PK spread in our bet. By taking a -0.25 favorite, we are hedging half of our bet should the game end in a draw. Since our -0.25 bet is half on -0 (PK or Draw, No Bet) and half on -0.5, if the game ends in a tie, we only lose the -0.5 half of our bet.

On the other side, if we take +0.25, we only win half of our bet in that same tie scenario. We will do this when the +0.5 line is just too expensive to provide the proper value for us and our members.

Note: It's easy to think that -0.25 is actually a tougher outcome than just playing the Moneyline on that team to win. But remember, the moneyline in soccer is a 3-way line where the draw has it's own outcome you must bet on to win. This means that a moneyline bet is actually the same as a -0.5 spread

The -0.75 / +0.75 instead involves the key number of 1. Since 1 is the far most common margin of victory, it's quite clear that it's a key number. We would lay -0.75 when the -0.5 or moneyline odds are too expensive, knowing we are ok only winning half the bet if the team wins by 1, but reducing our overall risk should they lose or draw.

When we take +0.75 we are protecting half of our bet as a push if our team loses by exactly 1.

Hopefully by now you're really starting to understand how these critical and useful bets work!

What if my sportsbook(s) don't offer Asian Handicaps or Totals?

We get this question a lot and recently a member reached out to us about how to play an Over 2.75 total that we had posted. This member already had it 100% figured out, but it was great that we could verify this for them quickly. That's our goal here, to make you all more educated and better sports bettors!

Back to Wolves vs Man City. The Total is 2.75 shaded to the Over at -120. If your sportsbook doesn't offer a 2.75 total, they should be hanging a 2.5 and a 3 as options. (Side note: There are a few books that only offer totals at 1.5, 2.5, 3.5 but I would recommend shopping for a new book if possible as these just don't give you enough flexibility).

This person could bet half of their unit on Over 2.5 and the other half of their unit on Over 3, creating their own Asian Total! They should expect Over 2.5 to be somewhere around -155 (35 cents per quarter goal is the fair value) and the Over 3 to be somewhere around +115.

When we are making our own combination bet like this, we first ask ourselves if the average of our 2 bets will give us - or + odds. And this helps us determine exactly how to stake our bets. Let's assume we are $100 / unit bettors for this exercise.

On a - odds bet we like to lay the juice to win the unit, so in our example where we are playing Over 2.75 -120, we would lay $120 to win $100 on that bet. Giving us $60 to win $50 on Over 2.5 and $60 to win $50 on Over 3.

When we are creating our own we would bet each "to win" $50 in order to get as close as possible to the packaged Asian total that our book isn't offering.

Bet 1: $77.50 to win $50 on Over 2.5

Bet 2: $43.48 to win $50 on Over 3

Total Bet: $120.98 to win $100

If the average odds will end up as a + money bet, we would risk half the unit on each bet to get as close as possible to the packaged Asian total that our book isn't offering.

Under 2.75 +104

Our book has Under 3 -131 and Under 2.5 +139

Bet 1: $50 to win $38.17 on Under 3

Bet 2: $50 to win $69.50 on Under 2.5

Total Bet: $100 to win $107.67

Pro Tip: Sometimes we can create better odds for ourselves by creating our own Asian Handicap or Total than what the pre-packaged odds are from the sportsbook!

Notice that we actually got nearly +108 on this combination bet, vs. the +104 that the book was hanging? This is actually quite common, especially when we are ultimately going to end up on a + money bet!

We do this a lot in our own personal betting. And as you all should know by now, those 2,3,5 extra cents paid out on winners over a lifetime of bets can really add up! Those of us good enough to even have an edge betting against the books, it's very small. So these little things matter!

You should now be equipped to understand what asian handicaps / totals are, know how they work, know how to build them yourself where they don't exist and how to price shop them vs create them yourself. You are becoming more and more dangerous to the sportsbooks, my friend!

See you at the Cashier's Window!

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Nate - SoccerPicksClub

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