Handicap Betting in Basketball


Betting on basketball games has become increasingly popular in recent years. From March Madness to the NBA Finals, wagering on hoops provides exciting opportunities for sports fans. While betting the moneyline or point total (over/under) are standard options, handicap betting offers an additional way to get action on basketball contests.

Also known as spread betting, handicap betting aims to make lopsided games more even and competitive from a betting perspective. This is achieved by giving the perceived weaker team an advantage in the form of extra points added to their final score. The favored squad then has to win by a certain margin to cover the handicap spread and for bets placed on them to cash.

Handicap betting provides bettors with more choices and levels the playing field, so to speak. Wagering becomes feasible even when one team is heavily favored. The handicap spread also injects extra drama by altering the effective conditions for victory. A contest that may have seemed like a foregone conclusion suddenly becomes a close race to beat the handicap. This outline provides an in-depth explanation of how handicap betting works in basketball and key strategy tips on how to approach spread betting on hoops matchups.

You will find many of the best betting sites will feature handicap betting.

How Handicap Betting Works

The key to understanding handicap betting is recognizing that the handicap spread gives an advantage to the perceived underdog team. The favorite squad is handicapped by needing to exceed the margin of victory set by the bookmakers.

When a handicap is set, the underdog is essentially given extra points added to their final score for betting purposes. If the handicap is +7.5 for Team A against Team B, Team A starts with 7.5 points. Now Team B has to win by 8 or more points to cover the handicap spread.

If Team B fails to cover by winning by 7 points or less, a bet placed on Team A with the +7.5 handicap would win. This is because with the handicap advantage, Team A’s adjusted final score would be equal or greater than Team B’s.

The handicap spread fundamentally alters the conditions for each team to win a bet. The favored squad must surpass a higher threshold above simply winning the game outright. Conversely, the underdog can lose the game, but still cover the spread and make bets placed on them successful.

This narrows the gap between the teams and allows for competitive betting on games with clear favorites and underdogs. The next section illustrates handicap betting through example game scenarios.

Examples of Handicap Bets

To better understand how handicap betting functions, let’s walk through some example basketball matchups with handicap spreads.

Team A (-6.5) vs Team B

Team A is favored by 6.5 points against Team B. For a bet on Team A to cash, they need to win the game by 7 points or more. If Team A wins 100-93, they win by 7 and cover the -6.5 handicap. A wager on Team A would win.

However, if Team A wins by just 6 points or less, they would not cover the handicap spread. In this case, a bet placed on the underdog Team B would win, even though Team B lost the game outright.

Team C (+8.5) vs Team D

In this game, Team C is getting 8.5 points from the bookmakers. For a wager on Team C to pay out, Team C just needs to avoid losing by 9+ points. So if Team D wins 102-95, Team C did not lose by 9 or more points. Here, a bet on Team C +8.5 points would cash in.

Team D would need to win by at least 9 points to cover the handicap spread and make bets placed on them successful. If Team D won 103-92, they would cover the -8.5 point handicap.

These examples illustrate how handicap betting creates a margin of victory that must be surpassed for the favored team. The underdog can lose the game, but still cover the handicap spread for betting purposes.

Benefits of Handicap Betting

Handicap betting provides some key advantages for bettors and bookmakers compared to standard moneyline or point total wagering.

For Bettors

For those placing bets, handicaps give more options and better odds when betting on the underdog. With the handicap advantage, underdogs become more competitive which translates to higher potential payouts.

Bettors also gain the opportunity to win a handicap wager even if the underdog team loses the game outright. The handicap provides a margin of error that still allows the underdog cover. This creates the possibility of winning a bet when your team doesn’t actually win on the scoreboard.

Lastly, correctly betting on an underdog to defy the handicap odds and overcome their disadvantage can lead to very sizable winnings. Beating the bookmakers’ imposed handicap demonstrates a remarkable performance.

For Bookmakers

On the flip side, bookmakers enjoy several advantages from offering handicap betting on basketball games. The handicaps make lopsided matchups more appealing for bettors by creating greater balance between competing teams.

This balance also reduces the heavy exposure of risk from most bettors taking the favorite on the moneyline in uneven contests. The handicap spreads things out and attracts two-sided action.

Handicap lines also enable bookmakers to post appealing odds and stimulate betting interest on contests where one team is heavily favored. This increases engagement on what would be relatively boring games to bet otherwise.

Handicap Betting Strategy Tips

When wagering on basketball with handicap betting lines, there are some strategic considerations to keep in mind:

  • Shop around for the best handicap odds and lines across different sportsbooks. A half point difference in the handicap spread can be important.
  • Closely monitor injury reports and player availability. Losing a star player can impact a team’s ability to cover substantial point handicaps.
  • Study recent team performance and results trends to gauge handicap value. Does a team consistently play up or down to the level of their competition?
  • Factor in home court advantage when handicaps are tight. Home teams tend to perform better and can more easily cover smaller spreads.
  • Be aware of situational factors like back-to-back games that can affect team performance and handicap margins. Schedule spot matters.
  • Don’t assume favorites will easily cover very large point handicaps. Big spreads provide an opportunity for underdogs to keep the score close.
  • Have a handicapping strategy and stick to intelligent bet sizing and bankroll management principles. Don’t chase losses.

Using handicaps for basketball betting takes research and nuance. With the right approach, handicap wagering can yield profitable returns over the long run.


In conclusion, handicap betting provides an additional wagering option for lopsided basketball matchups. The handicap spread gives the underdog team an advantage and requires the favorite to surpass a margin of victory threshold.

This helps create a more balanced betting perspective for uneven contests. Bettors gain the ability to place bets with better potential payouts by taking the points with the underdog. Bookmakers can stimulate two-way action while mitigating risk exposure.

Handicap betting also injects extra drama and uncertainty into games with clear favorites. The handicap conditions must be met for bets to cash, rather than just picking the outright winner. This makes the competition more exciting.

While handicaps aim to even the playing field, astute basketball fans still need to handicap each game situation properly. The right handicap betting strategy, bankroll management and line shopping remains critical for long-term profitability.

Overall, handicap wagering provides more choice and allows bettors to exploit their basketball knowledge. When used judiciously, handicap betting can be an entertaining way to get action on basketball contests with predictable outright winners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about handicap betting in basketball:

What happens if the margin of victory lands exactly on the handicap spread?

If the margin of victory in a game equals the exact handicap spread, it is considered a “push” or tie for betting purposes. All wagers on both sides are refunded.

How are handicaps set by bookmakers?

Handicaps are determined based on team strengths, matchups, injuries/roster situations, site locations, situational factors like back-to-backs, and aimed at balancing betting action.

Is it better to bet the handicap or standard moneyline?

There is no definitively better option – it depends on the odds and your judgement of whether the handicap offers value compared to the moneyline.

Can handicap betting be profitable long-term?

Yes, handicap betting can yield profits over time with a sound strategy, diligent line shopping, and proper bankroll management.

Should I always bet on favorites to cover big handicaps?

Not necessarily – substantial handicaps allow underdogs to keep contests close, so big spreads can create “middle” opportunity between the handicap and moneyline odds.

Time Soccerhttps://www.timesoccer.co
ABOUT US: Time Soccer is a collective of talented individuals with a shared passion for football. Each team member brings a unique perspective and skill set to the table. EXPERTISE: With diverse backgrounds and expertise, the Time Soccer team provides insightful analysis, captivating narratives, and up-to-date coverage of various sports. From major tournaments to local leagues, they bring to readers comprehensive and engaging content that celebrates the world of sports.


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