Asian handicaps are incredibly popular, and many sharp bettors focus exclusively on Asian lines. But what is an Asian handicap exactly? And what is the reason why pro bettors love them? Let’s have a look at it – in this article, we will fully explain the concept of Asian lines.
The point of an Asian handicap is to provide only two betting options, roughly equal to each other. Asian handicaps are used in world football (soccer) to create even out differences between two teams.
Let’s say we have a match between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion. Obviously, Man U is the favorite – so the odds of a Man U win are quite low. To make it more interesting, an Asian line is created. You can now bet Man U -1.5 or West Bromwich +1.5. That means West Bromwich has been credited a fictional 1.5 goals on top of the actual result. In other words, for Manchester United to win on this Asian line, they would not only have to win the match but rather win it with a margin of 2 goals or more.
If you bet on American sports, like the NFL, you are aware that spread betting is incredibly common, and that most people bet spreads rather than the money line. An Asian line is just like a spread – while the 1X2 odds are similar to the money line where the goal is to pick the pure winner of each match.
Overview of lines
Asian lines can be confusing if you are new to sports betting. Handicaps can be as small as 0.25 goals and up to several goals – for instance, you might see lines of -3.5 goals in matches between very dominant teams and bad teams.
Let’s explain the lines.
In one matchup between Wolverhampton and Aston Villa, which is considered to be somewhat even, the line is Wolverhampton -0.25 and Aston Villa +0.25. Each is priced at odds 1.97.
If you bet Wolverhampton -0.25, you will get a full win if Wolves beat Villa, you will get half your stake returned if it is a draw, and you will lose your wager if Villa wins. If you bet Aston Villa, you will get a full win if they win the match, you will get your stake back and a half win if it is a draw, and you will lose your wager if Wolverhampton wins.
Here is a table of all the Asian lines you might encounter:
|0||Full win if the team wins, full wager returned if it is a draw||0||Full win if the team wins, full wager returned if it is a draw|
|-0.25||Full win if the team wins, half the money returned if it is a draw||+0.25||Full win if the team wins, half win if it is a draw|
|-0.5||Full win if the team wins||+0.5||Full win if the team wins or if the match ends in a draw|
|-0.75||Full win if the team wins by 2 goals or more. Half win if the team wins by one goal||+0.75||Full win if the team wins or if the match ends in a draw. Half the money is returned if the team loses by 1 goal|
|-1||Full win if the team wins by 2 goals or more. Full wager returned if the team wins by one goal||+1||Full win if the team wins or if the match ends in a draw. Full wager returned if the team loses by 1 goal|
|-1.25||Full win if the team wins by 2 goals or more. Half the money is returned if the team wins by one goal||+1.25||Full win if the team wins or if the match ends in a draw. Half won if the team loses by 1 goal|
|-1.5||Full win if the team wins by 2 goals or more||+1.5||Full win if the team wins, if the match ends in a draw, or if the team loses by 1 goal|
|-1.75||Full win if the team wins by 3 goals or more. Half win if the team wins by 2 goals||+1.75||Full win if the team wins, if the match ends in a draw, or if the team loses by 1 goal. Half loss if the team loses by 2 goals|
|-2||Full win if the team wins by 3 goals. Full wager returned if the team wins by exactly 2 goals||+2||Full win if the team wins, if the match ends in a draw, or if the team loses by 1 goal. Full wager returned if the team loses by 2 goals|
In any scenario not explained in the table, the outcome is a full loss.
Of course, there are much higher lines than -2/+2, but you get the gist of how the Asian handicaps work.
Benefits of betting Asian lines
There are several benefits of using Asian lines – for the bookie as well as for the sports bettor.
The bookmakers like to use Asian handicaps because it allows them to adjust the lines and the odds automatically, depending on how the market places its bets. For instance, let’s say we have a line that of -0.75/+0.75 where both are priced at odds of 1.97. A sharp bettor places 250,000 dollars on the -0.75 line. This would cause the odds and the line to move. The line might now be -1/+1, or perhaps the bookmaker will stay with the same line, but one at odds 1.90 and the other at odds 2.04.
In other words, bookmakers have systems where the line and the odds react to the wagers they get in. This is usually an automatic process. The most serious bookmakers in the world mainly offer Asian lines. The best examples would be Pinnacle and SBO. Due to the fact that they can adjust their lines based on the wagers they receive, these bookmakers are never at risk of losing on these lines. They just adjust the lines until they are completely even. That’s why personal limitations are rare with the Asian bookies, and it is also why closing odds are generally quite precise.
For the bettor, there are some huge benefits as well. First of all, you can bet much higher amounts on Asian lines than on other markets. Try to bet 100k on goalscorer markets, and it will practically be impossible. Even in the 1X2 market, it will be difficult. However, on the Asian lines, you can easily bet almost any amount you like. So for players that get limited from typical markets, Asian lines are great to use instead.
The average payback rate is also higher for Asian handicaps than for all other markets. The payback rate will often be 97-98% on Asian lines with the top bookies. Meanwhile, in other markets, payback rates are usually around 90-95%. In other words, the edge of the bookmaker is much smaller, so theoretically you have a better chance of being profitable.
Lastly, it reduces variance quite a bit. The main Asian lines, where the highest liquidity is, are usually priced between 1.90 and 2.10. If you bet these lines, you will encounter much less variance than if you bet underdogs at odds 3 and higher. And instead of 3 outcomes (home win, draw, away win) there are only 2 outcomes in the Asian handicaps (home win, away win). Due to the spreads where you get half the money back, all the money back, or win half, you will naturally see less variance. That allows you to place a higher percentage of your bankroll on each bet, while still following somewhat strict bankroll management.
Where to find the best Asian lines
We recommend using a bet broker that gives you access to several bookies at once.
Sportmarket is the best one. If you use the Sportmarket Pro platform, which is free to use, you can bet with Pinnacle, SBO, ISN and others – so you can always find the best line and the best odds on the market. This will maximize your chances of winning in the long term.
If you live in a country where Sportmarket and the normal Asian bookies are not accepting customers, you have some alternative options:
- Cloudbet is a cryptocurrency bookmaker where you can bet anonymously. They have some decent Asian lines on most matches.
- Nitrogen Sports is another cryptocurrency bookmaker. The platform is not as smooth as Cloudbet’s, but the odds are decent. Nitrogen usually takes Pinnacle’s odds and slightly adjusts them.
We recommend using Sportmarket if it is active in your country. It is simply the best broker on the market, and everything works perfectly. However, Cloudbet is our favorite alternatives in countries where you cannot bet with Sportmarket or with regular bookmakers. But remember, to use Cloudbet or Nitrogen, you need to use cryptocurrency.
Asian handicaps bring huge benefits to the sportsbooks as well as to the players. If you have intentions of becoming a serious bettor, you must familiarize yourself with Asian handicaps. Betting the Asian lines is the only way to avoid personal limits, and it is simply the betting market where you get to place the highest amounts possible.
Meanwhile, you also reduce variance and get to play with the highest odds (when looking at the theoretical payback rate) on the entire market. So it makes sense from every angle!
Best of luck with your betting journey!