European Handicap is also known as a 3-way handicap or Single Handicap. It’s mostly used for football although sometimes there are markets for hockey or other low-scoring sports. The difference between European Handicap and Asian Handicap is that the draw remains in play and that the awarded handicaps are always whole numbers.

What is European Handicap?

European handicap is basically a 3-way bet, similar to a 1X2 match result bet. That is why it is also found as “Single handicap” or “3-way handicap”. In any match with a significant difference in strength between the two teams, a handicap is placed on the outsider, in order to make it harder for the favorite to win the bet.

So far the function is the same with Asian Handicap. Here is the significant difference: the European Handicap (abbreviated as EH) is always an integer number, meaning it can be matched with a goal difference. Instead of placing an Asian Handicap of -1,5 goals or -0,25 goals, the European handicap is always of a -1, -2, -3 etc. kind.

As in Asian Handicap the main target is to get rid of the draw result. With a non-integer handicap you can actually win or lose the bet. However, European Handicap actually has a “draw” result. Which is not, of course, the actual draw of the game, but the “equalizing” of the specific handicap set by the online bookmaker.

Handicap in Football Betting

There are often football matches where one of the sides is considered to be an absolute favorite. European Handicap evens the field by giving the underdog an advantage of one or more goals. For instance, if the Spanish National Football team is playing against a team like Andorra, their chance of winning is almost 100%. This means that the 1X2 odds for Spain will be really low and bettors will be looking for alternative markets.

In a case like this one where there is a really strong favorite the European Handicap will be 3 or more goals. So in order to win the bet, Spain would have to win at least 4-0. If it ends 3-0 then the match is considered a draw and the stake is lost.


Let’s take a fictional match between Brazil and Albania. The handicap for this game might be Brazil (-1) and Albania (+1) and odds would be available for all three outcomes:

  • Brazil (-1) – 1.65
  • Draw (-1) – 3.90
  • Albania (+1) – 4.10
European Handicap
European Handicap

In this European Handicap market there are three outcomes. If Brazil wins by two or more, then the Brazil (-1) bet is the winner. If Albania wins or the game finishes as a draw, then Albania (+1) is the successful bet. However, if Spain wins by exactly one goal, then the Draw (-1) bet wins.

Bookmakers often offer more than one European Handicap market for each game, so you will usually be able to find the bet that suits you. It is also important to be familiar with the terminology used in European Handicaps, where 1 refers to the home team, 2 to the away team and X to the draw.

European Handicap Betting Strategy

Using the European Handicap is in fact trying to increase offered odds for certain bets on favorites. However, all matches with a significant odds difference are not the same. You should focus on specific types of matches, such as:

  • When there’s an undoubtedly huge quality difference between the favorite and the underdog. This means the favorite will find no difficulty scoring a lot of goals.
  • When the favorite team has a strong offensive record alongside the underdog’s difficulty of keeping a clean sheet.
  • In case of backing the underdog, look out for games where the favorite faces significant injury/suspension problems. Additionally, if the team has real trouble with the coach and his relation with the players.
  • When a team which is considered a favorite is coming from a shocking result (a defeat by an inferior opponent last week, a humiliating midweek cup elimination or a huge defeat at an international competition) and is really motivated to strike back.

European Handicap comes into its own in one-sided matches. If a strong team is at home against a weaker team, there is often little value to be found in the traditional fixed odds market. However, the European Handicap can offer a route to profit. For example, imagine Chelsea playing a home Premier League game against Hull. They may be a very short price in the fixed odds market, but perhaps they have a big Champions League game coming up and you suspect they may not be going all out to put up a big score. By backing either the draw or Hull in the European Handicap, you can still profit even if Chelsea, as expected, win the game.

Asian Handicap and European Handicap

Even though they share some similarities these handicap markets can be very different. For example, let’s compare a – 1 Asian Handicap wager and a – 1 European Handicap wager. The Asian Handicap wager will result in a push if the favorite wins 1-0. That means you get your stakes back. On the other hand, if the favorite wins 1-0 on a – 1 European Handicap wager then you will lose your stake as that way the game will be considered a draw.

It works this way because there is no option of getting your stake back through European Handicap. However, you have the option to play a draw bet. This is impossible through Asian Handicap since it’s only a 2-way bet. All in all, winning an Asian Handicap bet is much easier. Although, the best bettors will argue that combining both of them results in guaranteed profit. Nevertheless, the odds need to be exploited properly.

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