Definition of Handicap

A handicap, in both games and sport, is an advantage intended to equalize the win probability.

The term handicapping refers to the process of determining the advantage and then applying it to the contest. The term handicapping also refers to the various methodologies and rules used to calculate and apply the advantage.

Definition of Handicap - Term - Sports Betting DictionaryIn sport, a handicap is used to allow a less-experienced player to participate while maintaining fairness. For example, a golf handicap allows a novice golfer to play an intermediate player and have a reasonable chance to win.

In horseracing, handicapping exists to promote betting, and races where handicapping is applied for competitive purposes are often called handicaps. This is true of many other contests, races and tournaments as well.

In betting, the term also refers to predicting outcomes. For instance, in spread betting a team that wins by less the spread loses. So when one forecasts a favorite or an underdog to win or lose, they are said to be handicapping.

Generally, the term spread is used interchangeably with handicap.

Some spreads are referred to as Asian handicaps. An Asian handicap is typically a half-point, and it exists solely to remove the possibility of a draw or a tie. Some sportsbooks have a no draw option, and simply refund on all ties.

In addition, other more complex Asian handicap options provide an alternative to conventional spread betting. This type of handicap is particularly popular in Asia, where it was created, and Europe for betting association football.