Handicap Betting

Cricket handicap betting is used by bookmakers to keep outright market interesting in situations where one team is dominating the match, or where the two teams are significantly mismatched from the outset. The handicap adds an interesting variant on the outright bet for those who enjoy online cricket betting.

The cricket handicap (similar to the ‘spread’ or ‘points spread’ used by American bookmakers) is relatively straightforward, but does differ in some ways to handicaps used for other sports such as football, basketball or rugby. In these sports the handicap can easily be applied before the game is played, as it always begins at 0-0 and both teams have an equal chance to score at any time.

In one day and Twenty20 cricket however, a result may come about in two ways: the team batting first can win by a certain number of runs, or the team batting second can win by number of wickets. Whichever team bats first makes a big difference to the probable target score, therefore making it difficult to assign an appropriate handicap value. In Test cricket the situation is even more complex, as the match may also end up as a draw, to which it is difficult to apply a handicap, or one team can win by an innings. These factors make a handicap more difficult to use in cricket betting than in other sports. Difficult, but not impossible.

In one day and Twenty20 cricket the handicap is usually applied after the team batting first has completed its innings. This allows the bookmaker to apply a simple runs based handicap for the team batting second. For example:

• Team A bats first and scores 230 runs
• At the innings break the bookmaker applies a handicap of +30.5 for the Team B (handicaps are usually expressed in half numbers to ensure a result), or -30.5 for Team A
• Each side can then be backed to win the match after the handicap has been applied at the stated odds

For some matches there may be more than one handicap applied, with one price offered for Team A to win with a +25.5 handicap, and another for Team A to win with a +50.5 handicap.

This type of straight handicap bet is usually offered as a live betting market, with odds changing as the game progresses.

In Test match cricket betting a straight handicap is rarely used, though a similar market is sometimes offered, namely the margin of victory. Once the final innings (the fourth) is underway, and the target is known in terms of runs and time available, a margin of victory market can be created for the team bowling – who can win by a certain number of runs – or the team batting – who can win by a certain number of wickets. Although not exactly the same as a handicap bet, it is similar in that it provides some variety to the straight outright bet.

Cricket handicap betting is a good way to keep the outright market interesting even when one team is dominating and the actual result is in little doubt. In Test cricket the margin of victory market, whilst not the same as a handicap market, does peform a similar role and allows the cricket gambler to make a bet on how easily a team may chase down a target or how quickly they may bowl out the opposition, even though the overall result looks pretty much decided.