One of the most popular and interesting tennis betting markets is the tennis handicap betting and in the piece below, we explain what exactly does a tennis handicap mean and how can you make money using this market.

To kick-start this, it would make sense to inform the reader tennis handicap betting is the same as spread betting. Spread betting is a terminology that is more favoured in USA while handicap betting is a more European term.

There are over a dozen tennis markets to bet in the highly popular tennis betting markets but to be profitable there is a lot of risk one needs to take. Take an example of match betting, where you have to bet on the final result of the match which, for instance is between John Isner and Novak Djokovic.

Most of the people will favor Novak Djokovic, but odds are just 1.05 (1/20) on Novak Djokovic which has little value for punters to earn enough money while betting on John Isner is too risky. There is a solution to this problem and you still can bet on your favorite player with reasonably good betting odds. We are talking about tennis handicap betting, in which one isn’t betting on the tennis match result.

What is a Tennis Handicap or a Spread?

In tennis handicap betting, one player is provided a distinct advantage while the opponent player is provided a disadvantage or a handicap to balance their chances to win in the betting process.

As we are well aware, in a tennis match one player is favorite to win in most of the occasions. To mitigate this impression, handicap betting focused more on the performance of these two players rather than the final result of the match.

Games Handicap Betting (or Spread Betting)

An Example for This Type of Tennis Betting

Take the example of that same match above between Isner and Djokovic, most of the people will favor Djokovic and rightly so.

In a handicap market, let’s assume a bookmaker has provided a handicap of +3.5 games to John Isner. It means John Isner has a head start of 3.5 games. At the end of the best-of-three-set match, say the result of the match was 6-7, 6-5 and 4-6 in favor of Novak Djokovic, means he won 18 games against 16 pocketed by John Isner.

But when we count most games win after applying the +3.5 handicap on Isner, the result is in favor of Isner 16+3.5=19.5 as compared to Djokovic’s 18 games. Though the real match was won by Novak Djokovic, John Isner is the clear winner of your bet after applying the handicap.

Types of Handicap Betting

There are two types of handicap betting, the positive and negative handicap.

In a positive handicap, the weaker player is provided with the advantage of a few games or positive handicap e.g. +2.5, +3.5 games and so on.

When the final result comes out, this positive handicap is added to the weaker player’s final score and the result of the bet is according to handicap score.

In a negative handicap, the stronger player gets a disadvantage of few games, for example -2.5. This negative handicap is subtracted from the stronger player total games win at the end of the match and the result of the bet is according to this deduction.

In the example above, three possible results of handicap betting are given according to positive handicap.

Different Possible Results for this Betting

There are different possibilities on the result of a handicap betting.

Tennis Handicap Betting Example
An Example of a Match between Djokovic and Isner

Moving forward from the above-given example, Djokovic beats the Isner 6-3, 4-6 and 6-2. Djokovic wins 16 games while the John Isner wins 11 games.

When we apply handicap on the match, the result is 16 v 14.5 games in favor of Djokovic. First possible result, Djokovic wins the match and still the winner after applying handicap.

The second result of the match is like, Djokovic wins the match with 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 against the Isner. It means, Djokovic wins the match and pockets two sets and 14 games against one set and 13 games won by Isner. After applying the handicap, the score is in favor of John Isner, 16.5 v 14 games.

Second possible result of the handicap is John Isner has lost the match but declared as the winner of the bet when the handicap is applied.

The third possible result the match is John Isner win the match 7-6, 0-6, 7-6 and 2-1 sets. When we compare the result of the game, John Isner wins 14 games against the 18 games. Now after applying the handicap, Novak Djokovic is the winner of the bet with 18 games against the 17.5. As described earlier handicap betting is not concerned with the result of the match rather it is focused on the performance of two opponent players.

Likewise, the fourth scenario shown above is self-explanatory.

Set Handicap Betting (or Spread Betting)

This is not too dissimilar from the game handicap betting. Replace games with set and the more inferior-ranked players are given that positive handicap and the superior-ranked player afforded a negative one to allow punters to get better odds instead of rather one-sided ones.

This works way better during Grand Slams when men’s matches are played over best of five sets. However, you can also use tennis handicaps with best-of-three set matches as well, especially if you think the underdog is capable to clinching one set but won’t probably win the match.

Let’s take the Isner-Djokovic example again.

If you put your money on a Set Handicap at Isner +1.5, it means that you will win your bet if Isner wins one or two sets in the match. For you to lose your bet, Djokovic will have to complete a straight-set victory. All of a sudden, an overwhelmingly one-sided match in favour of Djokovic, allows the bettors to have a shot at winning at better odds.

In-Play Handicap Betting in Tennis

What’s interesting to note is that some bookmakers also offer in-play tennis handicap betting. This goes by the name of Current Set Handicap.

Tennis bettors can extend the games handicap in a match to a set, which means they can bet on the number of games won in the current set but with the application of a handicap. In the Djokovic-Isner example above, suppose the second set handicap is for Djokovic to win with a -2.5 handicap, it implies if the Serb will win by three or more games, the punter wins the bet.

So in conclusion, tennis handicap betting is one of the markets you could try out but as with others, do your research before you do that.