- Where to bet on handball in the United States: Link
- Bi-weekly updates on matches that can be viewed online (including betting lines): Link
Team handball is an entertaining sport to bet on with a variety of different options for punters. In many ways, betting is kind of a cross between football and basketball. The football element is the traditional European 3-way bet with options for either team to win or the match to end in a draw. The basketball element is a “handicap” or point spread bet. Additionally, there are usually several prop bets available from the typical over/under variety on goals scored by both teams and individual players.
At first glance, betting on team handball looks a lot like betting on basketball or American football. But looks can be just a little deceiving. Here are some of the ways handball betting is a little different from American sports betting.
Bets with handicap or points difference (pay attention to differences of -1.5 points)
On most betting sites, point spreads for matches are identified as “handicap” bets. Although this is the most common type of bet in the United States, it is less of a priority for European punters. I think this is probably due to the predominance of football and a tendency to often copy what is done for football. And, as everyone knows, football is a low-scoring game and point spreads just don’t make as much sense. This is not the case in handball and point spreads can be a better bet between two teams that are separated in terms of talent. However, handicap handball betting is very different from typical point spread betting in several ways.
- Handball handicaps usually include a “half point” (i.e. there are no “pushes”)). Although it is common in the US for the point spread to be a whole number (e.g. -3.0), handball betting sites almost always adjust their handicaps to (-2.5) or ( -3.5). Indeed, there is never a “push” opportunity to get your money back when you make a handball handicap bet. You win or you lose.
- The house or juice advantage is a bit higher. Most point spread bets in the US are (-110). Unfortunately, for handball (-115) it’s more typical. It may seem like a small difference, but over time it adds up.
- The return for each side of the bet is often different. Most American point spreads have the same or similar returns on either side of the bet, but this happens less often with handball betting. Lines where one side is +100 and the other side is -130 are quite common. This is partly because there are no full point spreads and when the line moves a full point a larger difference is sometimes needed to incentivize bettors.
- There are rarely half points or handicaps (-0.5) and sometimes it can really skew the odds on a handicap (-1.5). Most betting sites do not display handicap lines (+0.5) or (-0.5) for handball. It’s not entirely clear why this is the case, but I think it’s because these bets are basically money line bets that are already available. Since 0.5 handicaps are not provided, the handicap is usually listed as a 1.5 handicap. And, since the spread should actually be (+0.5) or (0.0), the handicap (+1.5) that is listed is really wrong and requires very biased odds. Here is an actual match that demonstrates this somewhat confusing situation.
- This match between Norway and France is considered a nearly even contest where Norway is a 0.5 goal favorite, but as these point spreads are not provided by the betting site, it results in skewed returns for differences of 1.5 points. So if you are looking for a 50-50 proposition, you should forgo the handicap bet and just make a money bet for your favorite team. However, it should be noted that not all 1.5 lines are skewed because sometimes the 50-50 line is actually considered -1.5 goals for the favorite team, and if so, the return each side should look more even. Bottom line: Don’t just assume that a point spread line is the 50-50 result. For handball this is not always the case, especially when the line is at -1.5.
- Still want to place a bet with a 0.5 point spread? As a rule, this is possible with a “To win” bet or with a “Double Chance” bet in which you can bet that your team will win or that the match will end in a draw. In the case above, if you wanted Norway (-0.5), you could just bet Norway would win. If you wanted Norway (+0.5), you’d bet Norway would win and draw. In this example, the odds of 0.5 were:
- Norway +0.5 = -162 and France -0.5 = +120
- Norway -0.5 = +100 and France +0.5 = -133
European 3-Way Betting (1X2) or “Damn Those Draws”
For a European, the following explanation is probably unnecessary, but for many Americans, this tutorial could save you some serious heartache. For sports like basketball or American football, one team wins and the other loses and if you were to make a friendly bet with a friend on the outcome of the match, it’s the same thing: either you or your buddy will win the bet. And, even in the days when American football had tied games, such a bet was declared a push with neither team winning or losing the bet. “Oh, well,” one might think, “It would have been nice to win, but at least I didn’t lose anything.”
This “Oh well” result, however, is not possible when it comes to betting on football and handball made with your online sports betting. No. When it comes to betting on these sports, if the match ends in a draw, the ‘draw’ bet is the only winning bet. Which can lead to an infuriating feeling at the end of a match and you’ve bet your team will win. and the match is in the final minutes. Because you might need your team to win, but your team might be more than happy to just win the draw and the 1 point that comes with it in the standings. It’s frustrating, especially if you’ve picked a big underdog to win, but miss that big payday with a draw in the final seconds.
This is how it is for football and handball betting. And, while you may feel like you’re being cheated, the reality is that whether you do the math or let a website do it for you (see below), in most cases sports betting won’t get you there. wrong in terms of house edge. It’s just a different way to bet. Instead of factoring in the “juice” or house edge via lower winning yield (American style), the juice is in the draw bet.
But I understand that doesn’t seem fair to American bettors. This is not always available, but some books offer a ‘draw (no bet)’ option. And, there, you will see that the return is not as good as the 3-way win offer… At this point, you are more than welcome to bet the highest win, but don’t complain when the match ends as a draw.
An important note regarding knockout matches with overtime: Most sportsbooks have their betting options fixed at the end of regulation time. And that means anything that happens during extra time and/or penalty shootouts won’t matter to your bet. Generally, however, there are betting options that specifically include overtime. Double check what you are betting on.
Live betting is generally available for most top level matches and works the same as for other sports. If a team scores, their chances of winning improve slightly and the odds adjust accordingly for both teams. Other handball-specific events that alter the odds include 2-minute penalties and penalty shootouts (assuming a goal is likely to happen). And, the biggest odds-changing, momentum-changing event? According to bettors, this is a 2 minute penalty in conjunction with a penalty shot. Generally, this is a double shift of odds in favor of the team that benefits from this result. Of course, if you’ve ever played or watched handball, you already knew that, but seeing the real-time calculations confirming what you suspected is quite interesting.
In fact, I strongly encourage all handball fans, even those with no interest in betting, to consider watching a game or two with a second screen showing live betting odds adjustments. It can be quite fascinating to watch the ups and downs. Be warned, however, that you’ll be fed mini spoilers for the entire match, as the betting app is almost always a second or two ahead of the supposedly live video stream you’re watching. Which makes sense… I wouldn’t want to own the betting app that’s a second or two behind!
Practical Betting Information Websites
- Odds Portal (Handball): Link
- This site provides odds for most major handball matches, both consensus odds and for specific websites.
- To obtain the handicap lines, click on the calculation in question, then click on AH, for Asian Handicap. (Ignore .75 or .25 lines if listed)
- Sofascore (Handball): Link
- Do you want to know the odds of a match already played? This site has what you need. Just scroll down to the links on the left side for different leagues and competitions. You can also click on previous years.
- Sofascore is also a great site to research historical stats and team trends.
- Rating Wizard: Think an online book takes too much juice? They certainly do, on occasion. These calculators will check whether they are or not.
- House Edge Calculator (2 results): Link
- House Edge Calculator (3 results: link
- Action Network Betting Calculators: Link
- Multiple calculators with the ability to switch between decimal, fractional and US odds formats.
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