Team Handball Betting Tutorial

  • Where to Bet on Handball in the U.S.: Link
  • Bi-Weekly Updates on Matches that can be viewed online (betting lines included): Link


Team Handball is an entertaining sport to wager on with a variety of different options for bettors.  In many ways the wagering is kind of a cross between soccer and basketball.  The soccer element is the traditional European 3 way betting with options for either team to win or the match to end in a draw.  The basketball element is “handicap” or point spread betting.  Further, there are typically multiple prop bets available from the typical over/under variety on goals scored both by teams and individual players.

On the surface betting for team handball looks pretty much the same as betting on basketball or American football.  But, appearances can be just a little deceiving.  Here are some of the ways that betting on handball just a little bit different from betting on American sports.

Handicap or Point Spread Betting (Watch out for the -1.5 Point Spreads)

On most betting sites, the point spreads for matches are identified as “handicap” betting.  While this is the most common type of bet in the U.S. it’s less of a priority for European bettors. I think this is probably due to the prevalence of soccer and a tendency to often just copy what’s done for soccer.  And, as everyone knows soccer is a low scoring game and point spreads just don’t make as much sense.  That’s not the case in handball and point spreads can be a more interesting bet between two teams that are separated in terms of talent.  However, handicap handball betting is significantly different from typical point spread betting in several ways.

  • Handball handicaps usually include a “half point” (i.e. there are no “pushes”). While it’s common in the U.S. for the point spread to have a be a whole number (e.g. -3.0), handball betting sites almost always adjust their handicaps to either (-2.5) or (-3.5). In effect, there is never a “push” opportunity to get your money back when you make a handball handicap bet. You either win or you lose.
  • The Juice or House Advantage is a little higher. Most point spread bets in the U.S. are (-110). Unfortunately, for handball (-115) is more typical. That may seem like a little difference, but over time it adds up.
  • The return for each side of the bet is often different. Most U.S. point spreads have either identical or similar returns on either side of the bet, but this happens less often with handball bets. Lines where one side is +100 and the other side is -130 are pretty common. In part, this is due to having no whole number point spreads and when the line moves a full point sometimes a greater difference is needed to incentivize bettors.
  • There are rarely any half point or (-0.5) handicaps and sometimes this can really skews the odds on a (-1.5) handicap. Most betting sites don’t post (+0.5) or (-0.5) handicap lines for handball. It’s not entirely clear why this is the case, but I think it is because those bets are essentially money line bets that are already available. Because 0.5 handicaps aren’t provided the handicap is generally listed as a 1.5 handicap. And, since the spread should actually be either (+.5) or (0.0) the (+1.5) handicap that gets listed is really off and requires very skewed odds. Here’s an actual match which demonstrates this somewhat confusing situation.
  • This match between Norway and France is seen as an almost even contest or Norway is a 0.5 goal favorite, but since those point spreads aren’t provided by the betting site it results in skewed returns for 1.5 point spreads. So, if you’re looking for a 50-50 proposition you should forgo the handicap bet and just make a money line bet for your preferred side. However, it should be noted that not all 1.5 lines are skewed because sometime the 50-50 line is actually seen as -1.5 goals for the favored team, and if that’s the case, the return for either side should look more even. Bottom line: Don’t just assume that a point spread line is the 50-50 outcome. For handball that’s not always the case, particularly when the line is -1.5.
  • Still want to make a 0.5 point spread bet? Generally this is possible with either a “To win” bet or with a “Double Chance” bet whereby you can bet on your team to win or for the match to end in a draw. In the above case, if you wanted Norway (-0.5) you could simply bet for Norway to win. If you wanted Norway (+0.5) you would bet Norway to win and to draw. In this example the .5 odds were:
    • Norway +0.5 is -162 and France -0.5 is +120
    • Norway -0.5 is +100 and France +0.5 is -133

European 3 Way (1X2) Betting or “Damn those Drawn Matches”

For a European the following explanation is probably unnecessary, but for many Americans this tutorial could save you some serious heartaches. 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 buddy on the outcome of the match it’s the same thing: Either you or your buddy is going to win the bet. And, even in the old days when American football had tied matches such a bet was declared a push with neither side winning or losing the bet. “Oh, well”, one could say to themselves, “It would have been nice to win, but at least I didn’t lose anything.”

That “Oh well” outcome, however, is not possible when it comes to soccer and handball bets made with your online sports books. Nope. When it comes to betting on those sports if the match ends in a draw the “draw” bet is the only bet that wins. Which can lead to an exasperating feeling at the end of a match and you’ve bet on your team to win. and the match is in the closing minutes. Because you may need your team to win, but your team might be more than happy with just taking the draw and the 1 point that comes along with it in the standings. That’s frustrating especially if you’ve picked a big underdog to win, but just miss out on that grand pay day with a draw in the closing seconds.

That’s just the way it is for soccer and handball bets. And, although it may feel like you’re getting screwed the reality is that if you do the math, or let a website do it for you (see below) in most cases the sportsbooks aren’t screwing you in terms of house advantage. It’s just a different way of betting. Instead of accounting for the “juice” or house advantage via a lower winning return (the U.S. way) the juice is in the drawn bet.

But, I get how this just might not seem fair to American bettors. It’s not always available, but some books do offer a “draw (no bet)” option. And, there you will see that the return isn’t quite as good as the 3 way win offering… At which point, you’re more than welcome to bet the higher payout, just don’t whine when the match ends up as a draw.

An important note regarding knockout matches with extra time: Most sportsbooks have their betting options set to the end of regular time. And, this means that whatever happens in extra time and/or penalty shootouts won’t matter with your bet. Generally, however, there are betting options that specifically include extra time. Double check what you’re betting for.

Live Betting

Live betting is generally available for most high profile matches and works much the same way it does for other sports. If a team scores their chances of winning improves slightly and the odds accordingly adjust for both teams. The other handball specific events that shift the odds includes 2 minute penalties and penalty shots (with the assumption that a goal is likely coming). And, the biggest odds shifting, momentum changing event? According to oddsmakers it is a 2 minute penalty in conjunction with a penalty shot. Generally, it’s a double shift of the odds in favor of the team benefitting from that outcome. Of course, if you’ve played or watched handball before you already knew that, but seeing the math in real time confirming what you’ve suspected is quite interesting.

In fact, I would strongly encourage all handball fans, even those that have zero interest in betting to consider watching a match or two with a second screen showing the live betting odds adjustments. It can be quite fascinating to watch the ups and downs. Be forewarned, though, that you’ll be fed mini spoilers the whole match as the betting app is almost always a second or two ahead of the supposedly live video feed you’re watching. Which makes sense… I wouldn’t want to own the betting app that was a second or two behind!

Handy Betting Information Websites

  • Odds Portal (Handball): Link
    • This site provides the odds for most major handball matches, both consensus odds and for specific websites.
    • To get the handicap lines click on the math in question and then click on AH, for Asian Handicap. (Ignore .75 or .25 lines if they are listed)
  • Sofascore (Handball): Link
    • Want to know what the odds were for a match that was already played? This site has got you covered. Just scroll down to the links on the left hand side for different leagues and competitions. You can also click for prior years.
    • Sofascore is also a great site to look up historical stats and team trends
  • Wizard of Odds: Think some online book is taking too much juice? They certainly do, on occasion. These calculators will verify if they are or not.
    • House Advantage Calculator (2 Outcomes): Link
    • House Advantage Calculator (3 Outcomes: Link
  • Action Network Betting Calculators: Link
    • Multiple calculators with the option to switch back and forth from Decimal, Fractional and American odds formats.

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