Tennis Handicap Betting Explained


If you are new to tennis betting, Handicap or HCAP markets are popular bets. The reason is that you are not predicting the actual winner but on how many games a player wins.

A Handicap market in Tennis simply means that one of the players is given an advantage at the beginning.

Let’s take an example from one of my Betting Tips. Federer v Del Potro, ATP Paris.

Del Potro was the deserved favourite going into this match at the time – he had won the past 3 encounters between the two players. Federer’s outright odds were nearly 2, but bet365 were offering 1.5 on Federer +3.5 games in the HCAP market.

What does this mean?

The HCAP market in this case is all about games won. It doesn’t really matter about who wins the match!! At the end of the match, you add all the games together that each player has won, and whoever has the most games wins!

The point of the HCAP is that Federer gets an extra 3.5 games added to his total. I thought that this bet of +3.5 was a great one on Federer because if you take the 3 consecutive losses that he suffered against Del Potro and gave him the +3.5 HCAP, Federer would have won all 3 matches (or more precisely, the bet on each match would have been successful!)

The match went like this:

  • Federer won the first set 6-3, meaning he was now winning 9.5 games to 3 games, with the +3.5 HCAP
  • Del Potro won the second set 6-4, meaning Federer was winning by 13.5 games to 9 games. The interesting thing to note here is that Federer is winning by 4.5 going into the final set. If he wins 2 games in the final set, our bet is secure. If he loses the final set 6-2, the score will be 15.5 games to Federer, and 15 to Del Potro.
  • Federer won the third set anyway! But as soon as the final set went 2-2, the bet could not lose.

So now you see why HCAP betting is so popular!

Bear in mind that the Handicap markets mentioned above only concerns GAMES. There are bookies that offer SET handicap as well. So a -1.5 Set handicap simply means, the player should win the match 2 sets to 0 for a best of 3 set match. Example: if I have Federer to beat Del Potro with -1.5 sets handicap. At the end of the match I will apply -1.5 to Federers set score. Therefore if Federer wins 2-0, with the -1.5 sets handicap applied, he has won 0.5 sets to 0.

If I have Del Potro to win against Federer with a +1.5 sets handicap (in a 3 set match) I only need Del Potro to win one set for my bet to win. If he loses the match 2-1, with the handicap added he wins 2 to 2.5.

The drawback with + handicaps is they offer lesser odds. I might get 2.5 on Del Potro to win the match but I’ll likely get 1.8 for a games handicap bet.


Trading (as opposed to betting) on the HCAP markets is rather hard as Betfair offers poor liquidity for such markets. I do not recommend trading the HCAP market on Betfair unless the matched money is at least 100 – 200K (unlikely in most cases).

So the moral of story is that the HCAP markets offers some sort of an insurance compared to normal Match Odds markets. Bookies like BET365 and Gamebookers offers a lot of Handicap markets in a lot of sports.

Always make sure, before you bet, compare the odds through a reputed site such as to make sure you’ve got a decent price!

Membership of my Tennis Betting Tips Service is open now. For more info click here.

Good luck.

Patrick Ross.

1 Comment

  • emma Posted November 2, 2015 9:52 pm


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