Opinion: Why is the Asian Market the choice of the Professional Gambler?

The Asian Handicap market is seldom used by the casual punter, primarily because it doesn’t offer the ‘glory’ of wins at long odds. Also known as AH, the Asian Handicap is a type of spread betting and works similarly to a regular handicap with the bookies giving the ‘favoured’ team a ‘handicap’ in which to overcome.

A journalist named Joe Saumarez Smith is accredited with coining the name for this type of betting which probably originated in Indonesia. The goal of the AH bet is to try and make each game a 50/50 proposition by handing the underdog a positive handicap.

For instance, in the upcoming game between Manchester City and Bournemouth, the rampant home side is 1.10 to win. Given their domestic dominance, some professionals may suggest that 1.10 is good value! Obviously, City is expected to win the game by several goals, and this is where the Asian Handicap comes in.

First and foremost, it provides you with better value in most instances. In this game on Bet365, the traditional -2 handicap for City was available at odds of 1.83. However, the Asian Handicap of -2.5, which is the same bet, was 1.92. In both cases, you win if City beat Bournemouth by three or more goals, and lose if they win by two or fewer goals, or if they fail to win obviously.

However, the Asian markets offer what seem like bizarre 0.5 and 0.25 type bets. Here is a quick overview to alleviate some of the confusion.

Deciphering the Asian Riddle

Whenever you see an AH market that offers odds such as 0.5, 1.5, -1.5 or -2.5, there is no mystery. A -1.5 handicap is the same as the -1-handicap bet you normally see because, in both instances, your team needs to win by at least two goals. It is the same in the Asian total goal’s markets. Over 4.5 is the same as the ‘traditional’ over 4.5.

Where people get confused is the other Asian markets.

  • -1.0: If your team wins by two or more goals, you win the bet. If your team wins by one goal, you get your money back. If your team fails to win, you lose your entire stake. -2.0 means your team needs to win by three or more goals, while a two-goal win gets you your money back etc. This is an inherently smart way to bet, especially if you’re used to losing by a single goal.
  • -1.0, -1.5: Also known as the ‘half ball’ market, you will win if your team wins by two or more goals. If it wins by one goal, you get half of your stake back because of the -1.0 bet, although the -1.5 bet is a loser.
  • -1.5, -2.0: If your team wins by three goals, the bet wins. If it wins by two goals, the -1.5 part of the bet is a winner, while you get your money back for the -2.0.
  • 0.0: This bet is the same as Draw No Bet. If the game ends in a draw, you get your money back. You win if your team wins, and lose if your team loses.

A -1.5, -2.0 bet may sometimes appear as -1.75.

A -1.0, -1.5 AH bet may appear as -1.25.

Why do Professionals like the Asian Market so much?

While the seemingly binary nature of the Asian markets is off-putting to casual punters, it is precisely what professionals enjoy. Pros don’t like betting on markets with three or more possible outcomes. With AH bets, they have the option of reducing the game to a two market ‘yes’ or ‘no’ type wager.

Perhaps the biggest aspect of the AH market, especially the handicaps part, is the boost in value. If you decide to back City to win on the -2.5 Asian Handicap market, you receive better odds with a reduced bookmaker overround. On the AH market above, the bookie has an edge of about 2.58%. If you make the mistake of using the normal -2 handicap market, the bookie edge increases to 11.9%, primarily because there is a third option (handicap draw).

There is also the option of protecting your stake. Although the odds of 1.475 on City -2.0 may not appeal to a recreational punter, it is a bet that will attract plenty of support from professionals. If City only wins by two goals, which seems to be a worst-case scenario according to their form over the last 18 months, you get your money back. If they win by three or more goals, you earn an ROI of 47.5%.

The elimination of this third option is of paramount importance to professional gamblers. You will be shocked to learn just how small the profit margins are at the top end. One of the most successful betting consultancies is Starlizard, which was formed by Tony ‘The Lizard Bloom”, a multi-millionaire who loves gambling and is exceptionally good at it.

Starlizard treats sports betting in the same way as hedge funds handle stocks. The firm uses extremely complex statistical models to generate odds in football and sells them to clients to help them beat bookmakers. These odds are calculated for the Asian markets. Casual bettors need not apply: The company tries to place bets of at least £1 million on behalf of its clients! Rumour has it that Starlizard only accepts investors who pledge a minimum of £2 million.

If you tried to make such huge bets in Europe, bookmakers would act like the spoiled babies they are and cause a furore. Aside from begging authorities to investigate these bets, bookies would slash the odds and kill any value in the market. In Asia, the gambling market is so liquid that seven figure bets barely cause a ripple.

For reference, the illegal gambling market in China alone is worth an incredible $600 billion a year! The legal market is worth over $100 billion a year. It isn’t unusual for the Asian market to attract over £100 million worth of bets for a single Premier League game. 90% of this money is wagered on the Asian betting market.

If you think professionals earn an enviable ROI, think again. Even though Starlizard generates an estimated £100 million per annum, it only provides a seemingly ‘small’ ROI of 3-4%. This is something that many failed would-be gamblers don’t seem to understand. An ROI of 10% in the betting world is considered ‘unsustainable’ over the long-term. To achieve a 3% ROI and earn a profit of £100 million, Starlizard would need to bet £3.3 billion per annum.

It is believed that to earn the UK average salary of slightly over £27,000 in a year, your initial bankroll would need to be £150,000 or thereabouts, assuming you are a successful gambler with an ROI of 3-4%. A profit of £27,000 at an ROI of 3% means you will have wagered a total of £900,000 during the year. Are you comfortable with the idea of betting an average of almost £2,500 per day? Assuming you make no more than five bets a day, the average wager size is £500, almost the equivalent of a standard weekly wage.

Of course, you have the benefit of earning money tax-free! This is the reason why professionals ‘bet big’ by the standards of everyone else. If you’re not prepared to wager four figures on a bet, you’re not likely to earn a living as a professional gambler.

Final Thoughts on the Asian Football Market

The primary reason why professionals prefer the Asian markets is the extra value. It is normal for the overround to be 5%+ less than on the same ‘traditional’ market. Therefore, any individual bet could have an advantage of 10%! When you consider that even the best professionals seldom earn more than 4% profit in any given year, you effectively have no chance of success if you choose ‘normal’ markets for handicap and match goal bets.

Specialist Asian handicap bookmakers such as Eastbridge and Pinnacle make up for the smaller edge by offering even larger stake limits. As well as enjoying significantly better value, the Asian markets provide you with the opportunity to protect your stake. If you’re the type of person who loses most bets by a single goal, choosing the -2.0 handicap instead of the -2.5 markets could significantly boost your profits because you get your money back should your team win by precisely two goals.

If you are serious about your betting and have had enough of losing, perhaps the Asian market is for you. As professionals often say, “there is no bad bet, only a bad price.” Assuming that you have a decent-sized bankroll, and plenty of skill in analysing football, it could prove to be a nice little second income. Don’t consider going pro unless you have a six-figure bankroll, and a willingness to bet four figure sums, with the occasional five-figure wager thrown in.




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  • Jeremy


    I don’t understand how can a professional gambler be content with making 4% a year, when there are plenty of opportunities to sign up with betting services on the internet and easily return 10% a month, Betting Bounty, little acorns, lucky Nap 7 etc to name but a few (which I consider low) alas you yourselves are offer a lay football service that has achieved 115% return in a year, why don’t these so called professionals sign up with you or the others and increase their returns by nearly 30x?? If I sign up with your service today as a non professional why I would be instantly far more successful then them hands down as I would for example be making these 115% + returns a year on my starting bank, and with compounding within a few years easily have a bank in the 100,s of thousands starting with just a few hundred quid, this is what I am intending to do I am just deciding on where to start.


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