A draw, or tied score, is a frequent outcome in soccer. In the 2008-2009 season, almost a quarter of all Premier League matches resulted in a draw. Because such an outcome is so common, traditional betting usually involves betting within the context of three different outcomes: a win for one team, a draw, or a win for the other team. The "Asian handicap" is a means of changing this by "handicapping" the underdog by a certain percentage, meaning that a draw becomes impossible.
Most handicaps are made at intervals of one half or one quarter, meaning that there has to be a winner since it is impossible to score a half or quarter goal. The purpose is to make the odds as close to 50-50 as possible and eliminating the draw as a possible outcome. Because the odds are almost half when a handicap is applied, the payout is usually even money, or very close to it.
The primary benefit is encouraging punters to bet on matches where there is a clear favorite. For example, if Manchester United (winner of the Premier League in the 2008-2009 season) were to play West Bromwich (the bottom team of the Premier League during the same season), few punters would be interested in betting. This is because Manchester United is a much better team and the odds are strongly in their favor.
However, if West Bromwich was given a handicap of +2.5, it would mean that they would be effectively starting with a lead of 2.5 goals. This means Manchester United would have to score three goals more than West Bromwich to be the winner as far as the bet is concerned. If West Bromwich scored one goal, then Manchester would have to score four to win. Handicapping obviously changes the odds significantly.
An interesting aspect of handicapping is the push. If an even number is used for the handicap, and the actual score plus the handicap equals a draw, then this is a push. For example, if in the example given above West Bromwich was given a handicap of 2 and failed to score any goals, and Manchester United only scored two goals, this would be a push. The result of a push is that all the punters receive their original wagers returned as there was no winner.
The "Asian Handicap" adds an additional element to soccer betting that can be both fun and profitable. This form of betting can be helpful for those punters that have a personal favorite that they intend to bet on, but are not confident that their favorite will win a particular match.