Card Handicap Betting Explained

Written By: Bradley Gibbs
Last Updated: December 6, 2022

Handicap betting has long been a popular choice amongst football punters, but handicap betting no longer applies to merely the result of a football match. 

What is handicap betting? Traditionally, handicap betting is where the bettor bets on a team to win with either an advantage or a disadvantage. For example, it could be ‘Manchester United to Win -1 Goal’, which effectively means that they start a goal down. So, for the bet to win, Manchester United would need to win by two goals or more. 

Now, punters can bet on a card handicap. What’s that? Well, it’s really quite simple. You can bet on a team to have more or less cards than their opponents based on a handicap.

What are cards in football? 

For those who don’t know, during the course of a football match, cards are awarded for foul play at the discretion of the referee. If a player commits a mid-level foul, or steps outside of the laws of the game without going too far, the referee will brandish a yellow card. If the foul is of a more serious nature, then the referee may brandish a red card.  

Betting on a card handicap

Since the showing of yellow and red cards is something that can happen during a game of football, this is something that can be bet on. 

As touched on in other articles, there are several card betting markets, one of which is ‘Card Handicap’. 

Card handicap betting is where you bet on a team to either receive more or less cards than their opponents after a handicap has been factored in. 

An example of a card handicap bet would be ‘Liverpool -2 Cards’. This means that you’re betting on Liverpool to pick up three more cards than their opponents. 

So, what are the possible outcomes if you bet on ‘Liverpool -2 Cards’ in a game between Liverpool and Manchester City? Let’s take a look below. 

  • Liverpool receive 2 cards, Manchester City receive 1 card = losing bet 
  • Liverpool receive 3 cards, Manchester City receive 1 card = losing bet
  • Liverpool receive 3 cards, Manchester City receive 0 cards = winning bet

For the above bet to win, the referee would need to show Liverpool players at least three more cards than he shows Manchester City players. 

If you’re betting on card handicaps, you also have the option of betting on teams to start with a card advantage. 

For example, you could bet on ‘Everton +1 Cards’ in a game between Everton and Newcastle United. Below are the possible outcomes for this bet. 

  • Everton receive 2 cards, Newcastle receive 1 card = winning bet 
  • Everton receive 2 cards, Newcastle receive 2 cards  = winning bet 
  • Everton receive 2 cards, Newcastle receive 3 cards = losing bet 

With any handicap, if you’re betting ‘+1’, all your team needs to do is draw. In this case, for you to win, Everton need to either beat Newcastle or match them in terms of the number of cards collected. 

Advantages of Card Handicap 

There are certain advantages to betting on the card handicap market. One major advantage, it’s more specific than ‘Total Booking Points’, which likely means bigger odds. 

Often, you’ll fancy one team to pick up plenty of cards because the way the game is likely to be set up seems to favour it. Maybe you’ve identified a team that tends to give away lots of fouls against a certain type of opposition. That team is now up against that type of opposition, while the ref is known for being strict. 

In the above scenario, you could place a ‘Total Booking Points’ bet, but if you strongly believe that most of the cards are going to go one way, then you could bet on that team using the card handicap. Because this is a more specific bet, you’re likely to get a better price, thus increasing your potential winnings. 

Card Handicap Betting Strategy 

It doesn’t matter what you’re betting on, or what markets you’re looking to have an interest in, if you’re looking for any level of success, then you need to deploy some form of strategy. 

Of course, you can rely on luck and bet randomly or off of a gut feeling just before the game, and you may well see results in the short term, but in the long run, if you have no strategy, then your chances of success are very slim. 


This is true for all betting, you need to specialise. If you’re going to have success betting on card handicaps, then don’t try and identify all different types of bets. Focus on card handicaps. 

However, that’s not enough. You won’t be able to identify viable card handicap opportunities for all the football, so focus on either one league or a small number of leagues. 

Become an expert on everything that is relevant to card betting in your chosen league. That’s the first step to putting yourself in a position to identify smart card handicap betting opportunities. 

What stats should you keep track of? 

There are varying types of stats that you’ll need to brush up on if you’re serious about card handicap betting. They are follows: 

Team cards 

It’s important to know how each team performs in terms of cards. Do they receive more cards in certain types of games? Are they picking up lots of cards on the road? That sort of thing. Understanding how teams perform, especially in certain situations, in terms of cards is crucial for card handicap betting. 


Just as you want to know what teams have done previously in terms of cards collected, you’ll need a solid understanding of how they’ve performed in terms of fouls. Again, do they commit more fouls against certain opponents


Knowing how referees behave is crucial too, so know the refs and keep on top of those stats. Is the referee in charge of the game you’re interested in known for being lenient? Or does he give cards out more freely than most? 

Where can you find the necessary stats? 

Thankfully, in the age of website overload, there are plenty of resources that can help the card handicap bettor. 

For player stats, there are lots of great options. Official league sites such as that for the Premier League provide breakdowns of player card stats, so you can see how many cards players have picked up and how often they’re being booked. 

Other sites such as and are great for teams stats on yellow cards, red cards, and fouls. is another great option, especially if you want to dive further into player behaviour. Here you can see in depth foul stats, and tackle stats, which can help you to make smart betting moves when it comes to the card handicap market. 

Bookmakers offering the ‘Card Handicap’ market

You would think that most of the major firms would offer card handicap betting, but that’s not the case. Don’t worry, though, as there is still an option. 


If you’re looking to bet on card handicaps, then bet365 is the site to visit. 

In general, bet365 are the kings of card betting, mainly because they offer the most options on a variety of fixtures. While many other firms are inconsistent with their card offerings, bet365 is not. 

To find the ‘Card Handicap’ odds, all you need to do is head to the bet365 website or use the mobile app. 

From the home page, simply click ‘Soccer’, which is located on the sports menu on the left hand side. Doing so will open the main fixture. From there find your chosen fixture and open the main odds page for that fixture. 

Once on the primary odds page, select the ‘Cards’ tab from the top of the page, and scroll down until you hit the ‘Card Handicap’ odds, underneath which you see the ‘Alternative Card Handicaps’. 

Bradley Gibbs
Bradley Gibbs

Bradley is a freelance writer and sports betting analyst, specialising in all things golf, football, and horse racing, who has also written a variety of educational sports betting content. Over the years, Bradley has produced a plethora of content in the sports betting niche, writing for numerous websites and publications, including popular UK betting newspaper The Racing & Football Outlook.

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