What Is The Handle? Sports Betting Terms Explained

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In sports betting, the “handle” represents the aggregate sum of money that bettors have risked by placing bets on one selection or another. It’s the counterpart to another sports betting metric, “tickets” or the number of bets placed on a selection. Where the tickets refer to the number of wagers placed on a selection, the handle refers to the amount of money placed on that selection. This can vary from sportsbook to sportsbook – FanDuel may have a different handle for an event than BetMGM, for example, depending on how each user base bets on the event.

How Handle Works When Betting On Sports

To understand handle better, let’s look at how it operates:

  1. Tracking Bets: Sportsbooks continuously record and track all the bets placed by bettors on various sporting events, both before and during the events.
  2. Calculation: Calculate the handle by adding up the total amount wagered by all bettors. This includes bets on individual games, events, and various bet types (e.g., moneyline, point spread, totals).
  3. Scope and Timeframe: This metric can be measured over different timeframes, such as daily, weekly, monthly, or even for specific events like the Super Bowl or World Cup.

An Example Using the NFL

Here we can see insights on both the handle and tickets (public%) for the matchup between the Chiefs and the Jets in week 4 of the 2023 NFL season.

tickets and handle example using NFL

Significance for the Sports Betting Industry

Handle holds considerable significance for the sports betting industry for several reasons:

  1. Financial Indicator: It serves as a financial indicator of the volume and activity in the sports betting market. A higher handle generally reflects increased betting interest and participation.
  2. Revenue Estimation: While handle represents the total amount wagered, it doesn’t account for the sportsbook’s profit (hold). Nevertheless, it provides an estimate of the potential revenue generated by sportsbooks.
  3. Market Assessment: The handle helps sportsbooks and industry analysts assess the popularity of various sports, events, or betting markets. It can also reveal trends and preferences among bettors.
  4. Risk Management: Understanding this metric for specific events or markets helps sportsbooks manage their risk by adjusting odds, limits, and other factors.

Paying attention to both the tickets and the handle for any given sporting event adds another layer of insight as to how the public perceives the potential outcome of a game. You can use this when establishing your own sports betting strategy. Keep in mind that the handle may vary from sportsbook to sportsbook.

Using The Handle in Betting Strategy

Now that you understand this concept, you can use this when creating your own betting strategy. For example, a popular strategy among bettors is fading the public, where you use information about the handle to bet against the majority of it. Sign up for Betting Hero VIP to get insights delivered to your inbox about where the handle sits for the sports you like to bet on!

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Eamonn KeenanEamonn Keenan
Eamonn Keenan, with a Digital Arts Degree from the University of Tampa, brings over a decade of sports betting experience to his role as Creative Director at BettingHero.com. Starting with Betting Hero in the Fall of 2020, Eamonn has been deeply involved in the industry, assisting customers with major sportsbook and casino operators like BetMGM, Caesars, DraftKings, and others. A self-proclaimed sports fanatic, he has a keen interest in professional hockey, MMA, NFL, NCAAB, NCAAF, and MLB. Eamonn enjoys researching teams and players to predict game outcomes, highlighting his passion for sports betting.