What Does Handle Mean In Sports Betting and Wagering?

Much like any business venture you embark on, the most important part of the journey (for most) is the bottom line. We live in a world where cash rules everything around us, so it is vital to turn a profit, not only for living purposes but to feel successful and accomplished. In the sports betting world, turning a profit seems to be a walk in the park for sportsbooks. They keep track of their billions of dollars by using a term called “handle” and nobody is aware of how big the handle is until the sportsbooks tell us. Publicizing specific numbers to bettors doesn’t serve much purpose for the sportsbook, so we are usually made to wait until well after an event to find out the exact numbers.

What is a Handle?

By definition, the wagering term “handle” refers to the total amount of money wagered over a specific period of time. In this instance, this term usually refers to the amount for a particular game or a number of different games over a given day, week or the entire season. It can also be used in another context, which allows the word “handle” to be used to describe the total amount of money bet, or simply the number of bets placed.

Can Knowing the Handle Help Bettors?

As I’m sure you already know, bettors look for any edge they can get when deciding what kind or how much money they should lay down on any given bet. Typically, sportsbooks keep the handle on the downlow until after the event, so unfortunately, the “handle” doesn’t really offer much help in terms of finding the edge. The only people who seem to benefit from knowing the handle on high-profile events is the mainstream media. The media is always quick to point out if the handle is up or down from past years, especially when the numbers involved are gigantic.

Most Common Use for the Handle

Events like the Super Bowl, a championship fight, and/or March Madness usually get the glorified “handle” discussion due to the magnitude of the events. However, the term handle is most commonly used in regards to horse racing. The horse racing “handle” focuses on the total amount bet on the entire race card on any particular day. If you know where or what you’re looking for, you can see the on-track handle, or the “all sources handle”. The “all source handle” includes bets made at off-track betting facilities, casinos and other racetracks that offer simulcast betting. As with the major events in sports (Super Bowl, March Madness), the handle is much more closely watched and talked during events like the Breeders’ Cup or the Triple Crown races. These races are known to bring in handles of tens of millions of dollars.

The False Handle

It goes without saying, most of the money wagered in Vegas is usually from bettors looking to get in on the action just to say they did. This is known as “dumb public money” which could inflate the handle and lead people (media) to believe that one side is the bettor play than the other. Furthermore, we don’t need an exact figure to tell us that the Super Bowl is an event that generally draws the biggest handle. Bettors shouldn’t let the money or number of bets placed on the Super Bowl effect their thought process when deciding how to bet on this game.

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