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What is a 'Handle'?

The term handle denotes the number of bets a bookmaker takes in from punters. This is something which should be monitored at all times, so the bookmaker can adjust the odds they are offering for certain events.

'Handle' Explained

Among a bookmaker's many jobs is to monitor their handle. Rather than relating to the amount of money wagered by bettors, this term simply refers to the number of bets placed, when these bets are placed, what events they are placed on and whether a large number of bets are being placed on a certain competitor, such as a horse or a tennis player.For example, when a bookmaker is monitoring their handle, they may notice that over the last half an hour, hundreds of bets have been placed on a specific horse. They may also look at when the majority of the bets were placed and if they were placed within a short period of time.All of this information will give the bookmaker an indication of what is going on in the market, and the bookmaker can adjust the odds accordingly. The main purpose of a bookmaker tracking their handle is so that, if many bets are placed on a particular horse, for example, then the bookmaker can lengthen the odds of other horses and perhaps shorten the odds of the horse that is being bet on. This will lead to a reduction in the number of bets being placed on that horse, because customers are not getting as good a deal. As such, the bookmaker will be able to balance the betting.In short, the handle is not only something that allows bookmakers to keep track of what they owe out to punters and what they are owed themselves, but is also a tool which they can use to change odds according to what is happening in the market.