Chris Rock once joked, “Oprah is rich; Bill Gates is wealthy. If Bill Gates woke up tomorrow with Oprah’s money, he’d jump out of a window…” For all the talk about low rating, the NFL is still the most popular sport in America. If the NFL woke up with the National Hockey League’s television ratings, Roger Goodell would jump out of a window.
This is a roundabout way of me saying that if you don’t watch the NHL, you aren’t alone but this doesn’t mean you can’t profit from the game. With the puck dropped on another NHL season, how do you wager on hockey? Like we always do, by betting against the public.
Hockey is different from the other major sports where the point spread is king. On the ice the majority of bets are placed on the money-line. If your team wins, your bet cashes. With the basics out of the way, here is how to find a winner in hockey.
First, home-ice is often overvalued.
Since 2005, teams playing on the road in the NHL have gone 6,369-7,786 (45.0%). Despite the lower winning percentage visiting teams have actually produced a higher return on investment than home teams. This is because road teams are often underdogs and underdogs offer plus-money bets.
So we know that focusing on road teams is more profitable, the next filter to layer on top is the bet percentage each team is receiving. The table below shows the results for away teams based on number of bets.
As you can see, the ROI increases by going against the public. If the casual bettors are pounding one team then the other squad becomes undervalued. This is especially true in heavily bet games with one-sided public action.
Using the Number of Bets Compared To Daily Average filter allows us to eliminate games not receiving many bets. For the NHL, we only want to look at games getting at least the daily average if not more bets.
By using the Number of Bets Compared to Daily Average filter we are able to increase the ROI further. The sweet spot for betting against the public in the NHL is in heavily bet games when a team is receiving 25% of the money-line bets or less.
Of course, all of the teams that match this criterion are and have been underdogs. It is advisable to avoid taking big money-line dogs in the NHL because the bookmakers charge extra juice.
Here is how road underdogs getting less than or equal to 25% of the bets perform in heavily wagered games.
The smaller the underdog, the greater the ROI and win rate. However, the best money-line range for heavily bet road teams getting less than or equal to 25% of the bets is at +185 or less. This gives you a large sample (710 games) and a solid return on investment (9.7%).
The NHL season has just begun, starting getting picks for all the action on the ice.