Betting Against the Public in the NHL (2005-2008)

The NHL Season kicked off the 2008-09 season in the Czech Republic and Sweden with a few games this past weekend.  The NHL brings the games “back home” to North America, with most teams facing off for the first time this season — on Thursday or Friday.  SportsInsights has been busy getting you, our Members, updated statistical information on how SIs’ philosophy of “betting against the public” performed over the past three seasons.  Although the NHL isn’t the most popular sport, many sports investors are excited to have the NHL season start.  The NHL offers many profit opportunities — with many teams playing many games.  The information on this site is for entertainment and educational purposes only. Use of this information in violation of any federal, state, or local laws is prohibited.

NHL Data

The research for this article is based on the three seasons since the 2004-05 NHL Season (the year lost to the strike).  The NHL instituted some major rules after the strike.  Most notably for sports bettors: overtime and the shootout have eliminated “ties.”  This led to the elimination of the 0.5 goal spreads and made the NHL more of a “pure moneyline” sport like baseball.  The NHL data includes:

  • Three seasons (2005-2008) worth of data.
  • Includes playoff games, excludes pre-season games.
  • Over 4,000 NHL games.

Betting System Ideas

Over the years, SportsInsights has shown that “Betting Against the Public” can help give you an edge.  It is interesting that in the case of the NHL, we saw last year that a filter that helps “fading the public” results is to take a narrower range of odds.  Please visit our recap of academic studies on sports betting on the NHL and other sports as well as on football.   Here are some other thoughts on betting system development:

  • Use as much data as possible.  As we have seen, you can never have enough data points!  Even more importantly, make sure the data is as “clean” as possible.  This means that it should be complete, error-free, and consistent.
  • Try to use systems and parameters that make logical sense.  Sports investing is a “competitive” environment and it is difficult to squeeze out profit margins consistently.  Cautiousness during every step of the system development process will help minimize curve-fitting and hopefully produce positive results in the future.
  • When studying a system, try to maximize the number of games or data points it encompasses.  This will help generalize the system and add statistical confidence to what you are researching.
  • Fewer parameters are better than more parameters.  This will improve the information in your systems and ultimately, its reliability going forward.

Thoughts on the NHL

  • Because the NHL is not a very popular sport, perhaps a larger percentage of NHL sports bettors are professionals or “smart money.”
  • The amount of money flow from “the Public” versus “professional sports gamblers” is key to the market action and line movement in every sport and every type of sports bet.  For instance, we believe that there are more “pros” betting on “Totals.”
  • Knowing the type of bettor and potential money flow sources can help you to evaluate betting system approaches.

Betting Against the Public — NHL

Betting Against the Public” is a contrarian approach that can help investors identify “value.”  Like last year, we limit the “betting against the public” to relatively close games — that is, games that have an opening line in the range of + or -140 on the home team.  We show the units won as well as a “return on investment” type of number for a range of “betting percentages.”

Table 1: NHL and Betting Against the Public (-140 to +140 Range) (2005-2008, Three seasons)

Betting %  Units W/L ROI Win % Num Games
< 50%  +29.4 2.1% 51.7% 1,424
< 45%  +50.0 4.9% 53.2% 1,013
< 40% +18.4 2.6% 50.7% 693
< 35% +23.0 5.5% 51.9% 415

We hope you will use this and other SportsInsights tools to help you invest in the sports marketplace.  Our Premium and Premium Pro Members can access even more tools to make the upcoming NHL, NBA, and College Basketball Seasons — as well as current NFL and College Football Seasons — “profitable Sports Investing campaigns.

We do not guarantee that the trends and biases we’ve found will continue to exist. It is impossible to predict the future. Any serious academic research in the field of “market efficiencies” recognizes that inefficiencies may disappear over time. Once inefficiencies are discovered, it is only a matter of time before the market corrects itself. We do not guarantee our data is error-free. However, we’ve tried our best to make sure every score and percentage is correct.