Betting Against the Public in the NHL (2005-2009)

The NHL Season dropped the puck for its 2009-10 season just a few days ago.  The excitement of the football season almost over-shadowed the start of hockey season — but not for serious sports investors!  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.  And, SportsInsights is pleased that the method we highlighted the past few seasons continues to perform well.  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 four seasons since the 2004-05 NHL Season (the year lost to the strike).  The NHL instituted some major rules after the strike.  Most notable for hockey fans and 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:

  • Four seasons (2005-2009) worth of data.
  • Includes playoff games, excludes pre-season games.
  • About 5,500 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, SportsInsights’ researchers have shown 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.   Below are some other thoughts on betting system development.  SportsInsights’ team of analysts and researchers use these methods and more to bring our Members valuable sports handicapping information.

  • 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.”  As in previous years, 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) (2005-2009, Four seasons)

Betting %  Units W/L ROI Win % Num Games
< 50%  +61.7 3.1% 51.1% 1,951
< 45%  +88.2 6.2% 52.0% 1,424
< 40% +28.6 2.9% 49.9% 981
< 35% +38.7 6.2% 50.9% 677

Summary and Notes About the NHL “Bet Against” Results

  • Results for SportsInsights’ proprietary betting percentages continue to post profitable results.  The units earned and ROI (“Return on Investment”) actually improved over last year’s figures — meaning that the 2008-09 season was a good year for contrarian hockey bettors.
  • Results are roughly similar for Home and Visiting teams.
  • ROI is slightly better for Visiting teams.
  • More plays are triggered for Home teams.

SportsInsights has collected betting data for every major U.S. sport since the 2003.  We collect the opening and closing lines (and “line movement,” for various sportsbooks) as well as final scores — and perhaps most importantly, SIs’ proprietary “betting percentages,”  Over the years, SI has put together software and systems that minimize downtime and collect data more regularly and cleanly.

Our research team also “cleans” our data with various techniques “by hand” to ensure our historical data is useful for our research articles and our Members.  SIs’ historical database for each sport is an important part of our research and value-added for our Members.  It is the backbone for our contrarian sports investing methods and you can’t find this kind of data and information anywhere else!  

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.

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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.