Before the start of every season, we post a series of Betting Against the Public articles where we highlight the sweet spots for contrarian betting. These systems typically highlight how sharp bettors can take advantage of public perception by wagering on teams that are being ignored by the betting public.
Historically, bettors have overwhelmingly pounded favorites and overs which has created value on underdogs and unders. We have also found that bettors tend to overvalue home-field advantage in every sport except for baseball. For that reason, our past NHL Betting Against the Public systems have focused on road ‘dogs receiving less than 35% of moneyline bets.
Since the start of the 2005 NHL season, teams fitting those contrarian criteria have gone 1,363-2,237 with +36.76 units won. However, in recent years we have noticed that the tide is changing. From 2005-2012, this basic system went 905-1,437 with +107.16 units won, but from 2012-2015 this system was woeful, posting a 458-800 record with -70.41 units lost.
This system features many of the characteristics we look for in a winning betting system including a large sample size and strong driving hypothesis, but it lacks consistent year-to-year returns. As you can see from the results graph below, oddsmakers appear to have adjusted for this trend which forces us to re-examine our strategies and adjust to a changing marketplace.
It’s interesting to note that the downfall of contrarian underdogs coincides with the 2012-13 NHL lockout, which resulted in a shortened 48-game season. Since the start of the lockout shortened season, teams receiving less than 35% of moneyline bets have gone just 781-1243 (-124.23 units lost) but some teams were affected far more than others. Although there were only 101 favorites who received this limited level of public support, they were actually very profitable for bettors.
In the past, we’ve discussed the value of fading the trendy underdog for a variety of sports, perhaps most frequently during March Madness. Although it’s extremely rare to find favorites who are being ignored by public bettors, we wanted to know whether this trend had been profitable in past years and what the sweet spot was for these contrarian favorites.
In fact, we quickly found that favorites receiving less than 35% of moneyline bets have gone 279-187 with +46.11 units won and a 9.9% return on investment (ROI). We also know that bettors tend to overreact to recent events, so we wanted to look at situations where the opposing team won their previous game. This would also help to explain why the betting public would be willing to support an underdog.
Although the number of past results are reduced by roughly 46.5%, the return on investment nearly doubles from 9.9% to 17.9%.
Previous research has also revealed that the juice becomes prohibitive on large moneyline favorites, so we wanted to know how various moneyline ranges had performed historically. This analysis revealed that 80.7% of our past system matches have come on favorites of -130 or less, which is also our optimal range based on ROI.
|Moneyline Range||Record||Units Won||ROI|
|-180 or less||159-90||+44.60||17.9%|
|-170 or less||157-89||+44.46||18.1%|
|-160 or less||156-87||+45.85||18.9%|
|-150 or less||152-83||+47.26||20.1%|
|-140 or less||144-80||+44.71||20.0%|
|-130 or less||132-73||+42.87||20.9%|
We mentioned the importance of consistent year-to-year results, and this system has been profitable in every season except for 2013-14 when it finished down less than a half unit.
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David Solar is the Content Manager for Sports Insights and can be reached directly at David@sportsinsights.com.