The NHL, Betting Against the Public, and Thoughts on Betting System Development

NHL Data from 2005-2007 (Past two seasons)

Many may not know it — but the latest NHL season has started.  The NHL has declined in popularity over the years.  However, many sports investors are excited to have the NHL season start.  The NHL offers many profit opportunities — with many teams playing many games.  While the NFL and College Football remain very popular, football teams play many fewer games in a season.

As you may know,  the NHL entered a “New Era” for the 2005-2006 season, instituting some major rule changes — after the year lost to 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.  Our article reflects these changes and uses only data since the “New NHL’s” 2005-2006 Season.  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.

Research and Betting System Development

Last year, SportsInsights published an article about “Betting Against the Public” and the NHL.  The research was based on only one season due to the strike.  Although the article was based on just one season, the data set DID consist of about 1500 games, which made us feel comfortable.  However, results for fading the Public were mediocre last year — so we wanted to review the thought process that goes into developing an investment strategy.  For this, we asked our researchers at to help co-author this article.

When you study a betting system — or any systematic approach to making decisions — it is good to have a logical reason for the system you want to use.  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, one filter that helps “fading the public” results is to take a narrower range of odds.

Another source of “logical systems” is to look at what academic research has shown in the past.  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.
  • Because the NHL seems like a slightly different animal, we would like YOUR input on profiting in the NHL marketplace.  We’ll start a thread on our forum.

Betting Against the Public — NHL

Last year, we looked at how “Betting Against the Public” fared in the -170 to +170 (Home odds) range. Now, with more than twice the amount of data (about 3,000 games), we see that this range can be reduced to -140 to +140.  However, we are unhappy about this “moving target” within the NHL results and will keep an eye on results.  Overall, we do believe that:

  • Contrarian approaches can help investors identify “value.”
  • The NHL market might be “less efficient,” offering more biases and profit opportunities for “sharp” sports investors.

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.

Table 1: NHL and Betting Against the Public (-140 to +140 Range) (2005-2007, Two seasons)

Betting % Units W/L ROI Win % Num Games
50%  +7.3 0.8% 50.6% 848
45%  +33.9 5.6% 52.6% 605
40% +21.0 5.0% 51.9% 422
35% +12.3 5.0% 51.4% 245

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.