You’ve got two kinds of people in the hockey betting scene: the ones who spend a day off from the NHL groaning and complaining (like on a Tuesday break), and the ones who roll up their sleeves to sharpen their betting game during downtime.
Ironically, most of the people who fall into the former category haven’t even taken the time to learn the ABCs of sports gambling let alone the NHL betting market. Then again, most of the ‘experts’ haven’t spent the time learning the fundamentals of gambling, either, so the bar has been set extremely low.
In fact, a lot of the bad habits that I see novice bettors make are learned behaviors, taught to them by people who should be attending a gambling class, not teaching one. Fortunately, I was hired to make hockey fans smarter sports bettors, and that’s what I’m going to do, by providing you with information that will help you make more informed bets.
Don’t Fall For The Illusion of Choice
Nowadays, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of ways that hockey fans can get in on the action, but there’s an illusion of choice because NHL betting markets are correlated. What this means is that the various betting options, such as the moneyline and puck line, work in tandem rather than independently.
So, even though there may be numerous betting options and strategies to consider in each game, that really isn’t the case unless a bettor has an understanding of the interconnected nature of these markets and the underlying probabilities that they represent.
The general rule that bettors should follow is: If one betting market is ‘off’, they all are.
Trust Your Gut
One of the most common mistakes that novice bettors make is that they ignore their intuition. Now, I’m not saying that anybody should ‘bet with their gut’, that’s a terrible idea, but trusting your gut is a different thing entirely.
Let’s take the puck line, for example. Have you ever wanted to bet a team to win the game outright (moneyline) but later found out they were a big favourite (e.g. -230) and decided the odds were too expensive?
That’s your gut telling you that it’s not a good bet, but most bettors ‘get creative’ and look for other ways to ‘attack’ the board. They opt to bet the big favourite to cover the puck line or win in regulation at longer odds instead. This is total nonsense.
Listen to your gut, which just told you that the team wasn’t a value bet based on their moneyline odds, and follow the general rule mentioned above.
In other words, if the moneyline odds don’t offer any value, betting on the puck line and/or the regulation line is a bad idea, too. In fact, it’s square betting personified. Besides, it’s not like betting on big favourites to cover the puck line (-1.5) is a wise strategy. You should only bet on a team to cover the puck line if you really like them, meaning you also think the moneyline is a value bet.
Home favourites have covered the puck line just 36% of the time year-to-date at average odds of +150 or 40%. Even the big home favourites (-150 or higher on the moneyline) have covered the puck line just 37.5% of the time at average odds of +120.
Meanwhile, road favourites have covered the puck line at a 41% clip with average odds of 38% or +163, which isn’t as surprising when you learn that the home team has only won seven more times in regulation than the away team (115-108-55) so far this season.
Win, Lose, Or Draw
Speaking of regulation. There is more evidence of inflation in the three-way moneyline market, as the home team’s implied odds for a regulation win average out around 44% but they’re only getting the job done 41% of the time.
Bigger home favourites (-150 or higher) have performed even worse relative to the odds, only winning in regulation 50% of the time, despite the fact that their odds averaged out at approximately 56%, while bigger road favourites have won approximately 61% of the games in regulation at average odds of 55.3% or -124.
So, if anything, bettors should be looking toward the road team more often than the home team if they want to bet the puck line or the 60-minute line, as the odds are typically shaded toward the home team.
Don’t forget to tune into The Puck Portfolio live at 11:30 A.M. ET on weekdays on the Canada Sports Betting YouTube channel to get free NHL projections and picks to help inform your handicapping and hockey betting.