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AN NHL PRIMER

This article is intended to serve as an introduction to those who either need a refresher course on hockey or haven’t been realizing the positive expectations we at betbubbles have been from our National Hockey League wagers. Hockey is a vastly growing sport that provides incredible action, excitement and best of all, provides a positive wagering expectation for the handicapper. Perhaps just as good is the fact that they drop the puck everyday which provides enough action for the discerning player to really capitalize. The sheer volume of games also allows us to amplify the success of solid handicapping and we do so on a nightly basis. Let’s assume that you are all familiar with the basics of hockey and how the game is played and how to bet on it. The purpose today is to explain the Line and draw some similarities to other sports you may already be investing in the outcomes of.

The two most common betting lines for hockey are 1. a hybrid of the Pointspread like football and the Money Line like baseball but, for most of us, it is simply referred to as a ‘Canadian Line’ and 2. the straight ‘Money Line’ as used in baseball. This is the line that we will be basing the majority of our plays on. Back to the linemaker, other lines that exist include the Puck Line (also referred to as the Split Line) where there are two different ‘point-spreads’, one for the favorite and one for the dog. Too many names for three basic betting lines may be part of the confusion in betting on the NHL. First we will detail the Puck or Split Line for your edification.

 

  • Puck Line/Split Line (example)
                                 New York Rangers    +1/2
                                 Los Angeles Kings   - 1

With the Puck or Split Line the house makes it’s money when games land “on the split” – in the above example you risk $110 to win $110 on either side. This example shows that the house makes money when the game ends up 4-3 for the Kings in addition to the vig. Everyone who risked money on the Kings gets their investment returned and those who bet on New York lose by the half goal. The house wins on one side and pushes on the other, thus making themselves a very nice profit. Typically we can expect the final score to land “on the split” about 12-13% of the time. If the line were Even and -1/2, a tie would then favor the house. With the score ending up “on the split” 12-13% of the time that means that there are 12-13%, or about 150, fewer games that the investor can win. On the Puck Line the theoretical hold percentage is about 7 percent for the house, not a good line for the bettor. Now onto the more common Canadian Line which we will delve into,

 

  • Canadian Line (example)
                                 New York Rangers    +1/2    +120
                                 Los Angeles Kings   -1/2    -140

Obviously the house makes its money now by paying out less than it takes in. The New York bettor will risk $100 to profit $120 and get a half a goal. If you like the Kings you have to give up the 1/2 goal and risk $140 to profit $100. The money line can be adjusted by the house in an attempt to balance it’s books and discourage or encourage wagers on a particular side. With the Canadian Line the theoretical hold percentage is between 3 and 4 percent for the house.

Roughly 13-14% of all NHL games end in a tie and about 27% are won by one goal – these are important numbers to know when betting into any hockey lines.

 

  • Money Line (example)
                                 New York Rangers    PK  +160
                                 Los Angeles Kings   PK  -180

The Money Line (which we will be using) has the same premise as the above-noted Canadian Line but without laying or getting the half goal. Similar to Baseball, teams are even (ie. no pointspread) when the puck is dropped and the winner side is also the winner for wagering purposes. The risk to the player is the money laid on the favorite or price taken on the dog In the above example a tie would Push both sides and money is returned to the bettors, regardless of the side they selected.

It is important to note that a goal in hockey is usually regarded as being worth 80-85 cents on the money line and a half goal is worth 40-45 cents. The Money Line is usually more favorable for the player but we still need to shop for value, as always. If the only line you can find is the Canadian Line it is simple to equate this to our selections.

 

If our Money Line release is this: Los Angeles Kings PK -160The equivalent Canadian Line is: Los Angeles Kings -1/2 -115

As you can see a half goal is worth 45 cents so -1/2 -115 is equal to (-45 + -115) PK -160! Hope this helps.

Wagering on the NHL is exciting and dynamic because there are so many variables to account for and the truly astute player will find value often. Value is what we at Joe Gunn Sports are after and it is more tangible in hockey than almost any other sport. The basic handicapping principles that a handicapper would apply to basketball, football and baseball all apply to hockey betting – it is that dynamic! The fact that the linemaker utilizes a Canadian Line that encompasses football, basketball and baseball lines support this point. In basketball the schedule and ‘superstar’ matchups parallel their ice cousins. In hockey you will see defensemen and defensive experts assigned to “shadow” and shut down an opposing sharpshooter just as you would see a defensive forward in basketball tasked with shutting down the other teams’ star forward. This “chess game” within the hockey game starts when line changes are designed to either get, or avoid, a certain line matchup. Home teams in hockey have the last line-change before all face-offs so they can get the personnel out that they want. Because of the similar number of games played, use of the schedule is also similar in both hockey and basketball as you can ‘circle’ games ahead of time identifying a potentially road-weary opponent visiting a well-rested host, something that is often missed by the casual/recreational handicapper. This alone will turn up value during a season. Similar now to football, hockey games are impacted by many more players than other sports and these ‘extras’ play crucial roles. Basketball teams may go 7 players deep but hockey teams use 3-4 lines of three players regularly and 3 or more defensive pairings to go with the goalie (that’s at least 16 important players) In baseball a pitcher can be up to 70% of the betting line and actually have that much impact on the outcome of the game – in hockey, goalies such as Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres seem to win games, and Olympic Gold medals, almost single-handily. A Pedro Martinez on ice, if you will.

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