Sports betting is a game of skill. The challenge is to gather and analyze as much information as you can about a game, weigh the probabilities of each team winning, and subsequently compare your opinion to the oddsmaker’s opinion. Make the right judgment and you win. It’s as simple as that.
While luck may be a deciding factor in the outcome of any single game, and will inevitably go against you on occasion, it will balance out in the long run.
Being a consistent winner in sports betting is not about luck but whether you are prepared to invest the time and effort to become knowledgeable about the sports you bet on, whether you can weigh all the factors in a cool, objective fashion, and whether you adopt a consistent, disciplined, long-term approach to your betting. Do all these and you will come out a winner.
Remember, it’s you against the oddsmaker, not the bookmaker. The bookmaker is simply a middle-man who operates on a small profit margin and ideally likes to see half the money wagered on one team and half on the other, assuring him of a profit. If too much of the money goes on one team, the bookmaker will move the line or pointspread to encourage bets on the other team in an effort to balance his book.
The person you are attempting to beat is the oddsmaker and his views on each team’s chances. Just by flipping a coin you will be right 50 percent of the time.
Do your homework, bet selectively and 55 percent winning bets is definitely achievable and 60-65 percent is a realistic target. At those levels you will have an extremely profitable as well as enjoyable hobby.
THE BASICS OF HOCKEY BETTING
One team is typically favored over another by a goal spread called the puckline; the favorite gives the underdog goals as a head start, for betting purposes only.
The favorite is always indicated by a minus sign (-1) and the underdog by a plus sign (+2). The amount of points a bettor must give or take is estimated to be the amount which will generate equal wagering on both the underdog and the favorite.
For betting purposes, the result of the game is determined by taking the actual score and subtracting points from the favorite’s score or adding points to the underdog’s score. So, a favorite can win the game but lose for betting purposes and an underdog can lose the game but win for betting purposes.
For instance, if the Canadiens are -1 favorites versus the Senators, they must win by two goals for them to cover the puckline. If the Senators are +2 underdogs, they can lose by a goal and still beat the spread.
A bet on a matchup between two teams may be set by a moneyline instead of a goal spread. If a matchup is determined by a moneyline, then it will cost the bettor more to wager on the favorite.
For example, the Toronto Maple Leafs are a -150 favorite over the Ottawa Senators. In this example, the bettor must lay $150 in order to win $100. If Toronto loses, the bettor loses $150. However, the bettor could bet on Ottawa, in which case the bettor would lay $100 in order to win $140. If Ottawa loses, the bettor only loses $100.
The 10-dollar difference in payoffs between winning bets is the profit or juice made by the bookie or sportsbook. In this case, it is referred to as the 10-cent line or dime line. The difference could be larger or smaller depending on how two teams matchup.
The Canadian Line is a combination of puckline (goal spread) and moneyline. For example, in a game against the Calgary Flames, the Edmonton Oilers could have a Canadian line of -1/2 -150. In other words, the Oilers would be favored by a -goal, and if they win, a $100 bet on the Oilers would pay $150.
Conversely, the Oilers would be +1/2 +130. Thus, if Edmonton were to win, the payoff would be $130 on a $100 bet.
The Canadian Line is typically based on a 20-dollar difference between the payoff on the favorite and the payoff on the dog (20-cent line). When a team is heavily favored, the gap widens between the favorite and the underdog.
The Canadian Line can also appear as follows:
Leafs + 1/2 -135
Senators – 1/2 +115
In the above case, you have a situation where the underdog is getting a 1/2 puck, but you must risk losing $135 to win $100, and the favorite is giving a 1/2 a puck, but yet you are risking $ 100 to win $115.
A bettor can also bet whether the combined number of goals scored by the two teams in a game will be over or under the total set by the oddsmaker. For example, if the total is 7 and you believe that the combined points scored by the two teams will exceed that number, you would bet over. You would bet under if you believe the total goals score will be less than 7.
Sometimes there are favorites on totals, indicated by a moneyline. For example, in a game between the Canucks and Flames, the total could be listed as 5 over -130. In this example, a bettor taking the over would have to lay $130 to win $100.
A bettor taking the under is in effect betting the underdog and will potentially receive a larger return, in this case he would likely risk $100 to win $110.
If there is no moneyline indicated, the total has a “flat” line or is -110 whether wagering over or under, in which case a bettor would lay $110 to win $100 either way.
A parlay is a bet on two or more teams or selections (in Pro-Line it is a minimum of three teams or selections). In a parlay, your original stake and winnings are re-invested on the next game and all selections must be correct – one loss and your parlay loses.
In the event of a push (goal spread tie), game cancellation or postponement, the parlay reduces to the next lower number (e.g. a 4-team parlay becomes a 3-teamer). A winning parlay wager will pay many times more than the initial wager.
A teaser is a bet on two or more teams or selections. The difference between a teaser and a parlay is that in a teaser you adjust (tease) the line in your favor.
A future bet is a wager on an event or outcome that will be determined sometime in the future. For Example, a future bet might be made at the start of the season on Vancouver Canucks to win the Stanley Cup. Futures odds change continuously throughout the season – you get the odds in effect at the time you bet.
Similar to future bets, prop (proposition) bets are unique wager opportunities on events or occurrences, usually during a game or games. For instance, a prop wager could be something like this: Will Sydney Crosby score a goal in his first NHL game? Prop wagers typically use the moneyline format of payoff odds.
Odds can be expressed in three different formats: American, Decimal and Fractional.
Online bookmakers who focus on North American sports commonly use American odds. It is also the standard odds format for land-based sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Throughout all of our examples above, we’ve used American odds. American odds can be either positive or negative.
When the odds are positive, they show the potential profit on given bet. For example, betting $100 on Ottawa at odds of +180 returns a profit of $180.
Ottawa to beat Toronto at odds of +180
Profit: $100 x 180/100 = $180
Return: $100 x (1 + 180/100) = $280
When the odds are negative, they show how much you must stake to profit $100. Negative odds are generally found on favorites. For example, a strong team like Calgary would be favored against a weaker team like Edmonton. At -200 odds, you would need to bet $200 on Calgary to win $100.
Calgary to beat Edmonton at odds of -200
Profit: $200 x 100/200 = $100
Return: $200 x (1 + 100/200) = $300
Online bookmakers, particularly those focusing on Asia or Continental Europe, commonly use decimal odds. Many bettors like decimal odds for their clarity, simplicity and ease of calculation.
Decimal odds show the potential return on a bet of 1 unit. For example, if a team is given odds of 4.20, you would get back $4.20 on a bet of $1.
Ottawa to beat Toronto at odds of 2.80
Return: $100 x 2.80 = $280
Profit: $280 – $100 = $180
U.K. bookmakers have traditionally expressed their odds as fractions. Fractional odds are also commonly used by the news media when reporting on sporting events.
Fractional odds show the potential profit on given bet (unlike decimal odds, which show the potential return).
Ottawa to beat Toronto at odds of 9/5
Profit: 9/5 x $100 = $180
Return: (9/5 +1) x $100 = $280