Stanley Cup Hockey Playoffs has been competitive

Apr 26, 2011 6:08 AM

The first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been competitive to say the least. In fact, we’ve only seen one four-game sweep and have two Game 7 matchups tonight.

One of my main concerns is the betting market. Bookmakers are reporting an increase in volume, and to their delight there have been plenty of dogs getting the money throughout this first round.

During the post-season for all sports, the betting market gets saturated with plenty of recreational bettors who tend to have a bias towards wagering on the favorites.

Because of this, odds makers will surely charge a premium to back most favorites, making the dogs attractive to plenty of wise guys.

What sharp bettors are looking for is value. The jerseys mean very little, and what matters most is the win probability when compared to the money line being offered. Win probability is determined by various handicapping methods mixed with plenty of information.

 When a sharp bettor determines a team has a 60% win probability, they know the break-even point is -150. Backing the team with that 60% chance of winning, the price needs to be offered at less than -150 for there to be any value.

 The market price is the point spreads/money lines and the companies/commodities are the teams. The easiest way to beat this market is to isolate value. Getting the best price over time will ultimately lead to profits.

Over the last 71 years the home teams have gone 80-53 in Game 7 of the NHL Playoffs for a winning percentage of .602.

Let’s take this a step further and focus on the first round. Over those same 71 years home teams have gone 28-21 in Game 7 which translated to a winning percentage of .571.

This converts to a money line of -133, meaning a bettor would’ve needed to lay less to turn a profit. On the flip side, by backing road teams in the above situations, bettors would’ve needed to get more than +150 and +133 respectively to beat the books long term.

Indeed, home is an advantage in Game 7. In sports like football and basketball the great equalizer is the point spread. In hockey and baseball the equalizer is the money line.

(Note: Vegas-Runner is a professional sports bettor and handicapper in Las Vegas. He’s been featured on CNBC & ESPN. Follow VR on Twitter @vegasrunner and at