One Theory on How to Bet NHL Game Totals

One Theory on How to Bet NHL Game Totals article feature image
Credit:

Photo Credit: Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

I’m a football guy. I know almost nothing about hockey, but football is over, and my bankroll isn’t going to bet itself, so I’ve started poking around the Bet Labs tools to see if I can find some exploitable edges when it comes to NHL wagering.

As it happens, I’ve found one — and it can be taken advantage of today.

Knowing what not to do is just as important as (and maybe more important than) knowing what to do. If you can eliminate habitually unfavorable bets, you give yourself a better chance of not losing money.

Historically, it’s not a +EV move in the aggregate to bet the overs on NHL game totals.

And there’s more.

The Overs Are Horrible

Bet Labs has NHL betting data going back to 2006. If you had blindly bet $100 on the over for every game since then, you’d be $52,923 in the hole. In the 12 full seasons in our database, only one campaign has rewarded over bettors with a profit: If in 2013-14 you had bet a total of $132,100 on the over for all 1,321 games played that season, you would have earned a paltry $696 for your efforts.

As a point of comparison: Under bettors have profited in half of the past 12 years.

Overs are horrible. Unders have historically been much better.

I’m not suggesting that you should rush to bet the under on every NHL game, but of the two sides the under is historically the more advantageous. On top of that, there’s an under-leaning opportunity regularly available in the wagering markets. If I can get a discount on the side that tends to be more profitable anyway, that’s something I’d be inclined to consider.

Gain a Game Total Edge: Bet the Slate

I’m writing this on the afternoon of February 6, 2018. Here are the live odds for the 11 NHL games taking place tonight.

  • Ducks-Sabres: 5.5 total, -130 under
  • Flyers-Hurricanes: 5.5 total, -125 under
  • Capitals-Blue Jackets: 5.5 total, -120 under
  • Golden Knights-Penguins: 6.0 total, -115 under
  • Bruins-Red Wings: 5.5 total, -130 under
  • Devils-Senators: 5.5 total, -120 under
  • Canucks-Panthers: 5.5 total, -115 under
  • Wild-Blues: 5.5 total, -145 under
  • Coyotes-Jets: 5.5 total, -120 under
  • Flames-Blackhawks: 6.0 total, -120 under
  • Sharks-Avalanche: 5.5 total, -120 under

Here’s something to notice: Every game has juice on the under. There’s not a -110 to be seen. If I had to bet, I’d say that in the aggregate the total number of goals for this slate will be less than the sum of all the game totals. If we add up all of the game totals, we get a sum of 61.5 for the slate. If we average the consensus over/under odds for all the games, we get a -123.6 on the slate-wide under.

Now here’s what’s intriguing. At some sportsbooks — such as BetDSI and MyBookie — the slate total is inflated an extra goal to 62.5, and it’s only -110 to bet the under. Given that the under tends to be the sharp side anyway, it seems like a no-brainer to bet the under. The line is more forgiving, the odds are better, and the risk of variance is mitigated because more games are included in the bet.

I have no idea whether these individual game totals are sharp or whether the juice is optimally distributed. I do, however, know that this opportunity presents itself almost every day, and when I see it I’ll be highly inclined to bet it.