Sports Information: Ice Hockey
WHY BET ON ICE HOCKEY?
Ice hockey's global appeal as a fast-paced sport, together with extensive television coverage in the USA, Canada and Europe, make it a popular betting proposition.
BACKGROUND TO ICE HOCKEY
If baseball is America's favourite pastime, then ice hockey is like a religion in Canada. The game is played by two teams of six who attempt to hit a hard rubber puck into their opponent's goal during the course of three twenty minute periods of play. With thirty franchised clubs (twenty-three in America and seven in Canada), The National Hockey League (NHL) is considered to be the best professional ice hockey league in the world. By its nature, ice hockey is most popular in countries which tend to have cold winters.
THE GAME TODAY
Sixty- eight countries are now members of the International Ice Hockey Federation and, although the USA, Russia and Canada have the greatest following, smaller countries, such as Sweden and the Czech Republic, also have proud Olympic histories.
TOP TIPS FOR BETTING ON ICE HOCKEY
The majority of the estimated $3 billion annual betting turnover takes place in the USA. European bookmakers and exchanges also offer ante-post markets on the Olympics and the Stanley Cup although betting markets outside the USA and Canada are relatively weak. The main event is The Stanley Cup, the premier NHL team competition played out to significant TV audiences.
Watch as many games as possible to familiarise yourself with the sport
Check prices between bookmakers and exchanges and select the best odds
Look to hedge your ante post-bets if they're doing well
Assess the impact of injuries to key players
ANTE POST BETTING
There is a big ante-post market in the Americas for the Stanley Cup. The competition involves a lot of teams and generally produces an open market, as shown by the following ante-post odds for the 2014/15 trophy as at 14th November 2014:
Stanley Cup Outright Winner
Vancouver Canucks 8.0
Boston Bruins 8.0
Detroit Red Wings 8.0
New York Rangers 9.0
Pittsburgh Penguins 13.0
The most familiar market is Match Odds (also known as Moneyline). In this market, you identify the winning team. For example, the Boston Bruins are playing against the Vancouver Canucks. The Boston Bruins are priced at 1.25 (or 1/4), and the Vancouver Canucks are priced at 5 (4/1). If you decide to back the Boston Bruins for £10, you receive £12.5 if they win (ie your £10 stake plus £2.5 profit). If they lose, your £10 stake is lost. In the standard Match Odds market, if there is a draw, the match usually goes to overtime and your Moneyline bet carries over. However, there is also a separate market where you can bet on Boston, Vancouver or a draw.
Overs and Unders
Another popular market is the over/under market where you predict goal totals for the whole game. If you think there will be 5 or more goals, and then you back 'Over 4.5' goals to be scored in the game. In Ice Hockey, there are a variety of over/under markets ranging from 'Over 1.5' goals to 'Over 7.5' goals. In betting exchanges, new markets can also be created in-play.
You can also bet on the number of goals scored by individual teams. This could be a better option if you believe that one team is likely to dominate.
First Team to Score
Here, you simply back the team you believe will score first.
Handicapping is very popular because it creates an even match when one doesn't naturally exist. Giving a team a one, two or even three goal start creates a variety of betting opportunities. Handicapping can be difficult to grasp, but here's an illustration –
If Vancouver Canuks are +1.5 on the handicap, and you back them, these are the possible scenarios -
Game ends in a draw: If the actual game ends in a draw, then Vancouver win by 1.5 goals on your bet and you win. (1.5-0, 2.5-1, 3.5-2, etc.)
Vancouver Win: If Vancouver win 4-2, then your bet wins by 5.5-2. You win your bet regardless of Vancouver's actual winning margin
Vancouver lose by 1 goal: If Vancouver lose by 1 goal, by the score of 2-3 for example, then your bet ends up 3.5-3, and you will still win your bet despite Vancouver losing.
Vancouver lose by 2 or more goals: If lose by 2 goals or more, by the score of 4-6 for example, then your bet ends up 5.5-6, and thus you will lose your bet. You will lose your bet if Vancouver win by 2 goals or more.
Match Odds - Period
As well as trying to predict the outcome for the whole game, you can bet on the outcome of each period. This can create different strategies - a team that is 4-0 up after two periods may decide to sit on its lead in the last period.
Over and Unders - Period
Another popular market is the over/under market where you predict goal totals for the whole game. If you think there will be 5 or more goals, then you back 'Over 4.5' goals to be scored in the game. In Ice Hockey, there are a variety of over/under markets ranging from 'Over 1.5' goals to 'Over 7.5' goals. In betting exchanges, new markets can also be created in-play.
There are a range of popular spread markets on ice hockey including -
Goals scored over a season by player
Goals scored over a season by team
IN PLAY BETTING
Most fixed odds are also offered for in-play betting, but additional bets include -
Predicting a nominated player's score at the next hole
Predicting the winner of the next hole (two-ball and three-ball competitions)
An Example of In-Play Betting
Retief Goosen is one of golf’s most consistent players. He was 25/1 to win the 2005 US Open. Steve bet £10 to win at those odds. Going into the last round, Retief was three shots clear of the field and his odds had reduced to 3/1. Steve called the betting exchange and bet £90 to win £30 that Goosen would not win as a hedge against his original bet. Goosen had a nightmare round, carding an 81. Because of his hedging bet, Steve still won. He bet £100 in total and collected £120. Had Goosen won the tournament, Steve would have made £160.