Hockey Betting Strategy

Hockey Betting Strategy: Avoiding Bets on the Original Six

Contrary to what some novice hockey bettors think, oddsmakers don't favor teams that they think will win. Instead, they favor teams that the public thinks will win in order to balance out action on both sides of the line. Here's an illustrate for new bettors:

Boston Bruins  -220
Columbus Blue Jackets  +190

Here the Bruins are fairly large favorites because people would have to risk $220 just to win $100 in profit. Because bookmakers think that the public will heavily favor Boston to win, they make a wager on the Bruins less attractive. On the other hand, the underdog Blue Jackets are paying out $190 in profit for every $100 wagered.

Now, as mentioned before, this doesn't necessarily mean that all oddsmakers think Boston is a lock to win. They just believe that there's enough factors present to convince Joe Public that the Bruins will be a winner.

One thing worth noting is that not all of these factors have to do with in-game factors like the goalie, star scorers, defense and penalty-killing units. Instead, some teams are favored more by the public just because of their history and long-standing reputation. This is especially the case with the "Original Six," which we'll discuss before.

Why the Public loves the Original Six

The Original Six are the six teams that comprised the NHL between the 1942-43 and 1967, when the NHL expanded. This group includes the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and the Toronto Maple Leafs. These teams have withstood the test of time and developed a large fan base over the decades.

As you may know from any form of sports betting, teams with large fan bases draw more bettors on average. And this definitely holds true with these six teams because they draw lots of TV coverage, have fans from all over the world, and get more attention than most other clubs.

These clubs are also from large metropolitan areas, which heavily contributes to their fan base. New York City has a metropolitan area of 18.9 million people, Chicago has around 9.5 million, Toronto is home to 5.6 million, Boston has 4.6 million, Detroit houses 4.3 million and Montreal has 3.8 million people. So when you combine Original Six status with a large market, you're going to see a lot of the public favoring these teams.

How this affects Online Sportsbooks

Bookmakers know that any time they have a game featuring a member of the Original Six, they have to adjust accordingly. To illustrate an example, let's say that Montreal wasn't an original team and oddsmakers would give them the following odds against the Phoenix Coyotes:

Montreal Canadiens  -150
Phoenix Coyotes  +130

Here bookmakers think that Montreal would be favored by the public, but not by much. Now let's look at how the books might view the Canadiens with their Original Six status:

Montreal Canadiens  -170
Phoenix Coyotes  +155

As you can see from our illustration, bookies have adjusted the line on both sides to make Phoenix a more attractive wager. But if Montreal weren't an Original Six member, they would go with the first line. Sure this is just a fictional example, but it highlights the potential value you can get by betting against these high-profile teams.

What to do about the Original Six

Obviously you shouldn't just wager against Original Six clubs every time and expect a soft line. After all, the Toronto Maple Leafs could be struggling badly and run into the Washington Capitals, who are having a great year. In this case, even Maple Leafs fans are going to need great odds to wager on their favorite team.

So you need to research these games just like any other contest. But the overall point is that when you see Original Six games, they're worth looking into because there could be some good value.