In the year of the underdog, we have an interesting trend developing in the NHL. An interesting tweet came across my timeline last night regarding big favorites on the ice and it really stood out given all the talk of upsets and near-upsets.
Jonathan Davis, host of Ice Cap on NHL Network Radio for Sirius/XM, tweeted that -200 or higher favorites in the NHL are 34-7 on the season. The Bruins and Flames were both heavy chalk that won yesterday while everybody was focused on NFL Sunday.
We don’t have any favorites that fit the criteria with only two games tonight, but we should get some on Tuesday with 11 games on the card.
Most bettors don’t want to wager on heavy chalk. The idea of laying $200 to win $100 is a scary proposition and that’s why we see so many parlays in the marketplace with low bet amounts to win lottery ticket-esque prizes. I’m here to tell you that value is value in all of its forms and sometimes a -200 favorite should be -225 or -230 and that is still a bet worth making.
Because a lot of us don’t create our own numbers, we don’t necessarily know when a line is off on a big favorite, but the implied probability of a -200 favorite is 66.7%. If you think a favorite is winning that game more than two-thirds of the time, you can certainly make a case for betting it.
A lot of bettors will throw the moneyline favorites into a parlay and try to cut into the juice that way. There can be some equity in that strategy, if applied properly, but sometimes it might just make more sense to bite the bullet and take the big underdog on its own.
Betting odds don’t just get created out of thin air. There are spreadsheets and models and expectations and math and a lot of other elements that come together to create a number. The key word there is “expectation”. At its core, betting is an exercise in comparing your personal expectation to the market’s expectation. There will be differences of opinion and, therefore, mispriced lines. Whether the mispricing is yours or the sportsbook’s will determine your bottom line.
I’m not saying that this trend of heavy chalk cashing will continue. I’m not saying to blindly bet every -200 favorite. All I’m saying is that a lot of novice bettors will look at a big favorite and just immediately skip over that game to go on to something that looks more palatable. Don’t do that. Give every game a certain level of respect and consideration so that you aren’t leaving line equity and a potential winning wager on the table.