With the new year just started, many of us are looking to better our lives – particularly those of us who follow sports betting. Perhaps you’ve heard of the term “New Year’s resolution,” and were planning on following suit. If so, then you might be wondering how you should interpret a betting line when placing a wager. Here’s some general advice:
Never Underestimate The Power Of Reading Stats
One of the great things about sports betting is all the information it provides, even if you aren’t familiar with a specific sport. For those of us who follow baseball, for example, we can get a lot of useful information just from looking at the box score. The same goes for those who follow the NFL or the NBA. Even if you’re not a huge hockey fan, it’s likely you’ve heard of the Montreal Canadiens, whose games are often featured on TV. The same goes for the Toronto Maple Leafs (and their fans).
With so much information at our disposal, it’s essential we use it effectively. One way to do this is to simply read the stats. Take a look at the box score for the Toronto Maple Leafs’ game on January 2. As we’ve established, many people love hockey, and it’s not hard to see why. The stats for this game tell a story:
- Maple Leafs – Shots on goal: 29, Saves: 16
- Detroit Red Wings – Shots on goal: 31, Saves: 18
- Austria – Goals: 2 (0/2)
- Belgium – Goals: 0 (0/1)
The first thing you’ll likely notice is how few goals were scored. The Red Wings had several opportunities but only managed to score two goals. This makes them the outlier on this particular day. The team that generally scores the most goals in a game is the Toronto Maple Leafs. This is because they tend to cycle the puck more than any other team. They also have one of the best strikers in the world in Connor McDavid. These two traits – cycling and finishers – allow the Maple Leafs to put the puck in the net more than any other team.
If we look at the stats for the Montreal Canadiens in this same game, we get a similar story. Only this time, it’s a little different. The Canadiens had 29 shots on goal but only managed to score one goal. They also managed to save 34 of the 38 shots they faced. Those familiar with hockey will know that the save percentage is much more effective in determining how well a goalie did than the number of shots he faced. The stats don’t lie: The Canadiens have one of the best goalies in all of hockey, and he showed it in this game.
Another way to utilize the information at our disposal is to research the teams and players that we’re unfamiliar with. While it’s great to be able to root for players and teams we’re familiar with, it’s important not to underestimate the power of research. Take the Arizona Coyotes for example. They’re generally considered to be one of the best rebuilding teams in the league, and they’ve been doing a great job. But did you know that they’re a perfect 10-0 when playing the Anaheim Ducks? It’s because most people don’t follow the Coyotes, and vice versa. It’s also possible that the Ducks are just better than the average team – they’re certainly worthy of respect. We’ll never know because nobody stats the Ducks’ games. That way, the information is all ours.
Watch What The Other Teams Are Doing
You probably know the expression “One man’s meat is another man’s poison,” and it’s fitting that hockey is often described as “The great equalizer.” If we think about it, the only difference between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens is that one is considered an “offensive” team and the other is considered a “defensive” team. This can be a little misleading. While the Habs focus on solid defensive play, the Maple Leafs definitely have the better offense, at least in terms of scoring goals. This doesn’t mean that the other team isn’t doing anything, it just means that they’re not putting up the points that the Maple Leafs are.
In order to be successful in sports betting, it’s important that we look at the big picture. This means looking at the stats for all the games and comparing them to what we expect will happen in the game in question. For instance, if we see that the total is 35 and we have $100 to place on the UNDER, then we know that the OVER is going to win by at least three goals. A good rule of thumb is to take the number of points scored in a game as a pointer to how successful the OVER will be in that game. In the example above, the OVER would have won by three goals because the opposing team only scored one goal while the Habs only had two goals.
This all leads us to our next point: It’s important to learn how to read – and trust – statistics. There are many people who will try to pull the wool over your eyes, particularly if you’re new to betting. Make sure that you don’t get sucked into simply looking at the final score. As we saw with the Toronto-Montreal game, that doesn’t provide us with all the information we need to form an opinion. The same goes for all the other teams we might look at when placing a wager: It would be a shame to throw away our statistics simply because we got caught up in the emotion of the day.
Learn The Trends
It’s always important to follow the rules, but it’s also important to know when to break them. For example, back in November, the Detroit Red Wings had one of the best records in the league. Since then, they’ve only won four games and have struggled mightily, particularly at home, where they’ve only won once, compared to six wins on the road, where they’ve played most of their games. This is a prime example of how following a “formula”, as they say in sports gambling circles, can work against you.
Knowing when to break the rules is a key to being a successful sports bettor. One of the best things about sports betting is how quickly things change. This was especially apparent in the 2018 NBA Playoffs. As the first round of playoffs came to a close, many people saw the underdogs, such as the Bucks and the Raptors, and said that they would not stand a chance against the juggernauts that were the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The second round of the playoffs didn’t live up to the first, as the underdogs, such as the Milwaukee Bucks and the Toronto Raptors, advanced to the next round.
During the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, similar skepticism surrounded the Boston Bruins. People thought that the Tampa Bay Lightning would pose a serious challenge to the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run. Boy, were they wrong. The Bruins absolutely torched the Lightning, winning the series in five games. People need to realize that trends change, and, generally speaking, the over/under is the type of stat that can mislead you if you aren’t careful.
One of the best things about the NHL is how competitive the games are. This is especially apparent during the regular season, where there’s often a competitive balance between the teams. For instance, the New York Rangers have never been considered one of the great Montreal Canadiens teams, but they’ve won a lot of hockey games thanks to a great goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. This wasn’t always the case. In fact, the two teams have only one win each in the last 15 years. (Montreal won in 2007.)
Since then, the tide has turned, and, currently, the teams are even, at least for now. Hopefully, we’ll see more balanced matchups this year.