Jun 14 2022
The Stanley Cup Final is going to be a series where veterans meet rookies. I already discussed the topic in the very first post of the 2022 playoffs and predicted that the theme of this postseason could very well be experience against inexperience. And now we have Tampa Bay Lightning who are looking for a "threepeat" up against the new generation from Colorado Avalanche.
It's rare to even reach the finals three times in a row: with a win, Tampa would achieve something exceptional — it was the 1980-1983 New York Islanders who won the Cup four in a row the last time. What an epic final series we're about to witness!
In the NHL, a berth in the SCF requires sacrifices, effort, and even a little luck, to beat the other teams that all fit into a very small marginal. But for the two finalists, it has looked easy sometimes. Colorado, the team with the home advantage and the favorite for winning the Cup, has swept two teams these playoffs — Edmonton in the previous round and Nashville in the opening round. In fact, they have lost only two postseason games so far this Spring.
At the Eastern Conference, Tampa Bay has made their opponents look soft; they swept the President Trophy winner Florida Panthers and won four in a row against an out-of-puff Rangers team. However, the first-round series (that seemed like a warm-up round for Tampa 😎) against Toronto was decided in the game seven overtime, i.e., Tampa has also faced some adversity during the spring.
It's tougher than ever. Both teams deploy the team spirit, firepower, and superstars that win you Cups.
Colorado boasts star forwards Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog, and Nazem Kadri, but also Artturi Lehkonen and Valeri Nichushkin have emerged as difference makers. Nevertheless, it's their star defenceman Cale Makar who actually leads the Avalanche in scoring!
The top dogs at Tampa Bay are their captain and goal scorer Steven Stamkos, scoring virtuoso Nikita Kucherov, and star defenceman Victor Hedman. Moreover, Tampa has Andrei Vasilevski between the pipes, an elite goaltender that every team would want to have as their starter.
Colorado has the home rink advantage, and they are well-rested and prepared for taking down the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning. Colorado must feel confident: they won both occasions when they met the Bolts during the regular season. However, I believe that both teams are aware that the regular season means absolutely nothing in the heat of the finals.
|Colorado Avalanche||51.41 %||1.95|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||48.59 %||2.06|
As always in a playoff bracket, the winning trend will continue for one team — are the Bolts able to roll to the finish line like a dynasty and "threepeat" a 🏆 run, or can the Avs continue to dominate their opponents and win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 21 years?
May 31 2022
And then there were only four teams, two Conference Finals, and one Stanley Cup winner left. The puck will drop tonight to kick-off the WCF, and the ECF will start on the next day!
It's exciting to see both teams — Colorado and Edmonton — advancing to the Western Conference Finals after fairly long droughts. Edmonton reached the 3rd round last time in 2006, when they eventually lost the Finals. On the other side of the rink, Colorado lost their previous Conference Finals in 2002 (after winning the Cup in the previous season). Edmonton's latest Stanley Cup winning season is from over three decades ago, 1990.
In the East, we have familiar faces from the Tampa Bay, who dominantly sweeped the President Trophy winning Panthers. In contrast, Rangers required all 7 games to defeat Carolina in a very tight series that featured six home team wins (except for the dramatic game seven). I have to mention the fatique factor here: Rangers will have only two days of rest before the game 1, while Tampa has been loading their "lightning fast" batteries for over a week!
|Colorado Avalanche||51.04 %||1.96|
|Edmonton Oilers||48.96 %||2.04|
|New York Rangers||49.43 %||2.02|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||50.57 %||1.98|
When looking things league-wide, it's interesting how Colorado has been the Cup favorite for the past two rounds, while they were ranked 4th at the beginning of 2022 playoffs. If they advance to the Finals, they have the material for beating the East favorite Tampa, who are looking for a "threepeat". I have to say, even though the third round is yet to be played, Tampa looked scaringly solid against the Panthers, and Vasilevsky has an amazing goals-against record in his past seven elimination games: 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 1, 0. So be it Colorado or Edmonton who makes their way to the final, they will meet the toughest opponent of the playoffs there.
May 17 2022
What you can say, we've witnessed an epic first round: five game sevens, from which two were decided in overtime! Based on the Conference QF (and our prediction probabilities), the margins will be even smaller in the following rounds.
It's nice to see some fresh new teams advancing to round 2. That being said, it's also tough to watch a team like Toronto to go through rough times like they currently are. But in the NHL, everything has to be earned. Let's see which teams earn a spot in the Conference Finals!
|Colorado Avalanche||51.85 %||1.93|
|St. Louis Blues||48.15 %||2.08|
|Calgary Flames||50.91 %||1.96|
|Edmonton Oilers||49.09 %||2.04|
|Carolina Hurricanes||52.17 %||1.92|
|New York Rangers||47.83 %||2.09|
|Florida Panthers||51.02 %||1.96|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||48.98 %||2.04|
May 2 2022
Just like every previous season, we'll post series winner predictions and odds for every playoff round. Let's kick off the playoffs!
All of our playoff predictions below are derived from regular season performance (read our post from a couple of seasons back to understand why). Here we go:
|Florida Panthers||52.4 %||1.91|
|Washington Capitals||47.6 %||2.1|
|Carolina Hurricanes||52.49 %||1.91|
|Boston Bruins||47.51 %||2.1|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||51.14 %||1.96|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||48.86 %||2.05|
|New York Rangers||49.87 %||2.01|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||50.13 %||1.99|
|Colorado Avalanche||53.63 %||1.86|
|Nashville Predators||46.37 %||2.16|
|Minnesota Wild||52.73 %||1.9|
|St. Louis Blues||47.27 %||2.12|
|Calgary Flames||53.44 %||1.87|
|Dallas Stars||46.56 %||2.15|
|Los Angeles Kings||49.28 %||2.03|
|Edmonton Oilers||50.72 %||1.97|
The Eastern Conference is tougher than ever. All eight teams entered into the playoffs by a clear margin: New York Islanders were 16 points behind the Capitals "battling" for the final postseason berth. Moreover, all Eastern teams had either an excellent regular season or are seasoned playoff veterans with a recent track record for success, so expect the round 1 to be phenomenal.
The margins weren't that large in the Western Conference, where Vegas missed the last wild card spot by three points. The overall bracket seems similar to the East, though: teams that have recently gone deep in the playoffs (St. Louis, Dallas, L.A., Nashville) are challenging the new generation: Colorado, Calgary, Edmonton and Minnesota.
Maybe the theme of the 2022 playoffs will be about experience vs. inexperience.
May 2 2022
📣 We will update the latest Cup winner predictions here in this post, as the playoffs progress.
Finally the playoffs are normalized — the Spring culminates with playoff hockey just like it did before Covid-19. Say goodbye to corona-tailored divisions and playoff pairs. Let's drop the puck already! 🏒
Florida dominated the regular season but still has a lot to prove in the playoffs. Carolina ended the regular season with a surge and is looking for first round success against recent Cup winners, Penguins: last season the Canes were eliminated by Tampa Bay...
Calgary and Colorado are the clear favorites from the Western Conference. Minnesota has an outstanding regular season behind them, but they haven't recently excelled in the playoffs.
Toronto is statistically the Cup favorite, but the Maple Leafs haven't won a playoff series since spring 2004...
Tampa has won the Cup twice in a row now. In 2020, we predicted Tampa would win it all, and they did. Last season we didn't predict them to hoist the Cup at the beginning of the playoffs, although we had them as the favorite in each of their series. This season, Tampa is only in the middle of the pack in the forecasts: "three-peating" will be very hard, especially given how solid every playoff team in the Eastern Conference is.
|Colorado Avalanche||51.41 %||1.95|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||48.59 %||2.06|
|Colorado Avalanche||26.25 %||3.81|
|Edmonton Oilers||25.17 %||3.97|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||24.57 %||4.07|
|New York Rangers||24.01 %||4.16|
|Colorado Avalanche||13.13 %||7.62|
|Carolina Hurricanes||12.91 %||7.75|
|Calgary Flames||12.81 %||7.81|
|Florida Panthers||12.63 %||7.92|
|Edmonton Oilers||12.35 %||8.1|
|St. Louis Blues||12.19 %||8.2|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||12.13 %||8.24|
|New York Rangers||11.83 %||8.45|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||6.66 %||15.02|
|Carolina Hurricanes||6.62 %||15.11|
|Calgary Flames||6.62 %||15.11|
|Colorado Avalanche||6.59 %||15.17|
|Minnesota Wild||6.52 %||15.34|
|Florida Panthers||6.49 %||15.41|
|Edmonton Oilers||6.41 %||15.6|
|Boston Bruins||6.36 %||15.72|
|St. Louis Blues||6.23 %||16.05|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||6.16 %||16.23|
|New York Rangers||6.13 %||16.31|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||5.99 %||16.69|
|Washington Capitals||5.89 %||16.98|
|Dallas Stars||5.85 %||17.09|
|Los Angeles Kings||5.77 %||17.33|
|Nashville Predators||5.7 %||17.54|
Check out our Stanley Cup winner predictions from last season to see how we predict the postseason series.
Enjoy the postseason!
Oct 12 2021
It's been a long while since the regular season previously started in October. Covid-19 seems to be "under control", fans can again attend live games, and the traditional divisions are back — the familiar road to playoffs may start again. And what an opening night there'll be: Seattle Kraken will make their NHL debut, and the two most recently most successful teams will clash against each other!
Kraken is looking for a flying start to their first-ever regular season. Last time, when a new team entered the league, the newcomer team won their first three games (and went on having another, a five game win streak, after their first loss). We all know it was the Vegas Golden Knights: they had a record-breaking inaugural season, reaching all the way to Stanley Cup Finals. So it's a nice coincidence that it's the old new kids on the block, Golden Knights, that Kraken has to beat when they try to start the season with a win streak of their own.
The first game of the 2021 - 22 season will be Tampa Bay Lightning against Pittsburgh Penguins. The two powerhouses last met each other over a year and a half ago, so loads of energy is expected on both sides. Tampa will be celebrating their second 🏆 in as many seasons, but I guess it won't scare off the Pens as they are the ones who have also won it twice in a row. I predict the Pens will take the W — and Tampa can rightfully blame the Cup hangover for the loss.
I kept it short for the game previews, as numbers speak more than a thousand words. The opening night has two really special matchups, here are the start times for both games (and also for the first dozen upcoming games in the following days). As always, you'll find the games also from our predictions, where free betting picks are available. Check out the numbers for each game, and bet smartly!
Enjoy the season!
Jun 28 2021
Enjoying the Stanley Cup Finals in the middle of the summer is definitely one of the rare positives Covid-19 entailed for the hockey world. The final series is going to be a classic favorite vs. underdog contest, no matter the outcome. But what a sensation it would be, if Montréal Canadiens could take the toughest sports trophy winnable on 🌍 from the reigning champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Montréal has been a clear underdog in all prior series this playoff spring. It surprised and advanced past Toronto, despite being down 3-1 in the series. Then the Habs sweeped Jets 4-0 and won 4-2 against Vegas, not that presumptive either. Now, the Canadiens bettors are close to hitting the Stanley Cup jackpot, as the Habs reached the finals from the worst overall playoff seed.
On the other hand, Tampa has been the favorite in all of their series (already for a couple of seasons). Still, the most recent opponents haven't been particularly soft; Florida, Carolina, and Islanders all had very strong seasons and looked promising right before the playoffs. Florida and Carolina were not maybe as playoff-tested as Islanders, but Tampa didn't care about the past efforts and marched to the finals quite convincingly. Since losing the round 1 series to Columbus Blue Jackets back in 2019, Tampa has not lost back-to-back games in a playoff series.
The trend will continue for one team — are the Bolts able to roll to the finish line, match the expectations, and repeat, or can the Habs pull off the fourth and largest surprise of the 2021 playoffs and win the Stanley Cup for the first time in 28 years?
|Tampa Bay Lightning||54.54 %||1.83|
|Montreal Canadiens||45.46 %||2.2|
Jun 12 2021
Four division winners with very different backgrounds. This should be interesting...
It's not a traditional conference final this season, and we all know why. Instead of two best teams from eastern and western conferences battling for the conference champion title and a spot in the 🏆 final, we have four teams coming out on top from their respective divisions. Most importantly, these teams have only played against their fellow divisional teams, i.e., from now on, teams matching up will be complete strangers for each other!
Tampa and Isles last played against each other in September, while Vegas and Montreal last met in January 2020! That's nine and 17 months, respectively 🙀.
|Vegas Golden Knights||56.47 %||1.77|
|Montreal Canadiens||43.53 %||2.3|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||52.82 %||1.89|
|New York Islanders||47.18 %||2.12|
As we can see from the table above, this round we have clear favourites to advance to the finals. Vegas was down 2-0 in the series against the Cup favourite Colorado, but never looked back and won four straight games. Even losing the game 1 in a blowout, the advanced statistics showed that Vegas wasn't as bad as the scoreboard would indicate. The Canadiens easily sweeped the Jets, and are on a roll. All in all, expect Vegas to advance.
In the other matchup, the star-powered Tampa will be the favourite against the Islanders. The Islanders lineup is very solid, and the role of each line suits well for the playoffs. Moreover, they have Barry Trotz as their head coach, who has been very successful in the playoffs in recent years. However, the opposing Bolts have been very successful, too, winning the previous Stanley Cup. It will be skill and experience against dump-and-chace grinding...
May 29 2021
It's tough. The two best teams of the regular season (Colorado and Vegas) are facing each other already in the round 2. What else would you expect but a coin-flip scenario? A similar situation occurs in the Discover Central division where top contender teams Tampa Bay and Carolina are battling for the division title. According to data, Tampa has a narrow advantage...
You have to win all of your opponents, they say, but still, it feels wrong. On the other hand, expect to see the best playoff hockey of the season, so enjoy!
|Winnipeg Jets||51.39 %||1.95|
|Montreal Canadiens||48.61 %||2.06|
|Boston Bruins||52.55 %||1.9|
|New York Islanders||47.45 %||2.11|
|Colorado Avalanche||50.0 %||2.0|
|Vegas Golden Knights||50.0 %||2.0|
|Carolina Hurricanes||49.05 %||2.04|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||50.95 %||1.96|
Both Crosby and Ovechkin were sent to 🏌. Since their respective Cup runs (2017 and 2018), the playoffs stamina for Pens and Caps has been way below their standards. Maybe the era of the two superstars is coming to an end...
The season also unexpectedly ended for the Edmonton Oilers and Connor McDavid, who is ready to take the mantle of the best player of the league from Crosby. Well, at least it was a surprise for McDavid who confidently promised they'd be challenging for the Cup before the playoffs even started.
Toronto hasn't won a playoff series since spring 2004...
May 14 2021
Like last season, we'll post series winner predictions and odds for every playoff round. Let's kick off the playoffs!
Once again, like all of our postseason predictions, the 1st round predictions below are derived from regular season performance (read our post from the last season to understand why).
This time there is no playoff bubble, so the teams battling in the series are ordered based on the home-ice advantage, i.e., the team with the advantage is listed above their opponent.
|Toronto Maple Leafs||53.32 %||1.88|
|Montreal Canadiens||46.68 %||2.14|
|Edmonton Oilers||52.63 %||1.9|
|Winnipeg Jets||47.37 %||2.11|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||52.83 %||1.89|
|New York Islanders||47.17 %||2.12|
|Washington Capitals||48.96 %||2.04|
|Boston Bruins ✅||51.04 %||1.96|
|Colorado Avalanche ✅||54.92 %||1.82|
|St. Louis Blues||45.08 %||2.22|
|Vegas Golden Knights ✅||52.17 %||1.92|
|Minnesota Wild||47.83 %||2.09|
|Carolina Hurricanes ✅||51.87 %||1.93|
|Nashville Predators||48.13 %||2.08|
|Florida Panthers||49.7 %||2.01|
|Tampa Bay Lightning ✅||50.3 %||1.99|
The "Canada Cup", i.e., the Scotia North division seems to have the clearest set-up for the first round. Toronto and Edmonton are the clear favorites based on our data, and they should prevail to the second round fairly painlessly. The downside for gamblers is that viable odds will be very hard to find if you want to place your bets for the favorites.
The hardest division to even reach the 2021 playoffs was the MassMutual East division. Now, each of the best four is looking to defeat two of their rivals to win the division. Caps and Pens have the home-ice advantages, while statisticswise only the Pens have upper hand against their respective foe. As a Caps fan, I'm certainly hoping for another Caps - Pens round two series, but I'm also aware that the B's have a slight upper hand when the puck drops on Saturday.
The Honda West division boasts the President Trophy winner Colorado. Note that Vegas finished the season with an equal point total and they are the favorites to win the Stanley Cup according to our data. Both should advance over their opponents, but keep in mind that St. Louis is a playoff-tested team and Minnesota is having a remarkable season.
The Discover Central division offered the biggest regular-season surprise for the hockey fans. Seeing Florida finish second in the regular season and Dallas not making the playoffs is definitely unexpected. (Well, maybe Pens winning the MM was also a bit surprising.) Moreover, the usual regular-season powerhouse Tampa only reached the 3rd playoff slot. The long and unusual Cup run in the corona bubble must have taken its toll, and might also reflect into this postseason. However, according to nhl.com, Tampa will be getting Kucherov and Stamkos back for game 1. Both of them must be hungry for a repeat!
May 13 2021
📣 We will update the latest Cup winner predictions here in this post, as the playoffs progress.
It was only seven months ago when Tampa hoisted the Stanley Cup. The circumstances then were quite eccentric, due to the coronavirus pandemic that paused the hockey world for months and pushed the season finale into an opinionated playoff bubble.
This time, the playoffs are normally played in spring (although overdue a month from the normal schedule), and home-ice advantage and live audience are back. However, the shortened regular season and corona-tailored divisions provide us some very unusual playoff pairs. Moreover, the traditional conference finals are now semi-finals between strangers — teams advancing to Round 3 will meet each other for the first time in several months!
Last time we predicted Tampa would win it all, and they did. Let's see if they can repeat (and be the unanimous champions of the corona era), or if the favorite — it's the Vegas Golden Knights this season — can go all the way again and keep our prediction streak alive!
|Tampa Bay Lightning||54.54 %||1.83|
|Montreal Canadiens||45.46 %||2.2|
|Vegas Golden Knights||28.39 %||3.52|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||26.26 %||3.81|
|New York Islanders||23.46 %||4.26|
|Montreal Canadiens||21.89 %||4.57|
|Colorado Avalanche||13.96 %||7.16|
|Vegas Golden Knights||13.96 %||7.16|
|Boston Bruins||13.0 %||7.69|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||12.92 %||7.74|
|Carolina Hurricanes||12.44 %||8.04|
|New York Islanders||11.74 %||8.52|
|Winnipeg Jets||11.3 %||8.85|
|Montreal Canadiens||10.69 %||9.35|
|Vegas Golden Knights||7.12 %||14.04|
|Colorado Avalanche||7.09 %||14.1|
|Boston Bruins||6.58 %||15.2|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||6.51 %||15.36|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||6.46 %||15.48|
|Florida Panthers||6.44 %||15.53|
|Carolina Hurricanes||6.44 %||15.53|
|Minnesota Wild||6.39 %||15.65|
|Washington Capitals||6.31 %||15.85|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||6.14 %||16.29|
|Edmonton Oilers||6.12 %||16.34|
|Nashville Predators||5.97 %||16.75|
|St. Louis Blues||5.79 %||17.27|
|New York Islanders||5.77 %||17.33|
|Winnipeg Jets||5.5 %||18.18|
|Montreal Canadiens||5.37 %||18.62|
Check out our Stanley Cup winner predictions from last season to see how we did it and how we predict the postseason series.
Enjoy the postseason!
Mar 30 2021
Asianhandicap odds are here!
We're excited to announce that the fan favorite bet event type — asianhandicap — has landed into our product! The asianhandicap predictions are available for subscribers (upcoming games) and for every sports enthusiast (past games). The following handicap values (applied on the home team goal amount) are analyzed: -2.5, -1.5, +1.5 and +2.5. The predictions are compared against the odds offered by the casinos, to find out the most profitable betting events.
Just like other event types found on our homepage, also asianhandicap predictions are calculated only for full-time, at least for the time being. However, if available, we also render asianhandicap odds for each period of the game. As a side note, predicting the periodic events for all event types in our offering is in our long-term roadmap, but not a feature to be expected for the ongoing season.
It's the game-changer. Asianhandicap odds can turn wins into losses, and losing into winning. But how should you really use them?
Our mission is to provide the instruments for betting with an edge, for every gambler out there. Hence, utilizing the asianhandicap predictions almost feels like a double-edge: if you are certain that team A (say, Philly) is going to blow up team B (you probably guess which one), why not apply a little handicap against team A to have larger odds, i.e., larger profits? Sadly, this is not how it works in the long run; casinos are actually pushing down the larger odds, rendering them statistically unprofitable most of the time. Still, the odds against a handicap are relatively high, so it's tempting to pick them if the winner seems to be clear.
The asianhandicap insights below demonstrate the problem with the against handicap odds (the first one is just the overview, swipe left to see insights for different handicaps):
Bufffalo 3 - 4 Philadelphia (OT) | 30.3.2021
The images above are just examples from one game, but they highlight the general trends of the casinos in asianhandicap odds.
It's the exceptions that prove the rule that we are after. With our analytics, you can find the optimal games to bet according to your preferences: be it going for the blowout wins, or playing it safe and using a helping handicap (maybe if you happen to be a Buffalo fan 😃).
Lastly, it's worth mentioning that the asianhandicap +2.5 was our most economically profitable event type during the 2018 - 2019 NHL regular season (it has been a strong event type on all other seasons as well), according to the baseline simulations. The other handicap variations weren't that bad either:
It's a great reminder that grinding the modest odds might actually be the key to success, rather than trying to gamble on the high risk, high reward against handicap odds. At least in the long run — there's just nothing sweeter than picking your favorite team to win by a goal and a half and seeing the empty netter slide in 💰.
Let's bet with the double-edge!
Feb 28 2021
Virtually every casino and bookmaker website on the planet offer generously the basic information about the Kelly criterion. No doubt, it is arguably the best weapon for gamblers to gun down the bookies, given its ability to calculate a bet size that will maximize the profits in all situations.
But why are the bookmakers so willingly giving away free information about a formula that is most likely beneficial for the gamblers? Are they just trying to lure unadvised gamblers to their platform, or trying to improve their SEO? Are we missing something? Let's find out!
We ran a couple thousand simulations with a generally robust machine learning classifier, RFC. Each simulation comprises all games of the 2019 – 2020 NHL regular season and covers both predicting and placing bets for the regulation result of a game. The differences in the individual simulation runs are observed due to different feature extraction and model configurations. In real life, on an ongoing season, subscribed users who followed our predictions would have profited more than the median index, since they'd have had the best model configurations available.
We train an AI model that ensembles the classifiers that performed the best historically and use that ensemble model in predicting and gambling.
I want to emphasize the importance of a large amount of simulations: we really cannot know beforehand which model will deliver the largest profits, but based on the data from prior seasons, we have a very good approximation. Hence, for future upcoming games, we can train an AI model that ensembles the classifiers that performed the best historically and use that ensemble model in predicting and gambling.
However, in the context of this case study, we can leave the fancy ensemble AI aside and look into the distributions of the individual raw simulations. Swipe the images below to see how fractional Kelly betting strategy affects the profits during the season! The first image visualizes Kelly fraction 16 (kelly/16), i.e., the bet size calculated by Kelly criterion divided by 16. The fraction decreases, i.e., bet size gets larger, as you swipe to the right. The Kelly fraction is also reported in the title of the image.
There are two key observations to be made:
Overbetting is always penalized more than underbetting when the predictions include uncertainty.
The risk averse strategies, namely kelly/16, kelly/10, and kelly/8, are profitable at the end of the season for every individual simulation. The profits are ok, too, medially at 140% – 150%. On the other hand, the risk tolerant strategies, kelly/6, kelly/4 and especially kelly/2, are able to record substantial peak profits. However, the downside of the riskier strategies is most evidently illustrated in the kelly/2 image: overbetting is always penalized more than underbetting when the predictions (that Kelly criterion uses to calculate the bet size) include uncertainty. As a result, the kelly/2 betting strategy barely survives through a full regular season, losing 90% of the starting bankroll, medially.
Consequently, I wouldn't recommend rolling with the plain Kelly criterion, or half Kelly (kelly/2), when the probabilities of the betting event are only estimates. And in sports betting, the predictions are always estimates! Even kelly/4 is usually a suboptimal betting strategy that bends towards excessive overbetting. This is something that the bookmakers "forget" to mention when they promote using the plain Kelly criterion, or when they describe the superiority of the half Kelly strategy.
And by the way, the house doesn't always win. Looking back to older seasons, it didn't win in 2020, or 2019 or 2018 (check out our prior performance here). With optimally selected Kelly fraction, the chances are that the house keeps losing against our predictions also in the future.
Jan 12 2021
The sports betting industry offers a wide selection of occurrences and games available for betting, ranging from NHL to political elections. Moreover, for each game/occurrence, the industry has invented enormous amounts of different event types, of which gamblers can make wagers on.
Here we introduce the most common betting event types, in sports betting in general and also for NHL games, as all of them are researched as classification tasks in our analysis models. In addition, all betting event types discussed in this post are available with profitability estimations at our site.
The sports betting industry has various event types to offer for their customers. In this post, the most prevalent event types are discussed, and they are referred to with their most common naming conventions, in order to provide coherence throughout the post.
It should be emphasized that some bookmaker companies may use different event type naming and business logics in bet processing in their platforms, but all content at our website follow the event type definitions given here.
Moneyline (ml ) events offer win odds for teams participating in a match or game. In other words, predicting ml outcome means predicting the winner of a match or a game. Therefore, ml events are available for betting only for such games or matches that will have an explicit winner once the game or the match has ended.
In ml gambling, a bet placed for the home team wins if the home team wins the game, and loses if the home team loses the game. Similar conditions apply for bets placed for the away team – bet for away team win succeeds if the away team wins, and loses if the away team loses the game. Ice hockey is an example sport where ml events are wagerable – ice hockey games can be tied after three periods, i.e., regulation time, but ties are decided either with an overtime period and/or a shootout. On the other hand, for example, soccer matches in most leagues and formats can end in a tie, and hence ml events as such are not typically available for soccer.
Threeway (1x2 ) events have three possible outcomes: a home team win, an away team win, or a tie. Hence, all games or matches that are possible to record a tie at some point of the game/match, are eligible for 1x2 betting. Such targets are, for instance, ice hockey game result after the regulation time, or full soccer match result (without overtime).
A 1x2 bet for the home or away team wins if the corresponding team wins the game or match. A bet for a tie wins if the game ends in a tie, and loses otherwise. Note that in 1x2 events for hockey games winning either on overtime or in a shootout still counts as a tie, since the bet is placed for the game result at the end of regulation time.
Asian handicap (ahc ) is a bet event type used to primarily even out the imbalance between the two teams facing each other in a game or match. This results in odds that attract bettors to place bets more evenly for both teams; a less riskier, more lucrative position for the bookmaking companies.
Leveling out the win probabilities for the participating teams is done by posing a handicap on one of the teams: the team's final goal total is either increased (positive handicap) or decreased (negative handicap) by the amount of the handicap value. Consequently, to level the win chances of an underdog team, either a positive handicap value can be added to their goal total – or equivalently with a different notation – a negative handicap value can be subtracted from the goal total of the opposing, favorite team. Moreover, ahc can be used to further increase the imbalance between teams, to offer higher winning odds for the underdog team (and smaller odds for the favorite team). This is achieved by handicapping the underdog team so that the underdog is required to win the game with a goal margin at least larger than the handicap value.
The handicap values, i.e., the values added to or subtracted from one of the team’s goal total, are typically either whole numbers (+/- 1, 2, 3, etc.) or decimal numbers that end with .5 (+/- 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, etc.). The former includes a possibility for tie results, while the latter is used exactly for avoiding tie outcomes.
Let’s consider the game seven of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final as an example of how the handicap values are used in practice. St. Louis Blues won the game 4 - 1 against Boston Bruins. With any handicap value from -0.5 to -2.5 assigned to the Blues, the Blues would still be considered the winner in the ahc context, since they would have 3.5, 2.5 or 1.5 goals remaining, respectively after applying the handicap, all more than the 1 goal by the Bruins. Any positive handicap would also result in a win by the Blues, as the handicap would only increase their goal count above 4. However, a -3 handicap applied for the Blues would result in a 1 - 1 tie, and any handicap smaller than -3 applied for the Blues would result in a win by the Bruins, in the ahc context.
The handicap values available for ahc betting are not limited to the whole and decimal numbers discussed in this section. Some bookmakers offer also quarter handicaps (+/- 0.25, 1.25, 2.25, etc.) and (+/- 0.75, 1.75, 2.75, etc.), whose result interpretation and payout policies may differ between the bookmaker companies. The quarter handicap values are not further discussed, as only the .5 decimal handicap analysis are offered at our site – ahc will be available soon in the game cards for subscribed users!
As handicap value was used to measure goal differences for the ahc events, a goal limit value is used to measure goal amounts for Over/under (o/u ) events. Again, the goal limits are commonly whole numbers (+/- 1, 2, 3, etc.) or decimal numbers that end with .5 (+/- 0.5, 1.5, 2.5, etc.). The goal limit can be used to measure the number of goals scored by either one of the teams, or the total goal amount of the game or match. In our analysis process, we work with decimal goal limits (ending with .5) that measure game total goal amounts in regulation time, i.e, overtime (or shootout) goals are not included in the goal count.
In o/u events, the available bet selections are over or under. Let’s revisit the previously introduced example game: St. Louis Blues won 4 - 1 against Boston Bruins, which results in a goal total of 5 for the game. If the o/u goal limit was 4.5 or lower, the winning selection would have been over. But goal limits 5.5 and higher would have resulted in under selection to win. If the goal limit was exactly 5, the bet would have been invalidated, i.e., the stake would have been returned to the gambler, since neither over nor under won or lost.
All event types previously discussed are usually also offered as periodical events by the bookmakers. For hockey games, for instance, one can place bets for the winner of the first period (1x2 event), the winner of the second period with a -1.5 handicap on the home team (ahc event), the total goals scored in the third period (o/u event), or the winner of the overtime period (ml event).
Moreover, to give an idea about the large spectrum of odds available at the odds markets, bookmakers can offer odds for the same event types for any arbitrary time period, e.g. for the first 10 minutes of the game, or for the game time frame 40:00 - 45:00.
As already mentioned multiple times, there are a lot of different odds offerings on the market. This post should provide you the basic knowledge about odds since we discussed the most common odds events:
Most of the time, the odds are about winning, and different event types have different conditions for determining the winner. Over/under events provide a nice variation to the mix – if a game doesn't have profitable winner odds to offer, a wide variety of goal amount odds might suit you better.
Now, after reading this post, you are definitely ready to try out our NHL odds predictions, no matter how much (or little) prior gambling experience you have 🎲
Dec 24 2020
NHL delivered the perfect Christmas present for all hockey fans by publishing the complete 2021 regular season schedule. Technically, it's the 2020-21 schedule, but as we have previously learned (e.g. by TSN) the NHL is targeting a January 13th start at the earliest. Now, this is also confirmed by the NHL and the complete regular season schedule is available in their API.
I'm not going to paste the whole season here, since the first days of the season are enough to demonstrate the differences in the shortened and Covid-19 shadowed season. Note that the game start times below are reported in Coordinated Universal Time (UTC).
As can be seen, back to backs at the same arena are very common. And based on the current schedule data, the trend continues throughout the season.
With the new divisions and playoff seeding, all the back to backs are going to be super exciting especially at the tail end of the season. Winning both of the games in regulation grants 4 standing points while the opposing team gets none – an eight point separation in the standings, in practice. In a playoff race, it will be huge.
Make sure to follow our predictions when the new season begins! We have a bunch of new updates coming up along with the AI models tuned up for yet another exceptional season!
See You next year!
Sep 19 2020
Spending over two months in the NHL bubbles will reward either Tampa or Dallas with the toughest sport trophy winnable on 🌍. Must feel pretty good for the finalists right now!
The set-up for the final series is a classic: favourite Tampa Bay Lightning versus underdog Dallas Stars. The Bolts have dominated in the NHL regular season ever since coach Cooper took over as the head coach. Over the last three seasons, a timeframe to not look too far back, Tampa Bay has the most regular season points, while Dallas is 14th in the same measure.
The Bolts have been very good in the playoffs too: they reached SFC five years ago, and lost the Conference finals in 15' - 16' and 17' - 18', both to the eventual cup winners, both in game 7. Their situation reminds me of what the Capitals were experiencing before their cup run in 17'-18' - getting over the hump and winning erased all the history of choking in the playoffs. Now, it's time for the Bolts to win it all, otherwise they'll get the title of ultimate playoff chokers.
Meanwhile, Dallas has reached playoffs twice since the 15' - 16', and they were eliminated in the second round in both appearances. But if you ask the Stars, history means nothing. They are a mean and stingy team who will try their everything to beat the Bolts. And they have the tools for that: a solid 5-on-5 game combined with the ability to maintain their efficient offense and excellent special teams play are all feats that they have improved on during the playoffs summer. And I bet the Stars are very aware of, and ready to utilize, the fact that Point is likely playing with an injury.
All in all, two very different teams are matching up in this year's final - and every player will give their everything, no matter the injuries or how much there's gas left in the tank. In such circumstances, where the best are playing against the best, the winner really cannot be predicted - every game event outcome just approaches to randomness, and winning games comes down to who makes the last fateful mistake on the other side of the bench.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||53.05 %||1.89|
|Dallas Stars||46.95 %||2.13|
Sep 5 2020
Tampa continues as the top dog in the East (and in the league), while Vegas is on the drivers seat in the West. Given that only the best teams are left in the NHL bubbles, I still cannot see Tampa not advancing to the SFC against Islanders - they are ahead the Isles in pretty much all aspects of the game.
Vegas, however, is on the same line with Dallas when the Conference finals begin. Vegas gave everything they had against Vancouver, but won the series (that should have been a slam dunk based on every statistic available) only with a very small margin in game seven. The final score was 3-0, but two of those goals were empty netters... Dallas went a notch further, as they required a game seven OT win, to send Colorado to 🏌.
And what a game seven it was for Joel Kiviranta, casually scoring a hattrick that included both a game tying goal and the game winner in the overtime! By the way, all the goals he scored were highlight reel sweet - not bad from the young fourth liner who were playing only in his second NHL playoff game!
|Tampa Bay Lightning||53.51 %||1.87|
|New York Islanders||46.49 %||2.15|
|Vegas Golden Knights||50.68 %||1.97|
|Dallas Stars||49.32 %||2.03|
Aug 23 2020
At the time of writing this blog post, the 2nd round has already began - Dallas bested Colorado in a wild and goal rich game 1. See the predictions below to find out how the teams match up against each other based on data.
|Philadelphia Flyers||52.11 %||1.92|
|New York Islanders||47.89 %||2.09|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||51.36 %||1.95|
|Boston Bruins||48.64 %||2.06|
|Vancouver Canucks||50.2 %||1.99|
|Vegas Golden Knights||49.8 %||2.01|
|Colorado Avalanche||51.29 %||1.95|
|Dallas Stars||48.71 %||2.05|
Philadelphia was the Eastern round robin champion, and had little trouble in eliminating Montreal. The path to the 2nd round has been easy for Islanders, too - both teams have lost only 2 games in these playoffs.
An interesting statistic about the Islanders: they have won every playoff game where the opposing team scored 2 goals or less (7 wins), and on the other hand, they lost the games where the opponent scored 3 goals (2 losses). Furthermore, the Islanders haven't allowed more than 3 goals in a game in these playoffs. The Islanders really play for their team, and not for the individuals, and it showed in the series against Florida, and especially in the series against Capitals, where the Caps completely lost their spirit as the Isles suffocated their game. Based on the game data and our analysis, the Islanders are the biggest underdog for the second round, but if they are able to irritate the Flyers with their tight 5 on 5 play (like they were against their previous opponents), the series will be very even.
This year, Tampa managed to delete Columbus (it wasn't easy, though). Maybe this is the year for Tampa? They are the Cup favourites at majority of the sites that offer playoff analysis, including ours. And they have been the favourites for a couple of years already - can they handle the pressure inside the NHL bubble?
Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights, both deservedly playing in the 2nd round, and both would deserve to advance to the conference finals. They will have to earn it, though. Impossible to say which one wins it, it's a coin flip (according to data, too). Vegas is tough and experienced, but so was St. Louis Blues.
Colorado is slight favourite against Dallas (although not anymore since they lost the first contest). But in playoff hockey, anything can happen. Dallas has heaten up recently, maybe they stole some 🔥 from Calgary? Dallas leads the series 1-0, but as we all know, it isn't much.
One more thing about the Islanders - in the 1st round, Barry Trotz beat the team that he coached to their first ever Championship two years ago. It must feel good, but at the same time, he knew pretty much all the plays Caps were going to execute. I was surprised how soft the Caps actually looked - in the games they lost, when they were trailing by a goal or 2, they did absolutely nothing to try to score the tying goal. If the Isles are able to do the same to the Flyers, they will deservedly advance to the conference champions. They play the most boring hockey, but that's the key to success in the playoffs. Bonus points to Barzal, the only superstar in the Isles team, dutifully sticking to the Trotz system.
I'm sad to see that Columbus couldn't surprise us again this year, even though they gave everything they got. A disallowed goal in super tight game 4 (TBL won 2-1) and two overtime losses were something that the Columbus could not bounce back. It must suck losing in the fifth overtime period (game 1), but yet the Columbus won the next game. It just wasn't enough against the starpowered Tampa.
Now the Bruins, who lost Tuukka Rask due personal reasons, will test Tampa Bay. By the way, Boston won three straight against Carolina with Halak in net, so losing their starting goalie Tuukka was not necessarily a bad thing. The winner of this series is the favourite team to advance to the finals from the Eastern conference.
Vancouver pulled off the biggest surprise of the 1st round by eliminating the defending Cup champions. Based on our data, however, they actually were the favourite to win the series, although they were seen as a clear underdog by the bookmakers. Either way, I see the Canucks as a legitime Cup contender franchise in the future. Only time will tell if they can win already this year, but they definitely have all the right pieces for winning. They are the latest example of how rapidly the so called "Cup windows" open - and close - in the modern NHL.
Eliminating the Blues wasn't easy, as the Blues really dominated game 3 and 4. However, rising to win two straight after two straight losses tells a lot about the character and work ethic of the young Canucks. It all comes from the players, and experiencing that kind of adversity during a series brings the players even more together. Overall, Vancouver has drafted excellently: Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes combine spectacular talent with winner type personalities. Let's see if they can take down the Golden Knights, who are seen as clear favourites by the bookmakers.
Aug 10 2020
After the Round-robin tournament and the qualification games, which patched the unfinished regular season, the "real" playoffs are about to start! But make no mistake, there is a lot to take with us from the preliminary games into the first playoff round analysis.
Looking back to our preliminary round predictions, the series turned out to be as unpredictable as the win probabilites suggested. According to our predictions, seven out of the total of eight series were won by the underdog team. Even if we wouldn't consider the Panthers and the Rangers being favourites who lost - which is definitely arguable given that the teams Islanders and Canes are better suited for playoffs - still 5/8 series were won by an underdog.
Based on data, almost all of the preliminary series were as even as a coin flip. However, we witnessed some major surprises - Canadiens eliminated Penguins, Blackawks bested Oilers and Columbus defeated Toronto, just to name-drop the most interesting series. These are also teams that weren't appreciated by the bookmakers, and are likely to receive high odds also in the 1st round. I'm not saying that those teams will carry their momentum all the way to winning the Stanley Cup, but we'll definitely see more surprises in the next two rounds.
Once again, like all of our postseason predictions, the 1st round predictions below are derived from regular season performance (read why).
|Philadelphia Flyers||51.86 %||1.93|
|Montreal Canadiens||48.14 %||2.08|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||54.73 %||1.83|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||45.27 %||2.21|
|Washington Capitals||50.85 %||1.97|
|New York Islanders||49.15 %||2.03|
|Boston Bruins||51.49 %||1.94|
|Carolina Hurricanes||48.51 %||2.06|
|Vegas Golden Knights||51.02 %||1.96|
|Chicago Blackhawks||48.98 %||2.04|
|Colorado Avalanche||52.21 %||1.92|
|Arizona Coyotes||47.79 %||2.09|
|Dallas Stars||50.62 %||1.98|
|Calgary Flames||49.38 %||2.03|
|Vancouver Canucks||50.39 %||1.98|
|St. Louis Blues||49.61 %||2.02|
Key things to keep in mind:
At the end of the day, the circumstances for these playoffs are so unique, so teams with a good momentum and mentally strong leadership core will likely go on a deep run. Based on momentum, I would see Carolina and Vancouver advancing over Boston and St. Louis, who finished last in their respective round-robin tournaments. Based on good leadership (and material), Colorado should prevail against Arizona.
Korrpisalo (CBJ), Price (MTL) and Talbot (CGY) all recorded a shutout in their series winning games, and all of them were convincing during the qualification series. Maybe those netminders benefited the most from the no-audience conditions? Either way, those three goalies will cause some headache to the opposing teams. Philadelphia, however, was convincing in the round-robins too, so Price needs to step up his game even more, if Montreal likes to eliminate another Pennsylvanian team. Columbus beat Tampa Bay last year, so that series is once again due for a surprise. Calgary steamrolled over Winnipeg in the qualifiers, while Dallas didn't exactly shine in the round-robin games - I'm picking Calgary.
Lastly - if I'm able to find reasonable odds - here are the picks that I'm personally putting my money on (note that I won't touch the PHI-MTL series, but if I had to, I would pick Montreal - Petry and Weber will have gas left for one more round, and they need it in order to pull out the series win):
Series winners: CBJ, CAR, VGK, COL, CGY, VAN
7 game series: WSH - NYI
Jun 22 2020
As promised in our previous post, we will also publish predictions for the so called preliminary round, which determines the teams and seeding for the 16 team playoffs. In fact, as the postseason progresses, we'll post series winner predictions and odds for all playoff rounds, but let's start with the preliminary matches next in line.
The winners of the preliminary round series will advance to the first round of the 2020 playoffs - the losers are out. Our predictions are derived from '19 - '20 regular season performance. For further information, read how we predict the postseason here.
|Pittsburgh Penguins||51.5 %||1.94|
|Montreal Canadiens||48.5 %||2.06|
|New York Rangers||50.9 %||1.96|
|Carolina Hurricanes||49.1 %||2.04|
|Florida Panthers||50.65 %||1.97|
|New York Islanders||49.35 %||2.03|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||51.91 %||1.93|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||48.09 %||2.08|
|Edmonton Oilers||50.94 %||1.96|
|Chicago Blackhawks||49.06 %||2.04|
|Nashville Predators||51.45 %||1.94|
|Arizona Coyotes||48.55 %||2.06|
|Vancouver Canucks||50.37 %||1.99|
|Minnesota Wild||49.63 %||2.01|
|Winnipeg Jets||51.2 %||1.95|
|Calgary Flames||48.8 %||2.05|
The Round-robin tournaments are played between the best four teams in both conferences, to determine seeding for the first playoff round. By definition, all teams will meet each other in turns in the Round-robin tournaments. The games are played with regular season overtime rules, and ties in the tournament standings are broken by regular season point percentage.
Once again, the predictions are calculated based on regular season performance only. Regular season games against teams within the tournament are prioritized more, as much as the sample size allows, but all other regular season games are analyzed too.
|Tampa Bay Lightning||26.52 %||3.77|
|Boston Bruins||24.94 %||4.01|
|Philadelphia Flyers||24.85 %||4.02|
|Washington Capitals||23.7 %||4.22|
|Colorado Avalanche||25.76 %||3.88|
|Vegas Golden Knights||25.34 %||3.95|
|St. Louis Blues||24.95 %||4.01|
|Dallas Stars||23.95 %||4.18|