The NHL consensus helps you understand where the public money is going and how that’s influencing NHL odds and lines. Once you know where bettors are placing their bets you can decide whether to trust the consensus spread or bet against it.
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What Is The NHL Public Consensus?
The NHL consensus is the percentage of where the public money is going. That number influences and can influence the bettor's decision to trust the consensus or wager against it.
Let’s take a look at the early betting for a Friday night game between the Wild and Capitals. As of Friday morning, 82 percent of the registered bets at online sportsbooks were in favor of the Capitals, who at the time were defending Stanley Cup champions. Any time there is that much NHL public consensus on one team there is good opportunity for the “sharps” out there.
In betting vernacular, the general betting public rallying around an NHL consensus picks are the “squares” and much of the rest are the “sharps,” people who study the flow of the lines all day and move in when they think the squares have gone too far on one side. It’s also called “betting the fade” against the public, or being the “contrarian.” A sharp looking at the Minnesota-Washington NHL public betting might be very tempted to, therefore, bet on the Wild, because of a potentially bigger payout on the underdog win. Early Friday morning, the Wild were at +148 for a while on the moneyline, an attractive underdog price for a team that almost always is in close games.
Teams that play in big markets with huge fan followings (Toronto, Chicago, Montreal, etc.) often get plenty of “square” money, because their fans just love them so much. The sharp is always on the lookout for opportunities against these types of teams. The sportsbooks are always on the lookout for the sharps, too, so they’ll adjust the odds/line more when they see too much of the consensus money going on the favorite.
As we’ve discussed in other hockey betting outlooks, it’s a simpler sport to bet on in some ways, because “the spread” is almost always that same 1.5 goals. The spread, or puck line, just doesn’t generate as much action as the tried and true moneyline. But it’s a lively sport bet on, in one sense, because most games are so close and often go down to the wire. Upsets happen with regularity, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs, so knowing when to go against the NHL betting consensus is the key to being a top hockey sports bettor.
How Much Should The NHL Consensus Influence My Bets?
One of the first things to know about sports betting: Statistics show sports bettors overwhelming prefer the favorites. The bookies know best, right? So, just bet what they say and you’ll be the winner. But just because they have set one team as the favorite – say, the Montreal Canadiens are -110 to win on the moneyline – doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to divide the handle as much as they can. So, they’ll keep adjusting the line if they see that, say, 75 percent of the betting public is taking the Canadiens. Suddenly, that line might be moved to -140. Now, you have to bet $140 on the Canadiens to win back $100.
Casual bettors also like to back a team they are fans of. “Sharp” bettors know better than to do that. Sharps look at those consensus numbers and will look for opportunities to fade the public for potentially better underdog payouts, especially early in the betting cycle.
One rule of thumb: Teams with big fan bases and/or easier betting opportunities are usually going to get more of the public consensus. A smart bettor knows this, and can take advantage of that provided he/she does their homework on things such as injuries, backup goalies, fatigue, etc.
Is Betting with The Public A Good Idea?
Not always. Often, the public consensus will look skewed to one team early in the day, so it’s always better to wait a bit to see where more of the money is going. Maybe some sharps picked up information – such as a line change or goalie switch – that the public consensus hasn’t caught up with.
Because the NHL has so many games decided by only one goal, and because there is so much parity among teams, betting with the public consensus can be risky. While the best teams still win more often than not, this isn’t like football, where a team may lose only three or four games all year. There are a lot of ups and downs in hockey, and it’s best to keep that in mind when betting with the public.
I Understand How the NHL Consensus Works. What’s Next?
Once you have made your decision as to whether you want to bet with or against the public, whether it be a game bet or an NHL futures bet, compare all the odds at the top sportsbooks that Bookies.com has researched and reviewed. If you’re not sure which online sportsbooks operate in your state, check out our interactive map of the legal sports betting sites in the U.S. Then, click on that sportsbook and make your bet.