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Saturday Morning Gambling Preview

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Edmonton Oilers Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

This postseason, I’m going to put out a series of gambling previews on playoff matchups, as the playoffs progress. In today’s installment, I have the five first round series’ that are dropping the puck today.

This series is geared as an introduction to gambling for those who may not understand the basics of the probability math behind it. It’s also just me publishing my picks. If you want to tail me (bet with me), be my guest, if you’d rather fade me (bet the opposite, because you’re not sure, but you know my picks are dumb) that’s cool, too.

Below, I’ll outline the odds of each series, per the sports book bet365, as of publication of this article, or maybe the night before, if I didn’t want to wake up early. I’ll then convert those odds to implied probability, removing the margin, and compare those to the odds that a very basic hockey model that I built produced.

The margin refers to the bookmaker’s cut. You’ll notice that if you convert the raw odds (by dividing 1 by the decimal odds below) added to each other produce a number that greater than 1.00.

For example Oilers (1/1.50 = 0.667) Blackhawks (1/2.65 = 0.377), 0.667 + 0.337 = 1.044. If you were making a bet with your friend, the probabilities agreed upon would add up to 1.00. The extra 0.044 is were the book makes it money based on volume bet on both sides of the bet.

In the event that my model produces a probability that would produce positive expected value, relative to bet365’s odds with the margin applied, that’s called an edge. Or, in this case, a perceived edge. In reality it’s likely that bet365’s model is more sophisticated than mine, and any discrepancy is an indication of a shortcoming of my model, rather than an edge. But, I’ll post them anyway, because who knows, maybe I’m right (probably not).

Y’all ready to gamble!!!! (please just gamble for fun, not as a source of income. Stay within your means and stop if the frustration outweighs the fun).

Rangers vs. Hurricanes

Game 1 odds: Carolina (1.80), New York (2.10)

Implied odds (margin removed): Carolina 54%, New York 46%

Model’s Game 1 odds: Carolina 58%, New York 42% Edge: Hurricanes

Series Odds: Carolina (1.74), New York (2.15)

Implied odds (margin removed): Carolina 55%, New York 45%

Model’s Series odds: Carolina 65%, New York 35% Edge: Carolina

Note: my model’s always loved Carolina, like, probably too much.

Panthers vs. Islanders

Game 1 odds: Isles (1.86), Panthers (1.95)

Implied odds (margin removed): Isles 51%, Panthers 49%

Model’s Game 1 odds: Panthers 51%, Isles 49% Edge: None

Series Odds: Isles (1.90), Panthers (1.90)

Implied odds (margin removed): 50/50

Model’s Series odds: Panthers 52%, Isles 48% Edge: None

Penguins vs. Canadiens

Game 1 odds: Pens (1.58), Habs (2.50)

Implied odds (margin removed): Pens 61%, Habs 39%

Model’s Game 1 odds: Pens 55%, Habs 45% Edge: Habs

Series Odds: Pens (1.42), Habs (2.95)

Implied Odds (margin removed): Pens 67.5%, Habs 32.5%

Model’s Series Odds: 59% Pens, 41% Habs Edge: Habs

Note: My model’s only based on a team’s actual results in expected goals and actual goals during the season. It doesn’t know player injury stuff, like how Crosby missed a ton of time this year with injury, but is back, and presumably in top form now, so take this healthy Penguins slanders with a bunch of grains of salt.

Jets vs. Flames

Game 1 odds: Flames (1.83), Jets (2.00)

Implied odds (margin removed): Flames 52%, Jets 48%

Model’s game 1 odds: 50/50 Edge: None

Series Odds: Flames (1.86), Jets (1.95)

Implied odds (margin removed): Flames 51%, Jets 49%

Model’s Series odds: 50/50 Edge: None

Note: Calgary’s a bigger game 1 favourite than they are a series favourite. With no home ice advantage effects going on, this suggests to me that the betting industry might not like Calgary as much as their implied odds indicate for game one, but, rather, have shifted odds towards them in order to protect against liabilities created by receiving a lot of Flames bets.

Oiler vs. Blackhawks

Game 1 odds: Oilers (1.66), Hawks (2.30)

Implied Odds (margin removed): Oilers 58%, Hawks 42%

Model’s game 1 odds: Oilers 57%, Hawks 43% Edge: None

Series odds: Oilers (1.50), Hawks (2.65)

Implied odds (margin removed): Oilers 64%, Hawks 36%

Model’s Series odds: Oilers 63%, Hawks 37% Edge: None

Note: I gave the Oilers a full home ice advantage in every game. I didn’t really feel right about it, but the fact that my odds were so similar to industry’s when I did, gave me the impression that they were giving the Oilers a decent home ice bump as well. I’m not going to bet against Edmonton, but, if you’re looking for a reason to, that might be it.