No matter the sport you choose to bet on or the particular market you pick for your wager there is one fundamental law which transcends all sports and markets and applies to all bets: The odds are always key. The odds of a sports bet will always determine how much you will win from a wager. This rule applies to ice hockey also.
On the vast majority of sports betting websites, the odds pertaining to a sporting event are displayed in one of three ways; in fractions, which is commonplace in the UK and Ireland, in decimals which is the popular methods used in Europe and the Southern Hemisphere, and in the form of a Moneyline which is mainly seen in North America.
The Laws Of Probability
In effect, the odds linked to the sporting event you choose represent the probability of that result happening.
For example, if the USA are listed at odds of 2.50 to win an Ice Hockey Word Championship game against Russia, what does that actually mean in terms of a probability? Betting odds represent the likelihood – often referred to as the “implied probability” – of a particular outcome occurring. Therefore if the USA are listed at 2.5 to win a game against Russia, these odds are a reflection of what the bookmaker believes are the chances of the USA winning that match.
How Do Hockey Odds Work?
So what are the chances as a probability and a percentage of the USA beating Russia at odds of 2.50? We can answer this question with a simple formula:
Implied probability = 1 / decimal odds
So in our example, the chances of the USA beating Russia at the listed odds of 2.5 are:
1 / 2.5 = 0.400 = 40.00%
Understanding the implied probability expressed in betting odds is fundamental to all successful sports betting. Knowing how to convert odds into their implied probability will greatly enhance your chances of long term success betting on all sports including ice hockey.
In this case we see that there is only a 40% chance of the USA defeating Russia in this game. It is now up to you to decide whether this is a worthy risk. You can only choose that it is if you have a valid reason for that argument; e.g., you have studied the form guides of the teams going in to this fixture and they look favourable for the USA, you know Russia has key injuries, bettingexpert’s top ice hockey tipster is recommending a USA win, etc.
A £10 bet on a USA victory at odds of 2.50 will return £25, which leaves a healthy £15 profit after the initial £10 stake is subtracted – a nice return off a slightly risky bet.
Ice Hockey Betting Odds In Action – The Miracle On Ice
For a fun and historical example of ice hockey odds in action, we will bring you arguably the most famous ice hockey match of all time – the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic final, popularly known as the “Miracle on Ice.”
Let us set the stage: in the red corner is the Soviet Union team, known as the “Red Army Machine”, the greatest international ice hockey team of all time. With their combination of speed, sublime skills and power, the Russians have taken the sport to another level, and have won four consecutive Olympic Gold medals since the USA were last victorious in 1960. Going in to this game, the Russians have won 17 World Championships since 1954 and five of the last six Olympic golds.
In the blue corner is the USA team, made up of college rookies with next to no experience at the highest level. Coached by Herb Brooks, the average age of the team is 21.
The Red Army Machine don’t just defeat their rivals, they beat them up, often hitting double-digit scorelines, as they did in a pre-Olympic exhibition match against the USA team in Madison Square Garden, which they won 10-3. The Russians are 1.3 favourites to win gold, meaning there is a 77% probability that will happen. In betting terms, a £10 bet on Russia would return a total of £13, meaning once the £10 stake is deducted, we are left with a £3 profit, which would only make sense if we were wagering a substantial amount, and our profit was thus significantly amplified.
The USA team were seeded seventh in a twelve-team lineup, and at the start of the tournament one could reportedly get as much as 1000/1 on the American team to win the Gold medal. What the general public or indeed the Las Vegas odds-makers weren’t aware of was Brooks had taken his team of novices on a 5-month, 61 game tour of Europe in 1979 to get them battle-hardened, during which time the team and the coach had developed a Leicester City-like “Us Against the World” type of team spirit. Brooks knew he didn’t have the best team in the competition, but he believed they had the best team-spirit.
Whatever Brooks’ on-ice tactics were, they seemed to be working as the USA marched unbeaten into the final, attracting huge national interest along the way. The USA were 18.0 underdogs when they faced the Soviets, which means a £10 bet would net you a hefty £180.00. Minus your original stake, that would leave you with a profit of £170.00.
The second period was dominated by the Soviets who had 12 shots on goal, yet score only once to lead 3-2. In the third and final period, the Americans suddenly grew in confidence to score twice and lead 4-3. As the clock ticks down, the Soviets go hell-for-leather to find an equaliser, but to no avail. The USA’s bunch of rookies have defeated the greatest ice hockey tea in history in one of sport’s biggest ever upsets.