It’s fair to say that the 2020 Canadian sporting calendar was ruined by the COVID pandemic. Authorities chose to curtail popular tournaments such as the NLL (National Lacrosse League) and NHL, while the Canadian Football League (CFL) fared even worse – it was cancelled before it even began. While the NBA season did complete, the final stages too place in a Floridian bubble which didn’t suit the Toronto Raptors, leading to an early exit for the 2018-2019 champions.
The good news is that 2021 already looks like it is shaping up to be better for Canadian sports fans. The NFL playoffs and Super Bowl passed off without incident, the NHL is already underway, MBS and NBA are about to start, and even Canadian Football is pencilled in for a June start.
Who knows? Maybe Canadian sports fans might even see an Olympic Games this summer (albeit without foreign fans).
One thing is for sure. With a full docket of events potentially on the cards, Canada’s sports betting will be eager to start placing wagers on their favourite teams and superstars.
But before placing a single bet, it might be wise to follow a few simple rules that will optimize your performance as a sports gambler. This hobby is defined by fine margins, and bookmakers are delighted to walk away from a single event with an overall 1% profit. Sports betting is more akin to blackjack or poker, where a savvy gambler can take on the house and win. And while the advice below might not turn you into the next Steve Fezzik, it will allow you to preserve your bankroll long enough to have a fighting chance of turning a profit in 2021.
Choose the sportsbook with the best odds for the competition you want to target
While most sports betting fans seek out the juicy welcome bonuses, the truth is that the best value of all is found in the difference in the overall odds between bookies. These overall odds (sometimes called juice, vig, vigorish or overround, depending on where you are in the world) represents the bookmaker’s profit margin, and the lower that is, the greater the profit potential for you. Sportsbooks compete to keep their overrounds as low as they can get away with – and your job is to sniff out who offers the best value. But finding the lowest overround is easier said than done. While many fans rely on odds comparison sites, this method can be problematic. For a start, these review sites purposely do not include all providers, and are inherently biased (they cream off affiliate commission in the process). And worst of all, it’s a real hassle to compare odds for every single game. It genuinely takes the fun out of being a sports bettor. A superior strategy would be to draw up a list of sportsbooks you enjoy playing with (whether because of user experience, or the regular bonus offers), take the pre-match odds from a small sample of games (5 is enough), run these through an Overround calculator, and pick the bookie with the lowest margin. The best thing about this method is that bookmakers tend to keep their margins consistent on each sport and tournament, so you can then bet in confidence that you are getting the best value odds. Oh, just be aware that different sportsbooks aim for different profit margins on different sports, so don’t necessarily choose the same provider for NHL as you do for Champions League soccer. A little bit of research goes a long way. For example, Mr Green might be the best odds provider for the Stanley Cup, whereas William Hill would be a better option for the NFL and the Superbowl.
Often the best value is found in the in-play markets
Bookmakers are highly efficient operations and employ teams of experts and statisticians running powerful software designed to handicap each game. And, at least in the pre-match markets, their systems work very well for them. But in many cases, the live betting (or in-play markets) is where the sportsbooks suffer from a lack of knowledge (or at least, lack of time to apply their models) and can be handicapped by eagle-eyed bettors. If you know that your favourite hockey team is good at counters, then you could bet on them to score when the puck is deep in their defensive zone, safe in the knowledge that you will be receiving much better odds than you should be getting. This is particularly true in lower league, lower profile games where the bookie won’t have the same informational advantage. It’s tough to handicap a Vancouver Canucks @ Montreal Canadiens game. But you might have better luck on a Manitoba Moose @ Laval Rocket match.
Avoid the parlays
If there is one type of bet that Canadian bookmakers absolutely love, it is the combination wager (more commonly known as a parlay). Here, gamblers bet on the results of 3, 4, or more games, and only win if all of them go the way they predicted. The problems here are twofold. Firstly, it’s really difficult to predict all games in a series, with a strike rate which diminishes with each added game. For 10-game parlays, you would be looking at winning once in several hundred attempts. With variance as high as that, you would need a huge bankroll to stay afloat. But the second problem is even worse. That profit margin (or overround) we spoke about earlier is multiplied throughout the parlay, meaning that even when you do win, you hand back a huge slice of the profits in the shape of poorer odds. If you want to win as a sports bettor, just avoid the parlays. Please.
If you can, bet against the local favourite
Many sportsbooks will offer worse odds for local favourites, as they know that most leisure gamblers will back their team, whatever their form. While it might be difficult for Raptors fans to bet on their team to lose to the Lakers, if that is where the best odds are weighted, then you should do so, as that is where the best value will be found.
So there you have it. The simple sports wagering tips above will help you become a better bettor and can be applied immediately, with just a little hard work. We wish you good luck in the coming season, whatever your chosen sport.