NHL All Star Game on Betfair Can be a Trader's Dream (Brian Gold for Betfair.com)



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Dec 2, 2008
By Brian Gold for Betfair Canada Blog

At one time the NHL all star game meant something to those involved.

It was considered an honour to be named to the team and the players took it seriously. The defence and goaltending were at a prime and most games finished with the normal 5-7 goals scored that one would see in any NHL game today. In 1978 international hockey started gaining prominence and the National Hockey League decided to replace the all star game with a three game series where the best from the NHL teamed up against the best of the Soviet Union in an event dubbed the Challenge Cup. The event didn't get as much interest as the league hoped but it also spelled the end of competitive close checking and relatively low scoring in all star games that most fans were used to. Many players felt that the decision to turn the game into an international competition was indication that the league didn't take the game seriously so to those players it was more meaningful to them to take the downtime to spend with family and to rest. As well many players were concerned about injury in an exhibition game.

In the few years following the Challenge Cup many of the best players sat out the all star game even though they were chosen to play and most arenas weren't interested in hosting the game. That changed in 1983 with New York hosting the game when Wayne Gretzky along with a few other stars encouraged players to start taking the all star game more seriously. For the first time in years, most of the players chosen agreed to play. By all accounts, the players worked out a deal amongst themselves to promote offence in the game and cut out physicality so players would not risk injury by playing. The results showed. Prior to 1983 the average all star game had 6 goals scored. After 1983 the average total soared to 16.5. In fact in 2001 a whopping 26 goals were scored. The league tried many formats for the game pitting East vs. West, conference vs. conference and North America vs. the World but the results were the same with high scoring games and total lack of defence. The games turned quite dull although many fans loved the constant offensive barrage.

To many fans, because of the high scoring, betting on the all star game in recent years has been a waste of time.

The scores have been so high and leads change so rapidly that it almost has become frustrating to watch. There are some, however, that loved the change, and those are the smart bettors at Betfair. In normal games because goals are at a premium a team in the lead will often see their odds drop considerably. In an all star game leads can be quite meaningless, but there are still sellers who are prepared to offer inflated odds on a team just because they go down by a goal or two. For example in last year's game the East was a slight favourite. The West scored only 12 seconds into the game and after that goal the odds actually favoured the West at Betfair. It only took a minute later for the East to tie the game and by the end of the period the East was up 5-1. In a normal game one would expect at least 10/1 odds to take a team down by 4 goals after one period and in fact one could lay the East at those 1.1 odds after the first period at Betfair (I know because I did). In the second period the West scored the only 2 goals and by the 11 minute mark the West actually took a 7-6 lead. At that time the lay on the West was 1.5. I was able to lay off the bet at that point to guarantee a nice profit regardless of who won. The East scored at the 12 minute mark and then Marc Savard scored with 20 seconds left to give the East the win.
That 2008 game was wild and wily but it wasn't a fluke.

In 2007 there were 6 lead changes before the East went on a roll in the 2nd period to take a commanding lead which they almost gave up in the 3rd period. There were no games in 2004 to 2006 due to the Olympics and the lockout but in games prior to that lead changes were abound. In 2002 there were 5 lead changes in 2001 there were 13 lead changes and the list goes on.

So what does it all mean? Simply that to the in game trader the all star game is money in the bank. Sell the team in the lead, buy it back when they tie it or take the lead, then buy the other side and guarantee a profit.

Don't be scared of leads because goalies change after each period and with that teams that are down quickly find themselves back in contention. The game also gets good volume on the Betfair markets so there is always buying opportunities. If one trades the markets properly by the end of the 2nd period they will likely see themselves in a profit situation regardless of the winner.

It would have worked in 6 of the last 7 all star games.

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