First-Round Betting

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The world of sports betting is fascinating and can be very lucrative. This is the case even more with the NHL. If you’re already watching the NHL, betting on the matchups throughout the season can be fun and profitable. 

But then it’s time for the playoffs. As fans of the NHL, we know what a magical time of year it can be.

Big upsets, long-time rivals face off, players become heroes or villains, and bandwagon fans come out of the woodwork. However, there is another great thing about this time of year: betting. 

With careful planning and a decent knowledge of the game, you could be in a position to earn great payouts. And it all starts with the first round of the playoffs. Good picks here set you up for successful second-round betting as well.

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First-Round Picks

The first thing to choose when coming into the first round of a new playoff series is who you’re putting your money on. Within the first round, there are 16 different teams vying for the top, and you’re looking at who you can make the most off of. There are some simple principles at play that you need to know to be successful.

First, don’t let your emotions influence your bet. We all have that one team we’ve followed and cheered for since we were children. That’s wonderful. I have one too! And finally, after decades of disappointment, the 2019 Finals saw my team win it all! 

But there were decades of nothing. If I bet on the Blues to win every time they entered the playoffs, well, I would be much poorer than I am.

Betting is mathematics at work to make you money. Don’t ignore the logic or strategies you’ve learned just because a long-time favorite has entered the series. This is even more important during the first round when there is a multitude of choices before you.

Second, I recommend you get to know the injuries list. First-round status is decided by season-long points totals. But those points don’t necessarily reflect the current state of the team in question. 

One of the best indicators of a team’s potential is whether its core group of players is playing or not. When a team has performed well throughout the season, and that core two or three players are removed from the lines, it can spell disaster.

Lastly, but most importantly, pay attention to the goalies. No team can win it all if its goalie can’t stop a balloon. Watch the statistics closely, and pick a team with a solid keeper in the net. He doesn’t have to be the next Martin Brodeur, but he needs to be steady, calm, and reliable.

Zig-Zag Theory

Any time there’s a discussion on betting in the NHL playoffs, the Zig-Zag theory needs to be mentioned. The Zig-Zag theory is a simple principle stating that when one team loses a game in the series, more often than not, that team will win the next game. 

This is very important to keep in mind, as ignoring it can lose you money. Plus, most odds don’t use this theory to adjust favorites in a series. So, you can make some great returns by simply betting on the underdog in Game 2 if they lost Game 1.

However, there are a few exceptions to keep in mind. Nothing is guaranteed when betting on sports. Teams that have huge advantages, like excellent goaltending, strong lines, or a stellar record, can upset this theory. 

Another huge advantage within playoff hockey is the coaches themselves. Unlike the regular season, where coaches only have one game to react to what the other team is doing, playoff hockey is a series of games. 

Over the course of a long series, the coaching staff has time to adjust and plan to beat the other team in the next game. So try to react to what the coaches will do as well.

General Advice

As we enter the first round of the playoffs, as well as betting on the conference finals, there are a few general rules to keep in mind. If you’ve been watching and betting on the NHL all season long, this is even more important to think about.

Number one, don’t change your overall plan. If you’ve been successfully winning money all season long, you’re most likely choosing correctly and have good instincts as is. 

If the strategies used up to this point worked, they will continue to work. The game hasn’t changed just because we’re in the first round. It’s still the same sport. This rings true even when betting on the Stanely Cup Finals.

Number two, don’t alter your betting amounts. Keep the money earned safe by not betting it all now. Long-term ROI is more important than trying to win the lottery. 

If your heart starts pumping, adrenaline rising, it probably means you’re going against your strategy, betting too much, and risking losing everything.


First-round playoff hockey is exciting, fun, intense, and potentially a great source of income. Betting on the teams, the series, the individual games, all can make money for the wise gambler. 

As you place your bets, keep these tips in mind. They may not make you a millionaire, or the next sharp to keep an eye on, but you can find success and a decent ROI. Good luck out there!

Bet with your head, not over it! Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-Gambler.