How the Zig-Zag Theory Works in NBA & NHL Betting?

Strategies, systems, tricks: all sports bettors are always looking for anything that can give them an advantage over betting websites not on GamStop. Some strategies are more famous and used, while others are typical of some sports, such as the theory I want to tell you about today: the zig-zag theory and system.

Primarily utilized in NBA and NHL betting, the zig-zag theory comes into play during playoffs featuring best-of-7 games, in which the teams involved alternate between home and away games.

Zig-zag theory: The Basics

Learn How the Zig-Zag Theory Works in NBA & NHL Betting?

In the playoffs of the NBA and NHL, so we are talking about sports betting on basketball and ice hockey, the best-of-7 series adopt the "2-2-1-1-1" format, which gives its name to the zig-zag theory. But what exactly does it consist of?

In the playoffs, the advantage of playing one more home game goes to the best-placed team at the end of the regular season. Therefore, in a best-of-7 series, if it gets to the last game (the seventh, in fact), one of the two teams will have played 4 games at home and 3 away, while the other will have played the opposite.

The theory behind the zig-zag system is that each game in a playoff series is affected by the outcome of the previous one, not forgetting the relative strength of one team versus another, which can shuffle the cards.

A simplistic explanation for zig-zag theory

  1. In the playoffs, teams play a series of seven games and they alternate between playing at home and away. The team with the better regular season record gets the advantage of playing one more game at home.
  2. The zig-zag theory suggests that teams are more likely to bounce back after a loss, especially when they're playing at home. So if a team loses a game, according to the zig-zag theory, they have a better chance of winning the next one.
  3. For example, if the home team loses Game 1, they're likely to win Game 2. Or if a team loses while playing away, they have a good chance of winning when they play at home next.

Remember, while the zig-zag theory can sometimes help predict game outcomes, it's not always accurate and should be used in conjunction with other information like team statistics, player performances, and recent form.

The Application of the Zig Zag Theory in the NBA

The home team in basketball has a greater advantage than in the NHL. This means that the away team that loses Game 1, is unlikely to win Game 2. However, there's a good chance they will be able to take Game 3 if the gap between the two sides isn't that big.

Let's take an example.

Take the 2016 NBA Finals between Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors and LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers. Having closed the regular season with the best result, the lead went to the Warriors:

  • Game 1: Warriors-Cavaliers 104-89 (1-0)
  • Game 2: Warriors-Cavaliers 110-77 (2-0)
  • Game 3: Cavaliers-Warriors 120-90 (1-2)
  • Game 4: Cavaliers-Warriors 97-108 (1-3)
  • Game 5: Warriors-Cavaliers 97-112 (3-2)
  • Game 6: Cavaliers-Warriors 115-101 (3-3)
  • Game 7: Warriors-Cavaliers 89-93 (3-4)

As you can see, the first 2 games were played in San Francisco, the next 2 in Cleveland, and then 1 time alternately between San Francisco and Cleveland. And as you can see, the Warriors won their first two games at home but then lost on the road at their first opportunity.

Furthermore, according to NBA statistics, if the home team and favorite loses Game 1 of an NBA playoff series, there is an approximately 75% chance they will win Game 2.

The Zig-zag Theory in the NHL

On the ice, as already mentioned, the home factor is less felt than on parquet, but it still has its weight. If the home team wins Game 1, however, the away team has a slightly better chance of impacting the series in Game 2 than they do in basketball, but that doesn't mean it always happens.

Bettors who use the zig-zag theory in the NHL, but also in the NBA, know that in a 7-game series, the “home recovery” factor is much more likely to occur in games where the values on the field are similar.

Bet in Real Time

Live betting allows you to implement a whole series of strategies that you otherwise would not be able to use if you limited yourself to pre-event sports betting. Today, all non GamStop sites offer the game in real-time, updating the odds based on the progress of the match.

Playing live is very useful and comfortable because, first of all, it allows you to cover yourself on the events you have already bet on. For example, suppose you backed an underdog football team to win at odds of 4.50. There are 15 minutes left in the match and that team is actually ahead, even if the opponent is attacking frantically in the hunt for a draw.

Given that the match is close to the end, the odds on the goal scored by the losing team will be significantly higher than at the beginning: by betting on the possibility that, in the end, the trailing team manages to score, you will be able to protect yourself and in some cases be able to make a profit whether you win your original bet or lose it.

Football Betting Strategies: Quick Tips

Now, here are some useful strategies and advice for football bets, which are the most popular and loved by British bettors:

  • Take advantage of bookmakers' betting bonuses;
  • Keep an eye out for the tips written by the pros;
  • Search for the best odds for the game you want to bet on;
  • Never go beyond the budget you set for yourself;
  • Prefer bets on the teams you know best;
  • Take advantage of promotions.

About Ishita Bhatt

Ishita Bhatt is the co-editor and contributor at and Gatilab. She creates informative and actionable content for the clients.