The Zig-Zag Theory Explained

Zig Zag Theory

There are quite a few theories you’ll hear from bettors that supposedly work. Some support the idea that you can only win by betting less than 2% of your bankroll. Others believe that systems such as the Martingale and Labouchere are key to winning in the long run. The fact is that not all the theories work, but the successful one is the zig-zag theory in betting.

This theory is often used in NBA matches and revolves around a team that has lost a big game and enters the next one motivated. It’s a widely popular theory in NBA wagering, and many bettors swear by it. To learn more about it, you should read our BetZillion guide below.

What Is Zig-Zag Theory?

The zig-zag theory was invented by a successful handicapper named Tony Salinas. Salinas believed that all games in the NBA and NHL are affected by the matches before them. He specifically thought that almost all bookies rarely account for it instead of focusing on less important factors such as home advantage.

The zig-zag theory definition claims that teams are more likely to win after losing the previous one. Salinas based his theory on the fact that no team has come back after being 3-0 down in a best of 7 series. Teams 2-0 down heading into the 3rd match won it 60% of the time, even if they were in poor form and were the lower seed.

The idea behind it was that bookies usually underestimate teams in that position. They’ve already lost 2 matches in a row, so they aren’t likely to win the next one. Also known as the NBA and NHL zig-zag theory, it can be applied to most sports but is specifically designed for these leagues. Of course, it’s not a proven theory, but the prevalence of teams that win their games after going 2-0 down holds significant value in sports betting.

How Does Zig-Zag Theory Work?

In the simplest terms, the zig-zag theory suggests that when a team loses one match, it should cover the spread in the next. Bouncing back from losses is not easy for squads, yet it’s a vital piece of the zig-zag theory. Of course, it’s not that superficial. The zig-zag betting strategy also considers the home and away teams and their recent form.

As mentioned earlier, it mainly applies to the NBA, the NFL, and the NHL, where spread bets work best.

NBA Zig-Zag Theory

Why is the zig-zag theory excellent for NBA matches? It is mainly used during the playoffs, where home advantage has massive significance. With the new format for playoff games being 2-2-1-1-1, teams travel more. While all those players are professionals who shouldn’t find any excuses, travelling between games can take a toll.

For example, in the best of 7 series, the team with the home advantage might get the 2 first wins at home. In that case, it will travel away with the underdog looking to snag a win at home. That’s where the zig-zag theory is relevant, with these teams winning the 3rd game in many cases. The idea takes into consideration which squads are home and away. Also, it uses momentum to provide players with an excellent opportunity to bet on the underdog to win the 3rd game, which usually happens.

Once again, the NBA zig-zag theory is most relevant in the playoffs, not the regular season.

NHL Zig-Zag Theory

The NHL playoffs are very similar to the NBA. Home court advantage is considered crucial, and once again, it’s a key piece in the zig-zag theory wheel. You’ll see many NHL betting apps backing up the underdog with great odds once it goes down 2-0.

It would help if you looked out for factors when you apply the zig-zag theory in the NHL postseason, such as betting on the underdog after it goes down 1 or 2-0. On average, the 3rd game is the sweet spot with this theory, and most experts recommend trying it at that point.

Factors to Look for When Betting Zig-Zag Theory

It would help to look for a few factors when using this theory in practice.

Home Team Leads 1-0

In over 50% of the postseason games in the NBA, NFL, and NHL, the home team takes the first game. It presents an excellent opportunity to bet on the underdog for the second game.

Home Team Takes a 2-0 Lead

When the home team takes a commanding 2-0 lead, the third game wins in over 60% of the cases, proving the zig-zag theory in sports betting works like a charm.

Home Team Loses the First Game

If the home team loses the first game, you should spend money on winning the next one. No one likes to lose the home advantage, especially to a low-seeded team, so the favourites usually win the second game if they surprisingly lose the first one.

Reasons to Use Zig-Zag Theory Cautiously

There’s no question that the zig-zag theory can work most of the time. However, like any other betting theory, it’s not always right. You should always take into consideration the strength of all teams involved. It’s also worth keeping in mind that surprises in sports can happen, so always be cautious and avoid betting a lot of money on this theory.

Zig-Zag Theory Statistics

While there’s been no official stats research on the zig-zag theory, scenarios such as the home team winning game 1 occur in over 53% of cases. Around 65% of these teams went to win the series. It’s even better when you apply the theory to the underdog winning the 3rd game after losing the first 2, which happens nearly 60% of the time.

Once again, these stats are unofficial, but if you look at the past few seasons, you’ll see that the numbers match.

Is It Worth Using a Zig-Zag Theory?

Yes, it is, but you should always do it cautiously. Always read tips and strategies by experts before you take a deep dive into this solid theory. Make sure you use it at VIP bookmakers, too, as they offer better value on the odds to make the theory relevant and profitable.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is the zig-zag theory profitable?

    It can be profitable, but you must know it’s not bulletproof. In our zig-zag theory explained guide, we’ve shown that it works best on the 3rd game when the lower-seeded team trials 2-0. In that case, you can expect to win your bets in most cases, but still, there’s no guarantee.

  • How to use zig-zag theory in NBA playoffs betting?

    Using the zig-zag theory works best in the NBA playoffs. It’s especially great when the stronger team takes a 2-0 advantage by winning the first 2 home games. You can then put your money on the underdog, winning at home, which happens in almost 60% of the cases.

  • How to start using the zig-zag betting theory?

    You’ll need to do your research to start using the zig-zag theory. Please read tips, strategies, and expert predictions, and put your money on playoffs where it makes the most sense.

Tim Harrison
Betting Guru

Tim is our betting guru. Every gaming site needs one, and Tim’s our guy. He has plenty of experience in betting online and is quite successful at it. Tim’s favorite sports are hockey, baseball, and Esports. Tim believes the latter to be the future of betting.

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