Ice hockey lines are a must-have for any sports betting site. US-facing sportsbooks focus on the National Hockey League odds in their betting offers, but most of them go further and include European, Canadian, and Russian tournaments. There’s never a shortage of ice hockey wagers.
Although ice hockey and particularly NHL odds and betting options are mostly the same you see in soccer, football, or basketball lines, the manner of the game itself makes the whole experience different. Still, ice hockey betting might become challenging for those who never placed a bet: it requires knowing all ins and outs of the game to make the right decisions. Our guide is aimed at beginner bettors who need to boost their knowledge and sort things out.
Here we gathered the essentials of betting on hockey, and some of them will be helpful for other sports, too! You will learn various odds formats you can face at different sportsbooks, study the most popular bet types, their pros, and cons, and get the overall idea of how to be ahead of the pack as a bettor.
How do hockey odds work?
Before you get close to ice hockey game insights and learn what is special about these wager types, you need to know the very basics of sports betting: odds and their formats. When you first enter an online sportsbook, you may get confused by the variety of figures, abbreviations, and baffling terms, so we’ll try to make your encounter painless.
NHL betting odds (just like the odds for any other sports) show you how much you can win. For instance, you want to bet on the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Tampa Bay Lightning matchup and back your local team. You choose the best type related to the match-winner prediction and see some figures. They might be -300, or 1,3, or 1/3, but all of them help you to understand your potential payout. Let’s look in detail at how to read the odds and calculate your probable winnings.
What are the odds formats most common in hockey betting?
There are several odds formats you can find at various sportsbooks. Expressed in different ways, the odds remain the same. The format choice depends on a sportsbook’s origin and its main betting audience. Traditionally, British people use fractional odds; European gamblers are more familiar with the decimal format, while the Americans have their own way of reflecting the potential winnings.
These three odds formats, American, decimal, and fractional, are very typical for most bookmakers.
You can typically switch between the odds formats, especially when you opt for a bookie aimed at the international audience. Some betting sites give more options, like Indonesian, or Malaysian odds, if they target the Asian market. This review won’t touch these Asian odds: they are not really popular in the USA and Europe, and besides very easy to understand if you have a clear idea of fractional, decimal, and American formats.
How to read hockey odds
Let’s start with the decimal format, mainly popular in Europe: you will see most sportsbooks licensed by Gibraltar, Malta, Curacao, and other offshore jurisdictions. To explain it more vividly, we’ll give you an example we found in a real sportsbook:
- Boston Bruins to win the match: 2.0
- Washington Capitals to win the match: 1.8
You see the odds given in the form of decimal numbers. If you multiply your bet amount on these odds, you will get the potential payout (including the stake amount). Thus, if you bet $100 on the Bruins, you will receive $200 if they win — your net profit will be $100. At the same time, your successful $100 wager on the Washington Capitals will bring you only $80: 1.8*$100 = $180, where $100 is your stake.
As you see, a bet on the Bruins is more profitable, which means they have fewer chances to win. In sports betting, such a team is called the underdog, while the Capitals in our example are the favorites. The odds help you understand who has more chances to defeat the opponent and make a better decision.
American odds are even simpler when it comes to indicating favorites or underdogs. They always come as a three-digit number with a plus or minus sign. Let’s look at the same market, switched to the American odds format:
- Boston Bruins to win the match: +100
- Washington Capitals to win the match: -120
So, the first thing to remember: positive odds mean the underdog, and the negative odds indicate the favorite. How to calculate the payout, then?
It’s easy with a plus sign: the odds mean how much you win in net profits if you wager $100. Thus, if you back the Boston Bruins and they win, you will get $100 (and your $100 stake, of course). If it fully corresponds with our decimals calculations, right?
With a minus sign, the odds show how much you need to risk to win $100. Thus, you need to place a $120 stake to win $100 when you want to back the Washington Capitals.
Of course, you don’t need to wager $100: the same calculations will be correct for any stake — for instance, if you wager as little as $5 on the Capitals, your overall payout will be $9.17.
Finally, fractional odds. They are traditionally popular in Great Britain and are rarely used by American, European, or Asian bettors, but if you come across some British bookmaker, knowing this format will be helpful.
- Boston Bruins to win the match: 1/1
- Washington Capitals to win the match: 5/6
The numbers mean the following: how much you will win/your stake. Thus, if you bet a dollar on the Bruins, you will win the same one dollar. If you bet $50, you will win $50, and your total payout will be $100, etc. The same is with the second outcome:
A $6 stake will bring you $5 in case of success; it’s easy to see that a $100 will bring a $100 profit, with a $200 payout.
Most Popular Types of Bets in the Ice Hockey Wagering
You now know how to read odds: it will be helpful for betting on any sport. The examples we used to explain to you the odds formats consisted of the Money line odds examples — one of the most straightforward wager types when you need to predict the match-winner. However, there are much more betting options: you can wager on the puck line (betting on the winning margin), totals (betting on the total score), and various props when you bet on a player’s or team’s stats.
Let’s look at the few very basic NHL bets and see how profitable (or not) they can be for a bettor.
Moneyline Hockey Bets
As you already know, Moneyline betting implies you are making a wager to predict who will win the whole game over overtime. In simple words, you just must guess who will win outright, that’s it. You have a favorite and an underdog, with the odds showing who is who. However, don’t rush to make a bet on a favorite: the most amazing thing in the NHL is that it rarely has ultimate favorites and underdogs.
According to statistics, underdogs in NHL win in 40% of cases, which makes their chances almost equal to favorites.
Still, don’t let a bookie lure you by too beautiful odds: when the figures promise you a high-sky payout, 99%, this outcome is very unlikely to happen.
How to know if the underdog has a larger chance to win in a particular matchup? First, look at the stats from the latest games: if one team is on its winning streak, and the oddsmakers didn’t make their odds too high, it might be a bargain! Besides, mind the exhaustion: participation in the regular NHL season involves many transfers and flights, so a favorite team might perform worse if they are on the away-field and have had a great deal of traveling within the latest week.
Grand Salami Bets
Before explaining what Grand Salami betting is, you need to know about the Over/Under market, also called Totals.
Totals (Over/Under) bet type implies you need to predict the total score of the game: all the points scored by both teams. Of course, it’s almost impossible to guess the exact number, especially in such a dynamic game like ice hockey. Hence, a bookmaker suggests a particular number of goals, and you must think if the overall score goes over or under this number.
A line example: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Vegas Golden Knights:
- Over 4,5: -150
- Under 4,5: +200
Suppose you bet on the Over result and the game ended in 4-3. Your bet wins: 4+3 equals 7, which is obviously ‘over’ 4,5. If it was, say, 1-2, you Over bet would lose, while the Under one would work out. As you see, it doesn’t matter who wins, scores first, or what the winning margin is: your need to know how scoring is the team overall.
This bet type is popular among NHL fans: the stats show how many goals each team scores playing with a particular opponent, so the predictions are pretty clear. It becomes especially profitable when you see that the game is obviously low or high scoring, which of course, implies a pretty strong knowledge of the league and its trends.
So, what is Grand Salami betting? In fact, it’s the same Over/Under bet, but instead of wagering on a particular game, you make a prediction for all events scheduled for a particular day. Usually, a sportsbook suggests from forty to fifty goals in the line.
Is it a profitable betting option? Of course, it is if you win. The payout is much bigger than when you wager on a single game, but the main con is that you need to consider too many factors. Sharp bettors use various strategies to make things right when betting on Grand Salami, but here are the most common tips you can follow to succeed:
- Note the teams’ rosters and how much rest do the key players get before the game;
- Who play as goalkeepers are the top players or backups;
- How has every team performed recently?
Futures in the NHL are mainly related to the Stanley Cup bets. Stanley Cup is the main prize for a winner of the NHL playoffs, so bettors can try to predict the winner long before the season ends. This is what Futures mean in sports betting: you wager on some long-term results unrelated to any specific event. For instance, this is how the Stanley Cup odds look in most sportsbooks:
- Colorado Avalanche +550
- Vegas Golden Knights +850
- Tampa Bay Lightning +850
- Toronto Maple Leafs +850
- Florida Panthers +900
- Minnesota Wild +1400
- Carolina Hurricanes +1400
- Washington Capitals +1600
As you see, the Futures odds offer a very high return. Still, sharp bettors tend to avoid them: all bookmakers charge too much juice for Futures bets, so making several Moneyline wagers might be much more profitable.
Besides, Futures odds are constantly changing: every week or ever more frequently.
Every single match may affect the odds and become game-changing for the finals, so it’s not enough to consider the previous years’ stats to make the right decision.
Besides the Stanley Cup odds, you can bet on the following NHL futures:
- Eastern/Western Conference Winner;
- Atlantic Division Winner;
- Metropolitan Division Winner;
- Pacific Division Winner;
- Central Division Winner;
- NHL President’s Trophy Winner;
- The Hart Memorial Trophy, and more.
60 Minute Line
Remember everything we told you about the Moneyline? 60 Minute Line is the same, but overtime is not included in the final result. In other words, you wager on who will have a bigger score within the sixty minutes of the match. Even if the overtime changes the whole result, it won’t affect your 60-minute line wager.
Another essential difference of the 60-minute line from the Moneyline is that it implies a tie, so you have three, not two outcomes. It increases both your chance to win and risk, so don’t rush to place this bet in pre-match: it’s better to secure such a wager when an event goes live and you’ve seen at least the first half of the match.
Thus, we came close to live betting. It works the same in betting on every sport: you place the bets right during the game is going on. It might give you a significant advantage over the other bettors but implies some risks, mainly related to the fact you need to make decisions very quickly.
What to look at when you wager in the in-game mode? Live betting is best suitable to take advantage of unexpected situations that you can’t predict when you wager before the game starts. Such situations involve injuries, sudden substitutions, or penalties. Besides, you can find very lucrative odds if you monitor the line during the game.
How to understand an ice hockey betting line?
Basically, ice hockey lines, including NHL betting lines is the same as most other team sports lines: it includes all betting markets you can wager on. When you open a sportsbook, click on the Ice Hockey section, and select an event, you will see the three most typical bet types: Moneyline, Puckline, and Totals.
If you want more options (60 Minute Line, or some player or team props, when you wager on various events during the game, for instance, a Player to Score a Goal), you can open a match coupon that contains the complete selection of betting markets. If a bookmaker offers more bets, it usually indicates the full number of available wagers, so clicking on these figures will open the coupon. To add the bets in the bet slip, some kind of a shopping cart at a sports betting site, simply select the outcome and press on its odds.
As it appears in a bet slip, indicate your stake amount, confirm the bet, and wait for the result — or cash out before the game ends, if a bookie has such a service.
The live betting line is the same. The only difference is that the odds fluctuation is much faster when in the live mode, and it takes from a couple of seconds to three-five minutes for a bookie to accept the bet. Sportsbooks don’t accept live bets instantly to avoid crucial mistakes when the odds become outdated.
Ice hockey betting is not hard to understand: it’s easy to go further and make wiser decisions and more profitable bets when you know the basics. The more you learn and dive deeper into the game, the more chance you will find your own working strategy. For instance, you can combine your wagers in parlays — multiple bets consisting of several picks that win if all the selections are correct. Besides, you can get even more profit with various special offers from betting sites: free bets, deposit bonuses, cashback, and more.
Still, we always remind our readers that you must remember the responsible gambling principles no matter how you bet and what you wager on. It means that your sports betting experience must remain safe and healthy. If you feel you are not keen on anything but betting or begin to lack money because you spend everything on your wagers, it may mean you are having a gambling problem and need to apply to crisis counseling. Luckily, good sports betting sites always give you all links and contacts of organizations that can help.
The best ice hockey line is the opening one: sharp bettors believe that the very first odds that appear for a particular game are the most accurate and fair. Various comparison engines will help you to see how the actual sportsbooks lines differ from the opening line. Basically, you will most likely find the best ice hockey odds (including NHL events) at DraftKings, BetOnline, and SportsBetting.ag, but we recommend you shop the lines to find the best odds before making a final decision.
The odds always reflect a bookie's opinion on the possible game outcome. When the odds show a better payout, it means that the outcome is less probable, while the lower odds are always a sign of a high probability. For instance, if the money line shows -100 and +200 odds for Team A and Team B, respectively, you can guess that Team A is the favorite and have a better chance to win. However, don't stick to this rule much: underdogs win, too, and betting against the trends might also be very profitable.
The Moneyline bet in ice hockey betting means that you wager the final outcome of the match. In simple words, when you wager on a Moneyline, you predict who will become this night's winner. The final score, the number of goals scored by each team, and other things don't count in this wager type. Moneyline is the most straightforward wager to understand and thus very popular among bettors; it might become incredibly profitable if you make a bet on the underdog and it wins despite the oddsmakers' and betting public predictions.
Puck line in hockey is a version of point spread betting in most other sports — for instance, run line in baseball. When you wager on puck line, you make a bet on a winning margin between two teams. Unlike in other team sports, the puck line for ice hockey always offers you a spread of 1,5 goals. It means that your puck line bet on the favorite will win if they score from two goals more than the opponents, and if you back the underdog, they must win or score no less than two goals than the favorites. Being a low-scoring game, ice hockey doesn't usually have much larger winning margins, and this is why 1,5 spread points became a golden standard.