Hockey offers a lot of betting opportunities as it’s one of the most loved sports in the world. Our NHL experts share their predictions on markets such as the Stanley Cup winners, divisional winners, and award winners.
Keep in mind that sports betting is not yet legal all across the US, so check out our full guide to legal US sports betting state by state.
Watch Kurt Long explain how to bet on hockey in this informative video:
In the gambling world one of the most exciting sports to have action on is hockey and in this guide, we’re going to explain everything you need to know about betting on the NHL, step by step.
Fans love the speed and physicality of NHL hockey and it makes it one of the most exciting pro sports to watch. Add in a few legal and well-researched wagers and things only get better.
In this article, we take you through all the important aspects of NHL betting including:
A lot has changed in the sports gambling world in recent years. Not only have the internet and online casinos completely revolutionized the sports betting industry, but we’ve also seen recent changes in federal laws that are paving the way for sports gambling to become legal in every state in the country.
Whether betting on the NHL is legal for you depends on which state you’re in.
Click here for a full guide to legal US sports betting state by state, and find the specific page for the state you’re in. for instance, sports betting in Tennesse. We update the pages whenever something major happens so checking your state’s page is the easiest way to find a quick and accurate answer.
Ever since the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) was passed in 1992, sports betting had been illegal across all of America with a few exceptions. Nevada being the big one.
However, things changed in a big way in May of 2018 when the state of New Jersey successfully appealed the law. The Supreme Court voted 6-3 in favor of overturning PASPA and giving each state the authority to govern its own sports gambling industry.
While the decision didn’t instantly make sports gambling legal across the US, it does mean that each state now has the option to decide for itself whether to allow sports gambling in their state and how they wish to legislate it.
With New Jersey leading the way, many other states have already begun the process of regulating and licensing sports gambling including Delaware, Montana, and West Virginia. We anticipate that this list is going to continue growing and we recommend you follow your own state’s legislature closely as the landscape is changing quickly.
Betting on NHL games can take lots of different forms. In this section we’ll walk you through all the popular kinds of bets and then in the next section we’ll explain how the odds and betting lines work in detail.
This is the most popular and most basic form of hockey bet. All you need to do is pick the winner of the game. Choose correctly and your bet wins.
Moneyline bets are always posted with American odds. Here’s an example of a money line:
We’ll explain American odds in more detail in the next section but the most important things to remember are:
When you’re betting the money line be sure to pay attention to the betting type you have chosen because hockey wagers are offered as Regulation Time bets or as OT included bets.
In some cases, you will be given only two options to bet on: Which team wins and which team loses. This is called a 2-way money line. If the game is tied after 60 minutes of play your ticket is considered a tie (called a “push” in gambling parlance) and your bet is refunded.
Another moneyline category within the Regulation Time category is called a 3-way money line which means you can choose a tie in addition to which team wins and which loses.
A point spread is a margin of victory that oddsmakers predict the favored team will win by.
The casino sets the margin and the favored team must win by at least that many points in order for spread bets on them to win. Conversely, the underdog team can lose by the same margin, or win the game outright in order to “cover the spread” and provide a winning result for bettors.
In the modern NHL, you’ll almost always see point spreads that range from (+/-) 0.5 to (+/-) 2.5 goals.
For example, if the Washington Capitals are favorites and the point spread is listed as Washington -1.0 then they will need to win by 2 or more goals in order to cover the spread. If they win by exactly 1 goal this bet would be a push. Most often point spreads are non-whole numbers to avoid a push result.
Let’s look at another example:
If the underdog is +1.5 in another game and loses by just one goal they still cover the +1.5 spread even though they lost the game.
A puckline wager combines aspects of money lines and point spreads. Also called the Canadian Line, pucklines will always be listed as -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.
Puckline bets also incorporate American odds that tell you how much a winning bet on each team pays out.
Here’s an example puckline:
In this example, Detroit must win by two or more goals for bets on them to win. Using what we learned earlier about American odds we can see that you must bet $140 on Detroit to win $100 in profit.
Winnipeg, on the other hand, can lose the game by one point or win outright for bets on them to win. The American odds of +180 tell us that if we bet $100 on them and win we’ll make $180 in profit.
In addition to betting on which team will win, you can also bet on how many total goals you think will be scored in a game. This is called betting on the point total, also called Over/Under betting.
The most common Over/Under line in today’s NHL is 5.5 goals. If you think a game will have 6 or more goals bet on the Over. If you think the game will have less than 6 goals place your wager on the Under.
Unless otherwise stated, point total wagers always include Overtime and shootout goals.
Sometimes totals bets show the payouts using fractional odds. Here’s an example of an Over/Under bet with fractional odds.
This means a winning bet on the Over will payout at 1.87. To calculate your payout just multiply the amount wagered by 1.87. This will give you your total payout (original wager + profit).
In this example, a winning $100 bet on the Over pays out $187 ($100 original bet + $87 profit).
Now that you know the basics of NHL betting, the next step is figuring out what the betting tables mean and how to read them. They can look a bit strange at first but it isn’t as complex as it might seem. We will explain it all in terms that are really easy to understand.
Once you’ve seen a few different lines and learned what they mean, the same concepts can be used across lots of different varieties of betting. Here are some key points to get you started:
It’s now time to combine everything we’ve learned so far to see how we go
Whether you want to bet money line, point spread, puckline, point total, or any other sort of bet, you will be shown the odds for the wager. Moneyline bets tend to give the largest disparity in odds since most games have a favorite and an underdog.
The underdog will have longer (better) odds with a bigger payout while the favorite will have shorter (worse) odds and a smaller payout. That means a correct wager on a favorite will pay less than a successful bet on an underdog. This should be pretty obvious since we expect the better team to win most of the time.
With American odds we might see a typical NHL line looking something like this:
The best way to start your thought process is by looking at the plus (+) sign and the (-) sign.
In the example given we know that the Penguins are the favorites and the Red Wings are the underdogs.
The $100 values are simplified examples. You are free to wager any amount on your own personal ticket. If you are wagering in person at a sportsbook you’ll get a ticket with your exact payout printed right on it.
Most online sportsbooks will even show you how much you’ll win on a bet before you make it. In fact, many sites will have two different fields to fill in such that you can either input exactly how much you want to wager or, alternatively, you can type in a precise amount you would like as profit and it will auto-fill the amount necessary to wager for said amount of profit.
Now it’s time to use put everything we’ve learned so far together to see exactly how to bet on NHL hockey.
When sportsbooks list hockey odds they do it by game. They’ll list both teams and usually show the odds for the three main kinds of bets: moneyline, puckline, and Over/Under point totals.
Note: For this example, the bets will fall into the OT Included category which means the outcome for any wager includes goals scored in overtime or shootout.
You are simply wagering on who you think will win the game. Since the NHL added shootouts in 2005-06, every game has a winning team.
The (+) in from of Vancouver’s number means they are the underdog in this game. If you bet $100 Vancouver and they won, you would make a $210 profit. If you bet $265 on the Panthers to win and they did, you’d make $100 profit.
In hockey, every game will have a puckline spread with is -1.5 goals for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog.
This means the favorite has to win by at least two goals or the underdog has to lose by less than 2 or win the game outright.
Betting $105 bet on the Panthers would win $100 profit if they win by at least 2 goals. Betting $115 bet on the Canucks would win $100 profit if they lost by less than 2 or won the game straight up.
These bets are strictly based on how many total goals are scored in a game.
A $110 bet on the Over would make $100 profit if the six or more goals are scored.
A $110 bet on the Under would win $100 profit if less than six goals are scored.
These are the basic bets but there are other forms of NHL wagering available like Futures Bets, Prop Bets, and Live Betting.
Betting on daily fantasy sports is a fantastic way to put some action on hockey, especially if you live in a state that doesn’t allow traditional sports betting.
Fantasy sports is also great practice for other forms of sports betting that will be coming soon to your state. From analyzing stats to learning bankroll management strategies, hockey DFS is definitely worth checking out.
If you can’t decide where to signup for DFS contests, have a look at our comparison of DraftKings vs FanDuel and find out which DFS site is best for you.
Once you understand how to place single bets and you have a handle on all the different varieties of wagers, you are ready to consider parlay betting. A parlay bet combines two or more bets into one ticket. It allows you to keep your costs down while multiplying your potential payouts.
It’s a tradeoff. You increase your risk but also increase your potential winnings. Just remember, if any part of your bet is incorrect, the whole thing loses.
From a mathematical standpoint, if you were to parlay a series of even-money outcomes (like flipping a coin), these are the odds most sites would pay for a winning parlay ticket:
Almost anything you want to combine into a parlay is available so long as the bets are not correlated with each other. Correlated wagers are when one outcome is directly connected to a subsequent outcome. An example would be betting a point total for the first period and then trying to parlay it with the full game point total.
If you’re looking to make a really big parlay with a bunch of teams but you’re not fully confident in all of them, there is a way to reduce the risk.
Any parlay of more than two games can be broken down into smaller parts. This option is called round-robin betting. Essentially you are taking all of the smaller pieces of a parlay and buying tickets for each of them.
It is more expensive because your one big parlay is now broken down into many smaller, individual tickets. The trade-off is that you are also reducing your risk because if one part of the bet is wrong, you don’t lose everything.
Let’s look at an example for a parlay with three bets and then one slightly bigger one using four bets.
Colorado puckline, Boston moneyline, Oilers/Flames Over 5.5
A normal parlay requires all three games to be correct. This would be one ticket for one price.
Purchasing this parlay as a round-robin ticket separates the bets into smaller parlays and requires only two of out three games to be correct to win. There are three possible outcomes and so you must pay for all three wagers separately. The ticket now has three possibilities to win and they are:
If you are correct on all three, you will win all three combinations. However, If any of the three games is incorrect (while the other two are wins), you will still win some money back.
Signing up for an account and betting on the NHL online has never been easier or quicker. The first thing to do is to make sure sports betting is legal where you live.
Visit our state by state guide to sports gambling in the United States and find the guide for your state.
If you have legal options, we’ll list the best online sportsbooks and casinos available in your area. From there the signup process is a breeze.
Follow these steps to get started now:
With NHL betting, sometimes overtime factors into your bets and sometimes it doesn’t. It depends on what type of betting you choose; Regulation Time Bets or OT Included Bets.
If you stick to Regulation Time betting you only have to be correct about the outcome of the game at the end of the third period.
Within this category, you’ll find 2-way bets and 3-way bets.
You pick whether the home team will win after 60 minutes or the visiting team will win after 60 minutes. If it goes to overtime your bet is a push and refunded.
Some sportsbooks offer the ability to bet on a tie after regulation time. Therefore there are three wagers to choose from: home win, visitor win, or tie.
If you are wagering on OT Included Bets, it means the bet includes overtime or shootout goals. Totals bets are included in this category as well.
Live betting allows you to make bets while the game is playing out. It’s a style of betting that’s evolving fast thanks to advances in technology. Also called in-game or in-running betting, live betting lets you bet on props or traditional wagers like moneylines, pucklines, and totals.
Oddsmakers watch the game live just like you and set betting lines on the fly according to how the game is developing.
Since these oddsmakers are working quickly, they have to rely more on instinct than math and proper calculations. Since they have less time to work, they’re more likely to make mistakes that you can capitalize on. You can find great value with live NHL betting if you know where to look.
When diving into live betting on NHL games, here are some factors to consider:
Any time you approach a sport to place bets, you need to do research and study everything you can get your hands on.
That goes for player and team performance but there are also lots of other factors to consider. The NHL has a grueling 82 game schedule with a lot of travel. Some teams deal with longer distances than others and it affects their success on the road.
Pay attention to how teams deal with road trips, injuries, who their back up goalies are, and how they fair on the road compared to at home.
Important factors to look for:
The three main betting markets for the NHL are moneyline, puckline, and totals markets as well as a special group of alternative markets. Sometimes totals markets will be referred to as Over/Under.
The simplest form of market. Simply wager on who you think will win. Total goals or margin of victory are irrelevant to the result.
A point spread of 1.5 goals is used to equalize the outcome of a game such that the favorite needs to win by 2 or more goals and the underdog needs to lose by less than 2 or win the game out right.
This market is based on the total number of goals scored in a contest regardless of which team wins or how much they win by.
If you wish to bet on outcomes for regulation time only, then you may find sportsbooks offering three results instead of two. You can bet on the home team to win, a visitor to win, or tie after 60 minutes.
While similar to regular totals markets, these wagers are specific to one specific portion of the game (first period only, for example) or one team’s performance either per period or for full time with OT and shootout included.
The Stanley Cup playoffs are an exhilarating grind and it offers a special opportunity for people gambling on the NHL.
The goal of playoff bracket betting is to pick the winner of each first-round series and then all subsequent series winners in each round all the way up to the Stanley Cup finals.
The rules of playoff bracket betting for the Stanley Cup players are simple.
From a strategy standpoint, it is wise to mix up your selections rather than picking the highest seed in each round because you want to differentiate your bracket from other people’s brackets.
These days people can get their NHL gambling itch scratched in June even after the playoffs are over. In the last week of June, usually about a week before the July 1st free agency frenzy, the NHL holds its entry draft and sportsbooks take action on a multitude of bets.
The most popular wager is who will get selected first overall but sometimes when first overall is an obvious choice, the action floods in on other bets. The lines can come in many forms. Typical examples include:
As always, doing your own research is a prudent move. The most common question we hear on NHL draft day is whether a team should pick according to its specific needs or if they should take the best player available. Sometimes these conflicting factors can lead a team to make drastic moves. They can decide to trade the pick or even trade a current roster player to make way for the new up and coming young star.
We recommend heading to some of the major NHL forums a few weeks before the draft to see what the fans of each team are discussing. They usually have their ear closest to the ground and finger on the pulse of their respective franchises.
Betting on hockey in Las Vegas can be a great way to experience the excitement of sports gambling. Vegas has some of the best sportsbooks in the world in some of the most lavish casinos on the planet.
Conversely, if it’s an old school grimey vibe you’re looking for to watch your favorite teams and place some exciting wagers, they have plenty of dive bars and lower end sportsbooks in town as well. Either way, you’re in for an experience.
If you’re new to the scene don’t worry, this guide can help and so can the staff at whatever establishment you end up in.
You just need to know how to read the lines and then how to express it verbally. Follow these steps:
When you approach the desk at a sportsbook, feel free to ask any questions if you feel unsure. They are there to help and will simplify everything for you.
Sports betting is a bit like being back in high school except instead of studying to pass exams and get grades you are studying to get edges, win bets, and get paid.
Either way, if you want to be successful and a good student of the game, you are going to need access to the best textbooks and resources. Luckily for you, these days the internet is a mouse-click away and data is virtually unlimited.
Two of our preferred sites are www.fantasylabs.com and www.donbest.com. You’ll notice FantasyLabs is focused on the fantasy side of sports. That’s okay, they are researching the same sports and athletes that punters do, just at a different angle. But that’s good. To be a winning gambler you should start to think outside the box a little bit. It’s how edges are found.
Use the internet to find the people and communities that suit your specific interests. Joining forums and talking to peers is an excellent way to share ideas and get good insight on upcoming games, lines, injury updates, trends, and more.
As well, there are literally thousands of bloggers and vloggers who post content daily that can help you develop your sports betting skills.
This guide has covered the basics, and then some. If you understand what we’ve covered so far you’ve got a strong foundation to build on and more than enough to get started.
Make sure to get familiar with how to read odds and betting lines, plus the most common kinds of hockey bets available online and in land-based casinos.
Finally, always compare your options before signing up for an online sports betting account. We’ve done the hard work for you by ranking and reviewing the best options available in your area. Compare them all to see who offers the best NHL betting odds and which site is offering an especially big bonus. Also, which sportsbooks have the best payout options.
If sports betting hasn’t been legalized where you live, keep studying because chances are it’s on the way.
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