Online sports betting just keeps on growing, doesn’t it? Hockey betting has been no exception to that growth, as more and more hockey fans are flocking to sportsbooks to put their knowledge to the test with a bet on hockey. To help you find success when you’re betting on hockey we’ve put together a concise guide on the main aspects of hockey betting you should be aware of to help give you an idea of how to bet on hockey before you jump in.
How to Bet on Hockey - Strategies & Tips for Hockey Betting
Best Sportsbooks for Hockey Betting
Hockey Betting Markets & Odds
Before putting any of your hard earned cash down, it’s important to know what you’re getting into with hockey betting. There are many different ways to bet on your favorite hockey teams, so we’ve broken down a few of the most popular NHL betting markets you’ll come across so you can figure out how to bet on hockey and what types of bets you think you can make successfully.
While the moneyline hockey bet is the best for beginners, it’s also one of the most popular among sharps as well. There’s no need to worry about any of the details of the game like how many goals are scored or who scored them or how many goals a team wins by: the sportsbook is simply asking bettors who they think is going to come away with the win that night, plain and simple.
Moneyline NHL betting markets are usually displayed in American odds, with the favorite sporting a negative (-) value and the underdog taking on a positive (+) value. No need to worry about the manner of the victory, all you need is the team you bet on to come out on top. Unless it’s otherwise stated, NHL moneyline bets always include overtime.
Similar to the point spread in NFL and NBA betting or the runline in MLB betting, the puckline is the same type of bet for NHL betting. You’re basically betting on how many goals you think a team will win or lose by. While spreads vary from game to game, NHL betting with the puckline is a little more standard.
Instead of changing the spread for each matchup, the puckline is usually at a standard 1.5 goals since there isn’t as much scoring in hockey as there is in other sports. There are times when a game is so unevenly matched that the puckline will go up to 2.5, but that’s rare, and the same goes for 0.5 pucklines for games that are simply too close to call.
That means that if you bet on the puckline of the favorite (-1.5) that team will need to win by at least two goals for your bet to hit. On the flip side, an underdog bet requires the team to lose by no more than a single goal for you to cash out that NHL bet. For example, if you bet on the Montreal Canadiens puckline at -1.5 in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, they need to win by 2+ goals while a bet on the Leafs would only require them to not lose by multiple goals.
Also called over/unders, this type of bet is completely unrelated to the outcome of the game at hand and instead focuses on how many goals are scored. The sportsbook will handicap the game and decide what they think is the most likely total, then put it to bettors to decide whether the two teams competing in that game will score over that number of goals or under.
Because hockey is such a low-scoring game, when you’re betting on the NHL you can generally expect the total to be somewhere between five and 6.5. Unlike in football or basketball, movement on the total will generally not change the actual over/under number, but instead increase or decrease the odds attached to the over market and the under market.
For example, if the total for the above Canadiens-Leafs matchup is set at 5.5, an over bet would need at least six combined goals from both sides for your bet to win, while an under bet would need five goals or less to be a winner.
One of the betting markets that has seen a huge spike in popularity recently is with player props. More and more people who bet on hockey are moving to this more specialized betting type because it requires much less handicapping than an entire game. All you have to do is get one stat for one player right to hit your bet.
Basically, you’re betting on a player to achieve or not achieve something in the game at hand. You can bet on quite a wide variety of propositions including whether a player will score, whether they’ll score multiple times, whether they’ll get an assist, how many points they’ll get, whether they’ll score on a power play, how many shots they’ll have, how many saves a goalie might have, or if a goalie will record a shutout. You can even bet on how many blocked shots a player might have in a game.
For some of these, it’s a simple yes or no proposition, but when you get into NHL betting on points, saves, shots, and blocks, they’re going to be in the form of an over/under proposition. For example, if the sportsbook sets Auston Matthews’ shot total at 3.5, you can choose to bet on him to fire off more or less than that number. If Matthews takes four or more shots, an over bet is a winner, if he takes three or less, the under bet is the winner.
While this type of bet is also offered for the MLB, NHL betting is where you’ll see it most often. This is basically an over/under bet on steroids. With the grand salami, you’re not just betting on how many goals are scored in one game, you’re betting on how many you think will be scored for that day’s entire NHL slate.
The grand salami is not available at every sportsbook so you’ll have to search to find it depending on who you bet with. If you’re having trouble finding an over/under bet with a total and odds you like, take a swing at the grand salami. This type of hockey bet means that every goal scored by every team that night is crucial to your bet’s chances of winning.
The nice thing about the grand salami is that if a certain game lets you down, you can still count on another game to pick up the slack and make up for it. For example, if there’s a five-game slate with a grand salami total of 28.5 and you bet the over, you’re cheering for every team to score as many goals as possible, as your bet wins if they combine for 29+ goals. If you bet the under, you’re rooting for the goalies to all have excellent games to hold the total to 28 or fewer, which would cash your bet.
60 Minute Line
This type of hockey bet is similar to the moneyline but with one major caveat: it does not include overtime. This makes it a three-way bet instead of a regular two-way bet because there’s an added option: either a home win, a visitor win, or a tie at the final buzzer of the third period.
A popular way to use the 60-minute line is to get better odds on a favorite you want to bet on. If the standard moneyline is -160 for the Canadiens, their odds might be down to -120 on the 60-minute line, which adds a ton of value to your bet. You just don’t want to take that risk only to see your team win it in overtime, which would mean you lost your bet.
For those that like to look at the big picture, doing your NHL betting on futures markets could be beneficial. Instead of wagering on the outcome of a single game, what you’re doing here is betting on the result of a season-long proposition instead. These are long-running markets that allow you to wager on overall season results.
Betting on this kind of market has its drawbacks and advantages, namely that the odds on these markets are usually pretty high, but the reason for that is because so much can happen in one season, making them harder propositions to predict. Some common examples of this type of bet include who will win the Stanley Cup, who will make the Stanley Cup Finals, who will finish the regular season with the most points, who will make the playoffs, as well as predicting the various other awards that are given at season’s end.
Another way to get multiple hockey bets in is to package them all up into one hockey bet in the form of a parlay. Parlays have become all the rage recently, and a lot of it has to do with sportsbooks deftly marketing them with crazy reaction videos when bettors do hit the rare parlay for big money. A parlay is basically taking several bets and rolling them into one.
While this will give your bet astronomically higher odds and bigger payouts, they’re also highly unlikely to hit for you because of the fact that every single bet on your parlay needs to hit for you to win anything. For example, if you put together a six-team parlay and you get five out of the six correct, you’ve done pretty well, except for the fact that you lost your parlay.
Parlays can be a lot of fun, however, so if your NHL betting is not focused on sustained long term success and more about enjoying the game, cooking up a parlay from time to time is not a bad idea.
Understanding Hockey Odds
One of the most important things to get familiar with before you start your NHL betting journey is hockey odds. The odds you get on your bet are basically dictating two things to you: the first is the implied probability of that bet being successful, and the second is how much money you stand to win on your bet.
Decimal and fractional hockey odds are simple to work with because all you have to do is multiply your stake by the odds you have to get your payout.
American odds, which are by far the most common in North America, are a little bit more tricky. Odds are displayed with a “+” or a “-” next to a number.
The “-” designates a favorite or something that is more likely than not to happen, while a “+” designates an underdog or something that is less likely to happen.
If you’re betting on a market with a negative value that means that whatever the number is next to the “-” is how much you need to risk to win $100. Meanwhile, when betting on a market with a positive value, whatever the number is next to the “+” is how much you stand to win on a $100 bet.
For example, if you’re betting on the Leafs to win at +200 odds, a $100 bet will net you $200. If you’re betting on the Canadiens at -150 odds, you’ll need to put down $150 to win $100 on your bet.
Hockey Betting Tips & Strategies
Now that we’ve got all the basics to betting on hockey down, let’s delve a little deeper into how you can find success with your hockey betting. It always helps to be well informed and come into things with a strategy or plan in place, so we’ve broken down a few of the hockey betting strategies we’ve had the most success in employing.
- Check Line Matchups
Unlike most sports, the best players on any given hockey team rarely play more than a third of the game for forwards and less than half for defenders. That’s because each team usually employs four lines of three forwards and three defensive pairings. To help you gain a competitive edge, it’s useful to check on what kind of matchups different lines or pairings might have, and make your hockey bet based on mismatches you might find.
- Shop Betting Lines
One of the best strategies for betting success is to make the hockey odds work for you. Instead of going to one sportsbook and making all of your bets there, it would behoove you to check out multiple sports betting sites to see which one is offering the most value on the bet you want to make. Hockey odds are different at every sportsbook, so finding the ones that are giving your preferred betting market the highest odds means you can increase your payouts. It won’t be a huge difference on a case by case basis, but if done consistently, it can really add up.
- Follow Injury News
A tried and true method of successful betting is to follow the NHL injury news closely and make your bets based on which players are in and which players are out. This can be used for standard bets like moneyline or puckline, but it can also be used very successfully on player props. For example, if a star player is out, look into the backup and see if they can bring enough to the table for a bet.
- Find Patterns
Every team has patterns and tendencies, and finding success in hockey betting can often be about identifying those patterns as soon as possible. Some teams might be stronger on the road, some may have terrible home records, some teams may play up to their competition, some may play down to the competition. There are even tendencies like betting against teams who don’t play well on the West Coast that have worked out well for bettors.
- Situational Bets
Another way to give yourself a better chance at winning your bets is to follow the flow of one or a few teams' seasons. For example, if a good team is currently in a rut or a losing streak, you can probably get better odds on them to bust out of it, or going the other way, bet on them to continue their losing ways. There’s also the ‘revenge game’ narratives where a star player is playing against his old team and you expect them to either shine or shrink in the moment.
How to Make a Hockey Bet?
Getting back to basics for a moment, you won’t be finding much success when you bet on hockey if you don’t know how to make a bet in the first place. It’s a simple process, but to ensure you understand each step, we’ve broken it down for you here.
- Do your research
The first thing you need to do is find a betting market with odds that speak to you. To do that you need to do your research on recent team and player news as well as tendencies and patterns that relate to that betting market.
- Shop Lines
Once you know which market you’re going to bet on, it’s time to do some hockey odds window shopping. Go through a few sportsbooks and see which one is offering the best odds on the specific market you’re considering, and make your bet there.
Once you’ve found the best odds possible, login to your account, or create one if you haven’t already. We suggest signing up with more than one sportsbook so you can take advantage when you find more value on different sites.
- Make your bet
Find the NHL section on your chosen sportsbook, decide on how much you want to stake on this particular bet, input that number into the betslip, place your bet, and you’re all done! All you need to do now is sit back and enjoy the action on the ice!
Understanding the NHL
To have success betting on anything you need to be pretty well-versed in that arena, and hockey betting is no different. To make sure you know what you’re dealing with, we’ve put together a little refresher on the structure of the NHL here. The league is now up to 32 teams, 16 in the East Conference and 16 in the West Conference.
Unlike most North American sports where the standings are determined by simple wins and losses, the NHL is run on points. If you win a game, whether in overtime or not, you’re awarded two points, if you lose the game in regulation, you get no points, but if you lose a game in overtime, you get one point. Those points are added up to create the standings.
At the end of the 82 game season, the top eight teams from each conference based on point totals will advance to the postseason. The NHL playoffs are one of the most exciting in sports and are a great time to do some hockey betting because of how many upsets you see and how often two teams can play each other, allowing for clear patterns to form.
In the first round the top seed in each conference takes on the eighth seed in that conference, the second seed plays the seventh seed and so on. Playoff series are best of seven where the first team to four wins advances to the next round. The playoff tournament continues in a classic bracket format until there’s only one team standing from each conference. Those two teams meet in the Stanley Cup Finals and battle for the right to lift the Stanley Cup in another seven game series.
Hockey Betting FAQs
Where can I bet on hockey?
There are many sports betting sites online offering hockey bets, check out our sportsbook reviews to see which one fits you best.
What is a puckline?
The puckline is the NHL’s answer to the runline or point spread (how many goals a team will win or lose by) and is usually set at 1.5.
Does overtime count in NHL betting?
If you’re betting on the two-way moneyline, overtime is not a worry for you, but if you bet on the three-way 60-minute line, then your team must win during regulation for your bet to hit.
Where is the best place to bet on hockey?
There is no one best sportsbook for hockey betting, it all depends on your personal preferences, though we can help get you started with our sportsbook reviews.
Should I sign up for more than one hockey betting site?
We recommend signing up with more than one sportsbook so that you can take advantage of more bonuses and give yourself the ability to shop lines.
What is a three-way hockey bet?
A three-way hockey bet is essentially the same as a 60-minute line which means any result you bet on will not include overtime.
What’s the best hockey bet to make?
Everyone prefers different betting markets, but if you’re just getting started with your NHL betting, the best thing to do is stick with the simple moneyline markets.
What does grand salami mean?
A grand salami is a type of bet unique to MLB and NHL betting where you make an over/under wager on how many goals will be scored throughout that night’s entire slate of games.