Reading NHL odds for the first time can feel like reading a different language and that’s because it is. For a new bettor, reading and understanding NHL games and their respective odds may even be impossible.
We’ll teach you how to bet on hockey games, how to properly analyze NHL betting odds, dive into hockey’s betting language, increase your chances of winning your bets, and ultimately grow your bankroll.
By the end of this guide, if you don’t feel confident in making the right picks, our NHL computer picks page can grow your bankroll. But before you place your first NHL bet, let’s go over what the hockey gambling experts already know.
NHL odds are commonly expressed in three distinct ways:
American odds are the most popular format used by top US sportsbooks. Odds start with either a plus (+) or minus (-) and are always a whole number (-485, -180, +130, +210, etc.)
The odds indicate how much you need to bet, which team is the favorite and which team is the underdog.
To calculate the payout for odds of -225, just use the following formula:
Also, for negative numbers, the value of the odds tells you how much you need to wager to win $100. In this scenario, we need to risk $225 to win $100.
The positive odds are very easy to calculate. The odds represent how much you’ll win if you bet $100. In this example, we win $147. To calculate the payout for odds of +147, simply use the following formula:
Decimal odds are the most common format used by European sportsbooks. As the name implies, they are decimal numbers and always positive.
Below is the formula for calculating the return and profit for decimal odds of 2.40.
So…what’s the difference between profit and return?
Used primarily in Ireland and the United Kingdom, fractions represent the profit you would receive for a successful bet. The following is the formula for calculating the profit for the fractional odds of 3/2 or +150 in American odds.
The leading online sportsbooks offer 100+ NHL betting options in an individual hockey game. Commonly placed NHL bets include the following:
This is the way most bettors wager on an NHL game. It is simply a prediction on which team will win the game. The sportsbook sets moneyline odds which determines the favorite and underdog. This is represented in the below example:
In this example, the New York Rangers are the favorite. A $135 wager on the Rangers returns $100 in profit if the Rangers win the game. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the underdog, and every $100 wagered returns $125 in profit if the Penguins win the game.
A 60 minute or 3 way moneyline bet in hockey includes an option for a draw (a tie after the regulation period ends). This is an advantageous wager to make if you have discounted the possibility of a game going to overtime as the moneyline on both teams pays out more attractive odds.
A puck line is essentially a “point spread” in hockey. The standard puck line offered by sportsbooks is a 1.5 goal spread – meaning that your options are to lay 1.5 goals with the favorite, or receive 1.5 goals in your favor. For example:
As with other sports, you can place a bet predicting the total number of goals scored in the game. For example:
If you place a $100 wager on over 5½ goals scored on the game, you will receive $110 in profit at SBK. Six goals must be scored for this ticket to cash. This is an ideal wager to make if you believe both teams will combine for at least six goals.
A $133 wager must be placed to win $100 for under 5½ goals to be scored. Alternatively, you can wager $100 and receive $75.18 in profit. Unders should be wagered when you believe both teams will struggle to reach the combined total.
Bettors can wager on the result of the first, second, and third period. This is the same type of wager as a quarter bet in other sports. For example:
In the above example, the Pittsburgh Penguins are the favorite to win the first period. They need to win by any amount of goals. A $120 wager returns $100 in profit. The bet would be no action and returned if the first period ends scoreless.
A Grand Salami bet is a wager on the total number of goals scored on a given day. This is a common wager with MLB and is also popular in NHL.
NHL prop bets provide an exciting way to have action throughout the game. Say you feel strongly that a certain player will light up the scoreboard with a hat trick (scoring 3 goals); sportsbooks will take bets on this. Or maybe you think that there will be no score in the first period – there are an abundance of prop bets to choose from on each game. Here are some of the most common NHL prop bets.
Player props are focused on individual performance. Bets can be placed on the total goals, shots, penalties, etc. Here are some common examples of NHL prop bets accepted by sportsbooks.
Game props can be categorized as follows:
Futures bets are events that are settled in the future – such as the winner of the NHL Stanley Cup. This bet type is popular as it gives bettors action all year long. Sportsbooks accept NHL futures odds on several betting markets, including:
Betting odds fluctuate as the season unfolds on the NHL Stanley Cup market. Conference and division features are taken off the board by sportsbooks once the season begins.
A parlay bet allows you to combine multiple games into one wager for an increased payout. For example, let’s say the below four bets were combined into one parlay:
Combining each of the four bets into a single parlay results in a $100 wager to win $985.80. This gives a bettor more bang for their buck and stretches their $100 further than wagering $100 on each of the individual games. This is a popular wager for bettors that prefer big returns for small amounts risked.
However, a single loss in any of the four games means the parlay loses. Alternative options include:
NHL betting sites accept live wagers on games after they have started. This can be particularly useful if your team gets off to a bad start and you want to bet on the other side. Odds are refreshed throughout the game on all live markets – including moneylines, puck lines, total points lines, etc.
Live bets are accepted by sportsbooks until the game ends. Betting with emotion is not advisable during in-play wagers, but rather with a proper strategy to hedge if certain scenarios unfold.
Let’s say the Boston Bruins are playing the New York Rangers and the pre-game odds were:
In the second period, the Boston Bruins have taken a 2-0 lead and the odds have adjusted from -120 pregame to -400 live.
You can bet on NHL games legally in many different states, including New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, and Nevada. The list of states where sports gambling is legal will continue to grow and eventually, likely available nationwide. Just make sure you sign up with a licensed online sportsbook such as PointsBet, DraftKings, FanDuel, BetMGM, or Caesars Sportsbook.
The best NHL betting sites include FanDuel, Caesars Sportsbook, DraftKings, and BetMGM. If you are looking for a broad variety of bets and useful features, Fanduel is a great option, while Caesars Sportsbook is the best for odds boosts and bonuses.
FanDuel, DraftKings, and BetMGM are the top ranked sportsbook apps for NHL betting. They all have fantastic reviews on the App Store and Google Play.
You can bet on NHL games by downloading a sports betting app or visiting an online sportsbook website. OddsTrader allows you to compare NHL odds at the country’s leading sportsbooks, ensuring you maximize your potential profits each week. You can browse a range of betting options, including totals, moneylines, puck lines, either for the full game or for a specific period.
For most people it takes years and years of experience to perfect the art of betting on the NHL. At the start of the hockey season, it’s important to establish your bankroll (set an amount of money you’d like to bet with.) Sports betting experts are very disciplined at managing their bankroll.
Before placing a bet, make sure to do your research, here’s some ideas of things to look at:
There are many things you should consider before placing a bet on an NHL game. Amongst these things are:
The consensus generally refers to which team the majority of the public are placing bets on. It’s common for popular teams to receive 85% or more of the wagers. This can cause problems for the sportsbooks and opportunities for handicappers who know how to take advantage of these situations.
Rule number one of handicapping sports. Never place a bet unless you know who’s playing the game. This might seem obvious but who’s active for the game has a massive impact on the odds for NHL games. So much so that when the game day status of key players like an all star starting pitcher are unknown most sportsbooks will not release the odds to the public.
The 60 minute line is similar to the moneyline, but it excludes overtime and any potential shootouts. In other words, the 60 minute line includes the first three periods and the tie.
What does Puck Line mean in Hockey?
The puck line in hockey is basically a point spread. The favorite receives -1.5 goals in their favor, and the underdog receives +1.5. The favorite must win by at least 2 goals, while the underdog can lose by 1 or win the game to cover the bet.
How Many Periods in a Hockey Game?
In regulation time, there are three periods in a hockey game.
The Colorado Avalanche are currently the favorite to win the 2023 Stanley Cup.
You can bet on hockey online in a variety of states including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming. Sportsbooks offer websites and mobile apps for NHL and college hockey bettors.
Yes, you can bet on non-hockey sports online in the same states listed above! The most popular sports to bet on are NBA, NFL, and college sports like NCAAB and NCAAF. You can also bet on the following sports: