How to Bet Hockey

hockey_stick_and_a_puckHockey might take a back seat to football, basketball and baseball as far as popularity is concerned. However, with a season that runs every day from October to the Stanley Cup Finals in early June, there are always plenty of opportunities to bet on one the fastest and hardest hitting sports around.

Although the sports couldn’t be more different, the most popular ways to bet on hockey are similar to betting on baseball.

Betting the Money Line

Like baseball, betting on the money line is the most popular way to wager on hockey. When betting the money line, the bettor is simply backing the team which will win the game outright; the final score does not matter.

Understanding how to bet the money line might seem a little confusing, but it is actually quite straight forward. The favored team will have a minus (-) sign in front of a three digit number while the underdog will usually have a plus (+) sign in front of a three digit number. Sometimes if the lines makers have the game close to evenly matched, the underdog can also have a minus sign.

Here is an example of how to bet an NHL money line. The oddsmakers have the DetroitRed Wings as -160 favorites over the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are listed at +140 underdogs. To wager on the favored Red Wings, you’d have to bet $160 in order to win $100. If you prefer backing the underdog Penguins, you’d win $140 for every $100 risked; as long as the Penguins win the game. Obviously you can wager a lot less than the numbers provided above but the payout ratio will always remain the same.

Betting the Puck Line

For those familiar with betting the run line in baseball, betting on the puck line is pretty much the same and it is basically hockey’s version of the point spread. Since there are so few goals scored in hockey games, the puck line is just 1.5 goals. Much like in football where an underdog might be spotted 7 points, the underdog in hockey will be spotted 1.5 goals by the favorite. Since 1.5 goals is the standard puck line no matter how evenly matched the teams are, the juice associated with the odds will vary greatly.

Let’s take a look at how a puck line works with the favored Devils playing the underdog Bruins. The favored Devils are -1.5 goals (+155) which means they must win the game by at least two goals in order for Devils’ bets to win. The underdog Bruins would be +1.5 goals (-155), meaning they need to win the game outright or lose by just one goal in order for Bruins’ wagers to cash. As you can see, the juice associated with the puck line is not your standard -110 each side; it will vary quite significantly depending on how good the teams are compared to each other.

Something to be aware of when betting the puck line is if the game goes to a shootout. The winner of the shootout is awarded with one goal to the final score, no matter how many goals they score during the shootout. For instance, if the game is tied 2-2 at the end of overtime and the Bruins proceed to score twice during the shootout while the Devils fail to score a single goal, the final score will be 3-2 in favor of the Bruins, NOT 4-2.

Betting the Total

Like most other team sports, hockey bettors also have the option on betting on the ‘total’, also referred to as the ‘over/under’. Basically the sportsbook will list a total number of goals to be scored in a game. The bettor can wager on the ‘over’ if he thinks the two teams will combine for more goals than the listed number. Or he can bet the ‘under’ if he believes the two teams will combine for fewer goals than the listed ‘total’.

For example, the sportsbooks have the ‘total’ for the Flyers vs. Blackhawks listed at 5.5 goals. If five or fewer goals are scored in the game, ‘under’ wagers will cash, while ‘over’ wagers lose. If at least six goals are scored, ‘over’ bets win and ‘under’ bets lose. So if the Flyers win the game 3-2, ‘under’ bettors win and ‘over’ bettors lose.

Once again, it should be noted that if the game goes to a shootout, only one goal is added onto the final score, no matter how many goals are scored during the shootout. For example, the ‘total’ on a game is 5.5 goals and the score is tied 2-2 after overtime as the teams head into the shootout. If the Flyers score two shootout goals and the Blackhawks score one, three goals are NOT added onto the ‘total’; only one goal is awarded to the Flyers. The final score is 3-2 and the ‘under’ still covers.

Now it’s time to lace up your skates, get on the ice and bet on hockey!

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