The National Hockey League is one of the four premier sports league in North America, sitting proudly alongside the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball. Hockey, alongside baseball is a low scoring game and this offers an interesting dynamic when it comes to gambling, as there is no ‘traditional’ point spread on the game, and this will lead to different strategies when laying your money down. The article starts with a guide to the different bet types you’ll be able to place, before moving onto some strategy advice, before ending with a look at the best sportsbooks for your NHL betting.
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Betting on the NHL
The most popular bet on any individual game is the money line, where you’ll simply place a wager on which team will win the game. The odds you receive will be based on the probability of either team winning, so for a strong favorite you’ll see particularly low odds. An example game might see the Montreal Canadiens with odds of -170 playing the Boston Bruins at odds of +150. Here the Canadiens are the favorites and you’ll win $100 for every $170 staked on them, if they indeed win the game. The Bruins will see you win $150 for every $100 staked if they can overcome the Canadiens.
The puck line is also a betting option at Hockey and this is based upon the point spread but works in a slightly different way. The puck line is always set at 1.5, this number of goals deducted from the favored team or added to the underdog. Using the above game as an example, here you’ll find the Canadiens with the 1.5 goal deduction, meaning they’ll have to win by 2 goals or more to win on the puck line. The 1.5 point spread will have a huge impact on the odds, as here you will now see the Bruins become strong favorites – it will always be the case in Hockey that the favorite on the money line will become the underdog on the puck line. Unlike other sports, if you back the money line underdog on the puck line, you will be guaranteed a win if the game goes into overtime.
The other most popular betting market is the ‘totals’ where you’ll be betting whether there will be over or under the stated number of goals. This line will usually be set at 5.0, 5.5 or 6.0, although unlike the totals bets on football or basketball, these odds can vary from the ‘standard’ odds of -110. Having backed over 5.0, you’ll win if 6 or more goals or scored, you’ll lose if 4 or fewer goals are scored and the bet will considered a push if exactly 5 goals are scored.
Alternate Bets on the NHL
With a number of games taking place on any night, Parlays can be a popular option for many. A Parlay is a bet where you’ll make two or more selections and each has to win for the bet to pay out. Your initial stake will be placed on the first selection and if this wins, then your total return will now be placed onto the next selection. This will continue for each subsequent selection until you hit a losing selection or indeed they have all won, at which point you’ll be paid out.
One popular but very different wager is the ‘Grand Salami’. Here a sportsbook will state a line based upon the total amount of goals scored across all of the day’s games. Here you’ll simply bet on under or over the stated total and you’ll either be cheering every goal or go hoarse shouting ‘defense!’ all night long!
You’ll also find prop bets available on a number of high profile games and this will certainly be the case when the playoffs and the Stanley Cup come around. For individual games, these props might include betting solely on the first period, or based around which team will score the first goal. Series bets will include the correct score for the series, will teams secure a shutout during the series or which player will be the MVP.
Your final betting option is the outright Stanley Cup Futures bet. This will be available throughout the year and indeed as the season progresses with all 30 teams listed by the sportsbooks. Some sites will also list odds for winners of the Eastern and the Western conferences.
Betting on the NHL with an Edge
There are no shortcuts to winning money at the NHL, but if you are willing to put the legwork in, you can certainly become a winning player. NHL betting has an advantage over leagues such as the NHL and the NBA in the fact that because slightly less money is wagered on the sport, it’s more likely that the sportsbooks might make an error, the sites spending more of their resources concentrating on these other sports.
Your first step to becoming a winning player is to do your research. In setting the odds and lines the sportsbooks will use recent form, player injuries, the all-important starting goalies, home advantage, suspensions and a number of other factors. You should be doing exactly the same thing and you’ll gain a great feel for where the odds should be – the better you become, the quicker you’ll be able to spot where the errors are and pounce!
Having done your research properly, you’ll realize that the sportsbooks are good at what they do, so you won’t find an edge on many games – meaning that you should leave the majority of games alone. Compare this to the approach of betting on every game that many ‘non-winning’ gamblers take and you’ll quickly understand where they are going wrong.
Have no fear about backing the underdogs. The majority of sharp bettors on the NHL understand that some of the best value can be had on these teams, so if your study of the games points you in this direction, back your judgment.
Having made your selections, ensure you gain the best odds and lines. Shop around, as those extra half points or slightly longer odds will add up over the season and could actually make the difference between being a winning and a losing player.
Best Sportsbooks for the NHL
Bovada are one of the top sportsbooks when it comes to the NHL. Their impressive range of prop bets always raise an eyebrow or two, while you’ll find solid odds and lines on all of the most popular bets throughout the season.
If you want to enjoy a great range of bets on each and every game in hockey, Betway should certainly be considered. First team to score? Alternative odds and lines? Will the game go to a shootout? You’ll find them all at Betway.
Gambling Guide to the NHL Conclusion
The National Hockey League offers some of the fastest and most exciting action in sport and it only gets better when you’ve got a financial interest in the game. Do your homework and you can sit back and enjoy the game, knowing you’ve got that all-important edge – which can certainly lead to a nice profit at the end of the season.