How to Bet NHL Games

5/27/20 Update: The NHL on Tuesday announced the “Return To Play Plan,” in which its regular season would conclude, and 24 teams would compete for the Stanley Cup.

Hockey is one of the greatest sports in the world and it’s not only popular in cold climates, just ask the city of Las Vegas. In America and Canada, the National Hockey League reigns supreme. The professional sports league features some of the greatest athletes in the world.

Fast-action NHL games are exciting to bet on and there’s certainly money to be made. Thousands of sports bettors turn mega profits throughout the NHL season.

It’s a long season – from October until April – with each team playing 82 games. And then once that is complete, the Stanley Cup Playoffs begin in April and don’t conclude until mid-June.

A two-month long playoff tournament might seem a bit excessive to some, especially considering the regular season is so lengthy. But we love it because it gives us more opportunities to make money betting on hockey.

If you’re interested in learning about hockey betting and how you can win money, you’ve come to the right place. We’ll teach you the ins and outs of NHL hockey betting and provide some valuable tips to help you make some loot this coming hockey season.

Best NHL Betting Sites in 2024

Not to skip ahead, but in the next section we’re going to talk about why you should choose the online sportsbooks we have pre-selected for you in the next section.

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Why These Sites are the Best: What are the Benefits to Betting Here?

Since you’ve made it this far, you’re obviously interested in betting on hockey at an online sportsbook. And we think that’s great! You should be excited to bet on hockey especially at the sportsbooks we’ve carefully chosen for you.

We didn’t just randomly pick those sites, we promise. There is a method to our madness. There’s a lot more to betting on sports than you might think, and it all starts with picking the right place to gamble.

When it comes to online sports betting, you have many choices. There are literally thousands of sites that will accept sports bets. But the truth is they aren’t all equals and some are, to be blunt, terrible sportsbooks.

Fortunately, for you, we’ve weeded out the bad and chosen the right places to play based on our experience. We tested out numerous hockey betting sites and chose the best based on the following criteria:

  • Site security and safety
  • Ease of making deposits and withdrawals
  • Types of bets offered
  • Quality of customer service
  • Quality of software and/or website/app
  • Parlay and teaser odds
  • Overall reliability of the sportsbook

It may seem pointless to some inexperienced gamblers to worry about which sportsbook they choose. After all, it’s just sports betting. If the site accepts real money wagers, what’s the big deal?

Well, there are many other factors you should consider otherwise your sports betting experience won’t be pleasant.

Some online sportsbooks are wishy washy and not very trustworthy. We know many gamblers who have used certain sites that took their money and never saw their winnings. It would be irresponsible of us to recommend any of those sites.

That’s why we have carefully selected the sportsbooks we recommend. We’ve tested them out and are confident you’ll love them. By playing on our suggested sports betting sites, your money will be safe and you’ll have access to the best odds in hockey.

How to Bet on Ice Hockey

Hockey is one of the most exciting sports to bet because the action on the ice is so intense. Every pass and every shot on goal is so important to the outcome of the game. You’ll be hanging on the edge of your seats watching the games when you have money riding on it.

  • The first thing you need to do to get started betting on hockey is the most obvious: learn hockey!
  • Understand the game, the teams, the rules, the odds, the types of bets, etc.
  • The next step is to choose an online sportsbook which we’ve already covered.
  • Next, you will pick your teams and choose how much you want to wager on the games.
  • And, if you’re good at it, you’ll then collect your winnings, which is the best part.

How to Read Hockey Betting Lines

Understanding hockey betting lines is only half the battle, but it’s a crucial step towards winning money. If you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, you won’t win. The standard lines are easy to read, however. You’ll be given odds by the sportsbook on each side and you must choose which side to pick. They’ll look something like this:

Bruins -130

Blackhawks +120

In the above example, the Bruins are favored to win the game. Any time a team has a negative number listed as the line, it means they are favored. A positive number is for the underdog. So, in this case, the Bruins are a fairly significant favorite. To win $100, you’d need to wager $130 on the Bruins. Whereas, a $100 bet on the Blackhawks would give you a net profit of $120.

Different Types of Bets

Like any other sport, there are many different types of bets on hockey games. But there are some different types of wagers compared to sports like football and basketball. Let’s take a look at the different bets you can make.

Moneyline: This is the easiest and most common type of hockey bet. With the moneyline, you’re simply betting on which team will win the game. If your team loses, you lose. It’s that simple. But you must understand that the odds are rarely equal.

In each game, there is a favorite and an underdog. You’ll win more money, if your team wins, by betting the underdogs. But you’re likely to win a higher percentage of games betting favorites.

Totals (Over/Under): Another common way of getting action on hockey games is to bet on the totals, more frequently referred to as the over/under. In each game, you can bet on how many goals will be scored. Most of the time, the over/under will be between 5 and 6 goals. The reason for that is that most hockey games end with a total of 5-6 goals scored, or close to it.

Puck Line: NHL puck lines are a bit like baseball run lines. If you don’t want to bet the moneyline because you are worried your team might lose, you can bet the puck line but you’ll get lower odds. The favorite is typically set at -1.5, which means that team must win by at least two goals or the bet is a loss. The underdog is +1.5, which means that team can’t lose by more than one goal.

If you’re good at spotting games that are likely to go into overtime – usually these are games between two evenly matched teams – you can make a killing betting the underdog with the puck line. If the game goes into overtime, and you bet the dog, you can’t lose because the most goals a team can lose by in OT is one.

Grand Salami: If you love hockey more than life itself and enjoy gambling just as much, this is the perfect type of bet for you. With the Grand Salami, you bet on how many goals will be scored during an entire day of NHL action.

Other Types of Hockey Bets

The above wagers are the most common types. But there are many other ways to get action on hockey games, such as these:

Stanley Cup Winner: This is a type of futures wager where you pick the team that will win the Stanley Cup. You can place this bet at any time during the season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. But the odds you’ll get will usually be best before the season starts.

Draw No Bet: If you are concerned the game might end in a tie/draw, you can bet on Draw No Bet instead of the moneyline. If the game does end in a draw, you get your money back instead of losing it.

Anytime Goalscorer: If you feel a certain player is a good matchup against an opposing team, you can bet on that player to score a goal during regulation. However, if the goal occurs in overtime, you lose the bet. It must happen during regulation.

Enhanced Odds: If you’re a regular gambler at a certain sportsbook, they may offer you what’s called enhanced odds. These are separate wagers that other customers can’t get. But they aren’t available to new customers, in most cases, unless you’re a heavy gambler looking for some major action.

Player to Score 2 or More: This one is self-explanatory. You can even wager on a player to score at least twice during the game. The odds are great but the likelihood of winning this bet is usually low.

Anytime Wincast: A wincast bet involves both a certain team winning the game and a select player scoring a goal during regulation. You must accurately predict both outcomes our your bet is a loss.

First Goalscorers (Coupled): You are betting on which player will score the first goal of the game. You can also bet on “No Goalscorer,” which is won if no one scores a goal and the game ends in a 0-0 tie.

Both Teams to Score: All you need is both teams to score at least one goal during the game and you win your bet. It doesn’t matter how many goals are scored, just that each team gets on the board.

1st Period Betting: If you don’t care to stick around for the entire contest, you can bet on the outcome of the 1st period. With this type of bet, what happens in the 2nd and 3rd periods and overtime don’t matter.

60 Minute Goals (Odd/Even): Many roulette players enjoy this type of wager. You can bet on if the combined goals scored will be an odd or even number. But only regulation goals count.

Hat-Trick: If you’re really confident in a certain player, bet on that individual to pick up a hat trick, which is three goals in one game.

Puck Line Handicap: Most puck lines are set at 1.5 goals, but you can get that down (or up) a bit but the odds will be decreased.

Conference Winner: There are two NHL conferences – Eastern and Western. You can bet on which team will win either conference as a futures wager.

Winning Margin: If you’re good at guessing how many goals a team will win by, bet on the winning margin. But you must be exactly correct or you lose.

Team to Score 1st Goal: You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out how this wager works. It’s all right there in the title.

Double Chance: This is sort of like a parlay except you can lose one outcome and still win the bet. You select three types of wagers and must win two of them.

NHL Prop Bets: Everyone loves a good prop bet. These are wagers that don’t impact the outcome of a game, such as how many assists a specific player will have.

3-Way Bets: You bet one three possible outcomes – the home team to win, the other team to win, or a tie.

Period Totals: Much like we already talked about with the over/under except you’re betting on how many goals will be scored in a specific period.

Highest Scoring Period: Before the game starts, you can predict which period will be the highest scoring.

Hockey Games and Leagues

The National Hockey League isn’t the only exciting hockey league to watch. There are many epic games that take place in professional leagues from all over the world. Here is a list of the most popular leagues.

NHL: The NHL is far and away the premier hockey league in the world. The best international hockey players compete each year for the Stanley Cup. Teams are located in the United States and Canada.

CHL: The Central Hockey League was a mid-level professional hockey league in North America from 1992-2014. The NHL teams – Dallas, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay – had affiliations with the CHL. Due to financial reasons, the league ceased operations on May 2, 2014.

IIHF: The International Ice Hockey Federation, founded in 1908, is an international governing body for ice hockey. In 2019, Canada and Finland met for the IIHF title. Canada entered the game with a record 27 IIHF championships.

FHL: The Federal Hockey League is a new US professional hockey organization that was founded in 2010. Most of the teams are located in the Midwest, south, and northeast parts of the country.

OHL: Hockey is huge in Canada. So big that even non-professional junior leagues such as the Ontario Hockey League are popular. There are 20 teams in the league, and all players are ages 16-21.

AHL: The American Hockey League serves as the primary development league for the NHL. All teams are located in the US and the goal of the league is to produce future NHL stars.

World Championships: The World Championships are hockey games involving top athletes from countries from all over the world.

Olympics (Men and Women): Every four years, the Winter Olympics feature men’s and women’s hockey games between the most incredible ice hockey stars from around the world. These are arguably the biggest hockey games in the world.

Greatest Upsets in NHL History

We could go on for days about the most epic upsets in National Hockey League history. But, for the sake of limiting the length of this article, we picked out our two favorites.

Kings Comeback to Beat Sharks (2014): During the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Los Angeles Kings trailed the San Jose Sharks three-games-to-none, meaning they were just one loss from elimination. But, out of nowhere, the Kings went on a heater and won four straight games, which is almost unheard of, to win the series.

Devils Surprise Wings to Win Stanley Cup (1995): No one expected New Jersey to beat Detroit in the 1995 Stanley Cup Finals. Heck, the players on the Devils probably weren’t all that confident. After all, they finished 18 games behind the Red Wings during the regular season. But regular season records don’t matter in the playoffs, and the Devils proved that by winning the series and the 1995 Stanley Cup.

Hockey Betting Systems

There are many ways to bet on hockey games. But if you’re serious about winning money, you should follow one of these proven betting systems:

All-In: If you love to take huge risks, you’ll love the All-In betting system, but we can’t recommend because it’s far too insane for our liking. With this system, you go all-in each bet. So, if you start with $500 and win your first bet, you take that $500 plus your profits and bet it all on the next game. If you go on a sick heater, you can become rich quickly, but if you lose just one time, you’re out.

Martingale System: The Martingale System is equally crazy as the All-In system, and thus, we don’t recommend it. How this one works is you double your wagers after each loss until you finally win. That doesn’t sound too bad except for the fact that if you have a decent run of bad luck, you’ll lose a ton of money. Let’s take a look at an example:

  • Bet #1 – $50 and lose (down $50)
  • Bet #2 – $100 and lose (down $150)
  • Bet #3 – $200 and lose (down $350)
  • Bet #4 – $400 and lose (down $750)
  • Bet #5 – $800 and lose (down $1,550)
  • Bet #6 – $1,600 and lose (down $3,150)

Flat Betting: For some reason, Flat Betting is the most difficult betting system for people to stick to. But it’s most certainly the best. With this system, you are sticking to a consistent betting strategy. So, if you bet $100 on one game, you’ll bet $100 on the next.

Those who choose this system aren’t concerned with short-term losses. They accept the fact that you’re going to have some bad runs. But instead of betting big to recoup those losses, they stick to the plan and continue making consistent wagers. Why is it so hard for so many to stick with a Flat Betting strategy? Mostly because many get impatient when losses happen and want to win the money back fast.

Kelly Criterion: The Kelly Criterion system has a lot in common with blackjack card counting and it’s the most popular system used among hockey bettors. It’s a bit complicated but you base your wager on the edge you feel you have in that specific game. So, if you aren’t that confident in one game and bet $100 you might put down $500 on another game where you are more confident in the outcome.

The Kelly Criterion is a very good way of betting on hockey games. But if you aren’t mathematically sound, we’d suggest you stick with Flat Betting because you don’t have to crunch numbers since you’re always sticking with a consistent betting pattern.

Fibonacci: For some reason, many hockey bettors love the Fibonacci system but we oppose it strongly. It’s not as terrible as the Martingale system but it is similar. How this one works is you still chase your losses but you don’t double your bet. Instead, you simply try to recoup the exact amount of your previous losses. Here’s an example that will make it easier to understand:

  • Game #1 – Bet $10 and lose (down $10)
  • Game #2 – Bet $10 and lose (down $20)
  • Game #3 – Bet $20 and lose (down $40)
  • Game #4 – Bet $40 and lose (down $80)
  • Game #5 – Bet $80 and lose (down $160)
  • Game #6 – Bet $160 and lose (down $320)

Betting on Hockey FAQ

You most certainly can. When betting the moneyline, you can bet on both teams to win but there is rarely a point to doing so.

Of course it is! If not, we wouldn’t be promoting it to you. The online sportsbooks we recommended above are legal within your jurisdiction.

Hockey’s “spread” is a bit different than football or basketball and it’s referred to as a “puck line.” In football, the spread refers to the points a team is favored by and differs from game to game. But in hockey, the puck line – or spread – is typically set at 1.5 goals regardless of the game and the odds are adjusted accordingly based on the talent disparity between the two teams.

Intentionally losing a game to win a bet is against the law, not just the rules of the NHL. In 1948, Don “Gabby” Gallinger of the Boston Bruins and teammate Billy Taylor was banned from the league for life for betting on games he played in.

If you’re watching a hockey game, you should always have your online sportsbook accessible so that you can get in on some live betting. As the game progresses, the over/under will shift for the live bettors, giving you an opportunity to get action during the game.

A push is when you don’t lose or win your bet. In that case, you receive the money back. Pushes occur in hockey when a game goes to overtime and you bet the puck line which is only based on the outcome of regulation.

An overlay is when the odds on a specific wager are higher than they should be for the sportsbook to turn a profit. So, for example, if the sportsbook takes in $50,000 in bets on the Bruins puck line but only $10,000 on their opponent – San Jose – there is a significant overlay and the house is at risk of losing big on that game if the Bruins come through.

In hockey, unlike most sports, winning a bet is often only predicated on the outcome of regulation. So, if your wager only factors in the outcome of the first 60 minutes of play (regulation), if the game goes into overtime, what happens in OT has no impact on your bet.

Each hockey player has a +/- rating. If a player is rated as a minus, that means they are a below average player.