Ice hockey is one of the biggest sports in the United States, and not just for spectators. As well as watching the action in person or on TV, many people also like to try and make money from NHL games by betting on them. In this hockey betting guide, we’ll take you by the hand and show you how to bet on hockey in a simple step-by-step manner.
We’ve reduced things down to five simple steps so that you can start hockey betting with a minimum of fuss. Apply what you learn and you’ll be up and running in no time.
Before you can even think of betting on hockey, you need to have a sportsbook to bet with. Betting with online sportsbooks is always more convenient than visiting their land-based cousins, but not all states allow them. Your first task is therefore to check whether there are any online sportsbooks in your state. And, if so, which ones.
Should you have multiple sportsbooks to choose from, you will need to choose between them. The good news is that any properly licensed sportsbook in the US will offer multiple betting markets for hockey games. You therefore only need to look for one which will suit your personal preferences.
Different sportsbooks offer different welcome bonuses for new bettors, so be sure to see what's available before jumping straight in. Of course, there is no law against joining several sportsbooks if you want to. In fact, you could take advantage of several bonuses by doing just that.
To get started, take a look at our recommended sportsbooks below and see which one suits you best. All of these operators will be just fine for hockey betting, and also for betting on most other popular sports. When you've found one that you like the look of, sign up and make a deposit. You'll then be all set to proceed to the next step.
The moneyline market is the simplest of all hockey betting markets. It only requires you to predict which team will win a particular game. Odds will be presented for each team. Those odds will be prefixed by a minus (-) or a plus (+) sign, as in the following example:
When odds are prefixed with a minus sign, you need to bet that figure in order to make a profit of $100. You would therefore need to bet $175 on Team A to make a profit of $100 if they win. Of course, if the bet wins, your $175 stake would also be returned to you.
When odds are prefixed with a plus sign, you need to bet $100 in order to make a profit equal to the figure shown. A bet of $100 on Team B would therefore give you a profit of $150 if the bet wins. You would also get your $100 stake back.
When the odds of one team are prefixed by a minus sign, that team is the favorite to win, according to the sportsbook. The team with odds prefixed by a plus sign is usually referred to as the underdog in the game.
In this market, the favorite team is given a theoretical handicap and the underdog is given a theoretical advantage. Any bet that you place on a team must therefore succeed after the handicap or advantage has been applied. Consider the following:
Here, Team C is being offered at odds of +150 with a handicap of -1.5. That means the final score of the team will be reduced by 1.5 goals before your bet is settled. If the team still wins despite that deduction, your bet will win.
Team D is being offered at odds of -172 with an advantage of +1.5. Again, the final score of the team will be adjusted before your bet is settled. In this case, the final score of the team will be increased by 1.5 goals. If that helps the team to beat the score of Team C, your bet will win.
In this example, Team C has to beat Team D by at least 2 goals for your bet on Team C to win. If you chose to bet on Team D, they would only have to win the game or lose by no more than 1 goal for your bet to win.
Both the moneyline and puck line markets require you to side with one of the two teams involved. The totals market is different. Here the sportsbook makes a prediction about the total number of goals that will be scored by both teams combined. Your task here is to bet on whether the actual total will be Over or Under that sportsbook prediction.
As you can see from the example above, the sportsbook invites you to bet on whether the total number of goals in the game will be Under or Over 5.5. Bet u5.5 and your bet will win if the total number of goals scored is 5 or less. Bet o5.5 and your bet will win if the total number of goals is 6 or more.
There are other bets that you can place on hockey games, such as parlay bets and prop bets, but the three markets just described are the main ones. It is a good idea to stick with those until you have some experience under your belt, as other types of bets can be a lot more difficult to win with.
The past form of a team can give you a clue to how they might fare in the future. If you are looking at a game where a team that has been winning all season is taking on a team that has been losing all season, that past form would probably lead you to bet on the team with the winning form. That doesn't mean the habitual losers won't be able to spring a surprise. But you'll lose far more betting contrary to form than with it.
There are plenty of NHL experts out there who have been studying the game for decades. It can therefore be useful to listen to their opinions. Consider subscribing to podcasts and following blogs where experienced hockey fans make their predictions. Expert opinions aren't guaranteed to be reliable, of course, but they are always worth taking into consideration. This is especially the case for those who have only just started learning how to bet on hockey.
The men and women who set the odds for sportsbooks aren't plucking figures out of thin air. On the contrary, they are experts in analyzing past results, quantifying past performance, and making sound predictions of their own. For that reason, the odds published by sportsbooks should be respected. If the betting market has priced one team as a hot favorite, you'd need a very good reason to oppose that team. Underdogs can and do win, of course, but betting on all underdog teams just because they are being offered at bigger odds is a quick way to lose money.
It is always a good idea to check that the outcome added to the bet slip is the one that you really want to bet on. That's because you won't be able to rectify it later. Mistakes can and do happen. If you've added the wrong outcome to the slip, it's better to find out now, while you can still delete it.
When you are happy that the bet on the slip is the one you want to make, all you have to do is add the stake that you want to bet. Again, double-check that you have entered the desired stake. Otherwise, you could end up betting $500 instead of $50, or vice versa.
Having verified that both the bet and the stake on the slip are correct, press the submit button to make the bet official. When you have done this the bet will stand, and if the prediction you have bet on proves successful, the sportsbook will credit your account with your winnings automatically.
A much better approach is to set aside a sum of money that you can comfortably afford to lose should you have a run of bad luck. Then make it a rule to bet no more than 5% or 10% of that bankroll on any single game.
For example, you might set aside $200 for betting and deposit that sum into your sportsbook account. You might then choose to bet a maximum of $10 or $20 on any one game. That would allow you to take a few losing bets on the chin without bringing everything to a screeching halt.
Betting on hockey is legal if you live in a state which allows sports betting and you bet with a licensed sportsbook.
It’s quite simple. You decide what outcome you want to bet on, place a bet on that outcome with a licensed sportsbook. If your predicted outcome is correct, the bet wins and the sportsbook will automatically credit your account with your winnings.