Hockey betting has soared in popularity since it became legal in multiple states in 2018. It is therefore unsurprising that NHL odds are now offered on all games by the vast majority of online sportsbooks in the US and around the world.
The NHL gives fans a variety of betting opportunities to choose from, but you need to understand the main markets before you can benefit from them. Fortunately, the most popular markets aren't at all difficult to get to grips with, and by the time you've finished reading this guide, you'll know all you need to get involved.
If you have ever attempted to try betting on any sport, you're almost certain to have come across the moneyline betting market. These NHL odds are the most common out there because the moneyline market just happens to be the easiest to comprehend.
In the moneyline market, you are simply betting on who will win a particular game. There are other factors involved, but the main principle is for you to decide who you think will win.
Consider the following example moneyline market for a game between the Dallas Stars and the Colorado Avalanche:
As you can see, both teams have a number next to their name. The Dallas Stars have a positive (+) number of 124. This means that if you bet $100 on them to win, then you would win $124 if they come out on top. They are considered the underdog.
The Colorado Avalanche have a negative (-) number of 139. This means you have to bet $139 in order to get a $100 return if they win. They are considered the favorites to win.
These odds will often change as bets are coming in. Most of the time, you will have a clear underdog and favorite, but sometimes you will have teams that are very close, so they might both have a minus sign before their respective odds.
You might see something like that in NHL Playoff odds or NHL Finals odds since the teams are more evenly matched. For NHL Opening Night odds, you will most likely see odds similar to the example above.
Now that we know how to read the moneyline odds, the other betting markets will be a little easier to understand. A futures bet is a wager for an event that is out in the future on the calendar.
This means you will see things like NHL MVP (Most Valuable Player) odds and NHL Rookie of the Year odds under the category of NHL Future odds on your selected sportsbook of choice. These bets are popular once the season starts because these awards do not happen until later in the season, so bettors like to guess early and receive a larger payout later.
With futures bets, the odds can significantly change as the season progresses. If a team is projected to be the 10th best in the league, but actually becomes the best team by the end of the season, their odds will shift a lot in that time period.
This is another great betting market for NHL fans. This market effectively places a handicap on the favorite in an effort to even up the odds on each team. Consider the following example:
You will note that in this market, the Canadiens have been given a theoretical advantage of +1.5. At the same time, the Jets have been given a handicap of -1.5. When you bet on either team, you are betting that they will win the game either with the help of the advantage, or despite the handicap, as appropriate.
If you bet on the Canadiense in this market, they will need to win the game outright or lose by no more than 1 point for your bet to succeed. If you bet on the Jets, they will need to win 2 points or more for your bet to succeed.
When looking at NHL hockey betting odds, you will also come across the totals betting market. The totals bet is also referred to as an over/under bet, for reasons that will soon become clear.
This bet is excellent for people who want to focus on the game's score rather than which team will win or lose. Your job here isn't to predict who will win the game, but to make a judgement call about the total number of goals that will be scored by both teams combined.
Consider the following example:
Here the sportsbook wants you to predict whether the total number of goals scored will be over 5.5 (o5.5) or under 5.5 (u5.5). Since hockey is generally a lower-scoring game, this number is very common.
If you bet over, you are saying that both teams will have a combined score of 6 or more points. If you bet under, you are betting that both teams will score 5 or fewer points.
Prop bets are ones that concern outcomes unrelated to the end result of the game itself. For example, you can place a prop bet on who you think will win a given period, whether a particular player will score a goal or which team will score first.
These are all interesting betting markets, but most serious sports bettors view them as supplementary to the main moneyline, puck line, and totals markets.
Odds reflect a variety of factors that can and do change. For example, a key player might be traded or injured. Such developments affect the chances of the team winning, and so the odds will be changed to reflect that fact.
Market forces will also influence the odds available. For example, if everyone is betting on the favorite and nobody is betting on the underdogs, the sportsbook might adjust the odds to try and balance the books a little.
All sportsbooks that operate legally in the US will offer a good range of NHL odds. Of course, if you happen to live in a state in which several sportsbooks operate, you can take your pick of them. Visit our online sportsbooks page to find out more.
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