Tips & strategies to become a more successful NHL bettor
So you want to bet on some NHL action? What are your options?
The moneyline bet might just be the easiest sports betting term to understand. Simply put, if you are betting on the moneyline, you are betting on the team that you wagered on to win the game.
In hockey, there are two possible results for a moneyline bet; your team wins, and you win the bet, or your team loses and you lose the bet. Remember, in the NHL there are no ties, so one team must win.
Let’s assume you want to bet on the Panthers to win this game. We refer to this as taking them “straight up” or taking them on the moneyline.
To win $100 on Panthers moneyline (-150) you must risk $150.
To win $100 on Oilers moneyline (+130) you would only need to risk about $77.
Alternatively, if you were to risk $100 on Oilers moneyline, the potential payout at +130 would be $130.
Puckline Betting / Spread Betting
The puckline to hockey is somewhat like the point spread to basketball or football. When betting the puckline, your team is no longer required to just win the game straight up.
If you are betting on the underdog (the team less likely to win) you don't necessarily need them to win the game. With the puckline at +1.5, all you need is for your team to not to lose by 2 or more goals.
Conversely, if you are betting on the favorite (the team that is expected to win), they must win by 2 or more goals for you to win the bet.
Let’s look at the following example:
Let's assume you want to bet on the Oilers on the puckline (+1.5):
For you to win this bet, the Oilers need to win the game, or lose by exactly 1 goal.
• Final Score - Panthers 4, Oilers 2 - You lose the bet.
• Final Score - Panthers 1, Oilers 4 - You win the bet.
• Final Score - Panthers 4, Oilers 3 - You win the bet.
As you can see from the above example, taking the Oilers on the moneyline is +130, but taking them on the puckline is -200. Why is there such a discrepancy between the two prices?
Well, in hockey it is very common for a team to win by exactly one goal. Remember, overtime is sudden death (first goal wins), and the shootout is worth one goal, so every game that is tied after regulation will end with a team winning by exactly one goal. With that being said, if you want to take a team +1.5, you are normally going to have to pay a steep price, unless the team is a sizeable underdog heading into the game.
In hockey, when a team is trailing by one goal late in the game, it is common practice for the team to pull their goalie in favor of another forward in an effort to try to score a goal to tie it up. In fact, in recent years, we have started to see teams pull their goalies down by two and three goals in the third period, sometimes as early as with 10 minutes left in the game! This has huge consequences on the puckline.
When a team pulls their goalie, it gives the opposition the opportunity to score an easy goal, known as an empty net goal. So keep in mind, if you bet on the puckline and your team trails by one goal late in the game, you will have to hold your breath, because you are not out of the woods just yet.
A totals bet (also commonly known as an over/under bet) refers to a wager where you are betting on the combined amount of goals that are scored in a game. In this type of wager, the winning team and the puckline have no bearing.
Let’s use the following example:
The total for the Panthers vs. the Oilers is listed at 6.5 goals. This means you can bet on whether you think the total score will be over 6.5 goals or under 6.5 goals.
- If the Panthers win 4 to 1 (a total of 5 goals) the game went under.
- If the Panthers win 5 to 2 (a total of 7 goals) the game went over.
It is common for most hockey games to have totals ranging anywhere from 5 goals to 7 goals.
NHL prop bets are (usually) bets on the statistical performance of a player or a team. Prop bets are completely independent of traditional bets such as moneyline or totals.
The most common daily NHL prop bets include:
- Player goals
- Player assists
- Player point totals
- Which team will score first?
- Which team will win the opening faceoff?
Sportsbooks are starting to add more and more prop options as these are types of bets that most bettors seem to gravitate towards.
NHL futures bets allow you to bet on an outcome that will take place at some point down the road, most commonly at the end of the season.
For example, you can bet on which team will win the Stanley Cup. Here is an example from the 2018-19 season:
The better the team, the smaller the payout. We can see the Lightning were +900 to win the Stanley Cup. That means for every $100 bet on them, you would win $900. A team like the Blues, on the other hand, were not likely to win that season, which is why sportsbooks were offering odds of +4000. In 2019, the Blues did happen to win the Stanley Cup. For every $100 wagered, you would have won $4,000.
Futures include more than just the eventual champion. You can bet on awards such as the Hart Trophy winner (MVP), the Vezina winner (league's best goalie), or the Calder Trophy (rookie of the year). You can also bet on other props such as how many games a team will win throughout the season, or which team will win their division. Futures are a fun way to stay engaged throughout the course of a year.
NHL Tips & Strategies
If you want to increase your chances of being a successful bettor, here are a few tips to help you on your way:
- Price Shopping: When placing a bet, you always want to make sure you are getting the best price/line possible. Don’t be afraid to shop around. Different sportsbooks offer different prices; and they fluctuate throughout the day. If you want to save a ton of time, check out betstamp.app. It's free to join, and all the line shopping is quickly and efficiently done for you. You get updates in real time of which sportsbooks are offering the best line.
- Track Your Bets: Keep records of your wagers and stay on top of what is working and not working for you. Without documenting your bets, it is difficult to see where you are winning or losing as a bettor.
- Bankroll Management: Set your bankroll and learn to manage it properly. Don't deviate too far from your average bet size and ensure that you are always betting within your limits.
- Monitor Starting Goalies: The average NHL starting goalie will play in around 65% of their team’s games. This means that one third of the time, the backup goalie is getting the start. No one player will affect the line more than the starting goalie (in most instances). If you're going to place a wager on a team, consider waiting to for confirmation of the starting goalie. You don't want to bet on a team with a top five goalie only to find out that the below average backup is getting the start.
- Injuries & Rest: This is less of a concern in betting the NHL than it would be for betting some other sports like the NBA, but it doesn't mean that you shouldn't take your time and do your homework before laying a bet. Multiple injuries to the top line, or defensive core can definitely influence a line. You want to have as much information as possible. Being quick to react to any piece of injury news could give you an edge in the NHL.
- Know the Schedule: The schedule is a major component throughout the NHL season. Playing on back-to-back nights or being on a 10 day road trip can have a great influence on the outcome of a game. Sportsbooks are aware of these details, and factor them into their line, and so should you!
- Ignore the Standings: The standings have absolutely no bearing on the result of a game. Recreational bettors are often persuaded by the standings. For example, if the 5th seed is playing the 10th seed, casual bettors may be more inclined to wager on the 5th seed. Do not fall for this. The level to which a team is playing in the last week or so is much more relevant when compared to how the team was playing two months earlier. Teams also have constantly rotating lineups where overall standings are irrelevant.