No introduction to sports betting is complete without a mention of the National Hockey League. Sure, they've shot themselves in the foot with multiple lockouts and strikes, but they still draw legions of fans to their games across the United States and Canada.
If you want to bet on NHL games, this article is meant to provide you with an overview of how it works. All the major betting possibilities are covered, and I've even thrown in some ice hockey wagering tips at no extra charge.
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NHL Betting Options
Bookmakers like to provide as many betting opportunities as possible for their customers, and NHL games are no exception. Whether you're visiting Bovada or a website like William Hill, you can expect to find the following wagers:
Moneyline - Betting the moneyline is the same as betting on the eventual winner of an NHL contest. Each team is assigned a number with a plus or minus in front, and this determines the favorite and the underdog. For example:
Since Calgary has the plus sign in front, it means that the Flames are the underdog in this game. Vancouver, meanwhile, is the favorite to win.
Successfully betting $100 on Calgary delivers a payout of $120. However, those wagering on the favored Vancouver Canucks need to risk $140 in order to see a $100 profit.
Puck Line - Similar to the run line in baseball, the puck line gives the underdog an extra +1.5 goals at the end of the game, while wagers on the favorite have to contend with a -1.5 goal deduction. The adjusted score determines whether the bettor cashes in or loses his wager. Here's an example:
Florida Panthers +1.5 (-220)
New Jersey Devils -1.5 (+190)
If you wager on the Panthers to win, they'll have an additional 1.5 goals added to their total at the end of the game. Unfortunately, you'll also need to risk $220 in order to win $100.
Anyone wagering on the Devils has to account for the 1.5 goals that will be deducted from their total at the end of the contest. If this adjusted score still leaves them ahead, then the bettor wins. In this case, a $100 wager would result in a $190 payout.
Player Points - Another option involves betting the over/under on how many goals a player may score in a single game or throughout the entire season.
Grand Salami - Despite the bizarre name, the Grand Salami is an ingenious betting option that should manage to keep even the most casual NHL fan glued to their television. That's because this wager involves every game being played on a specific day, and the player has to predict if the total number of goals scored will be over or under the figure given by the bookmaker.
Total Goals - The bookmaker sets a number in the 5 to 6.5 range, and the bettor predicts whether the total number of goals scored in a game will be higher (over) or lower (under). Here's an example:
Chicago Blackhawks vs Dallas Stars over 6 (-130)
Chicago Blackhawks vs Dallas Stars under 6 (+120)
In the above example, betting the over requires $130 to win $100. Betting the under, however, pays $120 for a $100 bet.
Prop Bets - Proposition bets usually involve predicting whether or not something will occur during a sporting event. Some bookmakers steer clear of these wagers, while others are known for some particularly strange options. Picking the winner of the Stanley Cup is one of the more common examples, while trying to predict the yearly winner of the Calder Memorial Trophy (awarded to the top rookie) is less likely to be offered by all sportsbooks.
A Few Tips for NHL Bettors
If you're looking to take your game up a notch, give the following tips a try before wagering on your next NHL game:
Watch the Lines - No, I don't mean betting lines; I'm talking about a group of NHL players who work towards a common goal (whether offensive or defensive). A team's line will be switched out multiple times during the game to adjust to various game conditions. By paying attention to which lines are particularly effective, you have a great chance of improving your success ratio on wagers involving points.
League Parity - During most seasons, the goals-per-game average for a playoff contender and league doormat are surprisingly close. This should always be taken into consideration when betting the over/under on the goal total for a game.
Know Your Stats - How does a team perform during power plays? Can they effectively put pressure on the opposing team while their star player is off the ice? By learning the strengths and weaknesses of teams under certain circumstances, you can transform yourself into an educated bettor who will strike fear into the hearts of bookmakers.
Expect Lower Betting Limits - Most sportsbooks pay close attention to the NBA and NFL, but the NHL often gets somewhat overlooked. Since the men and women who set the odds are less adept at predicting these contests, bettors should expect lower limits and less impressive payouts. Still, there's plenty of money to be made by betting on the NHL.