Hockey is one of those sports that is popular in North America similar to baseball and football, however unlike the aforementioned sports it also has a global following that rivals some of the world’s top sports betting leagues. Understanding hockey’s extreme popularity, it only follows that it is also one of the most bet upon sports in the world. With leagues all over Europe and North America, there is literally always hockey available for bettors. If you add to this the innumerable international hockey matchups that take place during the course of the year, your options as a bettor are unending.
Betting on hockey is by no means difficult to understand, but if you have never done so before it can become confusing quickly. This is so because while the bets themselves may often be simplistic in their design, the accompanying odds and how those odds are determined can befuddle even the most experienced gamblers. The following sections will provide you with a briefing of the most popular and widely used hockey bets as well as real-world applications to help you better understand how everything functions.
As was mentioned above, there are quite a few different types of hockey bets that can be made on a given player, team, game, competition, and/or season. Amongst all of these, three bet types standout from the crowd simply because they are the most utilized. These bets include and are classified as moneyline, spread, and over/under wagers. First up is moneyline wagering, which is arguably the simplest and easiest to understand. What’s more, if you are able to comprehend how moneyline odds work and what you stand to win from a given bet, this comprehension can be applied to almost every other wager type.
The word “moneyline” really does not do much in the way of explaining anything. To make it simplistic, a moneyline bet is nothing more than a single wager on who you think will emerge victorious from a given game. Basically, if the team you bet on wins, you win; if they lose, you lose.
Accompanying every single moneyline bet are odds which tell you not only how much you stand to win, but also who the oddsmakers have determined to be the favorite and underdog. When viewing a moneyline, the favored team will be signified by a (-) next to their odds, while the underdog’s odds will be preceded by a (+). On occasion, you will encounter games where both teams have a (-), however this does not happen as often in hockey as it does in sports like baseball or soccer.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s begin by setting up a hypothetical NHL hockey game and an accompanying moneyline. That may look something like this:
Philadelphia Flyers +205
Chicago Blackhawks -115
As you can clearly see, the home team—Chicago—is the out and out favorite. If you agree with the oddsmakers and think that the Blackhawks will emerge victorious, you will place a moneyline wager on them. Should the Blackhawks win, a $100 wager would see you win $86.96. These winnings are calculated by taking the 115 odds, moving the decimal places 2 to the left (1.15), and dividing your $100 by 1.15.
Conversely, a winning $100 wager on the underdog Flyers would see you win $205. In order to calculate this you are once again taking the moneyline odds, this time 205, moving the decimal 2 places to the left, and multiplying by your $100 wager.
Going forward, these types of odds will be used for every other type of wager. So if you are able to calculate how much you stand to win with a moneyline wager, you can do the same for spread bets and over/under bets. If the idea of executing a bunch of math equations turns you off, no need to fear because almost every sportsbook will show you how much you stand to win prior to you ever placing a bet.
Spread betting in hockey is a bit different than moneyline wagering, however it follows the same basic format. A spread bet, by definition, is a bet on the margin of victory or loss for a particular team. So while moneyline only needs one of the two teams to emerge as victor, a spread bet mandates that the team you bet on wins by a certain margin, or loses by less than a certain margin.
Keeping with the hypothetical game mentioned above, this is what a spread bet might look like:
Philadelphia Flyers +1.5 (-105)
Chicago Blackhawks -1.5 (+180)
Interpreting how to win a spread bet is quite simple. In this example, a winning spread bet on the Blackhawks will mean that the Chicago hockey team won by at least a 2 goal margin. Conversely, a winning spread bet on the Flyers would mean that they either won, or lost by less than 2 goals. The half point exists in order to avoid a situation where a team wins or loses by an amount equal to the spread.
To make spread betting even easier to understand, think about the spread of the team you’ve bet on as the score they have prior to the puck dropping in the first period. For the Flyers, this would mean that the game begins with them leading the Blackhawks by a score of 1.5 to 0. So long as the Flyers can preserve this score by the end of the 3rd period, you win. Conversely, you can think of the Blackhawks as starting the game down by a goal and a half. So long as the Blackhawks are able to overcome this hypothetical deficit, you will win your wager.
Odds accompany both wagers and are calculated in the same exact way they are for a moneyline bet.
An over/under wager is arguably the simplest to understand, especially if you are able to comprehend how betting odds are calculated. As the name implies, this is a bet on whether the final, combined score will be over or under a certain amount.
Hypothetically, the over/under in this Flyers/Blackhawks would be listed at 5.5 with odds for both the over and the under listed at -115. If you make a wager on the over, you are saying that the final score will equal 6 or more goals. Conversely, a bet on the under means that the final score will amount to 5 or fewer goals. Once again, the odds are calculated the same exact way as they are for moneyline and spread bets.
Another type of bet that can be placed on most every hockey game is referred to as a prop, or proposition, bet. These bets are typically based around the performance of a specific player or team. For individual players, bets might be with regard to who, specifically, scores the game’s first goal, how many goals a player scores in a game, and other performance-based bets.
There are also segment bets which can include moneyline, spread, and over/under wagers, but instead of being wagers on an entire game, you are making these types of exotic wagers for a specific period. For example, if you think the Flyers will lose the game, but also think that they will come out firing in the 1st period, you could make a moneyline wager on Philadelphia to be winning by the end of the 1st.
A futures bet, as its name implies, is a wager on an event that may or may not happen sometime in the future. A great example of this is a futures bet on who will emerge Stanley Cup Champions by the end of the post-season. Naturally, futures bets are a bit more unpredictable, and the odds reflect that.
Through this whole piece we have been discussing 2 NHL teams. As far as the world’s most popular leagues are concerned, the National Hockey League tops that list. Comprised of 30 times from the US and Canada, it is regularly regarded as the most talented of all the world’s hockey leagues. There are also lower leagues in the US and Canada, the AHL being one of them, that are also quite popular amongst bettors.
Apart from North American leagues, the KHL in Russia is another widely popular league for bettors. In fact, there are professional hockey leagues all across Europe. Leagues in Germany, the UK, and Scandinavia make up the most well-known of the bunch.