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Types of Ice Hockey Bets

Depending on your experience level with sports betting, you may be surprised to know that ice hockey bets are not always about picking game winners.

Thanks to the advancements of sportsbook technologies, you now have the option to bet on a multitude of different things during the cumulative season and individual games.

One of the biggest advantages of having these different options is betting flexibility. These different bet types allow you to leverage all of your ice hockey knowledge in ways that weren’t always possible.

If you had a prediction about an aspect of the game that didn’t have a direct effect on the final outcome, it was worthless. Now, though, you have opportunities to turn that knowledge into cold, hard cash.

A Quick Note Before We Begin

Before we get started outlining the different bet types available in ice hockey, we want to cover something to keep in mind that is of the utmost importance.

The complexity of a bet has nothing to do with your chances of winning. For some reason, some sports bettors like to think that more complex bets offer some sort of “professional odds” or payouts that aren’t available on simpler bets.

This is not true. Each bet is independent, and the complexity does not affect the payouts. We share this so you don’t incorrectly neglect the “easier” bets. There are plenty of successful professional gamblers that only use the simpler, more straightforward bets.

This fact is important to keep in mind when reading through these bet types and planning your winning strategies.

Moneyline Bets

While this whole page is about how you can bet on more than just the winner, it’s important not to forget that bet still does exist. Even though it’s one of the simplest bets to make, it does not mean that it is any less profitable. Many professionals use these bets every day to crush the books.

The technical term for this bet in ice hockey is a moneyline bet. In simplest terms, a moneyline bet is a bet on who will win the game. If you think the Blackhawks are going to beat the Stars, you put a moneyline bet on the Blackhawks.

If they win the game, you win your bet.

Now, like most things in life, it’s not quite that simple but don’t worry, it’s also not that much more complicated.

The important thing you need to know is that each moneyline bet does not pay out the same.

To explain why here’s an exaggerated example that will make it that much clearer.

Let’s say the Dallas Stars are playing a game against a middle school hockey team and we allow you the option to bet on either side. We also tell you that we are paying out even money on both teams (if you bet $10, you will win $10).

Who are you going to pick?

Obviously, you are going to pick the Stars and so is everyone else in the world. After they annihilate the middle school team, we would be out on the street broke because we had to pay everyone a ton of money.

Sportsbooks can’t be doing this or else they won’t be able to stay in business and keep taking your action. So what do they do? Well, they adjust the payouts to level the playing field and award bettors based on how likely or unlikely a team is to win.

In this example, they would offer a way better payout than even money for a bet on the middle school team and a way worse payout than even money on the Stars

These betting odds should entice more people to take a chance on the middle school team and fewer people to bet on the Stars.

The sportsbook’s end goal is to get the same amount of money bet on each team so that regardless of who wins, they pay out the same amount of money and make a profit by taking a small percentage of all the action.

The odds on this game might look like this:

  • Dallas Stars – 4000
  • Middle School Team + 5600

If you bet $100 on the Dallas Stars and they win, you would receive $2.50 in profit. If you bet $100 on the Middle School Team and they win, you would receive $5600 in profit!

Now, which team are you going to bet?

These adjusted payout odds make things a lot more interesting as the sportsbook aims to even the playing field.

The payout odds (commonly referred to as the line) can also be changed by the sportsbook if they are not getting the correct number of bets on each side. Let’s say that with the above odds everyone is still betting on the Stars.

To try and deter people from betting the Stars and entice them to bet on the Middle School Team, they move the line.

The new line might look like this:

  • Dallas Stars – 5000
  • Middle School Team + 6200

Now if you were to bet $100 on the Stars and they won, you would only receive $2.00 in profit. If you bet the same $100 on the Middle School Team and they won, now you would receive $6200 in profit. The sportsbook will continue to move the line back and forth up until the start of the game as they look to get the perfect amount of money on each side of the game.

The takeaway if you’re looking to make this bet is this. Before you make a bet on the team you think is going to win, make sure that you know how much you stand to win, and you are happy with that amount.

If the team is a favorite, you are most likely going to get paid out worse than even money. If the team is an underdog, you are most likely going to get paid out better than even money.

The only reason we say “most likely” is that it all depends on how people are betting. If everyone is betting on the underdog like crazy, you may be able to get a bet in on the favorite for better than even money as the sportsbook looks to try and even out the amount of money bet on each side.

Puck Line Bets

A puck line bet in ice hockey is very similar to the run line bet in baseball and is a form of a point spread bet. If you don’t know what either of those is, that’s ok. We only mention them in case you do as it does help out a bunch.

A puck line bet is a bet that forces the favorite to win by more goals and allows the underdog to lose the game but still win the bet. Unlike point spreads in other sports, the puck line is always +/- 1.5 goals.

What does that mean? This means that the team that is the favorite has to win by more than 1.5 goals for you to win if you bet on them. This also means that the team that is the underdog can lose by 1.5 goals or fewer, and you still win your bet.

Confused?
That’s ok. Let’s look at an example that should clear things up.

Let’s say the Buffalo Sabres are playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Lightning are big favorites to win the game.

If you wanted to bet on the Lightning, you could always bet the moneyline. But let’s say you’re not only confident they will win, but you’re confident they will win by a couple of goals.

Shouldn’t you be able to capitalize on this? Well, that’s where puck line bets come in. The bet would look something like this:

  • Tampa Bay Lightning – 1.5       – 220
  • Buffalo Sabres + 1.5       + 185

If you wanted to bet on the Lightning, they would have to win the game by more than 1.5 goals. As half goals aren’t possible, this just means that they would have to win the game by 2 or more goals. The third number would be the payout odds you would get.

In this example, if you bet $100 on the Lightning and they won by 2 or more goals, you would get $45.45 in profit. The moneyline bet on the Lightning (to win by any number of goals) is going to be something worse like -350.

A $100 bet on the moneyline will only net you a profit of $28.57. The puck line bet gives you the opportunity to win more money when you think the team is going to win the game decisively on the scoreboard.

You’re also going to get different odds with the team that is the underdog as well. In this example, you will win a bet on the Sabres if they win the game OR if they lose the game by fewer than 1.5 goals. Again, as there are no half goals, this means they can lose by one goal or tie.

A lot of times with puck line bets you will see the team that’s the favorite pay out better than even money with the puck line bet and the team that is the underdog payout worse than even money. These odds will show up when the game is fairly close (as it will be a lot in hockey).

The example we used earlier is a game where oddsmakers and the sportsbooks are fairly confident that the Lightning are going to win by at least two goals.

The important takeaway here is to know what you are betting.

These bets will allow you to make more money if you think that the favorite is going to win decisively by two goals or more. They’re also great if you think the underdog will do well but come up just short of a victory.

Over/Under and Totals Bets

An over/under bet and a totals bet are the exact same thing. The two terms are interchangeable and represent the same type of bet.

For those of you that have heard the terms before and are familiar with them, you’ll be happy to know that hockey totals bets work similarly to totals bets in other sports.

When you make an ice hockey totals bet, you are wagering on how high or how low the total number of goals in the game will be. The sportsbook will set a number (known as the line), and you will be able to bet that there will be more or fewer goals than that line.

In hockey, the lines are almost always set at 5.5 goals. The reason that the lines are set as a half goal is to ensure that there are no ties. If you bet the “over”, you are betting that there will be more than 5.5 goals.

As there are no half goals in ice hockey, this means that you will win your bet if there are six or more total goals in the game. If you bet the “under”, you are betting that there will be fewer than 5.5 total goals in the game.

Again, as there are no half goals, this means that you are betting there will be five or fewer total goals in the game.

Occasionally you will see a line that is different than 5.5, but that is rare. We recommend double checking every time that you place a totals bet just to avoid any surprises.

Remember, this is the TOTAL number of goals in the game and is completely independent of the outcome of the game. One team can score all of the goals, or both teams can score the goals evenly. It does not matter.

Regarding payouts, it’s common to get the same payout on either side of this bet. If the game is set to be a real high scorer, you may see the payout odds for the under increased and the payout odds for the over decreased.

The payout odds may also shift some depending on the amount of money bet on each side.

The important takeaway is that the line in hockey usually is not shifted.

Instead, the payout odds are shifted to accommodate necessary changes.

Prop Bets

Hockey prop bets can be entertaining as well as a great source of profit as long as you remember a few things when betting. First, let’s talk about what a prop bet is. Prop bet is short for proposition bet.

A proposition bet is one where you bet on whether or not something will happen.

Confusing?
Let’s look at some examples.

Prop bets are one of those things that are simple to understand but impossible to define in one concise sentence.

  • Which team will score the first goal?
  • Will there be a goal scored in the third period?
  • Will the final total score be even or odd?

These are all examples of prop bets. For the most part, prop bets are only indirectly correlated with the final outcome of the game.

For example, the Dallas Stars can score the first goal of the game and still lose the game. Although, scoring the first goal will make them much more likely to win the game.

With prop bets, though, only the stipulations of your bet matter. If you were to bet that the Stars would score the first goal of the game and they did but lost the game, you would still win your bet.

Prop bets fall into two categories – skilled and unskilled. While you will never see a sportsbook designate which a bet falls into, it’s imperative that you know the difference if you have any hopes of being a long-term winner with your hockey prop bets.

Skilled prop bets are ones that require expertise to win. Unskilled prop bets are ones that are gambling; they require no skill to predict the winning bet.

Again, this is something better defined through the use of examples. Let’s look at making a bet on which team will score the first goal in the game. This bet would be an example of a skilled prop bet. Why?

This bet allows you to use knowledge and skill to make a strong prediction about which team will score first. You can look at which team starts out the strongest, which teams are known to be fast scorers, which teams start out more defensive, etc.

All of this and more you can analyze to make a better-educated prediction on which team will score first.

Let’s take a look at another prop bet. Will the total number of goals scored in the game be odd or even? This bet is an example of an unskilled prop bet. You could make an argument that you can predict the score exactly, but in reality, you’re just guessing.

Another example of an unskilled prop bet might be if the singer of the National Anthem at an NHL game will go over or under a minute and twenty seconds. These bets don’t require any skill to bet on, and you’re effectively guessing.

Are these non-skilled prop bets bad?
Of course not!

They’re great if you’re looking for entertainment or to add a little extra excitement to your hockey watching experience.

The important takeaway is that these bets are straight gambling.

You can’t expect to win these bets long-term. Sorry to sound like a buzzkill, but they should only be used for entertainment purposes only.

Skilled bets, on the other hand, can be used as part of a long-term winning sports betting strategy. They give you a lot of flexibility when it comes to using your hockey knowledge to turn a profit.

Remember, the sportsbooks are not going to be telling you which bet type is which. It’s up to you to decipher between the two.

Period Wagers

A standard hockey game is split up into three different periods. While each period is separated by a stoppage of play, the final winner of the game is determined by cumulative goals scored.

Hockey is not treated as a best of three game where the winner of two periods wins the game.

While that’s the case for determining the game-winner, sportsbooks will take any opportunity they can to make up a new and exciting bet. Books will allow you to bet on which team will be the winner of a particular period.

Think a team is going to come out strong in the first period but trail off through the last two periods and lose the game? This information doesn’t do you a lot of good if you can only bet on who will win the game (unless you want to bet the other team). With period bets, though, you can bet that team to win the first period, and then all that matters is the score after the first period.

For example, let’s say you bet the New Jersey Devils to win the first period. After the first period, the Devils are up 2-1. At the end of the game, though, they lose embarrassingly 8-2. Good news!

You still win your bet. It only counts the goals that were scored during that specific period.

Futures Bets

One of the more popular forms of hockey betting are the futures bets. Futures bets are wagers on an outcome that will happen in the distant future over the course of multiple games. For example, you can place a futures bet at the beginning of the season on who will win the Stanley Cup Championships.

You could place a futures bet at the end of the regular season on who will win the Western Conference Championship. These are just a few examples of different futures bets that are available.

These bets are challenging to get right as they require several different things to go right but this is reflected in the payout odds.

At the beginning of the NHL season, the odds on the favorite to win the Stanley Cup are usually at least +800. These odds mean that a wager of $100 will net you a profit of $800 for a correct pick!

While futures bets are most popular at the beginning of the season, most sportsbooks will offer them throughout the duration of the season and the playoffs. The payout odds will not stay the same, though. They will change as teams get more and less likely to win.

For example, if a team loses a star player to injury, their payout odds might increase as it will be less likely that they win the Stanley Cup. If a team that was less likely to win starts winning a lot of unexpected games, the payout odds could get worse on them as they are more likely to go all the way now.

The secret with futures bets is to strike while the odds are great. If you’re chasing trends, you’re going to miss out on making a lot of money.

It’s also important to remember that you’re able to bet multiple teams

and still turn a profit if one of them wins.

If you bet three different teams at +800, you’re going to win if any of them win. Heck, if you bet seven different teams at +800 and one of them wins, you are going to turn a profit.

Just remember with futures bets that you don’t get paid out
until your team has solidified what they need to win.

For example, if you make a futures bet at the beginning of the season for the winner of the Stanley Cup, you won’t see that money again until after the last game of the Stanley Cup Championship months later. Depending on your bankroll, lack of liquidity could be a big issue to consider.

Putting It All Together

While there are some rarely offered bets that we didn’t cover, we did cover the most popular and most important bets for you to understand. The associated betting flexibility that these bets bring to the table can be huge for your bottom line.

Ultimately, it does come down to making correct bets, but that doesn’t always mean you have to pick the final winner of the game.

Take advantage of this flexibility when you hit the book next and when you work to build out your long-term winning betting strategy.