How to Bet on the NHL

The National Hockey League is often overlooked by bettors, who prefer to stick with the more popular sports. This means those who are willing to put some effort into handicapping the National Hockey League are often rewarded by the public's nonchalance to the sport, as oddsmakers don't spend the same amount of time creating NHL odds as they do for football or basketball.

Hockey bettors will find lower betting limits on NHL games than they will in the NFL or NBA, something which is generally an acknowledgment by the sportsbooks that they are less comfortable accepting bets on the NHL than they are in the other two sports.

The money line is the most common method of betting the NHL, although there is also the puck line, over/unders, and a number of sportsbooks also offer the "Grand Salami," which is the combined total of all the games that are played on a particular day, which will be covered later.

Nearly every sportsbook uses a 20-cent line on the National Hockey League. The 20-cents refers to the difference in the odds on the favorite and the odds on the underdog. But as with other sports, such as baseball, the odds on an extremely large favorite will often be greater than the 20 cents.

The odds on a typical National Hockey League game may look like:
Calgary +110
Vancouver -130
Here, Vancouver bettors are asked to risk $130 to win $100, while Calgary bettors risk $100 to win $110.

But the odds on a game with a larger favorite are more inclined to look like:
Toronto +250
Detroit -300

The larger difference in odds is typical in all sports, not just hockey, and in this case those backing the Red Wings are asked to risk $300 to win $100. Those liking Toronto stand to win $250 on a $100 wager.

The Puck Line


While betting on the winner of the game, as shown above, is the most popular method of betting the NHL, there is also the puck line, in which bettors can either lay 1.5 goals with the favorite or take 1.5 goals with the underdog. Using the two games above, the puck lines odds will be something like:
Calgary +1.5 (-240)
Vancouver -1.5 (+200)

Toronto +1.5 (-110)
Detroit -1.5 (-110)

Now, Calgary bettors will win their wagers if Calgary wins the game or loses by one goal, while Vancouver bettors can only win their wagers if the Canucks win by two goals or more. But Calgary bettors are now asked to risk $240 to win $100 and Vancouver bettors are risking $100 to win $200.

Likewise, Toronto bettors will win their bets if the Maple Leafs win or lose by one goal and Detroit bettors will only win their bet if the Red Wings win by two or more goals.

Hockey Totals


Bettors also have the option of betting on the total number of goals scored in a game. The sportsbooks will post a number, generally between 5 and 6.5 and bettors can wager the number of goals scored in the game will be over the posted number or under the posted number.

There is one primary difference in betting hockey totals as opposed to betting basketball and football totals. Because scoring in hockey is so much lower than in football or basketball, the bookmakers are reluctant to change the number of a total and instead will often adjust the odds.

If the over/under number on the Red Wings and Penguins is 6 and a bettor places a $500 wager on the over, the bookmaker is unlikely to raise the total to 6.5. Instead, he will make bettors who wish to wager over 6 risk $120 to win $100, which is written as -120. Those wishing to bet the under would then be able to wager at even money or +100, as totals nearly always use a 20-cent line.

If people continue to bet the over, the bookmaker will continue to adjust the odds upward and eventually bettors may have to risk $1505 to win $100, or -150. In this case, an under bettor would risk $100 to win $130. The bookmaker will generally raise the odds up to -145 or -150 before raising the total to the next number, which in this case would be 6.5.

So totals can take on several different forms, but will nearly always look like one of the two following examples:
Detroit vs. Toronto over 5.5 (-110)
Detroit vs. Toronto under 5.5 (-110)

Detroit vs. Toronto over 5.5 (-135)
Detroit vs. Toronto under 5.5 (+115)

In the first example, bettors are asked to wager $110 to win $100 regardless if they bet the over or the under. This is sometimes referred to as "5.5-flat," meaning it is -110 on both the over and the under. In the second example, bettors who wish to wager on the over will have to risk $135 to win $100, while under bettors will risk $100 to win $115. This is commonly referred to as "5.5-Over."

Grand Salami


The Grand Salami allows hockey fans to have a rooting interest in every game being played on a particular day for the cost of one bet.

How the Grand Salami works is the sportsbooks will let bettors wager over or under the total number of goals scored in all of the games played on a particular day. If there are 10 games on a given day, the Grand Salami total will generally be around 53 to 60, depending on the particular games. Just as with regular totals, there will be times when bettors are asked to give higher odds on betting on the over or the under.


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