NHL Betting Explained: How To Bet On Hockey Like A Pro

In today’s lesson, we will be discussing how to bet on hockey and the basics of NHL betting. At the end of this sports betting lesson, you will be able to answer the following questions.

  • Is it legal to bet on the NHL?
  • How do you bet on the NHL?
  • Where can you bet on ice hockey games?
  • What are the common NHL betting terms?
  • How do you win betting on the NHL?

Complete Guide On How To Bet On Hockey

nhl betting scores

Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports in North America. Two competing teams going back and forth, and doing their best to edge out a victory is a great thing to watch.

If you enjoy watching athletes pushing and shoving each other, or excessive shouting, then this sport is for you.

Or maybe you just like sports on ice.

Before we get started with our guide on how to bet on hockey, let’s talk about the premier hockey league in the world.


The National Hockey League, or the NHL, is the most famous ice hockey league. The NHL is one of the four major sports in the United States along with the NBA, the NFL, and the MLB.

It’s composed of 31 teams– seven in Canada, and 24 in the United States.

An NHL game usually lasts for 60 minutes, or more if extra time is needed to settle the winner. Regulation is split into three 20-minute periods. If the game is tied after regulation, then a five-minute overtime period commences. The first team to score will be declared the winner of the match.

After the five-minute overtime period and no team scores a goal, then the game enters a shootout.

Those are the rules for NHL regular season games.

For the playoffs, there’s no shootout. Instead, it’s a series of overtime periods until a team scores a goal.

The NHL season starts early October and ends early June once the Stanley Cup champion is declared.

The NHL playoffs is often referred to as the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s the only league in North America that refers to its playoffs by the name of its championship trophy.

Eight NHL teams from each conference qualify for the playoffs. And much like the NBA postseason, teams play for four rounds of best of seven series until a Stanley Cup Champion is determined.

Betting on ice hockey is legal in most countries and states, but there are still some countries and US states that do not allow sports betting in general.

In case you’re a US resident, you can check the table underneath to know whether your state allows sports betting or not.

Sports Betting StatusUS States
Allowed Nevada, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, West Virginia, Arkansas, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Oregon, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Montana, Washington, Washington D.C., Colorado, North Carolina, Tennessee
On-going process Connecticut, Maine, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Maryland, Missouri, Kansas, Louisiana, California, Arizona, Virginia, South Dakota, Ohio, Wyoming, Nebraska, Alabama, Vermont, Florida, Georgia
Not Allowed Idaho, Wisconsin, Utah, Wyoming, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Idaho, Hawaii, Alaska, Texas, North Dakota

Meanwhile, in Canada and Australia, residents there can still be on sports through online betting sites without much problem as long they are using licensed bookmakers. However, their laws do not state that sports betting is “completely” legal.

Unlike some US states, Australia, and Canada, ice hockey betting is considered legal in the United Kingdom, and other countries in Europe and Asia.

To be certain that you’re not violating any laws, you can search for the local laws or regulations in your state or country about sports betting.

How To Bet On Hockey In The US

Finding a good betting site that accepts clients from the US isn’t that difficult compared to before. With the rise of bitcoin, sending and withdrawing your bankroll from online bookmakers have never been easier.

We highly recommend these online betting companies for betting in the NHL, they’re trustworthy and has great odds when it comes to hockey.

If you want to maximize your winnings, we recommend going with 5Dimes since they have the better odds compared to other major US bookmakers and has multiple hockey leagues you can bet on.

If you’re looking for flexibility when it comes to adding funds to your account and cashing out your winnings, we suggest using BetOnline.

Other sports betting sites you might consider are Intertops, BetNow, and MyBookie. All three are good and reputable bookmakers, and we’ve been using them for quite some time now.

As we mentioned earlier, those in Canada can bet on ice hockey using an offshore bookmaker that accepts players from Canada.

There are more than a handful of online betting sites you can choose from, but we highly recommend using BetOnline to place your hockey bets.

They’re one of the best bookmakers today and offer a variety of cash-in and cash-out options so it’ll be easy for you to add funds or withdraw money from your account.

UK residents may also participate in the action betting on ice hockey since their gambling laws are not that strict compared to the United States.

We recommend using BetNow to bet on the NHL. They have a competitive betting platform, several cash-in and cash-out options, responsive customer support, and of course, great promotions and bonuses for new customers from the UK.

Australian residents are allowed to bet on ice hockey as long as they only place their sports bets on authorized betting companies.

Most Australians bet on hockey through international providers.

We were able to review a handful of AU online betting sites and chose to recommend 5Dimes.

We place some of our sports bet with them, so we know they’re 100% legit, and we haven’t encountered any problems adding funds to our account or withdrawing our winnings from them.

Ice Hockey Betting FAQs

How do you bet on the NHL?

You can start betting on hockey once you’ve found a sportsbook, whether it has a physical location near your place or its an online bookmaker, to take in your bets.

In a single game of ice hockey, there are several dozens of bets an individual can choose from.

  • Money line bets
  • Puck line spread bets
  • Game total bets
  • Prop bets

For those just starting out betting on the NHL, it can be quite overwhelming if you’re not familiar with the terminologies. Don’t worry because they’re not that hard to get used to.

Odds are set by oddsmakers to assess the probability of an event from happening.

These odds are used to reflect how much you need to bet in sports betting. And how much you’ll win for the bet you placed.

There are three kinds of odds used when betting on the NHL.

American odds are used primarily by sportsbooks that cater to US customers.

It has a format of – XYZ or + XYZ.

If the odd has a minus sign (-) before the number (XYZ), this means the team is the favorite.

If it has a plus sign (+) before the number (XYZ), the team is considered the underdog by the bookmakers.

The number after a minus sign tells you how much you need to bet to win $100. And the number after a plus sign tells you how much you’ll win if you wager $100.

For example, the odds for a Toronto Maple Leafs win against New York Rangers are set at -150.

To win $100 if you’re betting for a Toronto Maple Leafs win, you need to place $150 wager. If the odds for a New York Rangers upset win is set at +130, then placing a $100 wager for a Rangers win will net you a $130 profit.

Next, is the fractional odds. These are often used by sports bettors in the UK. Fractional odds have this format: X / Y or X – Y.

The first number (X) is the amount you win when you bet a certain amount. This amount is represented by the second number (Y).

For example, 5/6 odds are placed for a Washington Capitals win against the Tampa Bay Lightning. This means for you to win $5, you have to bet $6.

If the odds are 7/5 for a Tampa Bay Lightning win, then you have to place $5 to win $7.

Lastly, the decimal odds. Decimal odds are very popular in the Oceania region (Australia and New Zealand), Canada, and other European countries.

Decimal odds represent the total amount you will win for every dollar you bet.

A good example is if you placed $100 bet for a Dallas Stars win against the Boston Bruins at 4.00 odds. You will win $300 if the team wins. As opposed to earlier odds we talked about, decimal odds include your stake with it.

So for 4.00 odds, you win $30 for every $10 bet. For decimal odds set at 1.80. You win $8 for every $10 you bet. 

A +200 money line means the team is an underdog and if they win the game, you will get paid twice the amount you’ve wagered.

For example, there is a game between the Canucks and the Bruins. Canucks are away underdogs and given a +200 odds on the money line. If you place $100 bet on them to win the game, you will profit $200 if they end up defeating the Bruins on their home floor.

Online betting is 100% safe as long as you’re with a reputable online betting website.

If you need help selecting a trustworthy bookmaker to place your hockey bets with, here are our recommendations:

  • 5Dimes (Our top choice and first-ever bookmaker with the best odds)
  • BetOnline (Fast payouts, lots of cash-in options, and competitive betting platform)
  • BetNow (Has the most user-friendly betting platform we’ve used so far)
  • Intertops (Online betting pioneer and has a solid reputation)
  • MyBookie (Up and coming bookmaker)

We can vouch for these bookmakers since our team is using them to place our bets. And we haven’t had any issues dealing with them.

Be wary of websites that don’t pay out their customers.

A simple Google search of “<bookmaker> review” or “does <bookmaker> payout?” can tell you if you’re dealing with a safe betting site or a bad one.

Collecting your winnings in hockey betting is not that difficult. You just have to make a request to your bookmaker that you wish to withdraw your money.

As long as you meet your bookmaker’s requirements like the minimum withdrawal amount, you can easily withdraw your money at any time.

The withdrawal method may vary depending on where you are located, the method you used to cash-in, and the available payout options with your chosen bookmaker.

Ice Hockey Bets

If you’re still not familiar with some of the terms you’re seeing on some online betting sites, this section should help you out.

NHL Money Line Bets

Money line betting is choosing who will win the match, regardless of the number of points they win by, much like basketball or tennis betting. Unlike soccer betting, there are no draw and only two outcomes for an NHL game.

For example, there’s a matchup between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Canadiens are favored to win at – 200 while the Pittsburgh Penguins are given +150 odds to pull an upset.

Betting for a Canadiens win will net you 50% profit if they come out victorious, while wagering on a Penguins win can give you 150% profit.

NHL Puck Line Spread Bets

The spread, more commonly known as the puck line spread in NHL betting, is given to unevenly matched NHL teams. Point spread is highly dependent on the margin of victory in a game.

The oddsmakers determine the point spread before the game starts. For ice hockey, it’s always – 1.5 for the favorite and + 1.5 for the underdog.

For 1.5 puck line spread, the favored team should win by at least 2 points for your bet to win.

For a puck line bet on the underdog team to win, they must lose only by a point or straight up win the game.

Betting on NHL Game Totals

Betting on NHL game totals is much easier to explain and understand compared to puck line spreads.

You place a bet on whether the game total will go above or below the set point total set by your bookmaker/s.

Let’s go back to the game between Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres, the game total for that game was set at 6.

The game started slow but the action picked up after the 2nd period. The only way it would have gotten over the game total was if it went to overtime, fortunately for over bettors, it did.

The regulation ended in a tie at 3 – 3. Both teams got into a rhythm in the third period. Those goals helped over bettors win their wagers.

If you’re wondering who won the match, the Sabres did.

Now, one of the main advantages of betting on the under or over is that the odds on them have little to no difference. Typical odds for game totals range from +100 to -130. The highest might be -150.

Unlike money line bets where a favored team might even exceed -200 odds.

Betting on Ice Hockey Prop Bets

Another type of betting available for those betting on the NHL are prop bets.

Proposition bet is a kind of bet you make predicting an outcome during the game, this is not directly linked to the final score of the game.

how to bet on ice hockey player

A good example of a prop bet is the total goals a player will score.

For example, Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals is expected to score at least one goal for the game against St. Louis Blues. The odds for him to score a single goal is at -110.

At the end of the 1st period, he already scored two goals. And three goals overall for the game. Since you only bet for just a single goal to be scored by him. You’ve won your bet even before the winner of the game has been decided.

Other NHL Prop Bets

Prop bets are very flexible that you can even combine stats of two players, teammates or not, and bet whether they can hit the total you’ve set.

Bookmakers allow you to set up the total for your chosen player or players. As long as your bookmaker accepts to take in your bet, then you have a lot of choices to choose from.

Other prop bets you can bet on includes the team to score the first goal for the game, how many goals a team will score in a certain period, or will the game go to overtime.

You can adjust the prop bet based on your preference. The lower the likelihood a proposition happens, the more favorable the odds, or the higher the payout, given to you by your bookmaker.

Betting On NHL Future Bets

Much like prop bets, future bets are not dependent on the outcome of just a single game. But a series of games. Future bets are not decided within a day or two, it may take several weeks or months for it to be graded. 

A good example of a future bet is betting on who will win the Stanley Cup trophy. Bookmakers set the odds before the start of the season and adjust it accordingly once NHL teams start playing each other.

During the 2018 NHL season, the 31st team entered the league, the Las Vegas Golden Knights. They were considered then as one of the worst NHL teams before the start of the season. Oddsmakers gave them long odds to win the Stanley Cup, 500 to 1.

Fast forward to the Stanley Cup playoffs, and the Golden Knights are one of the 16 NHL teams that qualified. They even made it to the championship round against the Washington Capitals. The first expansion team since the St. Louis Blues to reach the Stanley Cup championship round.

It was a very exciting time for bettors who backed Golden Knights to win it all. Especially for their fans. Unfortunately, the Capitals prevailed to win the Stanley Cup trophy. Destroying Golden Knights backers’ dream of a big payout from their sportsbooks.

NHL Betting Advice

NHL betting all comes down to having the right mindset and a good betting strategy. You may not win all your bets, but with proper bankroll management, you can make a profit betting on NHL games.

Now, betting on the NHL is very different from betting on other international ice hockey leagues. It’s mostly due to the fact that the NHL is considered the premier hockey league worldwide.

For those betting on international ice hockey leagues, the betting options are mostly limited to the following:

  • Puck line spreads
  • Money lines
  • Game totals

Betting on International Ice Hockey Leagues

Kontinental Hockey League

The biggest ice hockey league outside North America is the Kontinental Hockey League. It’s made up of 24 teams from Finland, Belarus, Latvia, China, Kazakhstan, and Russia. Nineteen teams are based in Russia while the other countries each have one.

The league is split into two conferences: West and East. The season starts early September and ends by the end of April when a new champion is crowned. The championship trophy is called the Gagarin Cup.

Swedish Hockey League

The Swedish Hockey League is consists of fourteen teams and the rules here are much like the rules used in the NHL.

The league season starts late September and ends in April when a new champion is declared and receives the Le Mat Trophy.

Finnish Elite League

The Finnish Elite League or commonly referred to as Liiga in Finland has a system in place like those in soccer leagues. They relegate or promote teams based on their record at the end of each season. The league has 15 teams competing for the Kanada-Maija, the championship trophy of the Liiga.

The Liiga season starts in the middle of September and ends early May when the championship round concludes.

How To Bet On Hockey – Final Thoughts

Learning how to bet on ice hockey is not a course you can learn overnight.

But once you get started and get familiar with how ice hockey betting works, you may begin seeing improvements on your betting record. And along the way you can build up your bankroll.

Find a niche while you’re at it. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at betting on the NHL, the Russian league, or the Liiga. As long as you win your hockey bets.

Always remember to gamble responsibly.

Good luck!

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