How to Bet on Ice Hockey
What You Need to Know
- Ice hockey is not the most popular of sports, so some bookmakers don't give much thought to their odds: if you do your research, you can use this to your advantage
- The best way to bet on ice hockey is to go online.
- The Money Line bet is the easiest to make: simply predict which team will win a single match and put your money down
- A Puck Line bet may seem confusing, but it's essentially just another name for a handicap. Here, the underdogs are given a headstart to make the contest more even
- Accumulators are great ways of boosting your possible winnings, but remember, the longer an accumulator, the greater the risk to your money
- Prop bets can also make a game more interesting: try having a flutter on the first team to score if you're new to sports gambling
- Always remember that all sports betting can become addictive, so always bet responsibly
Betting on Hockey
Ice hockey may not be as big in the UK and Europe as it is in North America, but it still has a healthy following and, just as importantly, online bookmakers still offer a number of betting markets for a huge range of games. So, whether you want to bet on the Stanley Cup final, the NHL play-offs, the Olympic Games or the outcome of a single match in the Swedish league, you will easily find a bookie offering you odds.
However, before you put any money down, you need to know what you're doing. A good understanding of how odds work and the most popular types of ice hockey bets will help you on your way to making money out of this thrilling sport.
Where to Bet
Forget the high street bookies, the best place to put a bet on ice hockey is online. Specialist sports betting sites will offer the widest range of betting markets, not just on major NHL games.
Check out our guide to the Best Betting Sites out there and take advantage of some great special offers to get some cashback to start betting with. It's a good idea to open more than one account as this way you can compare the odds being offered and always get the best price.
Understanding the Odds
There's no point putting down a bet if you don't understand what the odds are. The odds (also known as the price) indicate how likely the bookmakers think an event is to happen, whether it's a country winning the World Championships at the summer Olympics or a player scoring the next goal. The odds also determine how much you will win if your prediction is correct. In most cases, on sports betting sites, the odds will be expressed as fractions. However, they could be expressed as decimal points or even in the American style, though you should always be able to change the settings to suit you. Here's what each of these mean:
1) Fractional Odds
On the majority of UK sports betting sites you will find that the default setting for displaying the odds will be as fractions. Odds displayed this way show you how much you will win on a bet compared to how much you put on. Quite simply, the first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.
So, if the odds for Team A winning a specific hockey match are 4/1, this means if you bet £1, you will receive £4 in winnings (and you will get your original stake back on top of this).
This works on a ratio basis. So, if you place £10 at odds of 4/1, you will receive £40 in winnings. Or, if you place £5 at odds of 8/1, your winnings will be £40, plus your initial stake.
Sometimes you will find that the second number of the fraction is larger than the first. This is what's known as an 'odds on' bet and shows that the bookies believe that the chances of a particular prediction (such as Canada beating France) coming true are greater than 50/50. The principle remains the same, however: the first number of the fraction indicates how much you will win if you place the amount of money shown in the second number of the fraction.
For example, if you put £2 down on odds of 1/2, your winnings will be £1. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £60 at the same odds, you will win £30, plus your initial stake.
2) Decimal Odds
Given most people are used to seeing odds displayed as fractions, getting your head around decimal odds may seem daunting. But, don't worry, this system is equally straightforward once you've got the hang of it.
The way it works is that you just need to multiply your stake by the decimal shown and this is how much you will receive in winnings, including your returned stake.
So, if you put £1 down on odds of 3.00, you will win £3.00, including your initial stake, if your prediction comes true. And again, this works on a ratio basis. So, if you put down £15 at the same odds of 3.00, you will win £45, including your original stake.
Popular Types of Bet
With terms such as 'Money Line' and 'Puck Line' used very frequently, betting on ice hockey can be confusing at first. However, there are a few key bets that are very simple to make and that almost all bookmakers will offer on all matches. Here are some of the most popular types of hockey bet:
1) Money Line
The simplest type of bet to put on a hockey match is what's known as the Money line. Here you just need to back one team to beat the other and if they do end up winning, then you win at the odds you were originally quoted. It doesn't matter if the team you have put your money on wins by one goal or by 10, so long as they score more than the opposition, then your bet is a winner.
Let's look at an example: Here we have the Money Line offered by the bookmakers before an international hockey match between Norway and Canada. As you can see, Canada are the firm favourites: you would need to put £25 on them to win just £2. Meanwhile, Norway are the underdogs, priced at 7/1. Again, with the Money Line bet, it makes no difference if Canada wins by a single goal or by many more, so long as you have backed them to win, if they do score more than Norway, you will win at odds of 2/25.
Note that in this instance, the bookmaker is offering just a two-way bet on this match: you cannot put money on the game ending in a draw. In some other cases, however, Money Line bets are three-way and you can bet on the game finishing as a tie, it just depends on the specific circumstances.
2) Puck Line
One other very popular type of ice hockey bet is the Puck Line. If you're used to betting on British sports, then the term might be unfamiliar and confusing. Don't worry, however, this type of bet is also very easy to both understand and make.
Quite simply, the Puck Line is the odds a bookmaker will offer when he has added a handicap. In mismatched games the bookie will give the underdog a headstart and the favourites a handicap, making the contest more even and the odds more attractive.
Let's go back to the example of Norway against Canada. Here we can see the Puck Line offered by the bookies ahead of that match. In this case, Norway, who are the underdogs, have been given a headstart of +2.5, with the odds now at 1/1. With this bet, if Norway lose by two goals or fewer, then they will still be named as the victors thanks to their headstart. If, however, Norway lose by three of more goals, then they will be the losers even after the Puck Line of +2.5 has been taken into account.
Similarly, as you can see the Puck Line for Canada is -2.5. This means that they need to win by at least three goals to be named the overall winner here; anything less and they will fail to overcome (or 'cover') the handicap placed on them.
Puck Line bets are a great way of making the odds more attractive. As well as a standard Puck Line, most bookmakers, especially online sports betting specialists, will offer a number of additional Puck Lines, all with their own odds. Here's the extra Puck Lines offered for the Norway versus Canada match:
3) Game Total
Like with nearly all sports, hockey is great for betting on totals. The most common thing to bet on is, of course, the number of goals that will be scored in a single match. Again, like most other sports, this will be a simple over/under bet. Here, the bookmaker will give a fixed number and all you need to do is bet whether fewer or more goals than this will be scored.
Let's have a look at the Games Totals offered ahead of the Norway versus Canada match. Here we can see the bookie thinks there will be under 5.5 goals (so, five or under). If, however, you think this will be a high-scoring game, you can get 11/10 on both teams scoring six or more goals between them. Again, you are not being asked to predict the exact score or even the precise number of goals scored by both teams, just guess whether this will be above or below a given number.
4) Highest Scoring Period
If you're not keen on predicting the overall number of goals in a match, you might want to bet on which of the three periods sees the most goals scored. This can be a savvy bet to make if you have studied the form guide and found that one team tends to start strong before capitulating later on, or that one team tends to score early before trying to sit back and defend their lead.
This is another very easy bet to make. Below you can see the odds offered for this type of bet ahead of the game between Norway and Canada:
Hockey is generally a low-scoring game, though often there are clear underdogs and obvious favourites. Given this, the odds offered for straightforward Money Line bets or even for Game Total bets may not always be very attractive. Indeed, you often need to bet large amounts in order to get worthwhile returns.
To get better odds and so boost your possible winnings, consider making an Accumulator bet. You may also see this type of bet referred to as a 'Parlay', especially on American sports gambling websites. Here you bet on a combination of things. For example, you could bet on Norway to beat Canada and there to be more than six goals in the game. Only if you are right on all the bets in your accumulator will you win, however. So, while your possible earnings will increase as you add new outcomes to an accumulator, so too will your risk of losing.
If you are betting on games in the NHL, then you may want to consider having a go at what's known as 'The Grand Salami'. Here, bookmakers will give you the chance to bet on the total number of goals scored on a single day's action in the league. For example, if 10 games were taking place in the NHL on a specific Saturday, you would be given the chance to bet on the number of goals scored in all of these matches being under or over 60.
6) Hockey Prop Bets
Prop Bets (which you may also see referred to as novelty or even exotic bets) give you the chance to put money on a huge number of things either happening or not happening in a match. In most cases, these events will not affect the overall outcomes of the game but will simply add a little extra interest. Some of the most popular Prop Bets for ice hockey include:
- Race to 3 goals: Here you simply put money on the team you think will score 3 goals first. Be sure to check whether the bookie will void all bets if neither team manages to reach this total before you put any money down, however.
- First to score wins: As well as betting on the first team to score, you can also put money on them going on to win the match. In most cases, you will get better odds for this type of bet than for a straight-up first to score bet.
- Margin of victory: Another popular over/under bet is to put money on how many goals the victors will win by. As usual, the bookie will give a number and you have to bet whether the winning margin will be greater or less than this.
- Number of fouls: This is a popular bet but something of a gamble as it's almost impossible to predict before a match. Again, most bookies will offer this as a simple over/under bet.
7) Futures Markets
As the name suggests, instead of betting on the outcome of a single match, Futures Markets let you wager on future events. Usually this will mean you betting on which team you think will the European Championships, the World Championships, the NHL or the Olympics.
A Futures Market will look like this, which are the odds offered ahead of the IIHF World Championship 2014:
Hints and Tips for Betting on Ice Hockey
There is no such thing as a 'sure thing' in ice hockey. As in all other sports, upsets can happen. However, the favourites usually beat the underdogs, plus there are a number of things you can also bear in mind to increase your chances of beating the bookmaker. These include:
- Since ice hockey is not as popular as many other sports, most bookies don't pay as much attention to the odds they are offering. Use this to your advantage by following the sport closely, studying the form guide and looking out for overly-generous odds.
- Be more adventurous than simply betting on Money Lines. They may be the easiest type of bet to make, but the odds are often very unattractive, meaning you have to bet lots to get anything like a decent return on your money.
- Always try and read up on the recent form of both teams and, just as importantly, check which players will be playing and which won't. Injuries are common in ice hockey and top players can make a real difference, so make sure you've done your homework.
- A general rule in ice hockey is that home advantage counts a lot, so bear this in mind when you're placing a bet.
A Note About Responsible Betting
Betting on ice hockey can be exciting and, if you're savvy, profitable. It can, however, also become addictive, so you should make sure you are always betting responsibly. Never bet while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and never bet money you can't afford to lose.
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Further Sports Betting Reading
If you are keen to get busy making money from sports betting but just don't know where to begin, we have a number of great YouTube video tutorials and other guides to help you get started:
- Ice hockey isn't the only American sport you can have a flutter on. Check out this guide on How to Bet on Basketball
- You can also have a bet on F1, which is popular around the world. Read this guide on How to Bet on F1 before you put any money down
- Learn how to make money on the Sport of Kings with the help of this guide on How to Bet on a Horse
Further Ice Hockey Betting Reading
- Learn more about the sport and keep up to date with the latest news with the help of Sky Sports: http://www1.skysports.com/icehockey/
- For the latest news on UK ice hockey, visit the British Ice Hockey website: http://www.britishicehockey.co.uk/