When it comes to NHL hockey betting, it helps to have a game plan—and like with anything in life, you have the choice between going with your gut and using your head.
While using your head requires more forethought, research, and objectivity, it often yields better results and higher earnings.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best NHL ice hockey betting strategies that may help you earn big during the regular season, through the playoffs, and into future National Hockey League seasons.
The Basics: Know Your Lines
Before we jump into specific NHL betting systems, it’s worth touching on the basics. With that said, becoming a great NHL bettor shares one important quality with becoming a great actor: you need to know your lines. Your odds lines that is.
To that end, let’s quickly touch on the basic terminology of NHL lines. And, if any of this is unfamiliar, be sure to check out How to Read Sports Betting Lines for a more in-depth look. Let’s dive in:
- Moneyline – These odds will show what your payout will be for a straight bet on which team will win the game. “-” numbers show how much you need to bet to win $100 while “+” numbers reflect how much you will win if you bet $100. For instance, -160 means you need to bet $160 to win $100. Conversely, +160 means a $100 bet pays $160.
- Puck line – This term is specific to ice hockey, but it has the same meaning as a spread in other sports. However, since hockey is a low-scoring game, you won’t see large puck lines like you might in football. Most of the time, the puck line will be 1.5 goals, though, in cases of games with heavy favorites, this number may be higher.
- Over/Under – Also called totals bets, this is a bet on the final score of any given game. The line is the sportsbook’s best guess as to the total number of goals both teams will score during the game. You then decide whether you think they will score more or less than that number.
NHL Betting Strategies
Now that you’re refreshed on how the lines work, it’s time to get into how to win your bets. First off, don’t just bet your gut. You may have loyalty to the Florida Panthers, but that doesn’t mean you should go all in if their stats are floundering.
While there’s no such thing as a foolproof betting strategy, there are a few tricks that you can adopt to organize your bets and make more objective picks.
One of the most important ways to win at NHL betting is by finding the betting odds that have the most value. You may be sure that the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to win tomorrow, but if everyone else is also sure, the lines will probably reflect that. That means betting on them will come with a lower payout.
So, how do you find value? There are a few strategies to consider:
- Find the strange line – Lines, lines, lines. The reason we keep bringing them up is that they are one of the most important parts of betting. By doing your research on the day’s slate of games, you should have a pretty good idea of what the lines will be before you even look at them.
If there’s an actual line that’s way off from what you expected, one of two things is happening: You analyzed the game wrong. Go back, and double-check your work to make sure this isn’t the case. Or, the line is off and there’s value to be had. Stand by your convictions and put down some money.
- Watch for line movement – Lines can move as the game approaches. This is the result of uneven betting on one team heavily over the other. If a line starts to move, it could be a sign of value. Just be careful—popular teams’ (called public teams) lines may be moving because fans of the team are betting more with their hearts than their heads. Value can still exist in this case, but it’s by going against the crowd.
Fade the Back-to-Backs
Fun fact: Hockey is played by human beings. Fun fact #2: Human beings get tired.
While it’s tempting to look at professional athletes much like their video game avatars, they are human and are susceptible to the same forces that affect regular people like us. Namely, they can become fatigued, especially when they play a lot of games close together.
If you think a team might be tired, it makes sense to bet on the other side (also known as fading).
Judging whether a team will be tired requires you to pay close attention to some easy-to-overlook details, including:
- Back-to-backs – Every team in the NHL plays 82 games every season. That’s 1,312 total games. While the schedule allows for breaks in between most games, teams can get stuck playing games on back-to-back days or with very little rest in between. This can take a toll over the course of a long season. As such, you may want to stay away from betting on those later games during a tough stretch.
- Road trip – While road trips for an NHL player aren’t nearly as harrowing as they were when you and your buddies drove across the country during college, they’re still not easy. Being away from home and family, sleeping in hotels, and navigating different time zones can wear players down. To that end, be wary of the team on the long road trip when making bets.
- Injuries – Players with major injuries will be replaced on the roster and those with minor injuries may see reduced playing time. This can disrupt a team’s flow and alter plays. Paying special attention to injuries and players’ ice time may provide some extra insight into how a team will play—and how you should bet.
Fade Bad Form
If you’ve ever played a sport, there’s one word that probably strikes fear into your soul—slump.
Slumps happen, and they can happen to entire teams.
If you notice a team that is lagging on the ice, you may want to start fading them before they break out of their slump. Of course, the interesting thing about this strategy is that sometimes a slump can be very short-lived, which is why you should pay attention to each game the team plays to keep your insights and wagers up to date.
Bet on Bad Form
This is pretty much the opposite of the last tip, we know. That’s just one thing that makes sports betting so confusing. However, as counter-intuitive as it may be, betting on a team that’s experiencing difficulty in the rink may pay off in the long run.
For example, when looking at teams during the 2007-2008 and 2015-2016 seasons (who experienced a two-game losing streak while scoring 3 or fewer goals in each NHL game), something interesting showed up:
- The team on the losing streak was more likely to lose their next game, but not by much. In fact, they won slightly under half the time.
- Betting on the team with a losing streak led to profits, whereas betting against them led to losses. This is because the lines took their recent form into account.
So, even though they may not immediately revert back into winners, you can likely still make some money by finding value in teams whose recent form doesn’t reflect their true talents.
Pay Attention to the Goalie
More so than quarterbacks, the true MVPs of the sporting world are NHL goalies.
Well, maybe. But it is the most important position in hockey. In fact, many pundits believe the surest way to pick a Stanley Cup Final winner is to bet on the team with the hot goalie. Why? Goalies set the tone for their teammates and can prevent the opposing team from scoring points.
The goalie can also affect who you bet on in a few key ways:
- Hot goalie – What works in the playoffs can work in the regular season, too. Riding the hot goalie is an effective strategy when it comes to picking winners.
- Goalie rest – Remember how we said the NHL season is long? Just think about how long it is for the guy who has to wear all those pads and have people fling pucks at him every night. Goalies need rest sometimes. As such, fading teams that are relying on backup goalies could give you a betting edge.
- Over/Under – Got two Vezina Trophy winners facing off? You may want to bet the under. Got two goalies with attention spans that remind you of little leaguers stuck in right field? The under may be the way to go.
Now that you know how to bet on hockey, it’s important to understand that betting can get stressful when you start going overboard. As such, only bet what you can afford to lose, and remember, sports betting is meant to enhance your enjoyment of the game, not ruin it.
No matter what strategy you end up using, enjoying your time in the depths of sportsbook betting is key to a good season.
NHL Bets at Tipico
Maybe you have your own NHL betting strategy that you’ve been working out in secret, and you may be asking yourself, will it work out?
From NHL puck lines, moneylines, prop bets, over/under, Stanley Cup betting, NHL playoff betting and more, there’s only one way to find out—get in on the action with Tipico sportsbook for all your NHL betting needs.
Of course, that’s not all. We have the NBA, MLB, Golf, and, of course, football. Plus we have all the sports betting info you’ll need at our Inside Edge blog. There may be many different betting strategies, but the best begins with Tipico.