Betting Basics

How to Bet on Hockey: Insider’s Guide

Before placing your bets, make sure you are set up for success. Keep reading for our helpful guide on how to bet on hockey.

April 18, 2022

Come October, a deluge of fast-paced physical plays, on-the-fly line changes, and out-of-this-world shootouts amass across ice rinks throughout North America.

Hockey is just different. And unsurprisingly, hockey betting is a bit different, too.

While the players control the game, you can control your bets with a bit of know-how. In this guide, we’ll explore how to bet on hockey and review popular NHL (National Hockey League) betting tactics to help you slapshot your next wager.

What Are the Best Ways to Bet on Hockey?

NHL betting shares one key element with other sports wagers: the line. If you don’t understand how to read a betting line, you’re going to have trouble placing a hockey bet and finding the best value.

With that in mind, let’s look at an example hockey line:

  • Pittsburgh Penguins: Moneyline +125, Puck Line +1.5 (-190), Over/Under: O 6 (-110)
  • Chicago Blackhawks: Moneyline -155, Puck Line -1.5 (+155), Over/Under: U 6 (-110)

In this example, there are a few things we can immediately discern before we even get into the different types of bets available to us:

The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks are listed second. This means the NHL game is being held in Chicago (while it’s standard to put the home team below the away team, you should always double-check that the book you’re using adheres to this. Some books, especially if they’re overseas, may reverse this).

The Blackhawks moneyline and puck line columns have a “-” before them. That means the Blackhawks are favored to win. Favored teams will always have a “-” whereas underdogs will have a “+”.

The over/under is set at six goals. This means the expectation is that the combined score of both teams will be six goals by the time the game is over.

That’s the easy stuff. Now, let’s look at the different types of bets.


The first column you see when you look at a line is the moneyline column. When you bet the moneyline, you are betting on which team you think will win the game.

Because ice hockey is a low-scoring game compared to other sports, moneyline bets are a popular option as the odds will likely not veer too far from even. This means you’ll receive a decent payout for your bet.

Let’s look closer at our example line to see how moneyline odds work:

Pittsburgh Penguins +125 – The Penguins are the underdog in this matchup, which is why their NHL moneyline odds are preceded by a “+”. In this case, this line means that if you bet $100 on the Penguins and they win the game, your bet will pay out $125. Your winnings will be more than your bet because you took on the risk of betting for the underdog.

Chicago Blackhawks -155 – The Blackhawks are favored in this matchup, so if you choose to bet on them to win, you’ll have to put down more money to achieve a similar payout. The -155 line means that you have to bet $155 to win $100.

That’s it for moneylines. You bet on who you think will win and if they do, your bet pays out based on the line your book has set. It’s a straightforward way to bet on individual games during the NHL season.

Puck Line

Are you familiar with the spread in football? It’s a technique used by books to even the odds of any given matchup.

Basically, they say that the favored team has to win by a certain number of points for you to win your bet. If they lose the game or win by less than the spread, your bet loses. This is a way to achieve similar action on both sides of any given game.

The spread exists for hockey, too. It’s just called a puck line and the numbers tend to be much smaller. Because ice hockey is low-scoring, most games will have a puck line set at 1.5 goals. However, if a matchup is thought to be uneven, you will see the puck line creeping up higher.

Let’s return to our previous example:

Pittsburgh Penguins +1.5 (-190) – The +1.5 here means that a puck line bet on the Penguins will pay out even if they lose, so long as they don’t lose by two or more goals. The -190 means you have to bet $190 to get a $100 payout for a puck line bet on the Penguins.These hockey odds make it clear that the books think this will be a close NHL game and that the Penguins will likely lose by one goal. They are the underdogs, but you have to pay a premium to get a good payout on their puck line bet. That shows the books don’t think they’re going to lose by multiple goals.

Chicago Blackhawks -1.5 (+155) – Conversely, even though the Blackhawks are favored to win, you get a pretty good payout if you bet their puck line. For a $100 bet, you win $155 if the Blackhawks win by two or more goals.

Learn more: Puck Line vs Moneyline Betting

Over/Under or Totals Bet

The final type of bet you can make has nothing to do with who wins or loses the game. Instead, it focuses on how many goals the teams will combine to score. This type of bet is called an over/under or a totals bet.

Let’s go back to our example one last time:

O 6 (-110) – The over/under line for this hockey game is set at six goals. The team in the first column doesn’t matter here. Instead, the first row will always be the over odds and the second row will be the under odds. In this case, you need to bet $110 to win $100 on the over. If the teams combine to score more than six goals, you win.

U 6 (-110) – The odds for the under are the same as the odds for the over with a bet of $110 paying out $100. This is typical of over/under bets. While the odds may fluctuate slightly, most bets will be somewhere around -110 for payouts.

Other Types of NHL Bets

Moneyline, puck line, and over/under bets are the three most popular ways to bet on the NHL, but they aren’t the only options you have. Once you get a bit more experienced in NHL betting strategy, you may want to start looking at these other possibilities as a way to find better payouts and more favorable lines:

Grand Salami – Take the concept of over/unders, but now expand it beyond one game and into an entire night. Most nights will feature multiple NHL games, and the Grand Salami bet is an over/under on the total number of goals scored in every game. For instance, if you have five games being played, the line on the Grand Salami may be something like 31 goals for the entire night.As this is more difficult to predict than an individual over/under, you may be able to find better payouts for this type of bet. However, not all books will carry a Grand Salami line, so you may be limited as to where you can place this type of bet.

Parlays – A Grand Salami is, in essence, an over/under bet on multiple games to increase your payout. A parlay is similar in that you combine multiple bets to increase your payout. Parlays can be any combination of moneyline, puck line, and totals bets. The more you string together, the higher your payout will be. Just remember, if any bet in your parlay loses, you lose it all.

Team/game props – Team or game prop bets are bets about what a certain team will do or what will happen in an individual game. Examples of team props include:

  • Total goals scored
  • Total shots on goal
  • Power play goals

These bets are purely for the team you are betting on—what their opponent does has no bearing (unlike for an over/under). For example, you may bet on which team will score first or whether both teams will score during a single period.

Player props – These are similar to team props but more focused. Rather than betting on events for a hockey game or a team, you focus solely on the performance of one player. Examples of player prop bets may include:

  1. Total goals
  2. Total points
  3. Total penalty minutes

While player props can be fun, it’s not advisable to prop bet too much on these types of bets as individual performance can fluctuate wildly from game to game.

Futures – NHL futures are bets on events that are still a long way off. For instance, at the start of the season, you can bet on whether a team will make it to the playoffs or whether they’ll win it all. Payouts can be high for futures since you’re betting so far out. But, as we get closer to the end of the season, the odds on future bets will start to shrink as real results can be factored in.

The Puck Drops at Tipico

Feeling ready to start placing your NHL bets? The only other question you should have at this point is where should I go to bet?

The answer to that is easy: Tipico.

At Tipico, we have all you need to place online bets on the NHL.

Whether you’re ready to start slamming those moneylines or you’ve got a good feeling about some player props, we have the bets and NHL odds you’re looking for at Tipico. We even offer live bets for you to wager on games happening right now.

So what are you waiting for? The Stanley Cup Final tournament is fast approaching — get your Stanley Cup betting and other NHL bets in while you can at Tipico sportsbook.

Tipico staff contributions