How to read and understand NHL betting lines and odds?

When you first look at the betting line for an NHL game, it can appear confusing, perhaps even intimidating to the newcomer to hockey wagering. But in reality, once you understand what all those numbers actually mean, it’s not that difficult to understand at all.
Immediately next to the team names, you will see a number that is referred as the spread or the puck line. It will almost always be -1.5 or +1.5. This number is designed to level the playing field in a game.

If you bet on the puck line – let’s say you wager on the Tampa Bay Lightning at -1.5 – it means that the Lightning are favored to win the game, and if you wager on them, they must win by a minimum of two goals in order to cover the spread.

On the other hand, say the Lightning are playing the Detroit Red Wings and the Red Wings are listed at +1.5. This number means that the Wings are the underdogs and as long as they don’t lose by two or more goals, you cash a winning wager if you make a play on them.
Next to the puck line numbers, you will find the second number in parentheses. This is the betting line based on a wager of $100. So if the Lightning were +160, that means a winning $100 wager would return a $160 profit. Suppose the Wings are -140. That means you’d need to bet $140 to earn a $100 profit.

Moneyline odds

Moving again to the right, now you will find what’s known as the moneyline. This is the simplest play you can make on an NHL game, a straight bet on which team will win, regardless of the final score.
If the moneyline on the Lighting was -210, it means they are favored to win and you’d have to wager $210 to gain a $100 return. But if the Red Wings are +180, they’re the underdogs, so a $100 bet would return $180.

Take the moneyline, for example. Suppose you’ve got the Boston Bruins (-125) versus the Chicago Blackhawk (+240). The moneyline is a straight bet on the outcome of the game. You win if the team you wagered on wins. The margin of the outcome is irrelevant. The timing of the outcome – regulation, overtime, or shootout – is immaterial.

If you bet the Bruins at -125, you are playing the favorite. They are expected to win, so you get shorter odds. At a moneyline of -125, were you to wager $125 on the Bruins, they’d pay you a return on top of your investment of $100 with a victory.
On the other hand, if you played the underdog Blackhawks at +240 and they pulled off the upset, a $100 wager returns a profit of $240.

Next, you have the puck line. The Bruins are listed at -1.5 (+175), while the Blackhawks are +1.5 (-250). The puck line is the hockey betting version of a point spread. In this wager, the favored Bruins must win by two goals for you to cash a winning wager if you play them. Take the Blackhawks and you’ll get 1.5 goals, so all they have to do for you to win is lose by less than two goals. But since you’re getting a handicap, in this wager the Blackhawks essentially become the favorites, hence the plus margin on the payout.

Total wagering

Finally, there is total wagering. Sportsbooks list a total final score on the outcome of every NHL game. Let’s suppose for this Red Wings-Lightning game, the total was 5.5. Your choice now is to play the over, meaning you believe the two teams will combine to score more goals than that, or the under, in which you believe they will net fewer than 5.5 goals. The over and under are assigned betting lines similar to the moneyline and working on the same principles in terms of payout.

Now that you understand the basics of NHL wagering, it’s time to locate a place to make that first wager. The Tropicana is a great choice for a sportsbook. They’ve been in the game for a long time, so you know that they are trustworthy, reliable and will treat you right.

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