Betting on the National Hockey League ranks a distant fourth among the four major sports, in part due to its lack of popularity in the United States when compared to the other sports, and also due to its use of odds, which are confusing to some bettors. Betting the NHL is really no different than betting on baseball, as the same three types of wagers are offered; the moneyline bet, the puck line wager, and the total.
Moneyline betting is the most popular form of betting and in the example shown above is the one listed in the middle. In this game, Montreal is -144, meaning those who bet the Canadiens are asked to risk $144 to win $100, while those who bet Columbus +130 are asked to risk $100 to win $130. You may wager smaller amounts, but odds are given in this format as they are simplest to read in terms of $100 bets. With a moneyline bet you are only concerned with which team wins the game and it makes no difference if a team wins in regulation, overtime or a shootout. If the team you bet wins the game, you win your wager.
The next bet is the puck line bet, which is called a “Spread” bet above. Here, if you take Montreal -1.5 goals you receive +205 odds, but the trade-off is that Montreal must win by two or more goals for you to win your bet. If Montreal wins 3-2 and you bet them on the puck line at -1.5 goals, your wager is a losing one. If you take Columbus +1.5 goals you now have to risk $245 to win $100, but the Blue Jackets can now lose the game by one goal and you will still win your bet.
The final wager is the total, which in the above example is 5, and is simply the combined final score of both teams. If you bet over 5, you are asked to risk $121 to win $100, which is the -121, while if you bet under 5 you receive +110 odds, meaning that you risk $100 to win $110. If the game happens to end with five total goals scored, it is declared a push and all wagers are refunded. It’s important to note that the final score used for deciding hockey totals is the one used by the league. A game that is tied 2-2 at the end of regulation will be declared a 3-2 final regardless if it is decided in the five-minute overtime session or in the shootout. While a team may score all three times in the shootout to win, the official final score is 3-2, which is what the sportsbooks also use for grading totals as a win, a loss or a push. The majority of hockey totals will be between 5 and 6.