Understanding Hockey Betting Lines: How do Hockey Odds Work? - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Understanding Hockey Betting Lines: How do Hockey Odds Work?

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Hockey is very popular in Eastern Europe, Scandinavia, Canada, and huge on betting sites in the United States.  It’s a great fit for sports bettors, however, hockey betting odds can be downright frightening to beginning bettors.  There are several different types of odds, but they are easy to understand. Let’s start with the easiest of them all, the straight money lines.

Straight Money Lines

Prior to 2005, an NHL game could end in tie. Adding the shootout completely changed the way to bet on hockey. In the past, teams would often play for a tie in the overtime period. Puck lines of –½ and +½ goal were very commonplace. Playing for a tie is no longer possible and because of this, the money line bet has become extremely popular.

Suppose the line on the Boston Bruins against Los Angeles Kings is Bruins –250 and Kings +200. If you want to get the Bruins, you must bet 250 to win 100 or $2.50 for each $1.00 you want to win. On the flip side, a bed of 100 on the Kings that hits will win 200.  If the game goes to overtime on a “first sixty minutes bet”, then it’s a push and you receive your money back.

Puck Lines

Known as the ‘Canadian Line’ until about 40 years ago, this type of betting became increasingly popular globally. The puck line is basically a combination of a money line and point spread based on goals scored.

For example, suppose the Philadelphia Flyers are –130 and +1.5 versus the Pittsburgh Penguins, who are +150 and –1.5 If you bet the Penguins, you bet $1.00 for every $1.30 you want to win. However, the Penguins must also win by at least two goals because of the –1.5 puck line. The underdog bet always wins if the game heads into overtime. If the Penguins win by a goal in regulation, a bet on the Flyers wins.

To win with a bet on the Flyers in the same scenario, you must bet $1.50 for each $1.00 you want to win, so a $150 bet that hits will win $100. The bet his if the Flyers win or lose by a single goal.

Note that lines of ½ and –½ still come into play, but are limited to bets on the first sixty minutes.


This is a very common bet in basketball, football, soccer, and baseball. With regards to hockey, the bookmaker sets the total number of goals scored in the game. The bet is an ‘over’ or ‘under’ the total.

If the line for the New York Rangers versus Montreal Canadiens is New York over 4, -120 and Montreal under 4, +110, then if you bet New York and over, the Rangers must win and the total must be over 4 for the bet to hit.

In addition, other bets are available. Consider betting by periods. Generally, this involves a puck line, totals, and money line bases entirely on the outcome of the first period. Also consider a proposition bet, which could be whether or not a game goes into overtime. Note that a relatively small percentage of games, less then 15 percent of NHL games actually head into overtime.

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