12 Mar

Learn How to Bet on Hockey

Simple User Guide to Betting on Ice Hockey Matches & Tournaments

Simple User Guide to Betting on Ice Hockey Matches & TournamentsAfter more than a century and a half, Indiana’s sports betting prohibition is over. Everyone of legal gambling age is welcome to bet on professional (and most collegiate) sports in The Hoosier State. That includes betting on hockey games. While we might not have an  NHL team of our own, Indiana is home to countless fans who follow the league from pre-season all the way to the Stanley Cup every year.  Now, thanks to recent changes to federal and state law, it’s just as legal to bet on NHL and KHL ice hockey matches and tournaments as it is to watch them unfold.

The following guide is intended to teach beginner sports bettors how to begin betting on NHL, KHL and other international hockey leagues. Knowledge and preparation go a long way towards a successful wagering experience. We’ll show you all the ropes, including how to bet on single games, multi-game betting, and how to pick NHL futures (i.e. future hockey tournament champions). 

First things first – this guide assumes you already know basic sports betting lingo and how to read moneyline (US) odds. If you aren’t familiar with either of these, or just want a brief refresher, please refer to the links below before you continue.

What Indiana Law Says About  Betting on Ice Hockey

There are legal limitations to the types of hockey games Hoosiers can lawfully wager money on. First of all, only bets with land-based and online bookmakers that are licensed and regulated by the state of Indiana are legal. The classification of the game is also important, as the criminal code addresses professional, collegiate and youth sports differently.

Is it legal in Indiana to bet on…
Professional Hockey (NHL, KHL, SHL, NLA)
College Hockey (NCAA)
Yes, with limitations…
Youth Hockey (under 18)

Professional Hockey: The Indiana Criminal Code makes it legal to bet on all domestic and international, professional grade ice hockey matches and tournaments. This includes the National Hockey League (NHL), Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), Swedish Hockey League (SHL), and Switzerland’s Alles über die National League (NLA).

College Hockey: Hoosiers can bet on college sports, including hockey, but only if they fall into the NCAA Division I classification. All lower-level divisions (NCAA Division II and III, NAIA, NJCAA, etc.) are not legal for gambling. Live player props on individual college athletes are also strictly off limits. [Learn more about the legal limitations of betting on college sports in Indiana.]

Youth Hockey: All youth sports gambling is prohibited by Indiana law. Youth sports are defined as any athletic competition in which any of its participants are under the age of 18.

Single Game Hockey Betting

As the name implies, single-game betting refers to placing one bet on the outcome of one game. These bets are settled, win or lose, the moment the final buzzer sounds. They are very straight forward, with strict rules in place to prevent any discrepancies.

There’s more than one way to place a single-game hockey bet. To better explain your options, we’ve set up an example line below. This is what you can expect hockey lines to look like at a typical online sportsbook. We see the names of the two teams competing on the left, with all available single-match bets, and their respective odds, on the right.

Match Up
Puck Line
Los Angeles Kings
+1.5 (-140)
6.5 (-105) O
Edmonton Oilers
-1.5 (+120)
6.5 (-115) U

The above lines depict an upcoming match between the Los Angeles Kings and the Edmonton Oilers. To the right, we see three ways to place a bet on this game.

  1. Moneyline (Bet to Win)
  2. Puck Line (Point Spread)
  3. Totals Bet (Over/Unders)

Moneyline – Straight Bet to Win

This is a straight-up bet on which team will win, known as a Moneyline bet in the US. Pick who you think will win, put your money down, and wait for the final buzzer. It’s that easy.

Match Up
Los Angeles Kings
Edmonton Oilers

Above, we see oddsmakers have set the moneylines for this game at +210 Kings, -240 Oilers. Having the positive line means the Kings are the underdog, and are expected to lose to the Oilers. Because the risk is higher, so is the reward. That +210 line means a bet of $100 will pay out $210 for a win. On the other side, with lines of -240, we see the Oilers are the favorite, and are expected to win the game (by a fairly large margin, at that). A bet on this team to win bears minimal risk, thus comes with only a small reward. The -240 line means you would need to bet $240 to win just $100.

To summarize, moneylines are straight forward bets on which team will win the game.

Puck Line – Bet Against the Spread (ATS)

Point spreads are designed to give the underdog just enough extra points to even up the playing field; to make it a fair game, where either team is just as likely to win. In ice hockey, the spread is called the “puck line”, and it works just a little differently. Due to the low-scoring nature of hockey games, spreads rarely eliminate one team’s advantage. Instead, they might shift the odds completely in the opposite direction.

Match Up
Puck Line
Los Angeles Kings
+1.5 (-140)
Edmonton Oilers
-1.5 (+120)

In the sample lines above, we see the puck line is giving Los Angeles an extra 1.5 points. These points get tacked onto the end of the score. If you bet on the Kings, you will add 1.5 points to their total. So, if the Kings lose by 1 (an all-too-common occurrence in hockey games), you still win the bet. Or, if you bet on the Oilers, you will subtract 1.5 points from their total score, meaning the Oilers have to win by 2 or more points to win this bet.

Puck lines impact the lines differently than a standard point spread. Instead of balancing the field ( i.e. -110 Kings/ -110 Oilers), the oddsmakers believe those extra points have moved the title of ‘favorite’ to the Kings. As a result, a bet on the LA Kings now comes with negative odds of -140 (i.e. a $140 bet pays $100). For Edmonton, the loss of 1.5 points has pushed them into the underdog position, but not by much. Now, at +120, a $100 bet on the Oilers pays $120.

For the record – if it weren’t obvious enough already – that half-point difference is in place to eliminate the possibility of the game ending in a tie. Some sportsbooks will enforce half-points on all or most of their lines, and some won’t. However, it’s not uncommon for the lines to shift after they open. The odds might be posted at Kings +1.5 -140 / Oilers -1.5 +120 to start. Then, an hour before face-off, they may have moved all the way to Kings +1.5 -240 / Oilers -1.5 +220. When this happens, it means that the majority of bettors, and/or the sharps (pros), are putting their money on the Kings. So the bookies will move the lines to encourage more betting on the Oilers. You can learn more about that here:

Bet on Point Totals

Totals betting is extremely popular in the NHL. Oddsmakers predict what they believe the final score will be, then post the total combined score of both teams as the Totals line. Bettors can then choose to bet whether the actual total score will be over or under that number. Because hockey is a low-scoring sport, some find it easier to predict the final tally than the actual winner of a game. Note that only regulation time counts in totals betting. Overtime means nothing. Once the third period ends, the combined score at that points is all that matters.  

Match Up
Los Angeles Kings
6.5 (-105) O
Edmonton Oilers
6.5 (-115) U

We see here that the sportsbook is setting the total at 6.5 points combined, with a slight advantage going to the Under. If the game ends 4-2 (total 6), those who bet the Under will win. If the game ends 4-3 (total 7), the Over bettors win. Again, we see a half-point in place to eliminate the possibility of tie bets.

Multi-Game Ice Hockey Bets

Multi-game wagers are single bets on multiple games. Instead of picking the Kings or Oilers to win, yo might pick the Kings to beat the Oilers, the Canucks to beat the Senators, and the Sabres to beat the Capital. All three are bundled into one bet slip, placing a single wager that all of your predictions will be correct. Therein lies the elevated risk – all of the picks must be right, or the whole bet is lost.

You aren’t limited to picking teams to win. You can mix and match moneylines, puck lines or totals. You don’t have to pick all hockey games to bet on, either. A multi-pick wager can be spread across as many sporting events as you like. Just be careful to bet what you know.  The odds are long enough already without adding uneducated guesses to your bet slip.

While higher-scoring sports, like football and basketball, present various ways to bet on multiple games at once, hockey is more like baseball. There are no teasers or pleasers in hockey. All multi-leg wagers are placed as parlays.

Parlay Betting / Accumulators

A parlay, or accumulator, is for straight-shooters. To place this bet, you’ll pick the lines you want to wager on, just as you would in single-game betting. Select each one to add it to your bet slip, then press the Parlay button. This creates a single wager on all of the chosen picks (as opposed to individual wagers on each picks). Enter the amount you wish to bet, and you’ll see how much you stand to win if all your picks come in. Be sure to look over the slip carefully, making sure everything is just the way you want it before confirming.

The more picks you  make in a parlay, the higher the payout becomes for a win, but also the higher the risk. Odds of +2500 (pays 25 to 1) on a 5-leg parlay look awfully nice, but there’s a reason sportsbooks are willing to pay so much. They know the probability of you winning a 5-leg is far lower than the chance that they’ll have to pay you that money. That being said, if you’re going to get into parlay betting, be sure you’re making smart decisions. Don’t make any picks that you aren’t 100% confident in. You’re far better off with a +600 3-leg parlay that you’re sure will win, than a +1,000 4-leg parlay that you have doubts about.

As stated previously, you can mix up your parlays with bets from any sporting events, and you can bet moneylines, spreads and/or totals. There is one restriction, though. You can only make one pick per game. For instance, you can choose the Oilers to win, or to cover the puck line, but not both.

I could go into a lot more detail, but we’ve already covered this topic at great length on another page. We also provide detailed information on systematic parlay betting. Please refer to the following links for more information.

Partial Hockey Game Betting

Did you ever notice some teams tend to perform better in the 1st period, or the final period, of a hockey game? Win or lose, it’s not uncommon for a team to be prone to scoring streaks at different intervals. It’s statistics like these that make partial-game betting so attractive to the most attentive hockey fans.

Most of Indiana’s larger sportsbooks will offer wagers on the different periods of a hockey game. Customers can pick which team will score more in the 1st period, 2nd period, or 3rd period of a game. It’s exactly the same as betting on the outcome of an entire game, except that only the points scored in the wagered-upon period count towards the settling of the bet.

There are additional bets that can be placed on a portion of the game, but most of them fall into the classification of live in-play betting. We cover these options on a different page:

Hockey Futures Betting

Hockey futures are bets that can be placed on the future of a hockey athlete, or a team, within its respective league. You can bet on things like an NHL team winning the Stanley Cup, or the KHL’s Gagarin Cup. You can also bet on preliminary results, including the winners of each NHL or KHL Division and Conference. You can bet on the MVP or Rookie of the Year. Larger sportsbooks, like BetRivers Indiana, go beyond the NHL and KHL to offer bets on smaller leagues, like Sweden’s SHL and Switzerland’s NLA.

Futures are far from easy picks to make, mostly because these bets have to be placed before the start of the regular season. A that point, anything can happen. Rookies could become stars or flops. Past greats could lose a step. Trades and injuries can change everything. No one knows what the new season will hold. All predictions are based largely on performances in the prior season. Betting on a longshot sleeper might seem like a fantastic deal, but don’t bet the house on it. We call them longshots for a reason.

That being said, let’s take a closer look at future betting options in major ice hockey leagues.

NHL Futures – Division, Conference and Stanley Cup

The National Hockey League is a North American ice hockey league made up of 31 teams from the U.S. and Canada. Those teams are split into two conferences with two divisions each (four in all). This gives us three ways to bet on the future of NHL teams. You can bet on a team to win its division (earning them a guaranteed spot in the playoffs); bet on a team to win their conference (earning them a spot in the championship game); or bet on a team to win the championship game and take home the Stanley Cup.

To bet on a champion comes with the longest odds. The lines could run anywhere from +500 on the favorites, to +75000 or more on the league’s worst projected teams. If you’re looking to bet on conference winners, expect the odds to be about half that of the future champion odds.

Divisions are completely different, though. Some divisions have clear leaders who are projected to outperform their division rivals with ease. It’s not uncommon to see one team’s odds set as short as -500. These are usually solid bets and easy winners. Just be careful, because as we all know, there are no guarantees in sports betting.

Here’s a quick snapshot of all the NHL teams broken up into their traditional conferences and divisions. 

Eastern Conference – Atlantic
Western Conference – Central
  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Nashville Predators
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Winnipeg Jets
Eastern Conference – Metropolitan
Western Conference – Pacific
  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers
  • Washington Capitals
  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Vegas Golden Knights

KHL Futures – Division, Conference & Gagarin Cup

The Kontinental Hockey League is an international ice hockey league consisting of 23 teams from various countries across Asia and Europe. Most North Americans don’t follow it; only the die-hard fans. If you enjoy hockey and intend to put action on the games, you may want to consider taking up KHL viewership. Statistically speaking, this league is believed to have higher quality teams, based largely on the fact that KHL favorites win 62.32% of their games, compared to just 56.99% in the NHL.

The following is a diagram of KHL hockey teams, divvied up by their respective conferences and divisions.

Eastern Conference – Chernyshev
Western Conference – Bobrov
  • Amur Khabarovsk
  • Avangard Omsk
  • Barys Nur-Sultan
  • Red Star Kunlun
  • Salavat Yulaev Ufa
  • Sibir Novosibirsk
  • Jokerit Helsinki
  • Severstal Cherepovets
  • SKA Saint Petersburg
  • HC Sochi
  • Spartak Moscow
  • Vityaz Moscow Oblast
Eastern Conference – Kharlamov
Western Conference – Tarasov
  • Ak Bars Kazan
  • Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg
  • Metallurg Magnitogorsk
  • Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk
  • Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod
  • Traktor Chelyabinsk
  • CSKA Moscow
  • Dinamo Minsk
  • Dinamo riga
  • Synamo Moscow
  • Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

Additional Sports Betting Tutorials

Interested in learning more? Check out our additional targeted sports wagering pages.

Learn How to Bet on…

Legal Indiana Sports Betting in 2021

BetRivers is licensed and regulated on a state level by Indiana to operate legally. It offers a wide range of sport betting options – every popular game is covered. Mobile options are also covered for an “on-the-go” experience. Our editor pick for safe and legal betting in 2021.

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