If you’re just getting started in NHL betting, or even if you’re just trying online betting for the first time, the first thing you have to do is learn how to read betting lines in hockey.
Most people think predicting who will win the game is the most important thing for making winning NHL betting picks. That’s obviously important, but the most important thing is to be able to figure out whether the odds on a bet are right.
Roulette makes money for the casino because there are 38 possible outcomes on the wheel (1-36, plus 0 and 00) but they only pay you 35:1 if you win. The odds payout is not as good as what it should be. If you could play roulette with 40:1 odds, the odds would be in your favour and you’d win lots of money over time.
So how do you figure out whether the odds are in your favour or not?
How Do Odds Work?
Betting odds tell you how much you can win on a bet, compared to how much you have to risk.
They also indicate what the oddsmakers are saying each team’s chances are. If the payout on bet is triple your money, it basically says there’s a 1 in 3 chance that team wins.
There are three different types of NHL betting odds: Decimal, Fraction and American. Most sportsbooks allow you to choose one in your preferences, so try them out and pick the one that works best for you.
Here’s three different ways to read betting lines in hockey:
Decimal NHL Betting Odds
If you’re Canadian, decimal odds probably look familiar. They’re the same NHL betting odds used by Proline, Mise-O-Jeu, Sports Action and other provincial sports lotteries.
To figure out what decimal betting odds are paying you, multiply them by what you want to bet. That would equal what your bet would pay.
If the Blue Jackets are 2.65 on the NHL decimal odds, you would be paid $265($100 x 2.65).
The tricky thing about decimal odds (and it’s probably why Proline uses them, those sneaky buggers) is that the payout includes your original bet. So on that Blue Jackets bet, you aren’t actually winning $265. You’re getting $265 back, but that includes your original $100 bet. You’re really profiting $165, not $265. Just make sure you keep that in mind.
Fraction NHL betting odds
The fraction odds are a lot easier to understand.
The fraction shows the amount you can win, divided by the amount you would have to risk.
Since they’re fractions, these odds are usually used for big paying odds like Stanley Cup futures. If the Red Wings are 10/1 to win the Stanley Cup, it means you can win $100 for every $10 risked. If the Penguins are 15/2 on the Stanley Cup betting odds, that divides down to 7.5/1, so that equals $75 for every $10 risked.
Fraction odds are a pain in the ass for small paying odds like a NHL game that has a small favourite. The Islanders are 20/39 in this example against the Blue Jackets, which breaks down to close to than $1/2, but not exactly. We don’t like having to do that much math, so we prefer either decimal odds or American odds.
What are American odds, you ask?
American NHL betting odds
American odds can be a little confusing when you’re first learning how to read betting lines in hockey, but they’re our personal favourite and most other people prefer them too.
American odds shows you what you’d have to risk to win $100 on a favourite, and what you’d win on a $100 bet on an underdog.
A minus sign in front of the odds means it’s a favourite, and the plus sign means it’s an underdog.
In this example, the Blue Jackets are +165 and the Islanders are -195. That means you’d win $165 on a $100 bet on the underdog Blue Jackets, and you’d have to risk $195 to win $100 on the favoured Islanders.
By the way, if you’re wondering why they don’t both pay the same (one +165, one -165), that’s because of the sportsbook juice. If you bet the Blue Jackets +165, I bet the Islanders -195 and the Blue Jackets win, the sportsbook will give you $165 of the $195 I gave them, and pocket $30 for themselves.
(Pinnacle Sports is a reduced juice sportsbook so they’d probably just pocket $10 or $15 for themselves. That’s why they’re such a good place to bet NHL.)