There are less than two million ice hockey players globally around the world, but the beautiful winter sport has been able to consistently grow it’s following over the past few decades to get where it’s at nowadays. The Internet era has brought ice hockey closer to people and the intensity of the game draws people closer to it.
Despite ice hockey being a minor sport, it offers great opportunities for betting. There are around 10 professional leagues in North America and Europe combined, that have international coverage which gives punters great ability to follow statistics and games online to research and then place bets on. This also means that there is hockey going on almost 24/7 throughout the season.
In this guide we will go through all the important information you should know about when you want to start betting on ice hockey. We feature the different odds and markets, ice hockey betting strategy, different leagues and tournaments to bet on, playoffs betting, high and low season of ice hockey betting, live / in-play betting for ice hockey and then end the guide with six golden rules to betting on ice hockey.
Odds and Markets for Ice Hockey Betting
Like any other sport, ice hockey offers a quite large variety of different betting options. The amount of open markets differs a bit between the leagues in terms of betting. Reason is not that the game is played differently, but the fact that ice hockey is a minor sport on a global scale. European leagues have a smaller range of markets because the European leagues have smaller following compared to the NHL for example. However there are always more than enough open markets for punters to find good odds the place bets on.
Now we are going to go over the most common ice hockey betting markets.
The classic Home Team Win – Draw – Away Team Win, 1×2, bets are the most common option for hockey punters to choose. Odds are easy to understand and the bet itself is very self explanatory. If the game is tied after 3 periods and 60 minutes, it’s a draw, otherwise you have a winner.
Moneyline bets are very popular in ice hockey. With a Moneyline bet you choose one team to win, and the bet includes overtime and shootouts, if necessary. So basically it’s a simplified 1×2 bet in a nutshell. Odds for Moneyline markets are always significantly lower compared to 1×2, as the market only allows two options instead of three, hence the house edge is also smaller which affects the odds. Moneyline bets are considered “value bets”, as those are the most common markets that big sharks and professional punters bet on. Value bets are where the money lies and that’s where your long term profits also come from.
Correct score markets are the most simple ones out there. You place a bet on a game where you try to guess the correct score when the game finishes. So let’s say we have Team A vs Team B, you place a correct score bet 2-4, if the game ends 2-4 you win. Odds for correct score bets can seem very tasty, but don’t get fooled, as correct score bets are very random. The amount of goals that each team scores in a game varies too much so you could be able to predict them properly. Throwing a 1-7 Correct Score bet once a month won’t hurt, as the payout is huge if it lands, but betting on these markets constantly won’t do you any good.
Over and Under Markets
Over and Under marketis, hereafter referred to as O/U, have become so common that they are available for almost all games out there. There are quite a few punters who bet almost solely on O/U markets on ice hockey. If you are following certain leagues and it’s games very closely you can start grinding quite a lot with O/U markets. The average goals scored per game is going down as the game and it’s players are evolving. That has had a big effect on the O/U markets as the line used to be O/U 6,5 but now it’s quite often 5,5 or sometimes even as low as 4,5. Couple tips for O/U betting:
- The first month of new seasons is a very good time to place O 5,5 / 6,5 bets. The NHL especially is a complete mess for the first month and it’s common to see 8-9 goal averages per game for the first 5-6 full rounds at least.
- Check the starting goalies for each team, if either of the teams is playing their 2nd goalie there is a chance for more goals to be scored.
- Special teams: Check PP (Power Play) and PK (Penalty Kill) % for both teams. If Team A has PP of 38% and Team B’s PK is 74% it’s a smart option to go for O5,5. (If you do this, remember to also check how much penalties the teams take on average so you have an idea of how many PP’s/PK’s can/will be).
Period 1/2/3 Markets
As ice hockey is played over three 20 minute periods, you have the opportunity to bet on each period as a single event too. Most of the big league games have 1×2 bets, Moneylines, both to score/not to score, Double Chance bets, Total Goals for Team O/U, and Correct Score for each period. Basically betting on Period 1/2/3 is like betting on a mini game inside the hockey game.
Goal Scorer Markets
Goal Scorer markets are as simple as this: Bet on a player to score first goal / last goal / a goal. You pick a player from either of the teams, choose whether you want to bet on him/her to score first, last or a goal. If the goal is scored you make money. Goal Scorer markets are a bit on the same side with Correct Score bets. The odds for the best goal scorers aren’t usually that high, and the variance will eat your bank roll. If you love data and have the time, you can create estimates for when players who score ~10 goals in a season will score and find some small edge with high odds. But I wouldn’t recommend it.
Point Scorer Markets
Very simple again, bet on the player to score point(s), or against it. Again quite fun markets, but not so much value in long term betting. Odds for high point scoring players are very low, and they are not really high enough for the rest either, unless you are betting on 2point nights, which adds too much variance to be considered a good bet.
Handicaps and Asian Handicaps
Before we go into the bets themselves, it’s good to separate (European) Handicaps and Asian handicaps from themselves. Difference between them isn’t huge, but it’s noteworthy as it changes the fundamentals a little bit. So here are the two handicap betting options and the difference between positive and negative.
Asian handicap bets are easiest to explain via an example, but before that it’s good to know that if the game ends as a draw, you get your bet amount back. So if the game ends in a tie, you don’t win or lose. This is why Asian Handicap odds are also smaller than 1×2 or Moneyline bets for example. Here’s a Asian Handicap line from the Tampa Bay Lightning vs Dallas Stars game with Tampa -0,5 and Dallas +0,5.
If you pick Tampa -0,5 it means that you bet on Tampa to win, but they start the game with -0,5 goals. This means that for you to win Tampa needs to win with one goal or more.
If you pick Dallas +0,5 it means that you bet on Dallas to win, and they start the game with +0,5 goals.
European Handicaps are the simpler version of Asian Handicaps. Instead of playing around with 0.25, 0,50, or 0,75 differences we have even numbers that make the game a bit easier. With a European Handicap you can bet on +/- 1,2,3 etc.
Let’s say you have Team A vs. Team B again, and you bet Team A +2. This means that you bet on Team A to win and you give them a two goal advantage before the game starts. If the game ends 0-2 for Team B, your bet loses as the result is a 2-2 draw.
Negative Handicap means that you bet, as we did on the example with Tampa vs Dallas, on the minus handicap, like Tampa -0,5. You can get higher odds with handicaps than regular 1×2 or Moneylines, but it also makes the risk higher. It’s common to see people advising not to bet on negative handicaps at all, which is reasonable, if you are not researching properly. But we are, and we can definitely bet on those!
If you want to bet on a favorite to win a game, looking into asian handicaps with small negatives can turn out to be very fruitful. Just make sure that you research properly beforehand.
Betting on underdogs with positive handicaps is an excellent choice to pick on your betting slip. If you have done your homework properly, positive handicaps and underdogs is an iconic duo that can make you very happy. Betting on underdogs can be sketchy, but with asian handicaps the markets become a lot more stable which is a very good thing for punters.
Wincast and Scorecast markets are super fun. Essentially they are combo bets that bookmakers are making for you. Now I wouldn’t recommend these bets as something to grind, but they are definitely a fun option if you are watching a game and want to add some extra excitement. Out of these two Wincasts are far better than scorecast, but we’ll explain both.
In a Wincast bet you choose a player to score a goal and team to win. You can choose the player to score from the losing team too, which makes this betting market very fun and interactive, as you can play around with them a lot.
Scorecast on the other hand, you choose a player to score a goal and the correct score at the end of the game. So essentially you are combining Correct Score and Player to Score markets that have high variance. Therefore you should always pick Wincast over Scorecast if you are funbetting.
Ice Hockey Betting Strategy
When you start betting on ice hockey the most important thing to remember is that data is key. The more research you do the more you know, and knowledge makes you a winner in betting. Therefore it’s super important to spend time researching data from both teams before you place any bets. If you don’t do that, you are betting on gut feeling and instinct, which is not a winning strategy. With that said, here are some key pointers that you should always check before placing ice hockey bets:
- Current form of both teams. Check their last 5-10 results, how have they performed and who have they been playing against.
- Which team has home ice advantage? Check the home and away statistics for both teams to get a better understanding on the edge home team can have. Home team has edge on line changes, but a team from the worse end of home stats plays against one of the best away teams in the league, well, you can do the math.
- Possible injuries and superstar players being “rested” for one game. With injuries you should have some optimism tho. One player being away for one game, even if that player is a superstar, might still not be a big enough loss for that one game. But if one team is missing 2-3 guys from their top lines, that definitely has an effect on the teams performance.
- Check the league standings.
- Starting goalies. This is very important as some NHL teams have starting goalies that play ~70 regular season games and full playoffs, so the secondary goalie has very little feel to the game, hence the secondary goalie might be shaky.
- Check the schedule of both teams from the last two weeks. If one team is playing their 5th or 6th game, and the other team is on their 4th, the team playing more can get tired a lot earlier.
- Possibility for back-to-back games. With back-to-back games starting goalies and the recent schedule becomes even more important.
With these things being said, it doesn’t make sense just to bet Moneyline on the winner. These are quite a lot of variables which can affect the final score of the game that need to be accounted for before placing any bets. There’s pretty much always a big mass betting on the Moneyline for favorite to win, which also makes the odds fall lower and lower. That’s why it makes sense to try to find an edge from other markets, which luckily ice hockey offers more than plenty. More often than not you can find great value when betting on underdogs with positive handicaps.
Best Ice Hockey Betting Bookmakers
Our goal is to make sure that our customers are satisfied with all their betting related needs. That’s why we genuinely put a lot of focus on ensuring that we only recommend the most realiable bookmakers out there. With that being said, we have done a lot of research on the markets so you wouldn’t have to. Here are some of the best ice hockey bookmakers we have found. Make your pick and enjoy the great game of hockey and the excitement of betting on it.
Best Ice Hockey Leagues for Betting
Here is a list and some details of the best ice hockey leagues that you can place bets on. There are two leagues from North America and the rest from Europe. Under each league you find valuable information such as how many teams and how many regular season games each team in each league is playing.
NHL (National Hockey League)
- Teams: 31 (32 for 2021-2020 season)
- Regular season games per team: 82
NHL, the toughest, hardest, most followed and just simply the best ice hockey league in the world. The NHL is played in the United States and Canada, seven out of the 31 teams come from Canada and the rest from the US. Season usually starts in October and ends in mid June. NHL hosts pretty much all the best players in the world with a couple exceptions. The NHL is the dream for all hockey players as they get to compete with the best and have a chance to win the Stanley Cup. NHL schedule is very tight, teams are playing constantly and even the teams from the bottom of the pack can win against the league leaders any given day. As the season is long and the schedule is crazy at times, the favorites to win the season have slumps at some points. That’s one of the reasons why the NHL is such a perfect league for betting, as the underdogs upset favorites constantly.
AHL (American Hockey League)
- Teams: 31
- Regular season games per team: 76
The AHL is a professional hockey league in North America. Only four of the 31 teams are from Canada, and rest from the United States. Winning team of each AHL season is awarded with the Calder Cup. AHL teams are all associated with NHL teams as their “minor teams”. AHL is more like a development league especially for younger European NHL talents that are yet to break it into the big league. Playstyle in NHL is similar to the NHL, but of course pace is slower and the average skill level also lower, but the hockey itself is good. From a betting perspective AHL is closer to the European top leagues than NHL in terms of betting markets.
KHL (Kontinental Hockey League)
- Teams: 23
- Regular season games per team: 62
KHL was founded in 2008 and it is the 2nd toughest ice hockey league in the world after the NHL. The league is based in Russia and it has teams from 6 different countries. KHL teams do not participate in CHL as the teams in KHL on average have significantly stronger rosters than the other European league teams. The reason is that KHL teams have more money behind them, as the Russian oligarchs are pouring money to the league and it’s teams hoping that they would be able to compete with the NHL one day. KHL is a bit top heavy league, but with the recent changes to the salary cap the bottom feeders are now closer to the top teams which makes the games more competitive. With that being said, KHL offers a great amount of betting markets and opportunities for punters!
CHL (Champions Hockey League)
- Teams: 26
- Regular season games per team: 6
Champions Hockey League is a hockey tournament in Europe that consists of 26 teams from 6 different leagues. Basically the best performing teams from each of the Europe’s top leagues get a spot in the CHL to battle to be crowned champions of the European hockey teams. CHL was re-launched with a new schedule in 2014 and it has been running annually since then. CHL resembles football’s Champions League, but the league has not yet grown to significant spheres as of yet at least. In the ice hockey world fans appreciate their home leagues above CHL, but there’s numerous great betting opportunities with CHL as the best teams from European countries clash against each other.
DEL (Deutsche Eishockey Liga)
- Teams: 14
- Regular season games per team: 52
DEL league in Germany is the 2nd most supported league in Europe. The level of the game in DEL is not comparable to the top leagues in Europe, but it’s super entertaining to watch. Older European players and some old North American ex-NHL players are a common sight in DEL which enhances the entire league quite a lot. Fans in Germany are enthusiastic and the atmosphere in every game is magnificent. From a betting point of view DEL is a great league to bet on as all the stats are available easily on their website so you can research quite well and then place your bets accordingly. If you are going to Germany, I highly recommend going to catch a game live just to get the feel of the great atmosphere the fans provide in each game.
Liiga (Finland’s Elite League)
- Teams: 15
- Regular season games per team: 60
Finnish elite league, Liiga, used to be the 2nd toughest league in the world around the late 90’s and early 2000’s. Then during the 2000’s Russia’s old Super League and then KHL started picking the best point scorers, goalies and defenders with big bucks to join the ever growing European elite league. Despite the loss of great players Liiga has been able to stay somewhat stable in the European league rankings. Finnish hockey is quite different from Sweidsh for example, which is way more skating powered where in Liiga they play more trap style of hockey. Liiga produces a lot of players that are drafted to the NHL which gives the league more international interest -> punters have a lot of valuable information available which are very helpful for betting.
SHL (Swedish Hockey League)
- Teams: 14
- Regular season games per team: 52
Swedish Hockey League has taken massive steps forward during the 2010’s era and the league is arguably the toughest out of all European leagues, besides the KHL of course. The fact that SHL teams have won 5 out of the 6 possible CHL trophies also speaks for themselves. SHL is an offence oriented, very fast and skill based league which is super entertaining to watch. Main sponsor of the SHL is Betsson, which means that there are a lot of great betting opportunities and the range of markets for each game are always very good. SHL statistics are easy to find for research purposes and betting on these games is definitely smart.
NL (National League, Switzerland)
- Teams: 12
- Regular season games per team: 50
National League, or NL, is the Swiss elite hockey league. NL is a bit different from other European leagues as the amount of foreign players in each team is quite large on average compared to others. Swiss teams have quite a lot of money behind them which means that the teams are able to get old NHL players and some top European talents to play in the league which makes NL one of the better leagues from Europe. It has the highest average in terms of attendance and the fans in NL are absolutely phenomenal, proper European fan culture which makes each game very entertaining and the atmosphere is insane. As per betting, NL is a great league with a good level of hockey and punters have great opportunities to find an edge on many different betting markets.
Ice Hockey Tournaments to Bet On
Ice hockey offers a great deal of tournaments annually that you can bet on besides the leagues. Vast majority of these are international games, but that just makes it a bit more fun. Now let’s go through the best ice hockey tournaments that you can, and maybe should, bet on if you are interested in ice hockey and betting on it.
World Championships (Annually)
In May of each year we have the World Championships of ice hockey. 16 national teams battle over 2-3 weeks period after which the winner is crowned as world champion. Ice hockey world championship is not valued as highly as Footballs WC for example, as they are hosted annually. But for hockey people love these tournaments and the parties after winning are insane, especially in Nordic countries like Finland and Sweden. The downside is that NHL playoffs are ongoing at the same time, so not all the best players in the world are attending the tournament. But from a betting perspective, it’s 2 weeks of intensive time to make a lot of bank if you have done your research properly!
WJC U20 (Annually)
From late December to early January every year we have the U20 junior world championship tournament, which is one of the biggest tournaments of each year. U20 WJC is valued above men’s world championship as almost all the best U20 players in the world are playing in the tournament, and it gives a chance for North American fans to see the players properly for the first time that are going to be drafted in the NHL. U20 WJC is also the most entertaining ice hockey you can watch outside of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Betting on these games can be tricky sometimes as juniors make more mistakes than seasoned veterans so there are more variables in the games. But, if you know what you are doing, there are great betting opportunities waiting for you.
Every four years we have the Winter Olympic games where ice hockey is one of the sports that are featured in the event. In 2018 winter olympics held in PyeongChang we didn’t see NHL players and the tournaments meaning dropped significantly, but in the future Olympic games NHL players will be eligible and we will see the best possible level of ice hockey between national games. This also means that the peak of ice hockey betting happens during the olympics as the team’s swarming with superstars clash against one another. If you are an ice hockey enthusiast following the sport on a large scale, olympic games is where you can burst all your knowledge and research on the table over 2 weeks and make some proper buck.
Euro Hockey Tour (Annually)
Euro Hockey Tour (EHT) is an international mini-tournament open to the national teams of Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and Finland. Most of the teams use it to prepare for bigger events such as the olympic games or world championships. EHT is played over 4 tournaments during the season, one in each country, where they all play against each other once. EHT gives a great opportunity for punters to bet on international games during the season and see how each country is performing with their lineups to scout for players / line combinations for other upcoming tournaments and games. Again, with proper knowledge of different European leagues you know most of the players that you see wearing their national colours, which then makes betting on these games easier too.
World Cup of Hockey
World Cup of Hockey is an international ice hockey tournament that started in 1996. Since then it has been hosted three times in total in 2004 and 2016 following the inaugural launch in -96. Last time, in 2016, it was played before the NHL season started with the all best players in the world. There has been talks about the next World Cup of Hockey, but no years or dates have been agreed to as of yet. But, when the time comes for the next World Cup, make sure you have been following hockey and especially NHL before you start betting on it!
Betting on Women’s Ice Hockey
At the moment NWHL (National Women’s Hockey League) is the only full professional women’s hockey league in the world at the moment. However it’s not the only women’s league you can bet on, as the semi professional European women’s leagues and the NCAA in North America for example are leagues that you can place bets on.
Women’s hockey differs from the men’s a little bit in terms of rules, as body checking isn’t allowed in the same way as in men’s for example. This means that the emphasis of the game is on different aspects and skating power is getting more spotlight as the cause. But at the end of the day, in betting the thing that matters the most is data. Researching stats from the league websites and catching a game or some highlights is the most important thing if you want to bet on the games.
High and Low Season of Ice Hockey Betting
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as ice hockey is season based which means there will be downtime for a couple of months each year. All the professional hockey leagues start during the autumn. Earliest season starts are in early September and then the NHL kicks in in October. Playoffs for the European leagues run from March to late April / early May, and the NHL playoffs are from late April to mid to late June. This means that from mid June to mid August ice hockey isn’t being played and the players are enjoying their well deserved summer “holiday”.
I use the brackets for holiday, as the pro players use the majority of their vacation to enhance their stamina, strength, explosiveness and so on. From a betting point of view it’s of course a bit dire, as there really isn’t any hockey to bet on, but you can use that time to bet on other sports such as Northern European football leagues or esports for example.
Summer is also the time when teams are preparing their rosters for the upcoming season. Essentially this means that ice hockey punters should do the same. Follow the transfer market during the summer, see which teams are getting stronger, who might’ve lost more than they gained, follow possible trends that might have an effect on the betting markets. When the pre-season games start you should have enough knowledge in your bank to start carefully placing bets while also following how the teams are performing.
Pre-season games are not something that you should base your research fully on, as the lineups teams are playing vary quite a lot, because they are testing out different line combinations and giving new and junior players a chance to show what they are made of. So to wrap up the high and low season of ice hockey betting: When Stanley Cup playoffs are over, take a small break from hockey betting and then start researching for the next season. Start with European leagues and then transition towards NHL when the season in North America is beginning.
Live Betting on Ice Hockey
Ice hockey live betting has grown significantly over the past decade and nowadays you have almost the same amount of betting markets open, as you would have on pre game bets. Due to ice hockey being played over 3 periods it opens a lot of different betting opportunities for punters to choose from in general. The variety of betting markets is definitely something that ice hockey punters get to enjoy, as the game has so much depth.
You have the opportunity to bet on markets such as: Next team to score a goal / no more goals scored, next penalty, O/U markets for periods and full time score, player performance based odds, Correct Score for Period X, handicap markets and much more.
One of the beauties of ice hockey is that the game is being played on ice, with knife sharp blades under their feet at a very high pace and with full contact. This means that anything can happen at any given time and if you are watching a game you can notice nuances from either of the teams that might give you an edge on live betting. Pre game bets for hockey are definitely good, but you can spice things up quite easily with very good live betting opportunities that can be very beneficial for your bank roll.
Just keep in mind that the same fundamentals apply with live betting as they do with pre game. Data is key! The more you know, the more likely you are to win with your bets.
6 Golden Rules for Betting on Ice Hockey
Place Single Bets
It’s quite common seeing people stack multiple bets on one slip in hopes for higher return. That’s a recipe for destroying your bank roll very fast. Generating ROI with betting is not a sprint, it’s an on-going never ending marathon where research and data brings results. Therefore it’s crucial that you stick to single betting with proper research behind your decisions. Patience is a virtue and grinding singles is the only way you can become a successful punter in the long run.
Don’t Bet Under the Influence
If you’ve enjoyed some beverages with your mates, stay away from betting on that night. Even if you feel like it’s nothing, your thought process isn’t as objective as it’s without the beverages and therefore you are jeopardizing your bank roll every time you start betting under the influence. Treat betting as driving a car, keep your head straight and make sure your decisions are objective when betting.
It’s hard to try to put it into words how incredibly important it is to compare odds and bet on the best ones available. You might think that a 0.03 difference on odds doesn’t really matter, but when you place 100 or 1000 bets that 0.03 starts hurting if you’ve gone for the lower option every time just because you didn’t want to spend five minutes checking for better odds. To add, we’ve made comparing odds super easy for you, just go to our odds comparison tab and you’ll find the best odds in the market in no time.
Create a monthly betting budget for yourself which you are ready to lose, track your bets and make sure you mark every single bet you place. Keep your bet amounts steady and when the week comes that you don’t win a single bet, don’t let it affect you. Bad streaks are part of the game, and variance will hit you eventually. Data is key and being able to research your own results will help you a ton in the long run. Now, as you are on Betting.com we offer all the tools that you could even dream of when it comes to tracking all your betting activities. If you prefer, you can always create an excel sheet where you can track your bets, but you are free to use our tools, as we have created them for that exact purpose.
Calm Your Nerves
As said above, there will always be weeks or if things go really bad, a month, when you simply don’t win any bets and all you can do is watch your betting money being drained away from your accounts. It’s hard, but you should never let that affect your mood and feelings. If all you are losing all your bets and it’s starting to take its toll on you, take a break. Just forget betting for two weeks and then get back with a fresh mind. Betting is supposed to be fun, and if you are not enjoying it, it’s better to just do something else for a while and let your brain rest.
If You Can’t be Objective, Don’t Bet on the Team You Cheer for
If you are a fan of a team and you want to be a successful punter, in most cases it’s better not to bet on games where the team you cheer for is playing. When you have been cheering for a team for a long time, you have built an emotional relationship with the team, which means being objective is very hard if not impossible. There are hundreds of professional hockey games played every week, not betting on 2-3 of those shouldn’t be that hard of a task.