NHL Betting the Puckline
Picture this, you are an NHL fan and want to put some money behind a team that could make you money but how do you know if it’s a good bet?
If you have any experience with sports betting, you’ve probably heard talk of a wager having “value.” The value of any wager is the ratio of risk versus reward.
Basically, low risk plus high reward equals good value. However, this is not to be confused with a “good” bet. Now that we are clear, let us explore an example.
The Knicks are Bad… No really, they are bad…
A good bet is any wager considered a sure thing. For instance, the New York Knicks are a garbage fire of a basketball franchise, and you should bet against them every chance you get. Betting against the Knicks will always be a good bet. However, that doesn’t mean it has value, it just means the Knicks are bad.
Since there is no reward for what you are risking, making that bet would be a waste of time. The goal is to be able to spot good value on a particular wager. Once you hone in on looking for value, then you gotz skills. If the NHL is your jam then there is no better way to find betting value than on the puckline.
What is a Puckline?
Hockey is like soccer in regards to low scoring games. Traditional point spreads don’t work for low scoring sports such as hockey so sportsbooks created the puckline for the NHL. Think of it as part moneyline,(betting on a specific team to win a game) part point spread(a point total given to each team that can either be added or subtracted to the final score. Highest score wins). On the puckline, the point spread is always 1.5; then, odds are applied to determine the wager’s payout.
Simple enough, right? But, wait, where’s the value?
The value of the puckline comes once the odds are applied. As mentioned, hockey is just like soccer. It’s not stupid like soccer, but it is low scoring like soccer.
Since 1.5 goals is a significant amount of scoring, the odds that are applied usually turn the wager on its head. Favorites giving the 1.5 get underdog payout odds and the underdog getting the 1.5 receive the favorite’s payout odds. Any time a team favored to win is receiving underdog payout odds, that’s value. Still with me?
Still not seeing the value? Picks your spots.
Exploiting the value built into puckline wagers still takes some studying. After all, you can’t simply wager on every puckline favorite and expect success. Sportsbooks and their oddsmakers are smart. However, what you can do is pick your spots with favorites on the puckline.
Since a favorite is giving the 1.5, they’ll have to win the game by two goals to cover the puckline. Two-goal victories may be tough to come by in the NHL, but there are plenty of them, especially by the better teams in the league.
If you are picking your spots while wagering on, say, the top five teams in the NHL, you are placing value wagers.
Spot Your Picks
Just like anything else, the more you watch for opportunities to play a favorite on the puckline, the more they will present themselves. For example, the Bruins coming off a loss plus having to play a tough opponent like the Red Wings next creates a betting opportunity to take Boston. The Bruins get beat, their head might not be in the game, and going against an aggressive team like the Red Wings might make them vulnerable scoring-wise. That should automatically raise a flag to check what the puckline is and use that 1.5 curve to what you think the final score will be. If after the math is done, Boston is on top, you just found value and you jumping on that bet like white on rice.
Tip: Focus on teams with a .500 record ATS(against the spread) as a favorite, while a .500 record may not be anything to write home about upon first glance, with the odds you are getting, it can make you money. In lamen terms, a team with a .500 record ATS means that the majority of the bets are being placed on them, but the bets do not cash because the team is losing. This is where the 1.5 comes in handy.
Look for value, do the work, and have fun betting. If you are not having fun then this isn’t for you.
You have value in this world. Shouldn’t your sports wagers have value, too?