In hockey, there is a uniquely named bet type that you won’t see for any other sport. This is called the puck line, and anyone getting into hockey betting will quickly become familiar with it. Betting on the puck line is essentially the same as placing a point spread wager on sports like football and basketball. Let’s dig into what is puck line betting in more detail.
What Does the Puck Line Mean?
In popular US sports like the NFL and the NBA, the two common ways to wager on a side in a game are via the moneyline and the point spread. When wagering on the moneyline, you are betting on what team will win the game outright. Odds are set by the sportsbook based on which team is the favorite and which is the underdog, so the payout will generally be different depending on which team you bet on.
In contrast, a point spread bet introduces a “spread” which enables the house to offer close to even money on your wager despite discrepancies between teams. An example is an NFL game where you might see a -7.5 favorite while the underdog is +7.5. This means that a bet on the favorite only collects if they win by at least eight, while your underdog bet wins even if they lose by as much as seven.
Since most casual bettors understand the idea of a point spread, this is the easiest way to describe the puck line in hockey. Instead of using the term “point spread,” the term “puck line” is used.
When you see a puck line, you can treat it just like a point spread in terms of what it means to the process of winning or losing your bet. The puck line is generally always set to 1.5, so the favorite will be -1.5 and the underdog +1.5. When betting a favorite on the puck line, you need them to win by at least two, while an underdog can lose by as much as one, and you still win your bet.
As you can see in the below example, a puck line may even be indicated as a “spread” by many sportsbooks. Still, when you see the +1.5 and -1.5 noted as a spread or puck line, you are dealing with the same thing.
This contrasts with a moneyline hockey bet, where you are simply wagering on which team will win outright. With puck line betting, a spread is introduced to even the playing field between teams. Still, there are some other differences between a puck line and a standard point spread, which we will get into further.
Looking to bet the puck line on more than just NHL? Sign up to BetOnline.
What Is a Puck Line Bet?
Now that you understand what a puck line is (essentially a point spread) let’s take a look at what constitutes a puck line bet. When placing a bet on a hockey game at any standard sportsbook, you will have three basic options. The moneyline, the puck line (or spread, depending on how the sportsbook indicates the bet), and the total (over/under).
The above example perfectly illustrates what you may see when looking to place a wager on an NHL game at a top online sportsbook. You will note that the New York Islanders are +1.5 underdogs on the puck line (spread), while the Carolina Hurricanes are -1.5 favorites. A bet on Carolina means you need them to win by at least two to cash your bet, while a New York wager can win even if they lose by as much as one.
As you can see, you would also have the option to bet on the outright winner of the game on the moneyline. You can bet on the total (over/under) of goals scored as well. A puck line bet refers to wherever you see the opportunity to bet on sides in hockey games using a spread (generally 1.5) rather than picking an outright winner on the moneyline or betting on a total.
Keep in mind that you can not only make puck line wagers on entire games but also individual periods and via live in-game lines. Reverse puck lines and other alternate puck lines can often be found at top online sportsbooks (more on that later). Three-way puck lines and Asian puck line wagering options exist but are not standard bet types for the sport at most US-regulated sportsbooks.
Placing a Puck Line Bet
Upon comprehending what a puck line bet entails, let’s take a look at how to place a puck line bet at a leading online sportsbook. The exact process will differ slightly depending on which sportsbook you use. Still, this will give you an excellent basis that will apply to any of our top-recommended sportsbooks.
- First, sign up (if you haven’t yet) and log in to your sportsbook.
2. Find the hockey section, and assess the games and puck line options available.
3. Select a puck line wager you would like to place.
4. Your puck line selection will populate on the sportsbook’s bet slip. Select an amount you would like to wager and place your bet.
How Does the Puck Line Work?
As we have explained, at its basis, the puck line is just the hockey version of a point spread. Still, some key differences differentiate the puck line from a standard point spread that you might see in the NFL and NBA.
One is that it is almost always set to 1.5, with a -1.5 favorite and a +1.5 underdog. This is in contrast with a point spread, where the exact number will vary greatly.
For this same reason, there is another critical difference. With point spread betting, the spread itself accounts for the disparities and matchups between teams almost entirely. Due to this, sportsbooks generally offer close to even odds of around -110 on point spread bets.
The goal of the sportsbook in point spread betting is to end up with even money wagered on both sides. This way, regardless of the outcome, vigorish will be collected by the sportsbook due to the -110 (or close to it) odds on either side. As long as the money is close to 50/50 on both sides, the sportsbook profits.
However, due to hockey being a low-scoring sport, it isn’t as feasible for puck lines to account for the true discrepancies between teams. Yet, due to the fact that all favorites are -1.5 and all underdogs are +1.5, something else must account for the fact that all matchups are not equal. Some teams are quite evenly matched, while others are not, yet the puck line remains the same, whatever the matchup.
So, you will often note when looking at puck lines that not only is there a spread involved, but wildly differing odds between both sides. While in NBA and NFL, you will generally see -110 or very close, this is not the case with puck lines.
To illustrate this, take a look at the above example. In the matchup between the Colorado Avalanche and Los Angeles Kings, the Avalanche are +205, while the Bruins are -245. In contrast, the Winnipeg Jets are -213 while the Calgary Flames are +183. It is crucial to keep the odds in mind when selecting a puck line bet, whereas, in NBA/NFL spread betting, they are generally not much of a consideration.
Also, please see the below image for another type of puck line betting, referred to as the “alternate puck line.” Here you have the opportunity to bet on a wide variety of puck lines with differing odds. This can be a fun way to obtain differing action on puck line bets of your choosing, including the reverse puck line (the underdog becoming the favorite/vice versa).
Puck Line Examples
It may help to see a puck line example demonstrating exactly how an NHL puck line bet would look at a top online sportsbook. Let’s use the below game in which the Edmonton Oilers are facing the Los Angeles Kings.
As you can see, the spread (puck line) is set to the standard 1.5, with Edmonton as the -1.5 favorite while the Kings are +1.5 underdogs. If you wager on Edmonton, you need them to win by at least two goals, while a bet on the Kings wins if they lose by no more than one.
The Kings at +1.5 are -142, while the Oilers are +118 at -1.5. This is important to note as a puck line wager on the Kings comes at significantly worse odds than a puck line bet on the Oilers. You would need to bet $142 to win $100 on the Kings, while a $100 bet on the Oilers garners a $118 win.
Since almost all puck line bets outside of alternate puck lines are 1.5, the only difference between puck line bets you will generally see is the odds. Be sure to always note the odds on both sides, as that is where you will find betting value.
Also, note that since puck lines are set in between points (1.5), there is no chance for a tie as there would be in the case of a spread of one or two. You will either win or lose your bet, with no chance of a “push,” as you sometimes see in NBA and NFL spread betting.
Want to bet on the puck line with the best odds? Try Bovada today.
Puck Line vs Moneyline
Understanding the puck line versus the moneyline and the difference between these two types of hockey bets is intrinsic to hockey wagering. Let’s delve into the differences and how each type of betting works.
The moneyline is the simplest type of hockey wager you can place. Here you are betting on what team will win the game outright. Let’s take a look at the example below.
The Winnipeg Jets are playing the Vegas Golden Knights. The Jets are the underdog, so they are +132, while the Knights are favored by -160. A $100 bet on the Jets means a $132 win, while a $160 wager on the Knights wins you $100.
As the puck line is the hockey version of a point spread, you are not betting on the outright winner. The favorite must cover the spread (-1.5 in most cases), meaning winning by at least two, while the underdog (+1.5) can lose by as much as one and cover.
Using the same example from above, we see that the Golden Knights are -1.5 favorites on the puck line, making Winnipeg +1.5 underdogs. The Jets are -205 on the puck line, while Vegas is +168.
Puck Line or Moneyline: Which Is Better?
From a pure profitability standpoint, it is hard to say that one type of bet is better than the other. It ultimately depends on the odds you are able to obtain on any given wager. Depending on the situation, a puck line bet may offer more value than its moneyline alternative, and vice versa.
For astute hockey bettors, the puck line does offer a more complex equation in analyzing the value of the bet. The introduction of a spread in addition to plus (+) and minus (-) odds certainly gives the opportunity for some advanced odds calculations. In addition, the importance of overtime and empty net goals adds another wrinkle.
Ultimately, data shows that due to the generally efficient lines and odds set by operators, both wager types are similar in their net results on average. In terms of enjoyment, many bettors may enjoy the puck line. While it can lead to heartache, mainly due to the aforementioned overtime and empty net situations, it can just the same be thrilling when things go your way late in a game.
Check out competitive puck line odds at BetNow.
Puck Line Betting Tips & Strategies
When choosing to bet on the puck line, there are some essential tips you can keep in mind to give yourself the best chance for success. Let’s take a look at a few of the best strategies for puck line betting below.
- Analyze the odds: It is imperative to consider the odds on both sides of a puck line bet. Due to the fact that almost all puck lines are set at 1.5 regardless of the exact discrepancy between teams, odds swing wildly. The value of getting or giving goals via the puck line compared to the odds you are receiving is an essential consideration and where you want to find odds inefficiencies to exploit.
- Consider overtime: Since hockey is a low-scoring sport, it is prevalent that overtime occurs. Once a game is in overtime, a hockey team can’t win by more than one goal. Since a favorite must win by at least two, this means less value inherent value on puck line favorites in hockey. Upon overtime occurring, the underdog wins on the puck line regardless of what team wins the game.
- Factor in empty net goals: While the high potential for overtime benefits the underdog on the puck line, we also have to consider empty net goals, which have the opposite effect. Commonly, late in a hockey game, a team that is down by one goal will pull its goalie in an attempt to gain a skater advantage to score a late goal to tie it. This leaves their net open, meaning that the winning team will often score an empty net goal to go up by two. This means that your puck line bet on an underdog will go from winning to losing in this instance.
- Keep an eye on starting lineups: Starting goalies and line combinations can be announced in hockey fairly close to game time, particularly line combos. A resting goalie means the backup will be starting, which can significantly change the potential game outcome. Injuries and teams trying out different line combinations are also essential to consider.