NHL Handicapping

Written by: Joseph Falchetti, Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert
Last updated:
7 minute read

NHL Handicapping - How To Handicap NHL Hockey GamesHockey betting will never reach the level of some of the other major sports in this country, but it also has a die-hard fan base, some of which wager on the games. The sport is unique in many senses and handicapping offers quite a few different variables compared to other markets.

If you’re a fan or the game and want to start betting or if you’re an existing NHL handicapper that wants to improve their skills – this article will help you learn the basics and will improve your handicapping. Handicapping the NHL is a skill that all sports bettors should consider learning, even if they’re not a fan of the league. It’s always worth adding another sport to your betting repertoire as a sports gambler. Learning how to handicap hockey certainly adds a lot more betting opportunities, as well. The sport offers a fantastic amount of betting chances with 82 regular season games and a lengthy playoff.

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What Is Sports Handicapping?

Sports handicapping in the most basic form is predicting the outcome of sporting events. Oddsmakers create lines to create a betting market between sides that are mismatched and to anticipate the number of points or goals scored in a game, among other markets. The goal as a sports bettor and NHL handicapper is to best the sportsbook at their own game.

There are several ways to handicap sports. Some build prediction models, others advocate line shopping and looking for inefficiencies and others handicap the games by gut and feel. There are a lot of ways to go about handicapping the NHL. We will break down some sports betting basics, along with NHL specific tips that will help bettors both new to handicapping and those that already have some experience betting NHL markets.

Hockey Betting Mistakes To Avoid To Improve Your Gambling Results

Before we get into NHL handicapping tips, let’s break down some of the mistakes that bettors make when handicapping the NHL. These are more general pitfalls to avoid when it comes to betting sports, as well. Of course, they can apply to any form of sports betting, including handicapping the NHL or other forms of hockey. Before betting on any sport, it’s essential to get the basics down. That also means avoiding the major mistakes that cause bettors to lose money. For NHL handicapping, there are a few things that bettors need to avoid doing so they can take their handicapping to the next level and begin to understand the league fully.

Mistake #1 – Betting Too Many Hockey Games

Bankroll management should be a staple of sports bettors everywhere, but that is far from reality. Establishing a staking plan and sticking to is vital to winning at sports betting. So is being selective. There are tons of games each night and narrowing your focus to the games and markets that you have edges on and leaving the others alone takes some self-control and skill.

Mistake #2 – Not Maximizing Welcome Bonuses

Those new to any form of betting need to maximize their welcome bonus opportunities. Almost all online sportsbooks will offer you a welcome bonus when you sign up and deposit for the first time. Taking advantage of these bonuses and maximizing the full amount is an excellent way to build your bankroll early in your sports betting career. It’s one thing that bettors fail to do far too often.

Mistake #3 – Thinking the NHL Is Like Other Sports

Handicapping the NHL is a bit different than betting other sports. It’s one of the smallest betting markets around, and no other game is quite like hockey when it comes to analytics and data. The same principles apply for the basics of betting sports, but it’s one sport where you need to do a bit more learning about the markets before you dive into wagering.

How to Handicap NHL Hockey

How to Handicap NHL HockeyThere are many steps to becoming a successful hockey handicapper. Some bettors don’t use spreadsheets and algorithms and instead handicap by gut. While others are strict line shoppers. You can adopt any number of these steps as they surely will improve your skills as an NHL handicapper. Here are our top tips for handicapping hockey that will lead you to profitability as a sports bettor.

  1. Become More Than A Fan – It’s easy to be a fan of hockey and begin to bet on the games. The problem with this is that you lack knowledge on odds and numbers that are needed to turn a profit betting sports. Get the basics down first and then start betting.
  2. Utilize Multiple NHL Betting Sites – This is key for line shopping, but if you’re betting more than $1,000 on sides, totals, or moneylines – it’s also a must for an NHL bettor. NHL betting limits are meager compared to other sports. Sides are $1,000 at many sportsbooks and totals are even lower. If you want to get thousands of dollars down on games, then in most cases, you’re going to need to have several betting accounts funded.
  3. Hit Early Numbers For Value – The NHL accounts for around just 1% of the betting handle at most sportsbooks. Oddsmakers don’t have the time to dive heavily into hockey as it’s simply not widely bet. The opening numbers, in many cases, have a lot of value, as it is sharp bettors who will ultimately shape the odds. Hit the early odds if you feel that you have an edge.
  4. Understand Advanced Statistics – Most advanced NHL statistics may be factored into the odds, but the sportsbooks may value one metric or a particular stat over another. The NHL was one of the first leagues to participant in the analytics revolution over the past decade or so. Understand and utilize which statistics have value and those that are just noise.
  5. Bet On Totals – This doesn’t just include game totals, but team totals, as well. Totals have extremely low limits in NHL, that’s because they’re incredibly vulnerable to sharp bettors. It’s easier to predict how scoring will occur in a game, instead of picking which side will win.
  6. Don’t Forget About Prop Bets – NHL propositions are the least popular out of any major sport, but there are still all sorts of markets on the number of shots a player will take, or if he will score a goal and so on. These are indeed valuable for those that know the game well, but, be aware, these can have limits of just a few hundred dollars and may draw attention to your account.
  7. Follow The Schedule – 82 games are quite a bit, and teams will occasionally play three games in the span of four nights. This can be tough on teams that are unusually fatigued or dealing with an injury. This will often be factored into the line, but maybe not in early markets.
  8. Bet Pucklines – These bets will allow you to lay a bit less and, in many cases, get plus on teams laying -1.5 goals. If you think a team has an excellent shot of blowing another team out, but want to risk less, then you can take them on the puckline. The breakeven percentage on puckline bets is far greater than betting on heavy moneyline favorites.
  9. Focus On Goaltending – Who is a goal is a big factor when it comes to deciding on which team to lay your action. Of course, who is in net is a factor in the odds, but there are a lot of statistics to dive into when it comes to goaltending that give you an advantage over the oddsmakers. These markets change every year, so it’s important to be on top of the knowledge.
  10. Public Betting Action – The betting public doesn’t have much of an influence on the odds, except in markets like the NFL or more high profile games, such as the NFL postseason or college bowl season. However, that changes a bit in the postseason. The public may influence the odds slightly, and the oddsmakers may price games with this in mind, which could lead to value for sharp bettors.

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About the Author

Joseph Falchetti

Joseph Falchetti

Editor-in-Chief, Pro Sports Bettor and Casino Expert

Joe is the author of the majority of sports betting pages on SBS and he serves as a gambling consultant to our content team. He's been mentioned on Forbes.com as a gaming analyst, and his articles have been linked by larger publications, such as the New York Times.

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