Laws have been passed, regulations formulated and licensed sportsbooks are now opening up all across Pennsylvania. Now, anyone older than 21 and inside PA can legally bet on the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and all types of NHL action.
In fact, all PA sports betting operations are launching with a wide variety of simple and easy ways even casual fans of the NHL can bet on the league.
The basic NHL bets available at all PA sportsbooks include:
- Point spreads (puck lines)
Moneyline bets are one of the easiest and most popular ways to bet on any sport, including hockey. NHL moneyline bets pay according to a team’s probability of winning. All you have to do is pick the winner of the game and accept the odds each bet will pay.
Books express moneyline odds as either a positive (+) or negative (-) number. Negative numbers are reserved for favorites and represent the amount you’ll have to bet to win $100 plus your bet back. The positive numbers are for underdogs and show how much a $100 bet will earn.
Take a look at a typical Flyers’ road game against a fierce rival like the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals. The Flyers are having a tough season, so the moneyline on the Flyers at most PA sportsbooks will likely hover around +165. That means if you bet $100 on Philadelphia to win, you’ll win $165 if they come through.
If you like Washington to win at home, you’ll probably find a price of around +200. That means a $200 bet on the Capitals will pay $100 plus your bet back.
NHL puck lines
NHL point spread bets, aka puck lines, are almost as easy to bet on as moneylines. The puck line at any PA sportsbook for every NHL game is set at -1.5 for the favorite and +1.5 for the underdog. That’s because two goals or less decide the average NHL game.
Betting the puck line is simple. All you need to do is make the correct prediction with the puck line factored in, and you’re a winner.
The thing that varies is the price you get on the puck line bet. Books will express favorites as negative (-) numbers and underdogs as positive (+).
It works just like the moneyline. That means if you take the Penguins as a -1.5 puck line favorite at home against the Florida Panthers, you will win when Pittsburgh beats Florida by two goals or more. Most PA sportsbooks will set the price on the Penguins puck line at around -165. That means you’ve got to bet $165 to win $100 plus your bet back.
Of course, that also means if the Panthers win, or the Penguins win by just one goal, only bets on Florida will pay off. Most PA sportsbooks will set the price on the Panthers puck line at around +135. That means you’ll win $135 for every $100 bet.
NHL totals bets are a lot like the over/under bets on football games. PA sportsbooks will set a line on the total number of goals both teams will combine to score. Then it’s up to you to decide if the actual total number of goals will be over or under that number.
PA sportsbooks will typically make the totals around five or six goals for most games and odds on totals bets on either side are generally -110. That means no matter what side you bet on, you’ll have to bet $110 to win $100 plus your bet back.
In the Flyers-Capitals game described above, a PA sportsbook might make the totals line 5.5. That means if both teams combine to score five goals or under, under bets pay. If the total is six goals or more, e.g., Capitals 4, Flyers 2, the over bets pay.
Futures bets on the NHL, or any other sport, are just what you might think they are because of the name. In fact, futures are bets involving something where the outcome will not be determined until sometime in the future. That traditionally means betting on something like who will win the Stanley Cup before the season even starts.
The earlier it is in the season, the better odds you’ll usually get on these bets. Midway through a losing season for the Flyers, PA sportsbooks will offer NHL futures odds on the team that pays pretty big. In fact, with the chances of the Flyers going all the way at around slim to none right now, you could get a line of +10,000 or more.
The Penguins are more of a contender. However, no team can be considered a favorite to win it all just halfway through the season. Therefore, PA sportsbooks will offer futures odds on the team winning the Stanley Cup at around +1200 right now.
Just like moneyline bets, this means a $100 bet on the Penguins to win the Stanley Cup will pay you $1,200 if they go all the way.
NHL parlays involve combining two or more NHL bets on a single card. Most PA sportsbooks will offer parlay cards. These bets pay much better odds than single bets alone because you have to win them all for the parlay to pay. You can put together parlay cards involving bets on a single game, multiple games, and even numerous sports.
However, it’s always important to remember that you must win all the bets that are part of a parlay for it to pay.
NHL in-play betting
Most PA sportsbooks will also offer some more advanced NHL wagering options, like live in-play betting. This allows you to make bets with changing odds as the action continues.
It’s an excellent option for anyone who wants to watch hockey games at a sportsbook and react to the action with timely wagers. Play-by-play, real-time wagering will typically be available at PA sportsbooks for Flyers and Penguins games and can add even more excitement to the experience of watching a hockey game at the venue. Expect the opportunity to bet on changing moneyline and puck line odds throughout any NHL game.
NHL betting tips
Betting the basics in NHL games at PA sportsbooks isn’t hard to do. However, picking winners can be.
Here are three facts about the NHL you can usually count on to help you make good wagering choices:
Home ice advantage is real
Home teams get the last line change; plus, a boost of confidence only the support of a home crowd can provide. However, some teams are better at taking advantage of this than others. Pay attention to the home and road records of the teams in any game to make sure you’re on the right side of things yourself.
Parity is real
There’s not that much separating the league’s top teams from the cellar dwellers. In fact, most games are decided by a single goal and the majority feature five goals or less. Unlike the playoffs in most sports, underdogs regularly upset favorites in hockey. If you can find NHL lines that allow you to take advantage of these facts, go for it.
NHL games are almost always close
In fact, they’re often decided by just a single goal. That makes betting the underdog on the +1.5 puck line always an attractive bet. The key is to shop around for a great price on the bet and be wary of teams that offer big odds because there’s usually a good reason why.