Ice Hockey: How do you play it and how do you bet on it

Despite the popularity of this sport in North America and plenty of overseas countries, bets on hockey have still not reached the volume of those not only on soccer and tennis but even bets on basketball and baseball as well. In Europe, it could be explained by the small number of broadcasts of matches, but even in America bets on hockey simply do not stand the competition from bets on baseball, football or basketball. All this leads to the fact that most for most bookmakers in the world, the upper limits on hockey bets are usually low, and the margin is very significant.

The advantages of hockey betting

A lot of comebacks. Hockey games traditionally feature a lot of sensational and unexpected comebacks, when one of the teams, like a Phoenix, rises from the ashes in a seemingly already lost game to come back and win. It is because of this that many people do not like betting on hockey. At the same time, professional players who bet on hockey believe that such unpredictability can be a real advantage of hockey because with a skilful approach there is an opportunity to win at high odds. 

High frequency of games. Just like with basketball teams, hockey teams are scheduled games every two or three days, which allows you to keep track of their current form, as well as to track the psychological state and stamina of the teams. In addition, the high frequency of games makes hockey suitable for high-quality statistical analysis, which is an obvious advantage of the sport.

Disadvantages of betting on hockey

A small number of broadcasts. As we talked about a little earlier, a hockey game (besides, of course, the NHL), are broadcast exclusively at the local level, so that only a small group of bettors can watch the game on television. Fortunately, a good internet can solve this problem, however, even high-speed internet does not allow you to bypass the lag of streaming from real-time, which makes betting live on hockey very difficult for Europeans. Naturally, if you have an NHL package with your cable provider, this will not be a problem. 

Low stakes limits and large margins. Hockey being lower in the ratings among bookmakers also means that the upper limits on bets are usually not very high. However, even with NHL games, the maximum amount allowed for betting is still invariably lower than NBA games for example. In addition, the hockey line is also taxed and is quite a solid margin.

Types of bets

The main outcomes. In hockey, like in most other sports, there are three main outcomes: P1 (first-team victory), P2 (second-team victory), and X (draw). The main outcomes are usually subject to a minimum margin, as well as the highest betting limits. There are also two other types of betting called “double outcome” or “double chance”. One of them is referred to in the line as “1X” or “X2”: This signifies that the selected team will not lose after the game ends. And a bet of 12 in hockey means that the teams will not be tied when fulltime has been played (no overtime).

Handicap. What is a handicap in hockey? As in other sports, a handicap is a set number of added or subtracted goals for each team that you will factor into the final score. For example, if you bet on a hockey team with a -1.5 handicap, the team you bet on needs to win by at least two goals. This is because you will subtract 1.5 goals from the team’s final score. By betting on odds of 1.5, you predict that the team selected will not lose by more than one goal. It is important: if the numerical figure of the handicap is presented as a fraction (half-hearted handicap) like 1.5 then it will be impossible to receive a refund; the bet will either win or lose. 

This type of bet can also have a whole numerical value, not just a fraction of a number. You will, therefore, need to understand what a handicap of 1 or -1 will mean in hockey. The difference between the whole number and the fractional odds is simple: a whole handicap will mean that the bet will not only be calculated by a win or a loss, but also by a return. So, if you bet on the first-team handicap and the game finishes 4-3, the handicap will change the outcome into a draw for both teams. This will mean that your bet has neither won nor lost and therefore the bookmaker will issue you a refund of your bet. Some bookmakers, who take bets on hockey allow the player to buy more half-numbers to the handicap. This will certainly help the players confidence about the bet but will result in a 40% loss on the coefficient. 

Also, in hockey bets, there is a variant of the handicap called “for a 0”. This bet is also made on a certain team and will be returned by the bookmaker in case of a draw.

Zero odds: what is important for the player to know

Total. The total number of pucks scored in the game. You are offered a certain numerical value (in most cases, not a whole number), and you will need to correctly predict whether the teams will score more or less than the specified number of goals. Often several totals are offered for just one game, just as in the case of the handicap, a number of gambling establishments allow you to buy half numbers to add or subtract from the total, for a price. 

Other bets. Betting in hockey can be very diverse. Depending on the attitude of the gambling establishment towards hockey, the hockey line offered could include only the four bets listed above, or it could contain up to two or three dozen additional offers. These could include a bet on which team will score the first goal, individual totals for each of the teams and the leading players, the time when the first goal is scored, the number of checks in the game and many, many more. 

Pre-match analysis

The strategy of placing bets on hockey games largely depends on the analyses conducted before the game. Pre-match analytics is in many ways very similar compared to basketball. The fact is that these two sports are very similar in organizational terms: each team plays 2-3 matches a week, the number of important players is limited to two dozen, and the advantage of home court/ice is very important and should always be analyzed in the pre-match layouts. Just like basketball, hockey has one significant drawback – a small number of public broadcasts. This is especially true of European competitions. In America, it is possible to bundle NHL broadcasts with a cable package for an additional fee. 

The current form of the opponents. Despite the fact that hockey is often played by three sets of five players and, it would seem, that the downturns, in this case, are not very noticeable, you cannot ignore this crucial part of the pre-match analysis. Make sure to pay special attention to the previous four or five games. Also, do not forget that home and away games are a huge difference for the teams. So, before you place a bet, make sure to analyze the stats for home games separately than for away games. 

History of face-to-face confrontations. Despite the fact that many analysts choose to neglect the past face-to-face matchups, concentrating on other factors instead, this item is a key one in such a tactically complicated sport such as hockey. Game plans of teams are often more effective against certain opponents, which can lead to drastically different results depending on each matchup. Due to this, teams will always have opponents with whom they are comfortable and confident and those who are not, and recent matches of the team with different opponents will not give you specific analysis on these two particular teams. 

Tournament position and motivation. Motivation is one of the basic and most obvious factors you should consider when making a prediction for a game. Do not underestimate the role of a team coupled with copious amounts of motivation, no matter how the team itself looks on paper. This is one of the reasons that the finals are considered to be so unpredictable because both teams have the ultimate motivation of finishing as champions. So do not forget to look at a teams’ standings and what they are playing for before you look at the team’s name. 

List of injured and disqualified. Given the fact that by the middle of the season all the players are decently tired, every injury, even to a role player, is extremely crucial and can be reflected in a game’s final result. To be sure of your prediction, study the lineups for the game, so as to not wonder why the team is slowly getting back and their opponents are entering the offensive zone with ease every time.

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Andy H
Andy H
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