How Do NHL Odds Work?

Most of us have seen sports odds before and understand why one NHL team is favored and the other is an underdog, let's now look at how the odds work.

NHL betting has many popular options, particularly the puckline, moneyline and over/under options. There are prop bets too, which allow you to wager on almost anything which can occur within an NHL regular season or playoff game. 

Vegas usually sets the standard and determines the pro basketball odds for sportsbooks across the United States. Want to know the why behind the odds you see in our NHL Bet Hub?

How are NHL odds determined?

The function of NHL odds making isn’t to truly represent the probability of an outcome occurring. Vegas and sportsbooks actually put forth certain odds to make a profit, and also in the hopes of attracting bettors to both sides (eg. either team). 

Ultimately oddsmakers are on the sportsbook team. They are trying to reduce the risk of sportsbooks losing big. That’s why books hate it when a big favorite wins, because they lose more heavily.

NHL betting odds certainly aren’t determined on the gut feel of a sports predicting genius. Sports statisticians, analysts and mathematicians are heavily involved in the hockey odds you see on a sportsbook’s site and app. The X’s and O’s of hockey odds come from a close examination of the wider betting market, statistics and data. 

In the case of NHL moneyline and spread/puckline bets, odds makers will look at everything from previous matchups, current form and key player injuries to determine the odds. It isn’t that simple of course, with algorithms and 'big-data' also going into it, but this gives you an idea. 

To be fair, it’s not too different to our predictive analytics model where 10,000 simulations of each NHL game are conducted, based on the variables above, and to give you an unrivaled edge before you make that winning play.

MORE: How to Bet on NHL Games

Why are NHL odds not real probabilities?

Like any business, sportsbooks want to make a profit. They don’t sell boots or sneakers, but they do sell odds to you, the bettor. How do they profit? Let’s look at the below.


  • Boston Bruins @ Pittsburgh Penguins 
  • Pittsburgh Penguins  -250 (implied probability of 71.43%)
  • Boston Bruins +200 (implied probability = 33.33%)

For the maths students in the class, you'll have noticed those percentages don’t add up. Well, they do, just not to 100% (we had to use a calculator, so well done). The sum of the two percentages above equal 104.76%. But, how can an NHL game have an implied probability of close to 105%?!

It can’t, obviously... that extra 4% is the profit margin the sportsbook is taking home. With such a strategy, which is commonly implemented across the world, a book will make a profit over time.

Favorites lose = Sportsbooks win

When there’s a big upset in the NHL, bookmakers rejoice. This is because most of the money is heavily poured on the favorite, meaning the sportsbook takes all that turnover home. Big favorites losing is a sportsbook’s golden chariot.

Now that you know where they come from, find the best hockey odds in America with Dimers. We have exclusive promo codes for each of the biggest and most secure sportsbooks. If you’re wanting to succeed at hockey betting, check out our NHL Bet Hub.

MORE: How to Live Bet on NHL

Why do sportsbooks have similar odds?

Sports betting is going gangbusters on a global scale. Surprisingly, hockey betting is far more advanced in places like Australia, the United Kingdom and Asia, while it is just getting started in America, Vegas aside.

Due to the globalization of NHL betting it isn’t uncommon for sportsbooks to simply copy the odds of other books. This method is cost effective and they end up with the same odds without all the data and betting analytics research. 

We don’t know which books copy others but we do know how you can find the best odds for all sports in the United States.

How to take advantage of NHL odds

Sportsbooks look to make money off your bets, and set odds in such a way to favor their interests. So, how do we fight back and win money from sports betting?

The answer is simple — take advantage of the edge.

What is the edge, you ask? 

This is where the probability of an event occurring is more likely than the sportsbook’s odds. In other words, our predictive analytics model suggests a hockey team/player has a much better chance of winning than the sportsbooks think!.

Taking these bets gives you a better chance of being a more profitable gambler long-term. Of course, the higher the edge, the better, but betting the edge won't guarantee a W, because underdogs also feature. As the edge indicates implied profitability, it gives you a greater chance of being more successful long-term as an NHL bettor.

For every major sports match including NHL, NFL, NBA and more, Dimers has the edge and exclusive promotional codes waiting for you.

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