NHL Hockey Lines – How To Read Ice Hockey Betting Odds

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Before you place a bet, you need to understand the terminology and be able to read NHL hockey lines.

Most people think that picking the winner of an NHL match is the most important thing when making NHL bets.

However, successful people always do the opposite to the mean.

Professional sports bettors know that the most important thing about NHL betting is knowing which odds are correct.

But how do they know when the odds are in their favor?

That’s what this article is going to explain.

Read on to find out how to read ice hockey betting odds and become a successful NHL bettor.

What Are Betting Odds

Betting odds tell you how much you can win on a bet.

The numbers are balanced by the sportsbooks to ensure they get enough action on either side of the betting line.

Betting odds are displayed in three formats:

  • American Betting Odds
  • Fractional Betting Odds
  • Decimal Betting Odds

Sportsbooks will set a default format to your betting account based on your location but most allow you to change them based on your personal preference.

Our Odds Converter can also quickly transform odds into your chosen format.

Here is how to read American odds, how to read fractional odds and how to read decimal odds for the NHL.

NHL American Odds

American odds are the most popular of format for NHL betting.

In fact, we use them as part of our NHL betting tips service.

The American odds favorite is displayed by a ‘-‘ sign and shows you how much you need to bet to win $100.

On the other hand, the American odds underdog is displayed by a ‘+’ sign and shows you how much you can win from a $100 bet.

Here is an example of how American odds are displayed:

American NHL betting odds


American odds show how much you need to wager on the favorite to make $100 profit.

However, not everyone bets in $100 units so another formula is needed to calculate how much to risk:

Risk Amount = (Favorite Odds / 100) * Amount To Win

So for example, if your standard bets are measured in $200 units:

Risk Amount = (260/100) * $200 = 2.6 * $200 = $520

Therefore, we would need to risk $520 to win $200.


Let’s bring back the odds again for reference:

American NHL betting odds

In the American odds format, when betting on the underdog, sportsbooks show you much you will win from a $100 bet.

If you aren’t using $100 unit sizes, here how you calculate how much you will win:

Amount To Win = (Underdog Odds / 100) * Risk Amount

So if you’re betting sizes are in $200 units:

Amount To Win = (215/100) * $200 = 2.15 * $200 = $430

Therefore, a $200 bet on the Sabres would win $430.


You may have noticed that betting on the favorite or underdog doesn’t pay out the same

ie instead of being -260 and +260, the odds are available at -260 and +215.

This is called the ‘vig‘ – the amount sportsbooks charge for taking a bet.

Vig ensures that sportsbooks always make some money from bets. The greater the vig, or the ‘juice’ as it’s also known, the less value in the bet.

Use a sportsbook with as little juice as possible for your NHL betting picks.

Fractional NHL Betting Odds

Fractional odds aren’t usually used in the NHL because they sometimes require you to make some awkward payout calculations.

Here is the same match above but displayed as fractional odds:

Fractional NHL betting odds

To identify the favorite and underdog, look at the numbers on either side of the fraction.

If the top number (numerator) is smaller than the bottom number (denominator), they are the favorite.

Likewise, if the numerator is bigger than the denominator, they are the underdog.

To calculate how much you profit, divide the numerator by the denominator and multiply it by your bet:

Profit = (Numerator / Denominator) * Bet Size

For example, a $100 moneyline bet on the Sabres would profit $215, whereas a $100 moneyline bet on the Maple Leafs would profit $38.46.

Decimal NHL Betting Odds

Decimal odds are different to American and fractional odds in that they produce the total money returned rather than just the profit.

Here is that same game but shown in decimal betting odds:

Decimal NHL betting odds

If the number is smaller than 2.0, they are are the favorite.

If the number is greater than 2.0, they are the underdog.

To calculate your total money returned, multiply your wager by the decimal odds:

Total Money Returned = Decimal Odds * Bet Size

So, if we bet $100 on the Sabres on the moneyline, our total payout would be $315.

The profit can then be calculated by subtracting the original bet from the total money returned.

So a $100 bet on the Sabres on the moneyline would make $215 profit.


No matter if you bet in decimals, fractions or in American, understanding how each format is important to start crushing the NHL.

Which odds format do you use to bet the NHL?

Leave a comment or contact us on Twitter and let us know!

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