Ice hockey is one of the most popular sports for West Virginians to wager on as it has a busy calendar packed full of exciting games. The Pittsburgh Penguins are the local heroes for many Mountain State residents and that franchise has a long and glorious history. It romped to victory in the 2016 Stanley Cup finals with a superb 4-2 series victory over the San Jose Sharks, and it then successfully defended its crown the following year by picking up another 4-2 series win, this time over the Nashville Predators.
That cemented Pittsburgh’s status as one of the greatest teams of the modern era and ensured that the NHL’s popularity skyrocketed in West Virginia. Every NHL franchise plays 82 games during the regular season and the Stanley Cup playoffs then continue for a long time, so you are rarely short of top-class action to wager on. NHL betting is therefore set to be huge in West Virginia now that the Mountain State has legalized sports wagering, ushering in a glorious new era for its sports-mad residents. Here are the main NHL bets that you can choose from as you bid to turn your expertise into a profit:
This is a season-long bet on the outcome of a tournament or an award. The most popular NHL futures bet is predicting who will win the Stanley Cup. Ahead of the 2018/19 season, a Pittsburgh Penguins team led by the legendary Sydney Crosby had odds of +1200 to go on and win the tournament. When you see a plus sign in a set of odds, it tells you the profit you stand to gain by placing a $100 wager. A $100 bet at odds of +1200 would earn you a $1,200 profit if successful. You might sometimes see +1200 rendered as 12/1 (fractional odds) or 13.00 (decimal odds). You are by no means forced to wager $100. You could bet $5 and your potential winnings would be $60.
The odds move about over the course of the season, depending on how well each team plays. After losing three of its opening six games in 2018, the odds on Pittsburgh drifted out to +1300 (13/1 or 14.00) with some sportsbooks. Meanwhile, the Maple Leafs made a strong start to the season and the odds on Toronto shorted to +800 (8/1 or 9.00).
Other futures bets on NHL include wagering on who will win the various divisions, who will win the different conferences, who will claim the Hart Memorial Trophy and who will be named Rookie of the Year. You can bet on how many wins a particular team will gain over the course of the season, and you can also find quirky futures bets, such as how many points a player will score or who will have the better save percentage out of two rival goaltenders.
This is the most popular form of NFL wager and it simply involves choosing which team will win a particular game. The sportsbooks will assess the teams’ strengths and weaknesses and the gulf in quality between them, and also factor in concerns like injuries, motivation and fatigue levels, home advantage and the recent head-to-head record between the teams, before assigning each one a set of odds.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins recently faced the Toronto Maple Leafs, Pittsburgh was the +130 (13/10 or 2.30) underdog. Toronto was the -150 favorite, and that minus symbol tells you how much you need to wager in order to earn a $100 profit. A $150 bet at odds of -150 (67/100 or 1.67) would make you a $100 winning margin. A $10 bet at +130 would make you $13, and a $10 bet at -150 would make you just $6.66, so that tells you that Pittsburgh is the underdog and the risk is greater by betting on it. In the end Pittsburgh won 3-0, and underdogs often prevail, making bettors rich.
The puckline gives the supposedly stronger team (the favorite) a 1.5 goal handicap in order to skew the odds and appeal to different bettors. In that game between the Penguins and the Maple Leafs, you could have bet on Toronto -1.5 or Pittsburgh +1.5. The odds on Tornoto -1.5 were +180 (14/25 or 1.56), which is a lot more attractive than the moneyline -150 (67/100 or 1.67), but it would have needed to win by two clear goals for the bet to pay off. Pittsburgh +1.5 was -240 (21/50 or 1.42), which is a lot less attractive than the moneyline odds, but a win or a one goal defeat for Pittsburgh would have seen you win the bet.
This is a great option for games in which you are unsure about who will win, but you have a feeling it will either be an open game with lots of goals or a tight, cagey, low-scoring affair. The sportsbooks will set a line and you can bet on whether the total goals in the game will go over or stay under it. In that Pittsburgh v Toronto game, you could get -110 (91/100 or 1.91) on under 3.5 goals and -110 on over 3.5 goals. In the end there were just three goals in the game, so under paid out.
This is a pretty self-explanatory bet, allowing you to predict the final score of the game. That is much harder to guess than simply saying who will win, so the odds are much higher. You can bet on a few different correct scores, and this is known as hedging your bets.
Hockey fans enjoy a wide range of special betting options on NHL games, including who will score first, who will win the first period and whether a particular player will score. These do not necessarily affect the result of the game, and they are known as prop bets, short for proposition bets.
This allows you to combine multiple selections into one bet in order to generate huge profits. You could include Colorado to beat Carolina, New Jersey to beat Philadelphia, Los Angeles to beat Buffalo, Winnipeg to beat Arizona and Chicago to beat Columbus. Instead of placing five separate moneyline bets, you can put them all into a single parlay bet. If just one team lets you down, you lose, but if they all win the payout will be much larger than if you had just placed five individual wagers.