Puck Line Betting Explained: Definition & Strategies

Hockey bettors love to hit every market but the Puck Line stands out. Also known as the spread, the Puck Line is wagered upon by newcomers and veteran bettors alike. Since understanding the Puck Line is simple, this bet is popular among betting sites. Puck Line betting is both challenging and rewarding because of the parity in hockey leagues.

Our guide breaks down everything you need to know about Puck Line betting as the market is hot for sports bettors at this current moment. With hockey leagues gaining more traction in the sports betting world, you'll hear about Puck Line betting more frequently, which is why we're here to help you understand what there is to know about hockey's version of the spread.

What is Puck Line betting?

Puck Line betting is hockey's version of the spread. Goals are taken away from the favourite and goals are awarded to the underdog to help balance out the two teams. The favourite will need to win by the set number, while the underdog will need to lose by less than the line (or win the game outright). The most common Puck Line you will see is +1.5 and -1.5. This means that the favourite will need to win by at least two goals, while the underdog will need to lose by less than two goals or win the game outright.

To win a Puck Line bet, you need to choose which team will cover the line, also known as covering the spread. While betting the spread is popular among many sports, Hockey is the only sport where you will see the Puck Line listed.

This wager is great for both beginner and veteran bettors. Once you understand how to read the odds, betting on the Puck Line is simple. However, with such parity in hockey (especially the NHL), Puck Line bets can be hard to win but they also come with great value if you can find the right line!

Puck Line betting parlays and single betting

Puck Line betting can be used in either a single-game selection or as part of a parlay (multiple picks). There is no right or wrong answer for how you want to bet on the Puck Line, but there are pros and cons for each option.

Beginners may opt to bet the Puck Line in a standalone wager because it will be easier to understand and the result of your bet will not rely on other variables. Single-game betting allows users to hit the Puck Line and focus on the team they selected to cover. While veteran bettors can also play in this market, it is our recommendation that new bettors start with single picks.

For those with more experience in betting, a parlay may entice them. Parlays offer a better payout but it comes with increased risk. Since there are multiple legs and every leg needs to win to cash in your bet, there is more risk of the bet failing. Puck Line bets are added to parlays frequently by bettors as it is one of the biggest markets in NHL betting.

There are benefits to each method and our recommendation would be to calculate the risks for each wager and move forward from there. You can win and lose on either single-game picks or parlays, so it's important to do your research with every Puck Line wager made.

Understanding the odds

You may be frightened seeing how odds are displayed, especially if you are a new bettor. Thankfully, reading Puck Line odds are simple.

The Puck Line is a way for two teams to be more balanced in head-to-head competition. In every game, there will be a favorite (-) or underdog (+). This indicates which team is favored to win the game. For Puck Line betting, you will see odds written like this:

Anaheim (-1.5) vs. Ottawa (+1.5). This means that Anaheim are the favourite and Ottawa are the underdog. The 1.5 indicates how many goals are taken or given to a team. The favourite has goals taken away from them, while the underdog has goals awarded to them. Anaheim will need to win the game by 2 or more goals to cover on the Puck Line. Meanwhile, Ottawa will need to lose by 1 goal or win the game outright in order to win the bet.

Puck Line betting strategy

Understanding how to win a Puck Line wager is important. In order to increase your odds of winning your next Puck Line bet, these betting tips and strategies will help you gain an edge on the market.

  • Check Home vs. Away Record - Home ice advantage is a real factor in hockey. If a favourite enters a contest but is facing an underdog squad that is deadly at home, there could be insane value to be found!
  • Starting Goalies Matter - NHL goaltenders are the cream of the crop but there are starters and backups for a reason. Inform yourself of the starting goalies for each game as the named player could impact your bet.
  • Focus on Back to Backs - It's no secret that teams playing on the backend of a two-game stint tend to perform worse than playing fresh (and with rest). If you can find a matchup in which a team is playing their second game in as many days, you could bet on the other team to cover the spread.
  • Goals For/Against Per Game - This stat is important because if a team is dominant defensively and explosive offensively, they will be more inclined to cover on the Puck Line since they score a ton of goals and don't allow many.

Favorite vs Underdogs

The favourite is the team expected to win, while the underdog is expected to lose. When betting on the favourite, you are wagering on them to win the game and by more than the set line (normally -1.5 goals, meaning they need to win by at least two goals). As for the underdog, they can lose the game but still cover on the Puck Line if they lose by a certain number of goals (normally less than two goals). Underdogs could also win the game straight up to cover. Sportsbooks like Betway adjust the line based on the probability of one team winning. 

Puck Line outcome

When betting on the Puck Line, there are three different scenarios. You can either win the bet, lose the bet or push (tie) the bet. If there is a push, that means neither team were able to cover the spread, thus creating a tie. This means your stake would be returned to your account.

While NHL betting sites usually list the Puck Line with decimals to ensure there are no ties, it is totally plausible to see a push with a puck line bet.

If the line is listed at -1 and the favourite wins by a singular goal, it would create a push since the underdog were awarded a goal (+1) in this hypothetical scenario.

Toronto (-1.5) vs. Montreal (+1.5) = No chance for a Push. You can either win or lose your bet.

Toronto (-1) vs. Montreal (+1) = Three outcomes; Push, win or lose your bet.

Other popular betting markets

Other than betting on the Puck Line, users will often hit popular betting markets such as the Moneyline and the Over/Under (totals). These three wagers (Puck Line, Over/Under, Moneyline) are usually the most wagered upon markets when betting on sports.

  • Moneyline - Arguably the most popular betting market, understanding and wagering the Moneyline is simple. It's a favourite versus underdog contest. If you choose the correct team to win the match straight up, you win the bet!
  • Over/Under - Also referred to as Totals betting, the Over/Under is a bet on a certain statistic. The most common line for over/under betting will be total points in a game. Looking at the set line, you wager on if there will be more (over) or fewer (under) than the indicated number.


Yes, the Puck Line will include Overtime.

Similar to Moneyline bets, Puck Lines will be listed using the underdog (+) and favorite (-). The favorite will need to win by the set line, while the underdog will need to lose (or win outright) by less than the designated line. 

Yes, the Puck Line refers to Hockey betting. However, this is also considered the spread, which is a bet among many sports. 

Yes. Depending on how the line is listed, there could be a tie (push). If the line includes decimals (0.5, 1.5, 2.5+) then a push will not occur. But if the line is whole (1, 2, 3+) then there is the potential for a push. 

Yes. Hockey bettors love the Puck Line because it is a way to balance two teams. There is the chance for a team to lose the game outright but still win the bet, so bettors love this wager.

BettingTop10 Betting Markets Experts:

Cameron is a 2020 graduate from the University of Southern California’s Journalism program. He is an avid sports fan and bettor, whose favourite teams include the Toronto Raptors, and the Chicago Bears. Cameron has been writing about and following sports since the age of 10, when he first fell in love with the NFL and NBA.

Patrick covers the NHL, MLB, and NCAA football for BettingTop10 Canada. He's a huge fan of both sports – as well as many others. He is also a fan of the Ducks and the Cardinals, despite them being nowhere close to his birthplace of Ottawa, Canada. Patrick always wanted to be a writer, and sports were his favourite thing in the world, so he combined the two to make a career. He is a long-time gambler and sports betting writer that isn’t afraid to look at the underdog or specials.