Many gamblers are hesitant to bet on certain NHL games where there is a heavy favorite. That means that a considerable price must bet on the money line for minimal gains if that team wins. And should the team lose, it's a significant setback for the bankroll. On the other hand, taking a big underdog with little chance of winning is just as unappealing. And then there are games where picking the winner is too challenging to figure out. Further, gamblers go through slumps where they can't pick their noses.
All of this leads to betting on NHL totals, also known as over/unders. With wagering on NHL totals, you bet on whether or not the combined score between the two teams in a game will go over or under a set number. The winner of the game is entirely irrelevant.
How to Read the NHL Totals Odds
Lets's say that the Los Angeles Kings play at the St. Louis Blues. The over/under total reads 5.5 with over at -105 and under at -115. This line means that if you think the two teams' combined score will go under 5.5, you will lay $105 to win $100. By contrast, if you believe the game will go over 5.5 combined total goals, you will bet $115 to win $100.
You can also bet totals on each particular period of a game. Additionally, you can bet over/under totals with live in-game betting.
A Contrarian View of NHL Totals
The first thing to remember when betting on totals is that the oddsmakers want equal action bet on both over and under the total. This factor means that they must create a price that will attract equal amounts of betting to each side of the total.
Therefore if two high scoring teams are the matchup, the oddsmakers immediately know that the betting public will want to bet the game over. Also, the probability of a high scoring game is realistic. Therefore the linemakers will set a higher over/under number than usual to attract wagering action to both the over and the under. If the oddsmakers set the right totals odds, they will scare off many of the masses that want to pound the game over the total. Furthermore, they will attract bettors that think under the total is a bargain play.
When betting NHL totals, as is the case in any form of sports gambling, thinking like an oddsmaker will put you ahead of at least 90-percent of the gambling public. It will put you on the side of the sportsbook. And that is the best place to be.
The same holds for a matchup of low scoring teams. The public is going to be thinking under the total. It's an easy read for the oddsmakers. Therefore they will set the over/under number extra low to chase off the masses and create the look of a favorable price for over the total instead.
Period and Live In-Game Betting on NHL Totals
Smart gamblers have come to rely on NHL totals by period or in live in-game betting situations. This method is where the sharp handicapper can find potentially substantial bargains, especially compared to the opening over/under odds.
If you bet on a period total, keep in mind that only the specific period you bet on pertains to the bet. If a total for the second period of our Blues vs. Kings example is 1.5-goals, and the Blues outscored the Kings 1-0 in that second period, under the total prevails. If the Kings outscored the Blues 2-1, or if the teams played a 1-1 standoff in the second, over the total of 1.5 is the winning second period bet.
The same holds true for a live in-game bet. What happened before your live bet is entirely irrelevant. Only what happens after you make your live bet factors into whether you win or lose.
Gamblers like to bet the second or third periods or bet live if the game has gotten exceedingly high or low scoring. The rationale is that if two high scoring teams were scoreless after one period, things should open up in the second period. Counter to that is the theory that two low scoring teams in a first period shootout won't sustain that pace for the rest of the game.