The ultimate guide for the sharp bettor

What is a Push in Sports Betting?

Push You didn't quite lose your wager but didn't quite win either. Now what? Understand the ins and outs of push bets through this in-depth guide.
Kukhanya Magubane
Author:
Kukhanya Magubane
Updated:
11 October 2021
Table of Contents

    You didn't quite lose your wager but didn't quite win either. Now what? Understand the ins and outs of push bets through this in-depth guide.

    What Is A Push In Sports Betting?

    A push bet is, to put it simply, a tie that occurs when the sportsbook’s point spread (or total) matches the point wager you placed as a bettor. While this isn’t as undesirable an outcome as losing the money you bet entirely, it’s still far from an ideal outcome, as you’ll just be refunded back the money you previously wagered.

    It’s good not to lose, but also, you’ll still want to do everything within your power to win. When the final score you bet on ties with the sportsbook’s spread, then it might as well be as if you never wagered that money in the first place.

    So with that in mind, what do push bets look like, in what situations are they more likely to come about, and how can you reduce the likelihood of a bet becoming a push? Keep reading this in-depth overview to find out.

    What Happens When A Bet Is A Push?

    As we’ve alluded to previously, push bets occur when the final-score margin matches the spread number taken by the bettor. For example, if you bet -12 on the San Francisco 49ers winning an NFL game, and they won that game by exactly a twelve-point margin, then that will make your wager a push.

    We used football as an example here, and not just for any negligible reason; push bets most commonly occur in sports with higher final point scores like football and basketball. Even though you won’t forfeit money through this outcome, you won’t win any more money either.

    Long story short, it basically just results in a big load of nothing. As it’s neither a win nor a loss, push bets are listed third on a bettor’s record. For example, if you lost four bets, won three bets, and pushed another, your betting record would be listed as 3-4-1 through your preferred casino or online sportsbook platform.

    Furthermore, while a push bet can also result from a tied total or over/under ratio, moneyline bets can also result in a push. Moneyline bets are simply when you bet on which team or competitor will win, not whether or not they win or lose within a certain ratio. In these cases, a push will occur when:
    • Both teams/competitors end up tying the game
    • If the sportsbook doesn’t account for tie outcomes as a betting option
    Moneyline bets can be placed in the form of two-way or three-way moneyline bets. Through the former, people just place bets on either team, but through the latter (as the name suggests), people have the option to bet on game wins, losses, or ties.

    If you don’t bet on the draw in a three-way, though, then the sportsbook won’t just count that outcome as a push, but a full-on loss, as you had to had the option to bet on a draw outcome but didn’t. Also, two-way moneyline bets often dole out a lower payout than point spread bets, as they are simpler and lower risk.

    Now that you better understand what results in a tie outcome, what should you understand about lessening the odds of this tie outcome, or your bet becoming a push?

    How To Avoid Pushing A Bet

    Push bets are undesirable, but not totally unavoidable. To an extent, a favorable outcome is somewhat out of your hands. After all, would gambling truly be a gamble if you weren’t putting anything on the line? There is a certain level of risk inherent in any bet or gamble you wager, but fortunately, there are efforts you can take to mitigate that risk.

    One way you can mitigate that risk, a measure which your online sportsbook may already proactively take, is by limiting your betting activity to half-point bets. Obviously, no major sports are actually scored on a .5 scale, or out of any fraction of a whole point, and they can’t tie on a “.5” either. The house has a vested interest in keeping your money, not refunding it, so it’s understandable why they’d prefer to skew spreads toward win/loss outcomes as opposed to outright draws.

    This type of fractional cap is known as a “hook”, and sportsbooks may impose this hook as a form of mutual benefit. You don’t risk not gaining or losing money, and likewise, the sportsbook operator doesn’t risk losing any money in the event that the game you’re betting on is tied.
    Another thing bettors can do to reduce their risk of a full-on push is by limiting their bets to parlay or teaser bets. These types of bets allow bets on multiple contests (or “legs”) to be made as one single, consolidated bet. Although these bets are higher reward than single-contest bets, they are also higher risk.

    Losing even a single leg in a parlay or teaser bet will cause you to lose the entire award. By contrast, having one of your legs push in a parlay or teaser will just count that individual leg as a push, and you’ll have that portion taken out of your final winnings.

    So overall, parlay and teaser bets lower the risk of total push betting. However, they do raise the overall risk of losing your award entirely, so it’s up to you to decide whether or not that constitutes a worthy tradeoff. If you’re feeling like a bit of a betting man or woman who’d like to try your luck at beating those risks, where can you turn?

    Find The Best Online Sportsbooks Here

    Currently, twelve states and the District of Columbia allow for online sportsbooks as of 2021. Some of those areas may offer as few options as one sports betting site (as is currently the case in Connecticut, West Virginia, and Washington D.C.), or as many options as 20 online sportsbook sites (as is currently the case in New Jersey).

    Here is an overview of the states/jurisdictions where online sports betting is currently legalized, and how many sites you can use to enjoy legal sports betting in each area:


    Regardless of how many options you have available to you, you’re going to want to know how to play them as effectively, loss-free, and push-free as possible, and we hope our site can help you do precisely that.

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