Wondering what a push is and how it will affect your sports bets? Quite simply, a push is what happens to your bet when the event you wager on results in a tie.
As bettors or competitors, we build up wins and dread losses. We’re all familiar with creeds such as “the thrill of victory and agony of defeat.” You’ve probably heard that “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.”
But sometimes, sporting events are neither a win nor a loss. Overtime and shootouts have minimized the number of ties in many sports, but sometimes things still end in a draw. So, how do sportsbooks deal with these situations?
In this guide you’ll learn:
- The definition of a push
- How sportsbooks deal with ties
- Ways to avoid pushes
And the Winner Is…Nobody!
Pushes happen in sports betting relatively frequently.
Say you’re betting on the NFL point spread in a match up between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants, and the spread is set at +/-3. Whether you bet on the Cowboys -3 or the Giants +3, there is a distinct possibility of the game ending at 17-14, 20-17, or 24-21 Dallas. Each of those scores result in a push.
Totals also result in pushes with some frequency. If the Dodgers and Nationals are playing with Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer on the mound, the over/under might be six. A 4-2 LA win is a victory for the Dodgers, but a push regardless of whether you had the over or under.
There are some exceptions, but most sportsbooks will take the same approach when faced with a push.
Your Bet Is a Push, Now What?
Straight wagers (also known as single bets) that result in a push are refunded. Simple and to the point, regardless of juice, if you have the Buccaneers +7 at New Orleans and the Saints win 28-21, both sides get their cash back.
If the total on Tampa Bay and New Orleans is 49, both over and under are a push and bettors who took either side will be refunded.
Moneyline bets push in the case of an actual tie. If the Patriots are -250 against Jets while New York is +240, should the teams play to a 20-20 draw, both bets are refunded.
Things get slightly more complicated when parlays and teasers are involved.
How Sportsbooks Deal with Ties in Multi-Event Wagers
Bettors can get 6/1 odds if they win a three team parlay and 12/1 for a four teamer. What happens if you win three legs of a four team wager, but the fourth bet pushes?
Most sportsbooks will simply remove any ties from a parlay or teaser and pay the bet out as if it was a multi event wager with one fewer leg. So a four team parlay with three winners and a push will pay out the same as a winning three team parlay. While you were aiming for 12/1 odds, you receive 6/1 with the push dropped from the bet.
While this policy seems like the fair and equitable way of dealing with ties, some sportsbooks treat ties included in parlays and teasers as losing bets. This is particularly common on parlay cards produced early in the week that remain available for betting all the way up to kickoff on Saturday or Sunday.
The bottom line is that you should always read the small print. Know exactly how your sportsbook deals with pushes before you place a bet.
Of course, you’re more likely to be faced with a push in your parlay if you include a higher number of legs in the wager. A 10 team parlay has 10 chances for a push, whereas a two team parlay involves only two games that could possibly tie.
What Do You Get Out of a Push?
If you’re always in it to win it, it is possible to avoid pushes completely. If you spent time to watch a long sporting event and put a few bucks down, it can feel like a waste to get refunded if the game ends in a tie. On the flip side, a tie certainly beats a lot if you are a high volume better primarily concerned with ROI.
The easiest way to avoid pushes is to bet on spreads that include a half point, also known as a hook. There will never be a push with a 2.5 or 3.5 spread or a total of 47.5. If you can’t find a spread or total with a hook, you can usually buy a half point. You might pay a small price in juice, but it usually makes sense to take -125 to get -2.5 instead of -110 when laying three.
While moneyline bets occasionally push, it doesn’t happen a lot. There are no ties in the NBA, NHL, or MLB these days. The NFL had one tie last year, two in 2018, and none in 2017. The chances of a push when playing the moneyline in major sports is very small.
Finally some sports, particularly soccer, offer three way betting. You can bet on either team to win or on a tie. Just remember that if you pick a team to win on a three way moneyline, a push will result in a loss rather than a refund.
Go for the Win, Settle for the Push
In the end, a push is not a bad result. It gives you a free data point to consider and learn from. Of course, that only holds true is your sportsbook refunds your bet in the case of a push. Read the terms and conditions carefully before placing any wagers.
Knowing is the key to success when betting on sports. You can find all the basic info you need to get started on the right foot in our sports betting 101 guides.