What is a Push in Sports Betting? What does Pushing a Bet Mean?

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OddsJam StaffJune 13, 2022, 03:29 PM

I’m sure we’ve all heard the phrase that a tie in sports is like kissing your sister, right? Weird, but for some reason, that phrase does exist. Well, there is a similar concept in sports betting when your bet does not win or lose. It is called a push. Don’t worry, though, a push is NOT like kissing your sister. 

What Is A Push?

A push occurs in sports betting when you did not win or lose your bet, instead you tied with the sportsbook. Let’s say you bet the Sixers -4 and they won by exactly 4: this would be an example of a push. Your bet did not win nor did it lose. So, in this example, you would just get your bet refunded as opposed to any winnings or losing your stake. Bet $25 on the Sixers -4, and get $25 back if they win by exactly 4. 

One overarching factor here is whether or not the number you are betting on is a whole number or has what is referred to as a hook. For point spreads, totals, and player props the number you are betting on may be 7 or 7.5. The 0.5 added to these numbers is the hook. This means that these values make the result of a push impossible – since it is impossible to score half a point or run. 

With that said, a push can be considered a loss in cases like teasers, or at some sportsbooks even in parlays. We touch on these examples below.

What happens on a Push Bet

When a push happens you’re refunded your initial wager. This outcome can differ for different types of wagers, so let’s examine some common outcomes:

Moneyline Bet

A push on a moneyline bet can only occur in sports that allow ties. So, for any NBA or NCAAB moneyline bet a push is not possible. Those sports will play overtime until a winner is decided. In the NFL, though, a push will occur if the two teams tie. So, if you bet on a teams moneyline and after the 10 minute OT the score is still tied, your bet would be a push and you would have gotten your bet risked amount back. 

Spread Bet

Using that Same Sixers example: Let’s say that you placed a bet on the Sixers to cover a four-point spread against the Orlando Magic. The game ends and the score shows Sixers 122, Orlando 118 – the Sixers won by exactly four points. Your bet would push because your initial wager was for the Sixers to win by more than the four-point spread. The bettor in this case would be refunded their initial wager.

Total Bet

A push can also occur if you bet on a total. The logic is the same for a push on a spread bet, but instead if the number of points you bet over or under ends exactly at what the total was set at- your bet would push. So, for that Sixers/Magic score earlier of 122-118. If the pre-game total was set at 240 then your bet would have pushed because exactly 240 points were scored. Neither the over or under bet won, and any bettor would get their wager refunded. 

Parlay

Some sportsbooks treat a push differently than others, but typically a push results in a parlay being trimmed by whatever number of pushes occur within it. Say you’ve bet a four-game NBA parlay and one of your wagers is for the total between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons to go over 225 points. The game ends with a score of Bucks 121, Pistons 104, a total in the game of exactly 225 points. In most cases the sportsbook would trim your four-game NBA parlay to just include the three remaining matchups, and your parlay odds would be updated to whatever the 3-leg parlay odds would have been with that total bet removed. The caveat is that some sportsbooks can count a push as a loss on a parlay, so make sure to check the FAQs on your book before you wager.

Teaser

Typically, all picks in a teaser have to be successful for it to be considered a “win”. So, if you place a 4-leg teaser and one of the legs is a push- your whole teaser bet would be considered a loss. For teasers with fewer picks (i.e. a two-pick teaser) some sportsbooks would refund the bettor’s wager but most sportsbooks would consider the wager a loss no matter what if a bet within a teaser pushes.

Player Prop

Most player prop bets have a caveat that if the player does not start or play due to illness or injury the bet is considered a push. Otherwise if a push occurs, it is treated the same as any other pushed bet and your initial stake is refunded.

Free Bet

When it comes to free bets, sportsbooks treat these differently. Because you’ve technically bet through the free bet, some books will return the stake as cash, others will refund it as a free bet.

Is a Push Considered a Loss?

While it can be frustrating, a push isn’t a loss in most cases. If you place a bet that pushes, the only thing you would have lost is the time and energy it took to research and place that bet. In these situations, you would have lived to bet another day….