If you believe in the saying “time is money” then watching a three-hour football game only to get your money back is one of the most frustrating things to do. However, depending on how that result came to be, a push could be a positive result if your team pulled off the back-door cover.
What Does Push Mean?
When you hear someone use the term “push” they are referring to the result of game or event that ends right on the listed point spread or finishes in a draw. Pushes are the most common in sports that use the point spread like basketball and football. However, a push can also happen when betting on certain run lines in baseball or spreads in soccer.
How Does a Push Work?
A push isn’t the worse thing in the world since you get your money back if your game happens to land right on the listed point spread. The most frustrating thing about a push is the time spending watching the game only to break even. Fortunately for bettors, sportsbooks don’t penalise you for making a bet that “pushes”, so you do receive all of your wager back.
Let’s use an NCAA basketball game as the first example. If your looking over the card and decide to bet the Baylor Bears -2 over the Oklahoma Sooners, this means that in order for you to cash your ticket, the Bears would need to win by three or more points. A 52-49 win would be just as good as a 90-87 win. If the Bears won by a mere two points (90-88, 52-50, etc.), your bet would be a push and you would receive your money back. If you like the underdog Sooners, a two-point loss would result in a push as well.
The second example comes in the form of a parlay. Obviously if you bet more than one game with a listed spread as a whole number, the chances of more than one game pushing are high. This is where you need to be careful and do your due diligence to understand how sportsbooks treat “pushes” on a parlay.
Some books simple reduces the number of teams in a parlay when there is a push – say you have a four-team parlay and one game pushes, your parlay simply becomes a three-team parlay that’s still in play. Other sportsbooks will treat that entire parlay as a loss.
Knowing how sportsbooks operate and understanding their unique set of rules is crucial to avoiding costly and unexpected losses.
How to Avoid a Push
One way to avoid the possibility of a push is to bet lines with a hook. A hook is the extra half point sportsbooks add to ensure there is a winner and a loser on both sides (also to attract balanced action). Another way to avoid a “push” is to move the line buy buying a half point up or down depending on which side you are backing. In football, moving a line from -3 to -2.5 has the ability to win you more money over time should the favorite actually win the game. The best times to move the line in football to avoid the push is when the point spread is -3, -4 or -7. These are the three most common margins of victory so getting a half point either way will turn your pushes into potential wins.
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