An important term to know when you’re learning about sports betting, is the word “push.”
What does it mean to say a bet is “pushed”? It means that the betting line or point spread matches exactly the outcome of the game. For example, if the point spread between two teams is 7, and the favored team wins the game by seven points, it’s considered a “push” or what is essentially a tie with the sportsbook, and the bet is cancelled.
Let’s say you bet the Dallas Cowboys as a -7 point favorite to beat the Green Bay Packers or the Packers as a +7 point underdog. If the Cowboys win by seven points, both bets are a push and money is refunded (you get your money back). Similarly, if you also bet the total (over/under) in that game which was 47 points and it finished 27-20, that bet would also be pushed.
You might also see the term used when describing a Totals bet. If a total is 44 and the final score is 20-24, that would be a push, and your bet would be refunded.
How Do Sportsbooks Avoid a Push?
In order to avoid having to cancel people’s bets in the not-uncommon situation of a point spread and game outcome lining up, sportsbooks started to add a half point to their point spreads. This is why you’ll most often see games priced with point spreads like -7.5 or +4.5.
Let’s take another look at the point spread betting of a football game with that half point added.
In this case, if you bet on the Packers to win, and they win by 7, you win. If they win by 6, you lose. Same goes for a bet on the underdog. If the Seahawks lose by 7 points, you lose your bet, and if they lose by 6 points, you’ll win. The chance of a tie or “push” has been eliminated.
The puckline has been set at 1.5 in order to avoid a push.
Certain bet types, like moneyline bets, have no possibility of a push, since you’re just betting on the result of a game, and there’s no chance of a “tie” with the sportsbook.