Oddsmakers devote time, formulas and algorithms to setting sportsbooks’ lines and odds. They will also respond to what the betting public is doing and the latest team news. But what happens if they take all of that into account and decide an upcoming game is a toss-up?
This is a pick or pick ’em, and it means that oddsmakers do not have either team as a large favorite. You may also see it appear as “PK.” Instead of betting on a point spread, you are taking the game straight up as far as which team will come away with a victory. And it does not matter how much a team wins by.
What does PK mean in sports betting?
When you see “PK” where the point spread generally is, it means oddsmakers don’t see much difference between the two teams. This is somewhat rare, but you’ll find it every once in a while in a variety of sports.
All that matters is which team comes out on top instead of worrying about how many points a team will win by.
How do you read pick ’em odds?
Even though the point spread is essentially zero for both sides, that does not necessarily mean one team is not favored over the other, and you can read where the oddsmakers are leaning based on the live odds.
The standard odds number for two options, each at about 50%, is -110 on both sides. Those numbers will sometimes move slightly, however. For example, let’s say the Los Angeles Rams are playing the Green Bay Packers in an upcoming game, and oddsmakers list the game as a PK.
|Los Angeles Rams||PK (-105)|
|Green Bay Packers||PK (-115)|
By looking at the odds, you can see the Packers are slight favorites with odds of -115, while the Rams are at -105. This means that you would make slightly more money with a correct bet on the Rams in this spot.
What happens with a push?
A push is the same thing as a tie in sports betting lingo. What this means for your bet depends on the sport. A game of basketball would never end in a tie, but NFL games will every once in a while.
A tie would be a negative scenario for the sportsbook in this sort of situation because everybody would get their money back, meaning the book would get no profit. Point spread odds — with -110 as the standard — mean that if betting is roughly equal on both sides, the sportsbook is assured a profit as long as there isn’t a push. This is why many point spreads or totals will end in .5 to eliminate the chance of this happening.
When you consider how rare it is for an NFL game to appear as a pick ’em at a sportsbook and the rarity of a tie in an NFL game, this would be an extremely unlucky outcome for a sportsbook.
What does a PK mean in soccer betting?
What is a pick ’em bet in soccer? A PK bet is a bit different in a sport like soccer, where ties happen often and the margin of victory is generally low. The standard bet for soccer is the moneyline — betting on one of the teams to win — along with the option to bet on a tie. And then to remove the tie bet, you can choose the “draw no bet” option.
Unlike sports like football or basketball, where the PK odds will be very close, odds for a draw no bet in soccer can vary greatly, with one team coming in as a substantial favorite. And a draw would result in a push.
Follow the line movement
While the closing line might end as a PK, you might have been able to place a different bet when the original line came out. While other bettors may be stuck with a PK, you may have a more valuable ticket considering where the numbers have moved.
If you get your research in early and have a good feel for where the line will go, it could be worth getting a wager in early. Football games often have the most variance when it comes to line movement because of how far in advance the lines come out. With nearly a week between the sports betting lines coming out and kickoff in the NFL, a lot can happen, and the line movement will reflect that.
For example, let’s say you want to bet on the San Francisco 49ers in their next matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders. On the initial line, the 49ers are 1.5-point underdogs, but you like their chances in this matchup, so you place a bet on San Francisco to cover the spread.
The odds and spreads can change for a variety of reasons, and a big one is what other bettors are doing. Oddsmakers would like to have even action on a bet that has a roughly 50% chance of hitting either way so they can minimize liability and ensure a profit via the -110 odds.
With our example, suppose that throughout the week, a lot of bettors had the same idea you did and put their money on the 49ers. Because San Francisco was getting so much action in this scenario, oddsmakers had no choice but to adjust the numbers to entice more Las Vegas Raiders bets, and eventually the bet moved from the 49ers as 1.5-point underdogs to a pick ’em.
By getting in early, you gave yourself 1.5 points of value, which is pretty substantial. Now, even if San Francisco loses by a point, your bet still wins, which would not have been the case had you waited on placing the wager. Other reasons for line movement could include injuries, transactions and weather.
Shopping the lines
Line shopping is just what it sounds like, same as other types of shopping. When you find an item you want, you search for the best price. To do this in sports betting, you’ll register for an account at multiple legal online sportsbooks in CA. While the various books will often have similar numbers, they are not always exact, and you could add some extra potential profit by doing some shopping.
If you want to bet on the Los Angeles Chargers in their upcoming matchup with the Denver Broncos, you could check every sportsbook at which you have an account and find the best spot to place your wager. They may all list the game as a PK, but if DraftKings Sportsbook California is showing the Chargers with -110 PK odds and Caesars Sportsbook California has them at -105, you would go with Caesars because it offers you a slightly better potential payout.
Depending on your favorite sports for betting, a PK wager could be somewhat rare, but now you should have a good idea of what it all means the next time you come across a pick ’em.
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- What Is Sports Betting Insurance?