Sports Betting Guide — Understanding Parlays, Pick’ems and Pushes

Posted on: April 8, 2022, 09:43h. 

Last updated on: June 17, 2022, 10:43h.

It’s already been a big year for sports betting, with new states legalizing the activity and generating millions in revenue. Get in on the action with parlays, pick’ems and pushes.

sports book, vegas
Betters place bets at the Westgate Superbook in Las Vegas. Nearly two dozen states have gotten in on the action. (Image: Las Vegas Review-Journal)

Now that you’ve learned what a “moneyline,” “point spread,” and “over/under” is, it’s time to introduce what a “parlay” is.


A “parlay” is a type of bet that combines two or more bets to make one bet with a larger payout. The caveat in a “parlay” is that all selections must-win for the bet to be a winner.

The more games you add to your “parlay,” the greater the payout becomes. A good thing about a “parlay” is that you can combine all other types of bets. A “parlay” can be put together with “moneylines,” “point spreads,” “props,” “over/unders,” and more.

For an example of a “parlay,” let’s say it’s a Friday night and you feel like betting on some NBA basketball. You think the San Antonio Spurs (-2) and the LA Clippers (+6) will cover the spreads in their respective games. Instead of betting $10 combined on them to cover and getting back close to $19 if they do, you can “parlay” the two games into one bet at roughly 2.65x your odds and turn your $10 into $26.50.

The key to the “parlay” is that you have to win both bets. So if they both cover the “point spread,” you win. But if one of the teams does not, then you lose everything. The bet is considered a loss as soon as one of the bets in it loses. If you made a 3-team “parlay” and won two of the games and lost only one of the games, you still lose the entire bet. People who prefer betting “parlays” like the idea of being able to bet one amount to potentially net a nice return. If you bet on individual games, you tend to wager more, as all of them combined accumulate.


Previously, we discussed what a  “point spread” was. A“pick’em,” or “PK,” as it is known, is a game in which neither team is favored on the “point spread.” So there is no spread in the game. Not that one isn’t available. It’s just that the “point spread” in this game is zero. And the “moneyline” for both teams is the same, so when you bet on the game, whoever wins the game wins the bet.

For an example of a “pick’em” in the NFL, the Denver Broncos were at home against the Los Angeles Chargers, and the game was a “PK.” If you pick Denver to win, then they just have to win the game – the “point spread” is considered zero.

The only chance a game can “push” on a “pick’em” is on a “moneyline” if the game ends in a tie.


Speaking of “push,” what exactly is a “push” in terms of sports gambling lingo?

Well, a “push” is when a bet ends in a tie between the bettor and the sportsbook, and in the case of a “push,” the bettor is refunded their money. A “push” can happen on a “moneyline,” on a “point spread,” “over/under,” “prop,” and “parlay.”

For example, say you took the Atlanta Falcons -3 against the Detroit Lions in the NFL. If Atlanta wins by exactly 3 points, the game is considered a “push” and a tie. A “push” is not a loss. You will always get your money back, and if you take a game that “pushes” in a “parlay,” the odds are just eliminated from your wager.

On a “moneyline,” the only time a game can “push” is if it ends in a tie. But typically, the only sport that ends in a tie is soccer.

So the more you know about betting and the terms involved, the more savvy a player you will become. Deciding when to make a “parlay” or sticking to “point spreads” and “moneylines,” it’s all up to you. But the options are endless.