Guide
Gambling

What Does PK Mean in Betting?

Learn what PK means in betting with our comprehensive guide. Discover how 'Pick'em' bets work, scenarios for PK betting in NFL, NBA, and soccer, and how to optimize your wagers with this unique betting option.

Jon Young
Jon Young

Last Updated: 2024-06-12

A. Tzamantanis

6 minutes read

NBA basketball – What does PK betting mean

PK betting is a wager where the sportsbook can’t differentiate between the favorite and the underdog. The top betting sites offer point spreads which essentially become moneyline bets when you put your wager on. What does PK mean in betting? Find out with our quick guide. 

Contrasting Point Spreads

What does PK mean in sports betting? It stands for ‘Pick’em’, or is sometimes referred to as ‘Zero Spread’. That’s a more accurate description for a point spread where there is no outstanding favorite or underdog.

The sportsbook calculates that the game is about as evenly-matched as you can get. Alternatively, there may not yet be enough sports data to determine who is the hot favorite. 

Scenarios for PK Betting 

First, let’s explain what the point spread is. It’s a handicap bet where the favorite is assigned a theoretical points deduction before the game begins. The underdog is assigned the same points, but has a pre-game “advantage”.

H3: NFL

Let’s use an NFL bet as our example:

•    Kansas City Chiefs +3.5 (-110)
•    San Francisco 49ers -3.5 (-110)

In a tight NFL game, the Chiefs are priced at -110 with a 3.5-point advantage. The 49ers are also -110 with a slight -3.5-point handicap. Essentially, whoever wins the game “covers the spread” and wins you the bet.

In this game, the moneyline (to win) odds are -180 for the Chiefs and +160 for the 49ers. It’s therefore better value to stick to the moneyline bet if you fancy the 49ers, or go for the point spread if you think the Chiefs will win.

H3: Basketball

Similarly, you can bet the PK spread on NBA basketball games. Some prices on NBA games are announced early, and this is where you can hunt out some value.

For instance, a game between the Boston Celtics and Indiana Pacers may have a point spread of +2/-2. The odds for either side to beat the spread are -110, but the moneyline odds may be listed as +105/-105. That’s when you can hit the moneyline wager hard before the odds drop. 

Push (Draw) Outcomes

We’ve answered the question, “What does PK mean in betting?” with regards to games like American Football and basketball that have two possible outcomes. But what about sports like soccer that have draw possibilities?

For 1X2 fixed odds wagers, any draw (X) outcome means your PK bet will be refunded, or “pushed”. However, in the Asian Handicap markets, where margins are tighter, you’ll see many more PK bets.

Here’s an example:

Manchester City +0 (-110)
Real Madrid -0 (-110)

In this tight UEFA Champions League game, the bookmaker can’t decide on an outright favourite to win on the spread. Whoever wins the game covers the non-existent spread. If the game ends in a draw (e.g. 0-0), the PK bet pushes and your stake is returned.

The benefit of playing the spread is that a draw bet is refunded. However, if you bet on a home win or away win on the moneyline/1X2 market, and the game ended a draw, you’d lose your wager. Essentially, it’s identical to a ‘Draw No Bet’ wager that you’ll find at many online sports betting sites. 

Alternatives to PK Betting

Some online bookmakers give you options if you want to bet on a spread that’s already been assigned a PK. The teaser is a neat tool that lets you manually adjust the spread to set your own odds.

For example, if a bookmaker priced Boston Celtics vs Indiana Pacers as +0/-0 with unfavorable -110 odds, you could adjust the spread to +4/-4 to recalculate the price.

In this scenario, you may have done your own research and found that the Celtics were slight favorites in terms of implied probability. Their odds to cover a spread of +4 are +120, representing much more value than the -110 to take the PK. 

Jon Young
Jon Young Sports Betting Writer

Jon is an experienced journalist and editor working in the gambling industry for over 17 years. He started life as a football betting blogger before being bitten by the online poker bug, eventually becoming editor of some of the largest gambling and poker publications around, including Gambling Magazine and WPT (World Poker Tour) Poker Magazine.