If you’ve ever been in a sports bar or spent five minutes at a sportsbook, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What does PK mean in betting?”. This simple betting strategy can be used to enhance poor early moneyline odds, bolster a parlay, or back a likely favorite with more agreeable odds.
We’ll explain the PK betting meaning and reveal our best tips and strategies for harnessing this betting strategy to your advantage. Stick around as we identify the best online bookmakers for PK sports betting in America.
What Does PK Mean in Betting?
Soccer bettors might think this PK betting refers to wagering on penalty kicks but that is not the case. PK stands for Pick’em – also Zero Spread or Pick – which refers to betting on a point spread market where the bookmaker doesn’t have a favorite or an underdog. This means the odds for both outcomes are exactly the same and the spread between the two teams is zero.
This typically occurs when the outcome is genuinely too close to call, or the lines have come out incredibly early and there isn’t enough data to provide accurate spreads. An important element of PK in betting is the similarity of odds. Zero margins occur all the time but the lack of a favorite or underdog is what makes a PK bet unique.
What is spread betting?
Before you can answer the question, “What does PK mean in betting?” you’ll need to understand spread betting. Points spreads are like adding a handicap on the favorite. It is the concept of betting on a team to win by a certain margin.
For example, a -6.5 point spread on the Denver Broncos to beat the Miami Dolphins would mean the Broncos need to win by seven points or more for the bet to be successful.
Conversely, when betting on the underdog, the team must either win or lose by a margin smaller than the spread. For example, a +4.5 spread on the underdog would mean they need to win or lose by four points or less.
How a PK bet works
Now that you know “what does PK mean in sports betting”, we can take a look at how this unique bet works. A PK in betting will basically turn a spread bet into a moneyline. With the spread at exactly zero, a bet on either side requires that the team wins the game for the bet to be a winner – just like a moneyline.
The bet differs from a moneyline though because the lines for a PK bet will be identical, while a moneyline bet will have different odds. There can be a unique advantage to a PK in betting where the odds for the favorite are more valuable than the moneyline.
Examples of a PK bet
Let’s take a look at a PK bet in a few different sports to best explain how this popular bet type works. It’s a few days before an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Atlanta Falcons and BetMGM has released its lines.
The moneyline odds differ with the favorite priced at -190 and the underdog at +155. However, the spreads have also been released with both teams priced at -110 with zero spread. The favorite has a -4.5 spread while the underdog has a +4.5 spread. This means that whichever team wins the game will win the spread, regardless of the margin because the winner will always cover the spread.
What about the NBA? BetMGM have dropped their early prices for a game between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks. The moneyline is -125 vs. +105 but the point spread is a perfect example for PK in sports betting.
Both teams are priced at -110 with a zero spread. Once again, the team you bet on merely needs to win for your bet to be a winner.
How to place a PK bet
Online sportsbooks are very intuitive and it’s very easy to place a PK bet in the US. To help new players feel comfortable with PK sports betting for the first time, we’ve provided a step-by-step guide for PK betting in the US with BetMGM.
1. Sign up to BetMGM
Go to BetMGM using one of our links and sign up for a new account. Simply create your credentials and enter your personal details as required including your name, full residential address, and your Social Security number.
2. Fund your betting account
In most cases, a deposit will unlock the welcome bonuses and you shouldn’t require a promo code. Head to the cashier section and choose a payment method. Enter the amount you wish to deposit and follow the prompts to complete and confirm your transaction.
3. Find a PK bet
Go to the sportsbook to check out the latest events and markets. You’ll be looking for games that don’t start for quite a while as they are most likely to offer zero spreads. You’ve found a perfect market if the odds are equal and the spreads cancel each other out.
4. Place your bet
Choose which team you think will win the game and your selection will drop into the bet slip located on the right side of the betting window. Enter how much you wish to bet and confirm the bet.
5. Watch the game
All you can do now is sit back and enjoy the game. Hopefully, your selection will win the game and you’ll win the bet.
Types of Sports for PK Betting
Now that we’ve fully answered the question, “what does PK mean in betting?”, you can just imagine the myriad of sports to which this bet type applies. Essentially, any spread market with zero spread and even odds will fit the requirements of a Pick’em.
But we do think there are a few choice sports that are the most popular for PK betting and several happen to be especially suited.
Spread betting is immensely popular at US sportsbooks as evidenced by the BetMGM’s high spread handle ahead of the first week of the 2023 NFL season. The NFL is a popular league for PK betting as scorelines are highly predictable.
Around 15% of all NFL games finish with a spread margin of three points. That’s an incredibly high percentage considering the number of NFL games in a season and it’s a statistic that can help you pick PK markets that are more likely to be successful than others.
Online sportsbooks tend to drop very soft NBA lines when the lines come out early. This means the line on the favorite is likely to move soon. PK betting is a great way to get better moneyline odds on this common occurrence in NBA betting. You can take the spread on the favorite at -110 before everyone else jumps in and the line moves to -105.
The average English Premier League game will see 2.65 goals scored. This can be a handy number to have in your back pocket when searching for likely PK markets. Additionally, a PK soccer bet can often cover the spread for a losing team as huge margins are very rare in professional leagues. Be aware, large margins are more common in the international arena.
MLB games provide a plethora of PK opportunities as bookmakers rarely take risks offering run lines and you’ll often see early spreads that are completely equal. Half points are integral to run lines and in the middle of the 2023 season, most teams were still covering the run line at least 50% of the time.
Less popular sports in terms of PK betting include cricket and ice hockey. Learn how to bet on cricket and you’ll likely notice that many T20 games come down to the last over and within a few runs – perfect for a PK bet if the sportsbook offers early and equal lines.
NHL games are rarely huge scoring affairs and sportsbooks like to get their puck lines out early and games are always easy to grade early, which can provide PK opportunities as a way to get better odds than the moneyline.
Pick’em vs Spread Bet
The only difference between standard spread betting and PK sports betting in America is the even chances of the odds. Any spread market that has a favorite and an underdog cannot be a Pick’em bet. For example, the MLB spread market below is not a PK bet since the Washington Nationals are clear favorites.
However, this NFL spread market between the Cardinals and Vikings is a perfect example of a PK in betting as the odds are identical.
Pros and Cons of PK betting
No single bet type or betting strategy is perfect. Even Pick’ems have both advantages and disadvantages. Check out the best reasons to try a PK bet and a couple of the unfortunate drawbacks.
- Can act as a more valuable moneyline bet on the favorite.
- Great way to introduce new bettors into spread betting.
- PK bets can apply to a wide range of sports and events.
- Takes advantage of soft lines before the line eventually moves.
- You can still lose with a lopsided scoreline or the incorrect team.
- The stakes need to be high to see a large profit from a single bet.
PK Betting Tips & Strategies
Now that you’ve seen the PK bet explained, you can start to consider some more advanced tips and strategies. PK betting is a fairly simple bet type but using these tips below will certainly aid in your ability to spot the perfect Pick’em opportunity.
- Use your knowledge – Just because a game is graded as even odds with zero spread doesn’t mean a team won’t win by a landslide. Your PK bet could be ruined if your team doesn’t cover the spread because they lose by a huge margin.
- Valuable moneyline – You’ll often find PK betting odds are slightly more valuable than the moneyline. Backing the PK line instead can provide a higher payout than if you just took the moneyline.
- Follow the line – Wait until the game is live and watch the line movement of a market that looks good for PK betting. For example, a zero spread with adjacent odds of -110 and -115 might shift suddenly to -110 and -125 when a clearer underdog is identified early in a game.
- Bet with your head – Be sensible. Never bet more than your means and never chase any losses. It’s up to you to make sure you follow responsible gambling practices to ensure sports betting remains fun.
- Bet big – Less a strategy and more so a bit of advice. You’ll rarely get PK betting odds much greater than -110 and +110 which means you need to bet big to turn a sizeable profit. Alternatively, you could go for multiple little wins over time too.