How Prop Bets Work

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A proposition bet, or prop bet for short, is a type of sports bet that isn't dependent on the final score of the game, like spread, total, and moneyline bets are.

For example, prop bets on an NFL game could include how many rushing yards a player will have, what the result of the coin flip will be, or who will score first.

There are often hundreds of prop bets to choose from on any game. Since there are so many options to choose from, it’s often possible to find value in prop bets since it’s much harder for books to set and update lines accurately.

This guide goes over how prop bets work, the main types of props, and strategies to increase your chances of winning a prop bet.

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What is a Prop Bet?

A prop bet is a sports wager that lets you guess whether something will occur during a sporting event. Unlike main bets such as moneyline or spreads, props do not necessarily relate to the final outcome of the event.

For instance, you can guess which team will score the first touchdown, which pitcher will have the most strikeouts, or whether a basketball player will score a certain number of points or not.

We can divide prop bets into three main categories—game props, player props, and novelty props.

Game Props

Game props relate to the score of the game or the number of points scored by the participating teams. Essentially, any prop bet that is related to a team or both teams, as a whole, and not an individual player is a game prop.

Here are a few examples of typical NBA and NFL game props:

  • Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York Knicks: Both teams to score over 100 points or not
  • Golden State Warriors vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Total number of points to be odds or even
  • Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs: Winning margin of either team (1-2, 3-6, 7-9, 10-13, etc.)
  • Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals: Race to X points (10, 15, 20, 25, etc.)
  • San Francisco 49ers vs. Chicago Bears: Highest scoring quarter (1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or tie)

Player Props

Apart from betting on occurrences relating to an entire game or one of the teams, proposition bets also allow you to wager on individual players.

Here are several examples taken from NFL and MLB games:

  • Joe Burrow (Bengals) Over/Under 1.5 touchdown passes
  • Justin Fields (Bears) Over/Under 14.5 rushing yards
  • Lamar Jackson (Ravens) to score a touchdown
  • Framber Valdez (Astros) Over/Under 3.5 strikeouts
  • Charlie Morton (Braves) Over/Under 2.5 earned runs
  • José Altuve (Astros) to have 5+ total bases

Novelty Props

Another advantage of props is that some sportsbooks allow you to make certain novelty bets that may not even influence the game itself.

Sportsbooks tend to be very creative when it comes to Super Bowl props. You can bet on obscurities such as the Gatorade color dumped on the winning coach, how long the National Anthem will last, which team will win the coin toss, or what outfit a certain half-time performer will wear.

Where to Place Prop Bets

Props are a regular part of all the best online sportsbooks, so no matter where you decide to play or which of the major sports you plan to wager on, you’re sure to find hundreds of them.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should go to the first betting site you come across, as not all offer the same props. 

More importantly, sportsbooks also differ in terms of the odds they release for their proposition bets, so you must conduct your own investigation and figure out where you can find the best prop prices.

>> Read More: How to Read Betting Odds

Are Prop Bets Good Bets?

Props usually consist of 50/50 markets, as you’ll often be guessing whether something will occur or not or whether a certain number will go over or under the suggested line. This makes props essentially easier to predict compared to longshot parlays or futures.

Another advantage of prop bets is their sheer number, leaving a lot of room for finding good value. In other words, it will be easier for you to find an edge on one of the props than on standard spreads, totals, or moneyline bets because sportsbooks can’t pay as much attention to them as they can to more popular wagers.

While pro sports bettors stay away from many types of bets—such as parlays, pleasers/reverse teasers, and futures—there are many that make a living completely off betting props.

Naturally, finding an edge involves a lot of work on your part. You’ll have to compare between different sportsbooks and analyze many props to spot a good opportunity and make money.

Tips for Betting Props

Being successful at betting props is easier said than done. Guessing what will happen across various game segments or how individual players will perform requires a lot of knowledge and preparation.

Nevertheless, here are a few general tips for betting props that will hopefully give you a head start:

  • Look at historical data: Review stats to see how frequently a player or a team goes over or under a set line and remember to factor in who the current opponent is. For example, if Alvin Kamara averages 80 yards rushing but is playing the stout Buccaneers run defense, he would be less likely to hit that mark.
  • Stay on top of sports news and injury reports: A player getting sidelined due to an injury might create an opportunity to bet on his replacement. However, you’ll need to react quickly. If the sportsbooks pick up on the news before you, they will drastically change the lines or odds.
  • Shop around for the best lines and odds: With so many available prop bets, it’s unlikely that the sportsbooks will agree on the lines and odds for each, allowing you to compare and find the most favorable ones.
  • Avoid complete chance prop bets: Some obscure props can be really fun, but they will often be like a coin toss, including the actual coin toss itself. Since these are true 50/50 bets, you should always avoid them, as sportsbooks won’t offer you even money odds, and you’ll stand to lose over time. For example, many books offer -110 lines on the coin toss in the Super Bowl. While this can make for a fun one-off bet, you’re expected value is negative since the book charges “vig” or “juice.”

Dave Rathmanner

Dave Rathmanner is the Founder & CEO of Odds Assist. After struggling to find helpful sports betting resources and honest reviews when he first started betting, he decided to create the site he always wished he had. Dave has been betting on sports since NJ legalized it in 2018 and regularly analyzes sportsbooks to find the best options for bettors. Aside from creating new content for OA readers, Dave is also passionate about researching betting markets, creating models, and developing profitable betting strategies.