If you’re a serious sports bettor looking for the ultimate in betting flexibility, you’re in luck! If you’re a recreational sports bettor looking for the most fun bets on the planet, you’re also in luck! The reason you’re all in luck is that we’re going to be introducing you to a type of bet that satisfies so much for all different types of sports bettors – prop bets. Short for proposition bets, prop bets are wagers where you bet on whether something proposed by the sportsbook will happen or not.
- Will the coin toss be heads or tails?
- Will Rob Gronkowski score more than 1.5 touchdowns?
- Will there be a hole in one at the Masters?
- Will Roger Federer win in straight sets?
These are all examples of prop bets. In this guide, we’re going to walk you through everything you need to know to understand prop bets, make prop bets, and ultimately win betting on props. We’ll talk about how prop bets pay out, the benefits of these bets, and the strategies that you need to know to win the big bucks. The information we’ve compiled here will be great for recreational and serious sports bettors as well as new and experienced bettors.
If you’re ready to get started on your prop betting journey, let’s get to it!
Breaking Down a Prop Bet
The first key to the puzzle of beating prop bets is having a full understanding of what they are and how to interpret them when you’re at the sportsbook. The definition of a prop bet might sound confusing, but prop bets are actually very easy to understand when you look at a few examples. Let’s look at some examples from a previous NFL football game between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. If this looks familiar, you may recognize it from a past Super Bowl.
Here are a few of the prop bets that were offered for this particular game. These are only a few of the hundreds of props that were offered online and in land-based sportsbooks around the world.
Team to Score First
- Eagles EV
- Patriots -130
Will There Be a Successful 2 Pt Conversion Yes or No
- Yes +220
- No -300
Opening Coin Toss Heads or Tails
- Heads -110
- Tails -110
In each of these bets, the sportsbook proposes something, and you get to bet on whether or not it will happen or what the outcome will be. For example, you can bet on which team is going to score first. The first thing you see on each line of that bet are the teams. The top line bet is a bet on the Eagles to score first and the second line is a bet on the Patriots to score first. The second number on each line shows how much you will be paid for a correct bet. If the Eagles score first, you’ll be paid out at even money. If you bet on the Patriots to score first and they do, you’ll be paid out at (-130).
Looking at the second bet, things are laid out the exact same, except that what you are betting on is completely different. The first line tells you what you are betting on. With “Will There Be a Successful 2 Pt Conversion Yes or No,” you are betting on whether or not there will be a 2-point conversion in the game, and your choices are ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ The first line below the bet type is a bet on ‘yes’ and the second line would be a bet on ‘no.’ Again, the numbers that follow are the odds of each happening and how you would be paid out. ‘Yes’ is the underdog and would pay out at (+220) for a correct pick. ‘No’ is the favorite and would pay out at (-300) for a correct selection.
Everything is the same for the third bet option, except it’s a bet on who will win the opening coin toss.
Typically, online sportsbooks are going to offer way more prop bet options than you’ll see in a land-based sportsbook because they have the resources and the board space to handle those bets. You’re also typically going to see more prop bets depending on how big of a game it is. If it’s a preseason game, you might not see any prop bets or see very few. If it’s a major championship like the Super Bowl or the NBA Finals, you’re going to see a lot of prop bet action.
You’re also going to see different prop bets at different sportsbooks. Some sportsbook love to throw out the wild and wacky prop bets, but don’t have as many of the more serious bets. Some sportsbooks are the exact opposite, while some sportsbooks will offer you everything under the sun in the way of prop bets. You’ll have to look around and find a book that offers the kind of action you are looking for. Just remember that you will have more options online and more options during bigger, higher-profile games.
How Prop Bets Pay Out
Prop bet payouts are listed in terms of American odds. Usually, you’re not going to see the same payouts on both sides of a bet unless you’re betting on something that is 50/50 like the coin toss and the bets are coming in evenly. The odds will be adjusted based on the likelihood of each outcome and how the betting money is coming in.
For example, let’s look at the 2-point conversion prop from our above example.
Will There Be a Successful 2 Pt Conversion Yes or No
- Yes +220
- No -300
If you’ve ever watched much NFL football, you know that 2-point conversions are fairly unlikely. It would be silly for the sportsbook to pay out the same amount of money for a bet on ‘yes’ as they do for a bet on ‘no.’ In this example, you would get paid out at (+220) for ‘yes’ and (-300) for ‘no.’ This means that if you bet $100 on either side, you would receive $220 in profit for a correct ‘yes’ prediction or $33.33 in profit from a correct ‘no’ prediction.
With some prop bets, you may have multiple options to choose from, rather than just two. Each of those options will have a different payout attached to it. The bottom line with prop bets is that you do need to take the time to look at how much each side of the bet is paying out. If the risk does not equal the potential reward they are offering to pay out, then you should stay away from the bet.
Benefits of Prop Bets
We’d like to take a moment to go over some of the great benefits that come with betting prop bets. These benefits should help you to see why these bets could make a great addition to your betting plan.
Great for New Recreational Bettors
There is no secret out there that prop bets are a lot of fun. They give you the opportunity to bet on some of the wildest and wacky things, as well as flex your betting muscle. They also give you the ability to bet on things that can be decided before the game is over. If you’re someone who likes to have action throughout the entire game, this might be ideal for you.
If you bet on who is going to score first, you’re going to have a bet that finishes up early in the game. If you bet on who is going to score the most points in the second quarter, you’ve got action that wraps up before halftime.
With prop bets, you can scratch your sports betting itch the entire duration of a game. Some people might suggest you try live in-game betting for this, but there is one big difference. When you make your prop bets, you get to make them before the game starts and then you’re set for the game. You’re then free to relax and do whatever you want while still getting intelligent action. When you in-game bet, though, you have to continually pay attention and always be on your game. It’s just a different experience, and prop betting is much more relaxing, especially during the actual game.
If you have someone who doesn’t really understand sports but is interested in getting involved, prop bets are great, as well. You can help them to make some small bets on things that are easy to understand and cheer for. They might not understand how the game works, but if you explain to them they make money if a certain player catches the ball more than five times, they’ll be excited for that.
Recreationally speaking, prop bets can’t be topped by any other sports bets out there.
The Ultimate in Betting Flexibility
If you’re not a recreational bettor, prop bets still offer a lot of upside. What happens if you have a prediction about a game that doesn’t necessarily affect the final score? Well, without prop bets, you are out of luck. For example, let’s say that in our Patriots and Eagles example, you think that Rob Gronkowski is going to have a huge game, but you have no idea whether or not that’s going to be enough to help the Patriots pull off the win.
Without prop bets, that’s just a fun prediction you can share with your friends, and you’re not going to make any money off of it. However, for this particular game, there were several prop bets offered specifically on how Rob Gronkowski would perform. You could bet on how many touchdowns he would get, how many receptions he would have, and how many yards he would get. This allows you to leverage your prediction without having to worry about who wins the game.
Prop bets are only concerned with the criteria stated. They have absolutely nothing to do with who the winner or the loser of the game is, unless that is included in the prop bet.
There was a prop bet for this game where you could bet on whether or not the team that scored first would also win the game.
Obviously, this would have to do with the outcome of the game, but only for that specific prop bet. The rest of the prop bets were independent of the winner.
Prop Betting Strategies
Every prop bet that you’re going to encounter will be wildly different from the next one on the list. For this reason, it is tough to give strategies without addressing each of the prop bets individually. That being said, though, there are some strategies and tips that apply to all prop bets that we can share with you today.
Differentiating the Level of Skill Needed
The important thing to pay attention to when betting prop bets is whether or not they are prop bets that require skill. The more skill that a prop bet requires, the more “okay” it is for you to include that in your winning betting strategy. If a prop bet requires no skill to predict, it’s essentially gambling and should only be used for recreational purposes.
Betting on the opening coin toss does not require any skill. You will not be able to beat this bet in the long run. Unless you can see the future, you’re going to be guessing and gambling.
Winning at sports betting is all about having an edge, and there’s no way you can have an edge with that bet. That being said, betting on the coin toss of a major game like the Super Bowl is a lot of fun. Prop bets like this are great for entertainment value as long as you realize and accept that that is what they are for.
Prop bets that require a lot of skill and expertise to predict are great ways for you to flex your knowledge muscle and make some money when you have predictions that won’t have a direct outcome on the final score of the game.
Betting on which team you think is going to score first does require a lot of skill. Let’s say you are betting on which team will score first in an upcoming NFL game between the Patriots and the Eagles. You’ll need to know how the teams start offensively and defensively and which teams like to defer during the coin toss. If you know that the Eagles love to take the ball and the Patriots always defer and you think the Eagles are going to start hot, it might be wise to take that bet.
The point of that explanation is not to discuss the merits of who would win the bet. The point is that you see that many prop bets do offer a chance for you to exercise your knowledge base and gain an edge over the book and other sports bettors.
Fun Does Not Mean You Can Be Lazy
Prop bets are fun. This is even true if you’re a serious bettor who is only betting skill-based prop bets. The thing you need to be cautious of, though, is that you don’t take these bets lightly just because they are fun in nature. The money you lose when you’re wrong and the money you win when you’re right all have the same value as the money you use and get from other bet types. People have a tendency to do less research on prop bets and not give them the same attention that they give to other bets just because they’re different.
When you’re figuring out your prop bets to make, you need to make sure that you put in the adequate amount of time, research, and effort necessary to make great picks. If you don’t, you’re going to end up bleeding off money, and these bets that could be great sources of profit could turn into the death of your sports betting bankroll.
Start with Game Flow First
Prop bets are usually very specific in nature. For example, the bets on Rob Gronkowski that we talked about are extremely specific to how one player on the field will perform independent of everything else that is going on. While the bet itself is independent of everything else that is going on, the strategy needed to make a correct pick is not.
Don’t go into the list of prop bets and pick out ones you want to research first. Instead, start by mapping out the flow of the game. Decide your overall predictions on how the game will go, who will win, what the strategy will be, who will be integral to each team’s success, etc. Once you have all of this information, then you should go to the list of props and see if there is anything that fits into your predictions.
This is going to prevent you from trying to force prop bets that you shouldn’t really be betting. By starting with the bigger picture, you can make sure that the specific bets you want to make still fit with the overall narrative.
If you make a bet on a player to have a great offensive day based solely on their abilities and who they are matched up against but you neglect to realize that the coach will probably be opting for an offensive approach that does not include them as much, you’re going to lose a lot of bets.
Start with the big picture and then see if the props fit into it. Don’t start with the props and then figure out the big picture. Most likely, you’ll be biased and will try to see the big picture in a way that supports the prop bet you want to make. You’d be amazed at what people do subconsciously when it comes to sports betting, and most of it is not good for your bottom line.
Understand What You are Betting
Prop bets will always be all over the place. You will see a lot of the same types regularly, but you’ll also see a lot of brand new props popping up for different games. Usually, you can tell pretty easily what the bet is about by reading the bet type. However, there will be instances where you might not be sure exactly what you’re betting on.
You need to either ask the site support or the agent at the sportsbook to clarify exactly what it is you are betting on. You should also inquire to make sure there aren’t any special rules or stipulations that you are not aware of.
This is one of the reasons that we prefer betting online versus in a land-based sportsbook. When you ask an agent for their help, they might not fully understand the bet or all of the stipulations themselves. If they are wrong and you lose because of it, you’re going to have a tough time arguing your case on a he said/she said basis. But if you bet online and ask for help from a live agent, you will have a written transcript of what they told you about a bet. The majority of the time, the agents are not going to be wrong, but in the instance that they are, you will have an insurance policy to state your case. This is just a side tangent, but it is something that could prove to be important.
The bottom line to take away here is that you need to 100% understand what you are betting on and what criteria needs to be met in order for you to win your bet.
Prop bets can be an amazingly profitable addition to your betting strategy or an incredible entertaining booster to your recreational betting and sweating plan. If you’re a recreational bettor, have fun and fire away at any of the prop bets that are interesting to you.
For those of you that are concerned with your bottom line and turning a profit, you need to make sure you follow all of the guidelines that we laid out for you here. Understand what you’re betting, stick to the skill-based prop bets, and do not get lazy just because the bets are more fun and more creative. Laziness and complacency are the death-shot to sports bettors, and you can’t fall victim to that here.
Remember, you’re never required to make any prop bets, and you can certainly be wildly successful without ever touching them. That being said, they can offer a new layer of betting flexibility that can go a long way in helping you leverage your knowledge base and turn it into a profit.
Come up with your prediction of how the entire game will go and then look to see if there are any props that you can research further that might fall in line with what your overall prediction is.
Prop bets can be your friend, or they can be your worst enemy. It all comes down to how you choose to approach them. Hard work pays off with sports betting, and that is certainly true with prop betting.