Prop Bets Explained
As legal sports betting continues to grow, the more uncommon types of wagers a bettor can make are becoming more widely available. It’s common to see moneyline bets, point spreads, and over/under totals when looking through a sportsbook’s offerings, but bookmakers are offering more and more prop bets as prop betting popularity increases.
At SharpSide, we pride ourselves on being experts on prop betting. In this guide, we’ll go over what a prop bet is, how a prop bet works, and resources you can use to become a better prop bettor.
What is a prop bet?
Short for “proposition bet,” a prop bet is a wager that is decided during a game but isn’t tied to the outcome of the game. Moneyline bets, point spreads, and over/under totals are often tied to the outcome of the competition or a period of time within the competition. In sports betting, nearly all bets that aren’t of the moneyline, point spread, or total variety can be considered prop bets.
Typically, there are two types of prop bets, game props and player props, and both commonly involve statistics within a game.
Game props can be things like total home runs in a baseball game or total first downs in a football game. Player props can be total points, assists, and rebounds for a specific player in a basketball game, or the number of shots on goal for a hockey player. With each of these examples, you can see how the result of the wager isn’t tied to the outcome of the game.
One area of prop betting that gets a lot of love during big games such as the Super Bowl is that of novelty props, which may also be referred to as exotic props. Examples of these types of prop bets are the result of the coin toss, length of the national anthem, and what color the Gatorade shower will be. During the Super Bowl, it’s not uncommon to see sportsbooks offer hundreds if not thousands of prop bets, and plenty of those are novelty props.
Examples of prop bets
We touched on the three main types of prop bets, which are game props, player props, and novelty props. We’ll now get into some examples of these types of prop bets and how they work.
You commonly see the most game props offered for football games. One reason for that is because of football’s popularity. Another reason is that football stats are heavily tracked and easily measured. Here are some examples.
- Longest pass: Over/under 48.5 yards
- Longest run: Over/under 19.5 yards
In the above examples of game props, the outcome is determined if a stat goes over or under a set line over the course of the entire game, hence why they’re called game props. All it takes for one of these wagers to hit the over is either team or any player to achieve the over.
- Which team will score first?
- Will the first score of the game be a field goal or touchdown?
- Team to score first wins
Here are two more examples of game props you commonly see. The first is a pick on which team will score first, but some sportsbooks may offer a third option that no team scores in the contest. The second is a bet on what type of score will come first. The third is a bet to pick if the team that scores first will win the whole game.
Player props are prop bets that are tied to a specific player. Sportsbook offering football player props is very common, but it’s also a pretty common offering in basketball.
- Patrick Mahomes over/under 298.5 passing yards
- DeAndre Hopkins over/under 6.5 receptions
- Saquon Barkley over/under 82.5 rushing yards
Player props are tied to a player’s output during a game and not the outcome of the game itself. Looking at the examples that were listed above, as long as the players achieve the marks over the course of the game, the over is graded as the winning side of the bet.
For example, let’s say Patrick Mahomes throws for 350 yards in the first half of a game, and then the Kansas City Chiefs take home out for the second half. As long as Mahomes finishes the game with more than 298.5 passing yards, this player prop bet would be a winner.
In basketball, you may see the following player props on offer.
- LeBron James over/under 24.5 points
- Kawhi Leonard over/under 30.5 points + assists
- Zion Williamson over/under 32.5 points + assists + rebounds
With basketball player props, you can often find ones that combined more than one statistic, as you can see in the examples above.
It’s important to note that while player props aren’t tied to the outcome of the game, the game does need to complete for the bet to grade. It’s also worth noting that stat corrections can happen, just as you’d see in fantasy sports. Using official league data is something that many sportsbooks have partnered to do.
For recreational sports bettors, novelty props can be incredibly entertaining to wager on. They’re more fun bets, which makes them especially great for big games such as the Super Bowl that draw in common fans.
- Result of the coin toss
- Length of the national anthem (over/under)
- Color of Gatorade used in celebratory sideline shower
- Will the commentary team use a specific phrase during the broadcast?
As you can see from these examples, novelty bets are more for entertainment value than anything. Depending on regulations, some states may be able to offer more novelty bets than others. It’s also important to know what you’re getting into with novelty bets, such as the result of the coin toss. It’s a 50-50 proposition but many sportsbooks have the odds at worse than even money for each side.
Advantages of betting on props
- Inefficient markets: Due to prop bets being a newer area of the legal sports betting industry, the markets aren’t as efficient as ones that have been around for much longer and garner a lot more attention. By comparison, moneyline odds and points spreads are thought to be much more efficient than prop bets. Oddsmakers have greater experience setting these odds and prices, whereas prop bets are still the new kid on the block. There will be time needed for prop betting markets to become more efficient, but in the meantime, bettors can take advantage of this.
- Added entertainment value: As prop bets aren’t tied to the outcome of a game, they can provide an added level of entertainment throughout a contest. With prop bets, nearly every single play can matter and the excitement level increases with every single one. Many bettors also feel that there’s more entertainment in the variety of prop bets that can be made.
Prop betting tips and resources
With prop betting being newer to the sports betting scene, there are less information and resources available to help bettors, but that’s doesn’t mean there is no material out there to consume.
The SharpSide sports betting app is an excellent tool for prop betting. The app is full of leaderboards that track the best prop bettors from a variety of sports, and bettors can use those leaderboards to tail other bettors. If you don’t have the app, download it via iOS or Android and check it out.
DFS is your friend
Many daily fantasy sports (DFS) players can utilize strategies deployed in DFS to become successful prop bettors. A tip for DFS players who have experienced success is to translate some of those skills to prop betting.
In big DFS tournaments, you’re trying to construct a roster of players under a salary cap that delivers high upside so you have the best chance to win. In DFS cash games, players are often looking to achieve a certain floor of performance so as many lineups as possible can cash. In both areas, DFS players are projecting outcomes of the players they roster and those projections can translate well to prop betting.
We would recommend using the wide variety of tools on offer at our sister site RotoGrinders.com. You can also consume the wealth of content that the RotoGrinders experts provide. Although RotoGrinders is generally focused on DFS, nearly all of the content and tools can be translated to prop betting, especially as it pertains to player props. For football props, the Rotogrinders GridironIQ tool has a betting element. For basketball props, check out the RotoGrinders CourtIQ tool or the Defense vs. Archetype tool.
Another prop betting tip is to make sure you line shop. Line shopping can be a bettor’s best friend and it also applies for prop betting. With more and more legal sportsbooks becoming available, you’ll often be able to find the same props from multiple sportsbooks.
As a bettor, compare the lines and prices to get the best you can when betting. In the long run, the advantages gained from line shopping can really add up.
Social media can be a great place for prop betting tips and advice if you know where to look. All of the SharpSide and RotoGrinders experts regularly use social media, so don’t be shy in following and engaging with them. Here’s a list to get you started.
- Brett Appley
- JJ Apricena
- Erik Beimfohr
- Jourdan Case
- Derek Farnsworth
- Chris Gimino
- Travis Mangone
- Grant Neiffer
- Mo Nuwwarah
- Donnie Peters
- Kevin Roth
- Rich Ryan
- Kevin Taylor
Prop betting guides on SharpSide
SharpSide is home to several guides on prop betting, broken down by sport. Give yourself some time to read through them as they’ll help you to become a better prop bettor.