Everything You Need to Know About Prop Betting
The sports betting menu is vast, as there are always plenty of different games and events to wager on. It also goes much deeper than that with a number of “game inside the game” scenarios.
Prop bets fall into that category and help to kick the options up substantially. For the biggest games and events, you’ll find dozens of different opportunities to choose from. When it’s a massive event such as the Super Bowl, there will be hundreds of different offerings to consider.
This wager type is also noteworthy in that it can come in a number of different forms. For example, there are props that call for you to make a simple choice between two outcomes, as well as ones that give you a range of choices.
We’re going to walk through everything you need to know about prop betting right here, along with how you can use it to your advantage. Let’s get to it.
What’s a prop bet?
Quite simply, a prop bet is a wager on something that may or may not happen during the course of a game. There are generally offerings listed from a player or team perspective, as well as to do with specific circumstances surrounding a game.
On the player side, you may see bets offered such as these:
- Total number of points and rebounds for Joel Embiid — over/under 40.5?
- How many passing TDs will Patrick Mahomes throw — over/under 2.5?
- Will Mike Trout hit a home run in the game?
When it’s the team side, you may see bets such as these:
- Which team will score three runs first — Minnesota Twins or Chicago White Sox?
- Who will lead after period one — Pittsburgh Penguins or Toronto Maple Leafs?
- Will a defensive TD be scored by the Cincinnati Bengals vs. the Baltimore Ravens?
For the game as a whole, the bets will revolve around things such as specific margins of victory.
- Who will win and by how much — Cowboys or Giants?
- Cowboys or Giants by 0-7 points?
- Cowboys or Giants by 8 or more points?
Each of the choices offered will have odds listed. Some props will see a good deal of betting volume, while others will see scant attention.
For sports bettors, props are a way to get additional action on games you are already interested in. Additionally, prop offerings can also help point you to games and players that may not have necessarily been on your radar.
Prop betting examples
Prop bets are offered for virtually every game on the docket. Offerings are going to vary, but here’s the general rule of thumb: the more interest in the game, the more prop betting opportunities you’ll see.
The offerings can typically be located by clicking on the “more wagers” link, which can be found on the individual game listings. After you click on that, you’ll usually see the prop bets for that contest broken down by type of bet.
As mentioned, you’ll generally find props in three major categories, player-based, team-oriented or game-specific circumstances. Let’s take a look at an example for each type.
For individual player props, the bet offered will usually revolve around whether the player will achieve a specific performance goal. As an example, consider a prop on the total points scored by LeBron James.
- Over 24.5 (-115)
- Under 24.5 (-105)
As you can see, this wager is very similar to a totals or over/under bet. Bettors make their choice on what they think James will produce, and then they kick back to watch what happens — and hopefully cash a winning ticket when all is said and done.
For a prop that’s focused on a team, let’s consider an NHL game between the Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins. One of the opportunities you may come across is on how many goals the Canadiens will score for the game.
- Canadiens two goals or fewer +130
- Canadiens three goals or more -120
- Canadiens no goals +200
While researching this prop bet, you may dig into information such as how many goals the Canadiens have been scoring in recent games, as well as what the team typically produces when squaring off with the Bruins.
A game-based prop opportunity can revolve around a number of scenarios, including the total margin of victory. Let’s consider betting on an NFL game in which the San Francisco 49ers are squaring off with the Arizona Cardinals. A prop may ask you to pinpoint the margin of victory for the winning side.
- 49ers by 0-7 points -110
- 49ers by 8 points or more +120
- Cardinals by 0-7 points +130
- Cardinals by 8 points or more +180
If you’ve already handicapped the game, then there’s a good chance you have also looked at or broken down the spread. This prop can provide you with additional profit potential from research you may have already done.
For our final example, let’s consider a prop that includes a wide range of choices. Examples would be the first goal scorer in an NHL game, players who may homer in MLB contests, or NFL players to score the first TD in the game.
In the NBA, it might revolve around which player will be the leading scorer for the game. Here’s what the odds might look like for a game between the Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers.
- Kawhi Leonard -105
- LeBron James -115
- Anthony Davis +120
- Paul George +140
- Lou Williams +180
- Kyle Kuzma +210
And so on for each of the players who are expected to suit up for the contest. Props of this nature are great for value hunters. As you get further down the list, you can make a nice score off some positive odds if your choice proves to be on the money.
Odds for prop bets
Prop odds are similar to what you’ll find elsewhere on the wagering menu. However, there are differences in how they are presented depending on which kind of prop we are talking about.
When it’s a situation in which there are just two choices, then the odds will resemble what you would see in a moneyline wager. For moneylines, the two teams in the contest are listed, one of which is typically favored and represented by negative odds. The odds on the underdog side are positive. If it’s a situation where it’s a close call, then both odds may be negative.
It’s the same for prop odds with two choices. For example, let’s say it’s a simple question of which NBA player will have more total points and rebounds for a game between the Pacers and Boston Celtics.
- Domantas Sabonis +120
- Jayson Tatum -110
As the oddsmakers see it, Tatum is more likely to come out on top for this individual matchup. Naturally, your research may turn up a different outcome.
For prop bets that include a number of different choices, you’ll find that the odds listing will bear a striking resemblance to the futures market. The available choices are typically listed in descending order, with favorites up top all the way down to long shots on the bottom.
In NFL circles, a popular prop betting opportunity revolves around the first TD scorer in a game. Let’s say it was a game between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings. Here’s what the odds might look like for the first player to find pay dirt.
- Davante Adams +120
- Dalvin Cook +130
- Aaron Jones +140
- Adam Thielen +150
- Kyle Rudolph +180
- Jamaal Williams +210
There will be odds listed for each player with a viable chance to score a TD. You can keep it safe and roll with one of the favorites, or scroll farther down the list to find an intriguing sleeper who may pay off handsomely.
One other note to keep in mind for prop betting odds: similar to other odds and lines, you’ll see some movement here based on market action. However, it’s not as easy to track as movement across moneylines or point spread bets.
There are a number of outlets on the interwebs that track movement of the major lines, but it’s not as easy to come across for prop betting. When researching props, it’s safe to assume that the favorites will see a good amount of action, but don’t let that deter you from going the other way or looking for a sleeper pick.
Handicapping prop bets
Since there are a number of different prop bet types — game, player and team — the handicapping approach will vary.
For game and team props, the handicapping is similar to what you would be doing for moneyline, spread and totals bets.
Assuming you’re focusing on props for games you’ll also be wagering on, that’s a big plus. If you’ve already taken the time to figure out who you think will win, by how much, and how many total points will be scored, then you’ve already done a ton of legwork for a number of different prop choices.
For individual player props, the mindset is a bit different. There are strong parallels between researching on this end and what you would do for fantasy sports. In fact, prop betting makes for an outstanding transition point for daily fantasy sports players who are looking to expand their horizons into sports betting.
As for a general prop betting strategy, it’s always helpful to have clear bankroll goals in mind. For example, if you have a certain amount of funds allocated for single-game wagers, you should do the same for props.
From that allocation, you can break it down even further, such as 80-90% of that amount for the wagers you feel most confident about, and 10-20% for more speculative types of wagers.
What to watch for when betting props
When looking to get started with prop betting, it can be pretty easy to feel overwhelmed due to the sheer number of choices available.
Relax. There’s no need to try to wager on each and every prop offered on games you are interested in. In fact, doing so can be a recipe for bankroll disaster if you have a particularly bad run.
Instead, consider the prop betting menu to be similar to a slate of games. You wouldn’t necessarily bet on every game on the docket, but rather zero in on the most appealing choices and take it from there.
You can do the same thing with prop betting. After finding the game you want to focus on, take the time to scroll through all of the choices available while making note of ones that jump out at you.
Go back through the list a second time and choose the ones you find most appealing. This is the list of props you’ll be researching, and you can simply pass on the rest. From this list, you can go through the process of breaking them all down. Place bets on the ones you are most comfortable with, and perhaps a speculative one or two, and then just pass on the rest.
After you work through the process a few times, you should begin to get a good sense of which props work best for your overall approach. That can help save you even more time moving forward, as you can simply place these types of props on your shortlist and move on.
As you continue with prop betting, be sure to track your results and analyze them. Which props are you most profitable with? Which ones do you not seem to be having success with?
By doing this, you can further alter your prop betting strategy. Eventually, it’ll get to the point at which you have a well-oiled machine and know exactly what kind of prop betting opportunities you want to focus on.
Key takeaways on prop bets
Prop bets are a popular part of the wagering menu. They’re offered for all of the major games and events, and there are typically a good number of choices to consider.
As a general rule, the more betting action that a game sees, the more prop betting opportunities will be offered. For huge events such as the Super Bowl, the number of prop offerings climbs into the hundreds.
Props can fall into the categories of game-, player- or team-based. Game and team props can call on your single-game betting knowledge, while it helps to approach player props with a fantasy sports mindset.
For props with just two choices, the odds will resemble what you’ll find on the moneyline, with one side favored and the other the underdog. In the event of something that looks close to a toss-up, the odds will be in a tight range.
When it’s a prop bet with multiple choices offered, the odds resemble what you would find in the futures market. Choices are listed in descending order with the favorites up top and the long shot picks on the bottom.
Props are another way to potentially profit off games you plan on betting on anyway. They can also open the doors to additional opportunities that you hadn’t previously considered.