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What is a Prop Bet?
A proposition bet (prop bet) is a type of bet that doesn’t affect the outcome of a game. Another way to describe it is to call it a side bet. The bet can technically be on anything to happen. An example of a prop bet is to predict which team will score first. While that first score does count, it doesn’t guarantee that team will win the game.
The Super Bowl has become the Prop Betting Bowl. If you walk into a sportsbook in Las Vegas, you’ll literally find a booklet with a dozen pages pull of different prop bets ranging from the coin toss to which song the halftime performer will sing first.
You won’t find near as many prop bets on any other games, however. The Super Bowl is essentially a national holiday in the US so it brings out the goofy wagers. Many people who don’t even follow or gamble on football like to get down on the Super Bowl. Since they don’t know much about the teams involved, they prefer betting on the silly prop bets.
A prop bet can basically be any type of wager you can think of. If you’re watching a ballgame and one of your friends says, “I’ll bet you $20 they throw the ball here on 4th and 1,” that’s an example of a prop bet.
Different Types of Prop Bets
There are a wide-range of prop bets you can find on just about any sporting event at your favorite online sportsbook. They range from profitable to a losing proposition. It all depends on the type of prop bet you choose.
- Futures Bets: These are wagers on, as the name indicates, future occurrences. There are thousands of different types of futures bets but we’ll give you a few examples: which team you think will win the championship, which player will hit the most home runs, and who will win MVP.
- “Will it Occur”: This one is very simple. The prop bet is a yes or no proposition. Will the Broncos score a touchdown in the first quarter? Will Tom Brady throw more than three touchdown passes? Will the Chicago Cubs hit two or more home runs? Make sense?
- First on the Team: Another self-explanatory prop bet. You’re simply predicting who will do something first. Who will score the first touchdown in the game? Who will catch the first pass of the game?
- Timing Wagers: Some prop bets are based on a specific amount of time taken to complete the bet. How long will it take to sing the National Anthem? How long will the halftime performer be on stage? How many minutes into the game before the first touchdown?
- Individual Performances: Perhaps, our favorite prop bets is to bet on how an individual athlete will perform throughout the game. Who will catch the most passes in the game? Which player will have the most rushing yards?
- Team Point Totals: The total points scored or margin of victory by an individual team is another type of prop bet. This can be in the form of the exact margin of victory or the total points a team will score in the first quarter, and other similar wagers.
Many get a bit confused with this type of prop bet. There is a big difference between a traditional point spread wager and prop betting on the margin of victory. When you’re betting against the spread, your team must either lose by fewer points or win by more points than the line. So, if you have the Los Angeles Lakers at -4.5, they must win by at least five or you lose. But they can win by 45 for all you care.
When you’re wagering on the specific margin of victory, you need your team to win by an exact range of points. For example, if you pick the Dallas Cowboys to win by between 1-5 points, if they win by six points, you lose. It’s as simple as that.
Pros and Cons of Prop Bets
We love betting on prop bets. But it’s not all sunshine and flowers. There are some downsides to this type of sports betting. Let’s take a look at the good and bad of being a prop bettor
- Makes the games more exciting: Sports are fun with or without gambling. But it’s always a bit more exciting when you have money on the line. And it’s even more epic when you make a prop bet. It’s not that we don’t enjoy traditional bets. We do. But sometimes you need a little spice in your life.
- Easier to find an edge: Regular bets such as point totals and against the spread wagers are often tough to beat. But with prop bets, sometimes the oddsmakers are seemingly just taking random guesses or they’re trying to trick the clueless general public. You will often find a prop bet so juicy that you just have to bet because you know you’re going to win.
- You can mix it up: Like we just said, we enjoy betting on the point spread, parlays, and all that. But sometimes you just need to mix things up and try something different. It’s sort of like if you were to eat a delicious juicy steak everyday for a week. By the end of the week, even though you’d been eating well, you’ll probably be ready to grub on something else like a pizza or some chicken wings. Change it up once in a while and gamble on some prop bets because they’re fun and different.
- You can actually make money: A lot of money. Some view prop bets as just gimmicky wastes of time. But that’s because they don’t truly understand the value in betting certain prop bets. In fact, you could realistically make a decent living simply by betting prop bets if you find the right types of bets.
- Often a guessing game: With certain prop bets, you’re really just taking a shot in the dark. An example of that is betting on the coin toss in the Super Bowl. You’ll get -110 odds at most sportsbooks and that isn’t a positive expected value bet. Here’s why: there’s no skill in predicting the winner of a coin toss. Everyone will get 50 percent correct in the long run. But you must wager $110 just to win $100 on a 50/50 proposition. So, you’ll win 1 out of 2 for a $100 profit and lose 1 out of 2 for a $110 loss, on average. If you make this type of bet 1,000 times, you can expect to lose $5,000.
- Some sportsbooks are light on prop bets: At most online sportsbooks, you’ll find a solid selection of different types of prop bets offered. But at others, you will find it’s slim pickings when it comes to prop betting.
Can I Make Money with Prop Bets?
The short answer is yes, but we’re going to dig deeper into this question because it’s not a simple answer. In some cases, no, you cannot make money betting prop bets. There are certain types of prop bets that are based solely on luck. And that isn’t a long-term winning proposition.
But, if you aren’t relying on luck and care to put in the effort to be a skilled sports bettor, you most certainly can win a ton of money on prop bets. There is as much, if not more, skill involved in wagering on prop bets.
What types of prop bets should you make if you’re looking to make money? Any wager that doesn’t involve taking random guesses. For example, betting on the coin toss. You can’t possibly know if the coin toss will land on heads or tail. No one can. It’s completely random. Even the referee who flips the coin doesn’t know which side it will land on.
The best and most profitable prop bets are as follows:
- Who will win MVP?
- How many games will x-team win?
- Who will lead the National League in home runs?
- How many yards will the Patriots rush for in the Super Bowl?
And there are many others along those lines that can be profitable. With these types of prop bets you can make educated guesses instead of random guesses because you have past data to base your handicapping on. Let’s use the National League home runs question as the prime example. Before the season, your sportsbook will likely show you a list of players with odds on winning the home run crown. It will look something like this:
- Bryce Harper 4/1
- Rhys Hoskins 8/1
- Anthony Rizzo 15/1
- Cody Bellinger 15/1
- Christian Yelich 15/1
The list will be much longer than that. But this should give you a good idea of what you’ll see at an online sportsbook. So, for Bryce Harper, you would be getting 4/1 odds and that means you’ll receive a payout of four times your wager if he wins the home run crown. A $100 bet would pay $400 for a $300 profit.
NFL Prop Betting Strategy
No American sport receives more prop betting interest than the NFL, especially on Super Bowl Sunday. Football fans just love that side betting action. Not that we blame them. With each sport, we’re going to give you two expert tips to help you win money.
Tip #1: Stay away from impossible-to-profit prop bets
If you want to bet on the coin toss or the halftime show at the Super Bowl, you’re wasting your money. Sure, it’s fun to make silly prop bets. But if you’re looking to actually make some money (and why wouldn’t you be?), just skip right on past these type of wagers. You can easily find more profitable opportunities.
Tip #2: Preseason win totals are highly profitable
Forget the luck bets and go for the preseason win totals. You can bet on the over/under on games all 32 NFL teams will win. And this can be an excellent long-term investment opportunity. But, remember, you won’t get paid out until after the season, so make sure you manage your bankroll accordingly. Now, we don’t recommend betting on every team. The proper strategy is to handicap each team and project how many games they will win. Then go over to your online sportsbook and see if you find some discrepancies. If you spot teams that the oddsmakers pick to win far more or less games than you handicapped, those are the teams you should bet on.
NBA Prop Betting Strategy
The National Basketball Association is another pro sports league that gets the gamblers to go crazy on prop bets. Throughout the season, and it’s a long regular season and playoffs, you’ll find numerous prop betting options on professional basketball games.
Tip #1: MVP bets have value
The NBA is different from MLB and the NFL in that you almost always know the three or four players who are going to at least be in the conversation for MVP at the end of the year. Players like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook have been contenders for years. That makes it easy for the sports bettors to choose wisely on a preseason MVP bet.
NBA Tip #2: In-game betting is where it’s at
Betting on basketball games in the middle of the game can be a difficult task if you lead a busy life. In that case, you should probably stick to traditional wagers such as the full game point spread. But if you have the time to sit around watching hoops all evening, you can find some enticing in-game prop bets on just about any game.
MLB Betting Strategy
Major League Baseball has a long season – 162 games played by each of the 30 teams. That means you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get down on some prop betting action.
Tip #1: Home run prop betting is the ticket
The sportsbooks always offer a preseason futures prop bet on which player will lead the league (American and National) in home runs. You’ll see dozens of players listed with odds to win by their names. So, you can make money betting on a few and if one of your players wins, you will still turn a nice profit.
For example, if you get Mike Trout at 10/1, Aaron Judge at 7/1, and Giancarlo Stanton at 10/1, and you put $500 down on each and, say, Trout wins the home run crown, you’ll turn a $4,000 profit. How’d we come up with answer? You bet $1,500 ($500 on each player) and lost two of the bets (Stanton and Judge) but got a 10/1 payout on Mike Trout ($500 x 10 = $5,000).
Tip #2: Bet on individual game player performances
Major League Baseball is a tough game to predict in the short-term but an easy sport to predict long-term. Going into the season, any expert can project most of the teams that will be in contention. But when it comes to projecting the outcome of one individual game, it’s pretty much a crapshoot.
With that said, you can make a killing by betting on individual game performances. Just remember that you’re going to have some runs of bad luck where you can’t win a bet to save your life. But it will even out over the course of the season, much like how certain good teams struggle in April but then take over the division lead by June or July.
Bets on individual player performances include predicting how many strikeouts the starting pitcher will throw and how many times a certain player will reach base, among others.
Prop Bets in Other Sports
Baseball, basketball, and football aren’t the only sports you can get down on some prop bets. Golf, hockey, and boxing are a few of the other sports where money is to be made for the motivated sports bettor.
Golf Prop Betting
One of the all-time greatest prop bets in all of sports was on Tiger Woods’ chances of winning a major in 2019. He came close a couple of times in 2018 after a decade of epic fails on the PGA Tour. But the greatest golfer of all-time shocked the world by winning the Masters, his 15th career major and first since 2008. It was a long time coming but there were many who thought it would never happen again, including the oddsmakers who now have egg on their faces.
Hockey Prop Betting
There are numerous ways to get your prop betting fix on during the NHL season. Our favorite is to predict how many penalty minutes each team will have during the game. Some teams are so prone to penalties. These are the teams you want to bet heavily on with this type of prop bet.
Boxing Prop Betting
Perhaps, the most common form of boxing prop bet is the total punches one (or both) of the boxers will land. To make this a profitable bet, you need to research the boxers. If they’re both effective at defending punches, you’ll likely want to bet on low punch totals.