Prop (Proposition) Bets & Specials
Prop bet is short for proposition bet, and special is just another term for the same type of wager. These terms actually refer to a very broad range of wagers that don't really have an exact definition. They can basically be placed on anything related to a sporting event. They aren't typically related directly to the final outcome, although they can be in some circumstances.
Some examples of prop bets are which team will score the first touchdown in a football match, what time the first goal will be scored in a soccer match, how many three pointers a basketball player will make, or how many aces a tennis player will serve. There are also more obscure examples, such as what color trousers a golfer will wear in the final round, or how a soccer player will celebrate if he scores.
Many serious bettors choose to ignore wagers of this type, where the chances of winning are often down to pure luck rather than any kind of sports knowledge. That's not always the case, though, and there are some prop betting markets where you can use sports knowledge to your advantage and find some value.
There isn't really much more to explain about prop bets and specials, but we provide a few sample betting markets below to give you more of an idea about the kinds of things you can bet on.
Example 1 – Baseball Match
The above image is a small selection of some of the prop bets a US sports betting site offered on a baseball match between the LA Dodgers and the LA Angels. These wagers are fairly standard for baseball matches and are all reasonably straightforward. They are good examples of where some sports knowledge can be useful.
For instance, you may have determined that the LA Dodgers tend to have strong first innings. A wager on them winning after the first inning would therefore make sense, even if you don't necessarily think they will win the game. With odds of +110, you could win $110 for every $100 staked on this wager.
Example 2 – Golf Tournament
This image shows a couple of golf specials available at a UK sports betting site. The first one is a good example of a wager that largely comes down to luck. Whether or not there's going to be a hole in one scored during a tournament isn't something that sports knowledge will help you predict. The fact the bookmaker has set the odds the same for both possible outcomes suggests that it's basically a 50/50 shot.
The second wager is one where sports knowledge could help. It's also a great example of how you can apply some strategy to prop betting. Let's say you had decided that Rory McIlroy, Martin Kaymer, and Segio Garcia are the most likely to win this tournament, but you can't choose which one to back and don't want to place three wagers. You could choose to place a wager on the winning nationality instead, because all three players are European.
The odds aren't as good as picking the winner outright (at 2.25 you could win $12.50 for every $10 staked), but you've got a much better chance of winning. You would prevail if one of your three chosen players wins the tournament or if any other European player wins.
Example 3 – Cricket Match
We've included this screenshot simply to highlight the diversity of prop bets and specials. It shows all the different markets you can bet on for a single cricket match. Good sports knowledge is clearly useful for some of these, such as top batsmen or top bowler. Others, such as who will win the toss, are really just gambles where you hope for some luck.
Author: Brad Johnson
Updated: March 2015
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