Prop betting is one of the most entertaining types of bets you can place on a
sports game. While prop bets are sometimes made on obscure and random
occurrences that just take luck to win, they can also be expertly made on
individual players and team stats that require a sharp bettor to win. Prop bets
are great because they serve two purposes. First, they allow action-seekers to
bet on literally every facet of the game for constant excitement and
entertainment. Second, they give bettors more flexibility to put their knowledge
and skill to work to make money. We will definitely talk more about these
different bet types, especially the more skill-based ones a little later. Let’s
start off by making sure that we all understand what a prop bet is and all of
the little nuances that surround it.
What is a Prop Bet?
Prop bets is short for proposition bet, and just another term for a Specials
bet. The three terms are all completely interchangeable as they all refer to the
exact same type of wager. Depending on what part of the world you are in, one
will be more common than the other. They are also sometimes referred to as
novelty bets or side bets as well. For the sake of this article, we will be
referring to them as prop bets, but just be aware that we mean the same thing
for every different name of this bet type.
It’s also important to point out that the term prop bet can be used in other
situations and industries outside of the sports betting arena. While these are
quite similar, we will only be referring to prop betting as it pertains to
sports betting in this article.
Now that we’ve gotten the logistics out of the way let’s talk about exactly
what a prop bet is. The answer to that is there really is no “exact” answer to
what a prop bet is because it encompasses such a wide variety of different bets.
The term prop bet is used to refer to a wide array of different sports bets that
can be made on the more obscure happenings or occurrences of a game that
typically do not have a direct effect on the outcome of the game. If you’re more
confused now, that’s ok. Let’s look at some examples of prop bets, and it will
all make sense.
Which team scores first in a game?
Will a baseball team score in the first inning or not?
Will there be a safety in the football game?
Will a certain player have more or less than 1.5 touchdowns?
Will there be a hole in one in a golf tournament?
Who will win the opening coin toss?
Any bet on the outcome of these questions would fall under the classification
as a prop bet. While these things would have an indirect effect on who wins the
game, for the most part, they are independent of that outcome. If a team wins
the coin toss, they will get an advantage on getting the ball when they want,
but it’s not going to ensure that they win the game. If someone gets a hole in
one in a golf tournament, it will give them a great score on that hole, but
won’t directly ensure that they are going to win the tournament. The point we
are trying to make here is that prop bets are wagers on the more obscure facets
of a game.
Finding an Edge | Fun Prop Bets vs. Skill Prop Bets
As we mentioned earlier, prop bets can be divided up into two main categories
– the fun prop bets and the skill prop bets. One of these two categories is made
strictly for entertainment purposes and will be very hard for you to find an
edge. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them, but you should just realize
they are mainly for entertainment value only. The other category requires
in-depth knowledge, and a keen eye for spotting and predicting things in the
game that you think will happen. These bets are entertaining as well, but can
also be a perfect means for making some money. Let’s take a look at both types
and talk about the benefits and drawbacks of each.
Fun Prop Bets
If you’re a smart cookie you probably already figured out that this is the
category that is designed mainly for entertainment value. Let’s lead off with a
few examples of fun prop bets.
Will the coin toss before the game be heads or tails?
Will Madonna wear fishnets during the halftime show?
What will the color of the Gatorade dump on the winning coach be?
As you can see, these are incredibly fun bets to bet on, but there really is
no way you are going to be able to “expertly” make a pick here. Unless you have
some sort of hidden insider information, you will be effectively guessing on all
of these. For the most part, sportsbooks will cap the amount that you are
allowed to bet on these fun prop bets. This is mainly to protect them from the
possibility of leaked information. Obviously, most people aren’t going to know
what Madonna is going to wear during the halftime show. But, if you happen to
know someone who knows her stylist, you might be able to get that information.
There’s not a ton to say about these bets except that you should make sure
you’re really only using them for entertainment value. If they’re being included
in your profitable strategy, you may want to rethink that strategy because it
has some holes in it 🙂
Skill Prop Bets
This is the category of prop bets we’d like to spend a bit more time talking
about as they are the ones that you can actually use your skill and knowledge to
try and make some money. As we did with the fun prop bets, let’s lead off with a
few examples to show you what we’re talking about.
Will this player score more or less than 2.5 touchdowns?
Will there be at least one scoreless quarter?
Will more or less than 3.5 players on a football team score?
Will the game be tied after 0-0?
Will there be overtime?
If you couldn’t tell, all of these prop bets have to do with football. Keep
in mind that there are prop bets available on most sports, particularly if it is
a big game. You’ll also notice that we gave more examples this time than with
the fun prop bets. The reason for this is that all skill prop bets are not
created equally, and we need to point out a few differences, so you are more
The big difference between the skill prop bets that are offered is the degree
of skill that can be applied to the bet. Let’s look at two different skill prop
bets to see what we mean.
Prop bet one – Will this player score more or less than 2.5 touchdowns?
Prop bet two – Will there be overtime?
Prop bet one is asking you to determine how many touchdowns you think a
certain player is going to score during a game. This is typically offered on
bigger name skilled players. This bet is one that you can apply a lot of skill
and knowledge to making an expert pick. You can look at how good you think that
player is and how well you think they will perform against that particular
defense. You can also take a look at what you think the team’s strategy is going
to be and how often they are going to go to that player. See a skilled position
player that you think is going to be completely shut down? You can bet on that.
There will still be a bit of luck with this type of bet as games are
unpredictable, but you can make a more educated guess which is all you are ever
trying to do with sports betting.
Prop bet two is asking you to determine if the game is going to go into
overtime or not. This bet is on the complete opposite end of the spectrum from
prop bet one and is dangerously close to falling into the fun prop bet category.
Realistically speaking, we could have put it in the fun prop bet section, and it
would fit just fine. The reason we put it in the skilled section is that you can
make an argument that a skilled bettor could determine that the game was going
to go into overtime. Do you think the teams are that evenly matched that there
is a higher likelihood that they will go into overtime? Are the teams both
touchdown machines that never go for two, so it’s more likely they can end the
game with the same score? A lot more luck is going to be required here, but you
could make the argument that a little bit of skill can get you a more educated
An Important Note about Both Types of Prop Bets
The most important thing to point out here is that the sportsbook is not
going to be labeling their prop bets offered into these different categories. It
will be up to you to determine which prop bets are strictly for entertainment
value and which require skill and can be part of a good money making system.
These should be fairly easy for you to tell the difference, but we just wanted
you to be aware that they weren’t going to be separated out for you. If you can
find a lot of stats and data to make your selection, it’s probably a skill based
prop bet. If you find yourself looking for the answer in the whispers of the
wind or asking your dog for help, it’s probably a fun prop bet. Either way,
they’re both great bet types, and both serve their intended purpose well.
Examples of Prop Bets
We’re going to walk you through a few examples of prop bets and how to read
what the payouts for each are going to be. They are fairly straightforward, but
we want you to be as comfortable as possible when you get ready to place your
first prop bet online or in the sportsbook.
Example 1 – Baseball Props
This is a screenshot of some of the prop bets that are offered on a baseball
game on a US based sports betting website. What you see in the bold above each
bet is the game that it is in reference to and then what the actual prop bet is.
This is the exact same as a normal sports bet would be listed. Notice it doesn’t
say prop bet anywhere or skill vs. fun. Some sportsbooks will list all of their
prop bets together in a labeled section, but I have yet to see any that
distinguish as to how much skill is required for each bet.
If we take a look at the very first bet on the list, it says “Score In 1st
Inning.” This bet is asking us if we think that either team is going to score in
the first inning or not. This would probably be in our skill based category as
we could look at the top of the lineups for each team as well as historically
how each team starts off the game. All you are selecting here is either Yes,
someone will score a run in the first inning, or NO, no runs will be scored in
the first inning. If anyone scores, Yes wins. If no one scores, No wins.
The number to the right of each bet option is the amount that you will be
paid for a winning selection in moneyline format. Let’s say we think that both
teams are hungover and will be off to a slow start and won’t be scoring in the
first inning. We bet $100 on NO at -120. If we are correct and no runs are
scored in the first inning, we win our bet and are paid out a profit of $83.33.
All of the other bets listed will operate in the exact same fashion, except
the determining factor of the winner or loser will be different. A lot of times
you can make multiple bets if you think something, in general, is going to
happen, but aren’t sure exactly how it will turn out. Here is what we mean.
Let’s say that you think the LA Dodgers are going to come out of the gate
extremely hot. You think they are fast starters and you think they’re being
underestimated. Now, there is no specific prop bet that just says “Team to come
out hot,” but there are several prop bets you could bet that would happen if you
You could bet the following:
Score in the first inning – You could bet this because you think they’re
going to come out hot and score.
Team to score first – You think LA is going to be hot early, so they’ll
probably score first if you are right.
Team winning after the first inning – The team that comes out hottest will
usually be winning early.
All of these bets will effectively mean what you think is generally going to
happen in the game. The more right you are, the more of them that you are going
to win. This also allows you to hit a couple of your bets and miss on some and
still come out a winner. Let’s say you’re right, but the Angles score a fluky
first run off of an error. After that, the Dodgers score six runs in the first
inning just as you predicted. If you had only bet on the team to score first,
you would lose your bet even though you were correct. If you had bet all three,
though, you would win 2/3 of your bets and still show a profit on your correct
Example 2 – Golf Tournament
This is a list of golf prop bets that were available on a UK based sportsbook
for a golf tournament. As you can see, it again does not classify the prop bets,
but just lists them like all of the other regular bets offered. These may all
look like fun prop bets at first, but there are actually a few skill based prop
bets in the above example. Let’s look at them one at a time.
The first bet offered is if any player will get a hole in one or not. This is
strictly a for fun entertainment style prop bet. Yes, you could make the
argument that if you think a golfer is perfect enough, they are more likely to
get a hole in one, but you’re effectively still guessing. If you don’t believe
us, take a peek at the likelihood of holes in one.
The second bet offered may seem like a fun bet on the nationality of the
winner of the tournament, but it is actually a highly skilled wager. Let’s say
you have five golfers that you think are going to have a shot to win this
tournament. You could go and places five futures bets on these golfers, but you
would be cutting into your profits. What you could do though is take a look at
the nationalities of the five golfers and see if there is a trend. Let’s say
that you do so and realize that four of the five golfers are American. You can
now place a wager on the American nationality winning the tournament, and you’ve
got an 80% shot of winning if your prediction of one of those five winning is
The payouts listed here are in decimal format which is very common in Europe
and other parts of the world. Determining how much you are going to win is as
easy as multiplying your bet times the number listed. Remember, the number that
gives you will be the full amount that the sportsbook will give you which will
include your original bet.
For example, let’s say you bet $100 on the American bet and you win your bet.
You want to see how much you will get paid, so you multiply $100 by 2.10 and get
$210. This means that you will profit $110 on your bet. The $210 you get
includes your original $100 bet that is returned and your $110 in profit for
winning your bet. Calculating winnings with decimal odds is extremely easy as
long as you remember that it does include your original bet.
Benefits of Prop Bets
One of the best things about prop bets, specifically the skill-based ones, is
that they allow you to have an immense amount of flexibility when it comes to
using the knowledge and trends you’ve noticed. Without prop bets, a lot of the
hunches and predictions we make would go wasted as we would not be able to bet
on them. For example, let’s say you think that Rob Gronkowski is going to
absolutely blow up in his next game and score at least two touchdowns. Without
prop bets, the only way you could try and bet on this would be to bet on the
Patriots and hope that his performance is enough to propel them to a victory.
With prop bets, though, you can place a wager directly on how you think that
Rob Gronkowski is going to do in the game. You can bet “Rob Gronkowski will
score more than 1.5 Touchdowns.” If he scores the two or more touchdowns as you
think he will, you’re a winner. It doesn’t matter how terribly the rest of the
team does or even in the Patriots win the game. You now have the ability to bet
on exactly the thing you want to.
Ever have a significant other or friend that doesn’t understand sports
betting that you’d like to introduce to it? Prop bets are a great way to get
them interested in the game, even if they have limited knowledge of the sport.
They might not have any idea who is winning or playing, but if you tell them
they win their bet if the kicker kicks the ball through the uprights three or
more times, they’ll understand that for sure. It’s a great way to get someone
introduced to a sport and sports betting and slowly turned into a fan. Anyone
can get behind cheering for Gatorade to be a particular color.
We’ve definitely touched on this one quite a bit throughout this article, but
it would be an incomplete benefits list if we didn’t mention it here. Prop bets
are a fantastic way for you to leverage more specific knowledge to make money.
The flexibility we talked about earlier will allow you to use every bit of
information and every trend you uncover to make predictions to make serious
money. Remember to be careful with the fun prop bets if your sole goal is to
make some money. They are amazing for entertainment value but can be a
real drag on a money making strategy.
This is another one that we’ve touched on, but we can’t leave off the list of
benefits. There’s really no better way to say it; prop bets are fun! There’s a
reason that during some of the biggest games of the year, like the Super Bowl,
that millions and millions of dollars come in on prop bets. It gives you things
to cheer for no matter how the game is going. Even if your team is down by four
touchdowns, you could still be cheering for a prop bet player to score one more
time. If you’re betting on anyone scoring in a certain quarter or inning, it
allows you to cheer for both teams no matter how the game is going.
The bottom line is that prop bets are not only a great way to make money with
sports betting, but they’re a lot of fun.
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