What Are Prop Bets

Sportsbook

By Phil Simon

Proposition bets are a fun way to experience a game by wagering on something other than the outcome or score. Sometimes called novelty bets and shortened to props, the wager is a fun way to spice things up. They can and oftentimes do attract a non-sports fan, or someone who has no interest in the particular game being played. For a better understanding of a prop bet just look at the last Super Bowl. With so much money wagered on the game anyway, oddsmakers made it an even bigger event by adding hundreds of props.

What is a Prop Bet

Most prop bets are related to a specific game and usually involve a player. Props allow bettors to wager on events that take place within a game, series or season and have nothing to do with the result of the game itself. The most common props are attached to the performance of individual players or a statistical category. For example, in the last Super Bowl there was a prop for which player would score the first touchdown. A number of players with the probability of reaching the end zone were assigned odds.

In this scenario Patrick Mahomes scored the first touchdown and was listed at +2500 at most sportsbooks. A $10 wager on Mahomes for this particular prop paid $250 in winnings plus the original bet for a total of $260. Not a bad investment.

The popularity of props has expanded betting into other realms within the context of a game with some just downright wacky. Referred to as exotic props, most all of them are reserved for the biggest games or events – in this case the Super Bowl. It seems like every year we see more and more weird things the public can bet on. Back in February one book posted a prop on whether or not a player would be arrested after the game in Miami.

We’ve indentified three different types of props. One is a wager that takes place within a game. In this category there are literally hundreds of potential wagers from team- to player-based bets. The Mahomes example above is one. Another example would be if a team scores a defensive touchdown or a safety in a game. Another type of prop involves coaches and officials. For instance will a coach challenge a call and will he be successful. Also will there by a specific penalty called.

And then we have the exotic props, which have absolutely nothing to do with the game and are offered for fun. You can bet the over/under on the National Anthem, how many times a player’s wife, children, parents will be shown, and what color beverage the winning coach gets doused with after the game.

Because of the wide variety of prop bets sportsbooks have no standard way of presenting line odds. Therefore props are nearly always presented using a two-themed option. It could be a yes/no or over/under or X/Z format with + or – juice attached. This makes the bets easy to read and understand.

The number of props varies for every game and from sportsbook to sportsbook. We’re not going to have thousands of available wagers for a November NFL game between the Lions and Jets. But around NFL playoff time things start to heat up and they climax for the Super Bowl. Props aren’t limited to the NFL. They are offered for other sports and events, just not at the same level as they are for the most wagered sport in the country.

 

Are Props a Wise Wager?

This is the burning question and the simple answer is it depends. The vig on props is typically higher for the favored outcome so you’d have to win more times to line your pocketbook. And since sportsbooks don’t devote as much time handicapping props as they do the more common spread lines, there is a cap on the amount you can risk.

That doesn’t mean there is no value on prop betting. Some of the bets are pure chance and those are ones you should avoid. But if you research players, statistics and trends there is no reason why you can’t beat the house.