A professional bettor checking point spreads for prop bets on a betting app

Prop Bets: Everything You Need To Know


The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the growing pace of the online gambling market worldwide. Shortly after the lockdown, bettors turned to online betting sites to earn money through online betting opportunities. In the wake of the 2018 Supreme Court ruling on online sports betting, the online gambling revenue is expected to reach $127 billion by 2027.

Proposition bets, more commonly known as prop bets, are becoming famous sports betting market in the gambling industry. As the name suggests, proposition bets focus on the event’s occurrence instead of the outcomes of the sporting event results. Prop bets are one of the most entertaining and immersive types of online betting.

Prop bets are often made on random and obscure events in the sports, and it just takes luck for gamblers to win. Prop bets have two purposes in the gaming world. One purpose is entertainment, and another type gives skilled bettors to use their knowledge to best use and win big. This unconventional type of wagering on online sports betting sites is the most versatile market. It allows many high-stake opportunities to wagers that other betting types don’t offer.

Let’s start by understanding the origin of prop bets then discuss all the nuances surrounding prop bets.

Prop Betting Origins

Prop betting goes back to 35 years when Caesar’s sportsbook when Super Bowl became popular in America. The proposition betting idea was born when the sportsbook owner, Art Manteris, was looking for ways to attract more Super Bowl bettors.

During the 1980s, the Bears were the best Super Bowl team, and Art Manteris began prop betting involving The Bears defensive player nicknamed ‘The Fridge.’

The game got famous, and the player even made an appearance on the David Letterman show. However, during the 85–86 season, the Bears wiped out other teams so severely that the coach was confident to send William Perry—who hadn’t played in two months—out in the field. This gave Manteris an idea to allow bettors to bet on Perry, ‘the Refrigerator,’ to score against the Patriots.

Jimmy Vaccaro followed Manteris’s suit, and soon after, every other sportsbook in Las Vegas was offering prop betting.

Today, thousands of sportsbook betting sites, such as DraftKings, offer prop bets. It began with Super Bowl, but the operators started offering prop bets on many other sports.

NFL players setting game

Types of Prop Bets

Not all prop bets are the same. The bettors can choose from vast options available in the market depending on the purpose and the type of wager.

Sportsbooks operators often set different thresholds for the total sixes scored in cricket games or NFL football passing yards. Bettors can then wager over or under the set amount. Prop betting mostly focuses on individual performances, e.g., NFL player scores, the best batsman in a cricket game, or try scorers in rugby.

Since prop betting is dependent on luck, the bigger the bets, the less likely are your chances of winning. A prop bet serves these two purposes:

1. Fun Prop Bets

The first type of prop betting is fun prop bets. Fun bets require no skills on bettors’ end and are just for entertainment purposes.

An example of fun prop bets is placing a prop bet on whether the coin toss would be tails or heads or betting on which team is more likely to score first. It doesn’t require any skill set to predict the outcomes of these fun bets.

However, the fun prop bets type is only for those bettors who don’t have a steady bankroll and wouldn’t mind losing the bet as they’d be at the mercy of luck.

2. Skilled Prop Bets

On the other hand, skilled prop bets offer some flexibility to skilled bettors to leverage their knowledge and skills and predict the outcomes. This category of prop betting is for skilled or professional bettors.

There are many other variances of skilled prop betting, but all of it would require skill and knowledge to make an informed prediction of the results. There are higher chances of winning a prop bet.

An example of skilled prop betting would be betting on an NBL player to score under 3.5 touchdowns. The online bettor can use their knowledge about NBL games and other factors such as the opponent, past performance, and players form to make an educated prediction.

3. Exotic Prop Bet

Exotic prop bets are offered only by a few sportsbook betting sites. Exotic prop bets are unconventional prop bets that aren’t related to the game. Instead, it’s based on the activities during the game.

An example of exotic betting during the Super Bowl game is betting on the timing of the National Anthem before the game begins. Exotic prop bets can be as bizarre as the bettors want them to be. Exotic prop bets are more popular for public events such as Royal weddings.

Although this online betting category makes the game more fun and entertaining, it isn’t legal in the US.

Prop bettors watching the soccer game

Popular Prop Bet Types by Sports

Some of the popular bet types by sports are as follows:

1. American Football NFL

  • Field goals in the game
  • Players passing the yards
  • Maximum or minimum touchdowns during the game
  • The total number of points: even or odds?
  • The first player that scores a touchdown

2. Soccer

  • Total number of red cards
  • The first player to goal
  • Total goals
  • Players to make the first or last score

3. Basketball

  • Total fouls
  • Scoring leader
  • Total slam dunks
  • Three-point scorer

4. Cricket

  • Total innings
  • Best batsman or bowler
  • Total number of sixes
  • Dismissal methods

5. Rugby

  • The first player to score
  • Sin binning
  • First or last try scorer

6. Baseball

  • Total home runs
  • Total runs and hits
  • Number of strikeouts

Fans watching a baseball game

How Does Prop Bet Markets Work?

The prop bets market numbers and odds are derived from other markets. Prop bet market is called a derivative market.

Suppose the NFL game has a high quarterback of under or over of 52. If the passing NFL favored team has a prop bet of scoring over/under 295, this would be considered a derivative of a high game’s total.

The sports betting market expects NFL to be a high-scoring shootout. As a result, the quarterbacks will also have a high passing yardage prop.

If the favored teams’ players got injured or got sick a day before the game, the game’s totals will drop, which will lead the quarterback passing props to drop in the market as well. The Browns’ entire team did get sick during the last season while playing for the Jets, so it’s not as unlikely as you’d think.

Although it wouldn’t always be the scenario, these cases build betting value for gamblers. The sportsbooks betting sites have now limited the prop bets and only offer prop bets at a fraction of max for over/ under or Moneyline.

Other online prop bets aren’t posted until the game begins except for Super Bowl. The props for the Super Bowl game are posted online only one week before the game.

Tips for Prop Bets

Luckily, if you’re hoping to win money through prop bets, you don’t need a big bankroll.

1. Derivative Theory

Bear in mind that the props derive from the game’s totals. Whenever the betting line moves, the bettors are suggested to adjust their props according to the outcomes of the games. You can take advantage of making quick adjustments whenever the market moves.

However, the prop market doesn’t always move. For instance, if you’re considering a bet on the NFL Season’s first week, you notice a minor drop from the Green Packers at Philadelphia Eagles. Maybe Packer’s defensive player was injured, or there’s been a change in the weather that is likely to affect the player’s performance.

The props market doesn’t move when the total lines drop. Gamblers, in this case, are always eager to bet under because of the moving market because the team is slower to hit, say for Mayfield’s passing yard.

You can always bet under on Mayfield before the total drops and the market line moves.

Another critical factor is line shopping that many online sports disregard. Line shopping is crucial because even when the NFL spread settles on a market number, prop bets still differ wildly on sportsbooks. You may find a 20 yards difference for the same quarterback passing yardage.

A gambler using a sports betting app

2. Prop Bet Bias

Online bettors who bet for recreational purposes often show a bias towards overs and unders in the market. Many bet because they are rooting for their favorite player or team, and some expect to win big by favoring underdogs.

You can take advantage of gamblers’ biases and win the bet. Sportsbooks are aware of the players’ biases and often move the prop toward over. This means that the betting value of unders is higher.

When betting on sports, keep in mind the over biases in prop bets and the limitations of the market.

3. Market’s Vig

We’d also recommend bettors consider the market vig during prop bets. As mentioned earlier, the market has several limitations to keep the prop markets from becoming sharp. Sportsbooks protect themselves against heavy losses by increasing the market’s vig.

If you see a 5 percent or lower vig, remember to bet cautiously as it greatly increases your bet’s breakout point in the market. Do your research before placing your bet and if you’re unsure, avoid betting on markets offering high vigs.

4. Factors Affecting Prop Bets

Another factor you should consider is the players’ form. You can stay a step ahead of the game by researching team players and considering a wide range of factors that could affect players’ performance, as markets don’t always consider these potential impacts. Try and think about all the possible situations when there’s a shift in the market due to injuries or weather changes.

Pros and Cons of Prop Bets

As with any other type of sports betting, prop bets also have their set of pros and cons. It’s entirely up to you to approach the prop bets however you want, but here are the pros and cons of prop bets.

Pros of Prop Bets

  1. Prop bets offer betting flexibility. Prop bet allows players to use their betting knowledge on any aspect of the game without knowing its final outcome. It allows players to use their knowledge to their advantage.
  2. Another advantage of props betting is that it makes the game more entertaining. There’s nothing more exciting than betting on the coin flip and waiting for the outcomes in anticipation. Prop bets are a great source of entertainment for sports enthusiasts.
  3. Apart from entertainment, prop bets give you the leverage to use your sports knowledge and win some serious cash. If you follow sports and understand the stats behind the game, you can benefit significantly by betting on the outcome or any other aspect of the game. If you’re sure that a specific player’s opponent is weak and that the favored player will win, it could be a bet worth making for you.

Cons of Prop Bets

  1. The downside to props betting is that it’s mostly a matter of luck, and given the versatility of the betting nature, there could be several possible outcomes. This lowers your chances of winning a bet.
  2. There are no guides or predictions about what will happen in the game. You can make an informed bet by checking the stats and odds, but your chances of winning are slim, even in such cases.

Prop betting is an excellent way for beginners to venture into the online sports betting world. Props betting will help you learn the rules and other intricate aspects of the game while also enjoying making bets.

Online gamblers watching NFL games inside the stadium

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