What is a Prop Bet?

by Big Al Staff

What is a prop bet?

Sports betting is a fun activity for many, as it should be.  Some go too far and take unnecessary risks, yet most bettors know their limits and know how to enjoy themselves.  Whether you're placing a moneyline bet on the Patriots, a point spread bet on the Golden State Warriors, or whatever your bet might be, the essential factor is whether you enjoy yourself.  Enjoyment, after all, is what started sports betting in the first place.

One of the most entertaining forms of wagering is utilizing prop betting, short for proposition betting.  A prop bet is a wager based on occurrences and non-occurrences during a sporting event.  That ranges from wagers on individual players, referees, team milestones, or completely irrelevant events.  Anything that you could think of in a sporting event can be wagered on.  We'll dive into some examples of very exotic, and seemingly absurd bets, on which thousands of bettors will lay money.

Prop betting is especially for those who do not take sports betting too seriously but are willing to take a risk now and then.  Nevertheless, some severe sports bettors see prop bets as a form of serious handicapping which could lead to a nice payout.  In this betting guide, we'll show you the ins-and-outs of prop betting!

What kind of proposition bets are there?

Short answer:  a lot of them!  When the Super Bowl became more popular over the years, prop bets gained traction simultaneously.  The first major explosion in popularity of proposition bets happened in Las Vegas -- the Westgate Superbook to be precise.  The Westgate was the first sportsbook to offer a large number of prop bets for the Super Bowl.  Soon thereafter, all Las Vegas sportsbooks offered hundreds of prop bets.  Now, prop bets are so popular that they’re offered on all the other major leagues like the NHL, NBA, MLB; and in the regular season, too.

Prop bets can be created for any non-game related event in a sporting event.  That means things apart from which team wins an individual game, such as:

  • Will the Los Angeles Lakers make the playoffs?
  • Will Mike Trout be voted as the MVP this year?
  • Will Alabama have more than five players selected in the 1st round of the NFL draft?

Besides that, there are more serious bets like the number of rushing yards, passing yards, touchdowns or field goals scored by an individual player; which team scores first; or whether there will be a score in the final two minutes.  There are many bets you can make, and bookmakers know this and will attempt to offer as many bets as possible.  Some bookmakers, like MyBookie and Xbet, even allow their bettors to create and customize their own prop bets on a player’s performance!  All you need to do is choose your bet type, player, and statistic, and the odds for your bet are calculated.

Exotic prop bets
When we take it up a notch, we arrive at the exotic prop bets.  These are the bet types that sometimes do not even have anything to do with the actual sporting event, but they are enjoyable to wager on anyways.  Some examples could be:

  • The length of the national anthem during the Super Bowl
  • The result of a coin toss
  • What color of Gatorade will be poured on the winning team’s coach?
  • Who will be the first MLB coach fired during the season?

But these are all still sports-related.  Exotic prop betting goes further than sports.  What about betting on who will be the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee in 2020 (I bet on Kamala Harris at +150 at Bovada), or which color dress a person wears during a Royal Wedding, or which actor will play the next James Bond.  You name it, and people will be wagering.

​How to get started with prop betting

With all of the different bet types, it might feel a little overwhelming.  There are so many opportunities, and online sportsbooks add new prop bets daily.  So where do you start, how do you get good at prop betting, and should you implement prop betting in your sports betting strategy?  That's totally up to you as it isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.  But if it is, we'll show you how to find the best prop bets, and make the most money.

When you are orienting yourself about the possibilities of prop betting, you should keep in mind that prop betting offers another avenue when you're unsure about the final outcome of a matchup.  Imagine a thrilling matchup between the Rockets and the Knicks.  You're uncertain what the final outcome will be, and you don't dare to bet the point total, but you're convinced about one thing:  James Harden will torch the defensively-challenged Knicks.  That means you could wager on Harden being the top scorer in the match.

Individual player props are bets that might seem easy to wager, but they're difficult to predict.  Some prop bets require substantial knowledge of the matchup, while others have a pure 50/50 chance of success.  With any prop bet, look at your chances to see if the odds are worth it.  Then, you'll notice that a prop bet is made in the same way as any other bet.  Here’s an example of an NFL Super Bowl 54 prop bet at BookMaker:

Tyreek Hill total passing yards in Super Bowl 54
  • Over 75.5 Yards -110
  • Under 75.5 Yards -110

How to read proposition bet odds
To display the way proposition bet odds work, we'll show you another example of a traditional prop bet in the NFL.  Let's say your bet shop offers the following betting lines:

First touchdown scorer in the Packers/Eagles matchup:
  • Davante Adams +350
  • Aaron Jones +400
  • Zach Ertz +650
  • Miles Sanders +1100

As you can see here, the odds for this type of prop bet can be rather long.  That's because the chance to make the correct prediction is far less.  To illustrate how big your payout might be, we'll use two examples from this prop bet:

  • When you wager $100 on Davante Adams, and he scores the first touchdown, you earn $350 on top of your initial stake of $100, for a total payout of $450.
  • When you wager $100 on Miles Sanders, and he scores the first touchdown, you earn $1,100 on top of your initial stake of $100, for a total payout of $1,200.

The odds are not that different from any other bet apart from the fact that they are bigger and more substantial than a regular moneyline wager.  However, they also work with the American odds, similar to any other wager type you might already know.

Proposition bets vs. futures bets

Often proposition bets are confused with futures bets, as they are very similar.  However, a futures bet is a bet on an event which will occur later in time, with intervening events scheduled between the present time, and the date of that future event.  So, other competitions yet to be played could impact a futures bet.  A classic example would be to pick the winner of the Super Bowl or World Series prior to the start of the regular season.

A proposition bet, in contrast, is not impacted by another competition.  It’s on an event which is already scheduled, with no other game for its participants between the time of the bet and the event date.  Because futures bets can be greatly impacted by other events that have yet to take place, they will have relatively longer odds, since the chance of success is typically smaller than with a prop bet.

What is the best sportsbook for prop bets?

You might be convinced when you place your prop bet that you cannot lose.  And that’s part of the fun.  We know it from our own experience.  Sometimes, however, you might be sure that something was going to happen, but you didn’t know where you could bet on it.  If that’s ever been your situation, we’re here to help.  The competition in the sports betting industry is no doubt intense.  There are hundreds of sportsbooks, so it might be challenging to find the right place to wager.  You don't want to settle for the first sportsbook that you see when searching your way around the web -- that's not smart.  We want to help you find the right sportsbook with the following steps:

  1. Search for the available sportsbooks.  There are lots of them, so don't settle for the first one you see.  We have a ton of reviews on reliable and trustworthy sportsbooks that will lead you in the right direction.  However, it doesn't mean these sportsbooks are the right fit for you, so continue with the following step.
  2. When you arrive at an online sportsbook, do a quick check of its user interface to see how you feel.  Is it well-designed, modern and intuitive?  (Bovada and MyBookie are quite good in this regard.)
  3. After you’re comfortable with a sportsbook’s website, check to see if it has a generous welcome bonus, and other good customer rewards like reload bonuses.  We particularly like BetNow’s sign-up and reload bonuses, as they’re the best in the industry.
  4. If you’re particularly interested in prop bets, then head over to the section where the prop bets are to see what’s on offer.  Are there enough options for your needs?  Can you find the matchups that you're interested in?  And, maybe most important of all, how are the odds?  Without a doubt, the best sportsbook for prop bets is BetAnySports (which also is our current #1-rated sportsbook), as its menu is the most extensive, and its odds are the very best, as well.   Rounding out the Top 3 sportsbooks for prop bets would be Bovada and MyBookie.
  5. Once you’ve picked your sportsbook, then head over to its deposit section to search for your preferred banking methods.  Then nothing is stopping you from placing that first wager!

There's always more to look at when analyzing sportsbooks, but our most significant advice is simply to try your options.  Additionally, it doesn't hurt to have multiple accounts.  Having multiple accounts will allow you to shop around for the best odds, which is always smart!  Even though the odds on prop bets are usually very welcoming, shopping for the best ones will increase your profit!

We've shown you all it takes to start pursuing your career as a prop bettor. It's fun, so go ahead and place your first prop bet.  Who knows -- you might turn out to be an oracle who predicts the next President, which celebrity will kick the bucket next, or which team will win next year’s Super Bowl!

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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