Sports Betting 101: What Is A Prop Bet? January 2023 Guide

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Sports Betting 101: What Is A Prop Bet?
Photo Credit: Andrew Nelles (The Tennessean/USA TODAY NETWORK).

 

Proposition bets (a.k.a. prop bets) have become a huge part of sports betting. They’re now commonly available at land-based and online sportsbooks, especially for major events like the Super Bowl. But what makes prop betting so popular?

A proposition bet deals with outcomes beyond the winning team or final score. Who will be the leading rusher in a football game? Which team will score first in a hockey game? Prop wagers call on you to answer these questions with your betting action.

The fun thing about prop betting is that it theoretically provides endless opportunities. Sportsbooks come up with lots of creative prop markets, ranging from an NBA tip-off result to a football coin flip. You may appreciate these many betting opportunities if you’re bored with common moneyline, point spread, and totals bets.

The following guide covers more on prop betting, including available sports, big events, and prop odds. It also answers common questions revolving around team and player props, availability, odds, and if these are ultimately good wagers.

How Does Prop Betting Work?

Prop betting opportunities abound at U.S. online sportsbooks. Prop bets can be defined in three categories – player props, team props, and game props.

Player Props

Sports bettors can find an extensive menu of player props on most games from the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and other leagues. Player props involve statistical performances from individual player.

For example, DraftKings Sportsbook listed some of the player props on the Week 1 NFL matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Los Angeles Rams for the 2022-23 season:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams

Josh Allen Passing Yards

  • Over 275.5 (-115)
  • Under 275.5 (-115)

For this player prop, you can wager on whether Buffalo Bills QB Josh Allen will go over or under 275.5 yards passing in the game against the Rams. Both sides of the bet pay at (-115).

Let’s look at another example of player prop bets, this time from DraftKings’ “Anytime TD Scorer” props:

Anytime Touchdown Scorers

  • Mark Andrews (+130)
  • Lamar Jackson (+145)
  • Mike Davis (+160)

The “Anytime TD Scorer” prop allows you to wager on whether a certain player will score a touchdown in their respective game, at any time during the game.

For example, if you bet on the Lamar Jackson Anytime TD prop, you’ll get paid at (+145) on your bet if the Ravens QB scored a touchdown in any way during the Baltimore-NY Jets game in Week 1.

Team Props

Team props involve team statistics, without regard for whether the team wins or loses in a given game.

Examples of team props can include:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams

Team Total Touchdowns

L.A. Rams

  • Over 2.5 (-175)
  • Under 2.5 (+135)

For this team prop, you can wager that the Rams will score three or more touchdowns in the Week 1 tilt against the Bills. If Los Angeles does indeed go for 3+ TDs, you’ll get paid at (-175).

If the Rams score two TDs or less, the Under 2.5 on the team prop wins, paying (+135) odds.

Game Props

A game prop bet involves a statistical event or category from a given game,, not related to which team wins or loses.

For instance, a game prop from the Bills-Rams matchup could look like this:

Buffalo Bills at Los Angeles Rams

First Score

  • Touchdown (-260)
  • Field Goal (+180)
  • Safety (+3000)

This game prop tasks the bettor with picking whether the first score of the game comes as a touchdown, field goal, or safety. The rare safety comes with the biggest payout odds.

It doesn’t matter whether the Bills or the Rams make the first score of the game; only the type of score determines the winning choice on this game prop.

What Sports Can I Prop Bet?

Prop betting isn’t limited to any particular sport. You could potentially find prop bets offered across everything from badminton to water polo. Generally, though, most prop bet options center on the biggest betting markets, including the MLB, NBA, NFL, and NHL. The sections below cover how prop betting works in these major markets, along with other sports too.

NFL Prop Bets

NFL props are by far the most common at U.S.-facing betting sites. They often involve passing leaders, rushing leaders, receiving leaders, touchdown scorers, and futures bets. The latter deal with future outcomes, such as team wins for a season. Here are a couple examples of NFL betting props:

Who will rush for the most yards in Steelers vs Browns?

  • Nick Chubb +155
  • Najee Harris +190
  • D’Ernest Johnson +350
  • Kareem Hunt +675

Wins for Miami Dolphins in regular season

  • Over 8.5 (+110)
  • Under 8.5 (-135)

Super Bowl Prop Betting

The Super Bowl is the most-important NFL game of the season. It draws over 100 million viewers each year and inspires serious sports betting action. Naturally, most sportsbooks capitalize on this situation by offering a wide range of wagers, including prop bets. You can see examples of Super Bowl prop bets below, based on a proposed Bills vs Bucs matchup:

Who will win Super Bowl MVP?

  • Tom Brady +225
  • Josh Allen +255
  • Stefon Diggs +395
  • Chris Godwin +430
  • Mike Evans +475
  • Devin Singletary +515
  • Leonard Fournette +700

Which team will win the coin toss?

  • Buffalo Bills -105
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers -105

NBA Prop Bets

NBA prop betting is quite big in the online sports betting world. It lends itself towards many fun prop bets involving scoring, passing, rebounding, steals, and blocks. Here are a few examples of NBA props:

Leading scorer in Celtics vs Knicks

  • Jayson Tatum +255
  • Jaylen Brown +280
  • Julius Randle +325
  • RJ Barrett +340
  • Marcus Smart +750
  • Evan Fournier +815

Number of three-pointers made by both teams

  • Over 12.5 (-110)
  • Under 12.5 (-110)

NBA Finals Props

The NBA Finals pits the top team from the Eastern and Western Conference against each other. The winner takes the championship and Larry O’Brien Trophy. Naturally, many bettors are interested in basketball’s premier sporting event. The following types of prop lines are common during the NBA Finals:

Who will win NBA Finals MVP?

  • Stephen Curry +275
  • Kevin Durant +345
  • Kyrie Irving +405
  • Klay Thompson +614
  • Andrew Wiggins +720
  • Seth Curry +1100

How long will the Game 1 national anthem be sung?

  • Over 1 minute 55.5 seconds (-105)
  • Under 1 minute 55.5 seconds (-105)

MLB Prop Bets

Baseball features the longest season among North America’s major sports. Therefore, you won’t always find an abundance of game and team props throughout the year. Nevertheless, the MLB still provides plenty of chances to bet props from the season’s start to finish. Here are sample prop betting options for baseball:

Jordan Lyles (Baltimore) strikeouts during game

  • Over 5.5 (+125)
  • Under 5.5 (-155)

Wins for Detroit Tigers team during regular season

  • Over 71.5 (-110)
  • Under 71.5 (-110)

World Series Props

The World Series takes place in late October between the American League and National League winners. It’s one of America’s most-iconic sporting events and inspires many game props. You can see a few common World Series prop bet samples below:

What color of Gatorade will be dumped on the Series winning coach?

  • Blue +255
  • Red +305
  • Other +205

Who will hit the most home runs during the World Series?

  • Aaron Judge -135
  • Anthony Ruiz +290
  • Mookie Betts +338
  • Giancarlo Stanton +595
  • Trea Turner +700

NHL Prop Bets

NHL prop bets focus mainly on goals, assists, points, and team wins. However, they can also include other stats, such as penalties, time on ice, and shots on goal. Here are examples of NHL prop markets:

Which player will score the most total points in Bruins vs Canadiens?

  • Brad Marchland +375
  • Sebastian Aho +395
  • David Pastmark +435
  • Andrei Svechnikov +500
  • Teuvo Teravainen +560
  • Patrice Bergeron +615

Which player will score the first goal?

  • Leon Draitsaitl +335
  • Connor McDavid +345
  • Johnny Gaudreau +390
  • Matthew Tkachuk +430
  • Elias Lindholm +485

Stanley Cup Finals Props

The Stanley Cup Finals is the best-of-seven series between the Eastern and Western Conference champions. It features the most prop bets of any series or games during the NHL season. You can see sample Stanley Cup proposition bets below, including player props and game props:

Total goals scored for Colorado Avalanche during the series

  • Over 18.5 (-110)
  • Under 18.5 (-110)

Who will score the first goal of the Stanley Cup Finals?

  • Steve Stamkos +350
  • Mikko Rantanen +405
  • Nathan MacKinnon +490
  • Nazem Kadri +545

Proposition Odds In Other Sports

Again, the NFL, NBA, NHL, and MLB draw the majority of prop markets. However, you can still find prop odds in plenty of other sports too. Tennis and soccer are two examples of sports that feature many prop betting lines. You can view examples of each below:

Tennis prop bet

  • How many aces will Novak Djokovic get in the match?
  • Over 29.5 (-110)
  • Under 29.5 (-110)

Soccer prop bet

  • How many corner kicks will there be?
  • Over 9.5 (-105)
  • Under 9.5 (-105)

Exotic Props

Some game props and player props might already seem exotic enough. However, there are actual exotic prop bets that differ from the standard variety. Exotic props refer to bets that go beyond simple happenings, like total passing yards or a coin toss. They involve weirder subjects, like Gatorade colors or mascots.

The Super Bowl is always a great source for exotic props. Here are some examples from the big game:

How many Pepsi commercials will run during the game?

  • Over 1.5 (-135)
  • Under 1.5 (+115)

Who will the MVP thank first in their speech?

  • Team -125
  • God +205
  • Fans +325
  • Family +550
  • Head coach +1000
  • Other +1750

How Are Prop Bet Odds Calculated?

Proposition bet odds work like American odds in other bet types, such as moneylines, point spreads, and totals. You should feel comfortable with these wagers if you’re already knowledgeable about sports betting odds. Nevertheless, you might still want explanations and examples on how bet props odds work.

First off, bookmakers only offer wagers with the expectation that they’ll have a long-term advantage. They take a cut (a.k.a. “juice” or “vigorish”) from the losing side as payment for facilitating wagers. Juice leads to a theoretical profit margin on the overall prop betting action (winners & losers).

Let’s say that two parties wager $210 total and the bookie takes $10 from the losing side. The bookmaker has a 4.76% profit margin (10/210) in this case. A prop bet is no different than standard wagers because it gives the bookies an edge. You can see how this plays out in the following prop bet examples:

Example #1

  • You take the over on Charlotte making 13.5 three-pointers.
  • You bet $110 on -110 odds (betting $110 to win $100).
  • Charlotte only makes 12 threes, meaning you lose.
  • Your $100 loss goes to the opposing side (assuming there is one), while the bookie pockets $10 vig.

Example #2

  • You wager on a college football running back scoring the game’s first TD.
  • You bet $100 on +350 odds (betting $100 to win $350).
  • The running back scores first and wins your bet.
  • You now receive $350 in profit, plus your $100 stake back.

Example #3

  • You bet on an NFL game’s total passing yards going over 520.
  • You risk $100 on +135 odds posted (betting $100 to win $135).
  • Both teams combine for exactly 520 passing yards.
  • This bet is a push, and your $100 is returned with no action.

Be sure to check out the entire library of Props.com Betting 101 guides, linked here:

Best Online Sportsbook Bonuses

Check out the Props.com guides to online sportsbook bonuses in the U.S.:

Prop Betting FAQ

What does “prop” mean in prop bet?

The term “prop” is short for a proposition bet. Prop wagers revolve around occurrences other than the final outcome of a game. They can include anything from which team scores first to a player’s total points.

What are player prop bets?

A player prop bet centers on player stats. For example, a football prop bet may involve guessing which athlete runs for the most yards in a game. You may feel somewhat like you’re playing fantasy sports when making these types of wagers.

What are team prop bets?

Team props deal with team-based outcomes in a particular sport. For instance, you might wager on how many wins one team will get in a season. Another example includes which squad will bring home the championship.

Where can I find prop bets?

Proposition bets are available at almost every betting site. That said, you won’t have to look far to find prop game lines. The real question is which sportsbook will provide the widest variety of prop bets. If you choose the right betting site, then you’ll never be at a loss for these wagers.

Are prop bets good bets?

Yes, proposition bets can be worthwhile with a winning strategy. However, you always want to distinguish between non-skilled and skilled prop bets. The latter involve outcomes where actual research comes into play. For example, you can research stats on which team will win a title. Non-skilled wagers (e.g., coin toss bet), meanwhile, involve no strategy and are purely about luck.