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Your Guide To What Prop Betting Is and The Best Prop Betting Strategies

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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the first inning at Dodger Stadium.
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While some bettors are content to wager on more traditional bets like point spreads, totals, and moneyline bets, others prefer to test their sports knowledge through less common bets such as prop bets. Prop bets have greatly increased the number of betting options for games in sports betting.

In this article, you will learn what a prop bet is, how to bet on them, and what prop bet strategies you should use to maximize your chances of winning. We will also discuss how Elias Game Plan can help bettors gain an edge before locking your prop bets in.

What is a prop bet?

Prop bet is short for proposition bet. A proposition bet is a type of bet that looks beyond the result of a game or the total score of the contest. 

These types of bets are great tests of a sports fan’s knowledge, as they look at granular components of each sporting event. Everything from individual player performances to trends from within each game can be bet on in most major sporting events in leagues like the NFL and NBA.

Why do a prop bet?

The appeal of prop bets is twofold. 

First, prop bets are often more fun to bet on than traditional betting markets like the spread and total, as the focus on hyper-specific parts of a game can create excitement in even the most lopsided of contests. 

More importantly, these markets are often more beatable than markets like the spread and total, as prop bets have not been around for as long and bookmakers have not had as much time to perfect the lines for prop bets.

The two types of prop bets

There are two main types of prop bets that bettors can expect to see when wagering on major sporting events:

  • Player props
  • Game props

 

Here, we look at those two major types of props and some of the major bet types that bettors will see under each of these categories.

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry (22) runs the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs during the first half at Nissan Stadium.
Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports

Player Props

Player props are the most popular form of prop bets, as they deal directly with the performances of individual players during each game. 

With player props, bettors can wager on everything from how many yards a quarterback will throw for to how many points a basketball player will record or whether a baseball player will record a hit in a game. These bets have the potential to be decided on within the first few minutes of a game, or can result in a sweat down to the final moments.

Most of the player props that are available come in the form of over/under bets pertaining to a player’s performance in statistical categories like points, yards, or hits. But several player prop markets do not come in the form of over/under bets, such as the first scorer in a basketball game or which player will have the most rushing yards in a week of NFL action. Either way, if a bettor has in-depth knowledge of individual players and their matchups, player props can be a source of profitability.

Player props can be exciting, but can also be challenging. Players and teams do not care about individual statistical performance as much as bettors do. The goal of players and teams is to win games that lead to championships, not to hit the over on a bettor’s rebounding prop. 

While bettors are still more than capable of winning with player props, this is important to remember in the event that a player does not hit a desired total.

Game Props

Game props are less popular than player props in general, but they still attract plenty of attention from those interested in prop bets. 

Whereas player props deal with the performance of individuals in a game, game props focus on portions of the games themselves. 

For example, bettors can wager on which basketball team will reach 10 points in a game first, or whether a team will score three times in a row in a football game.

With game props, bettors have to strike a balance between finding value and the extra risk that comes with betting on small sample size components of each game. For example, a team can score up 10 points before an opponent and follow that up by giving up a massive run and losing a game. It is up to bettors to strike that balance successfully by developing a system that works well for them.

One such game prop that has really gained in popularity over the last couple of seasons comes from Major League Baseball. Bettors are wagering in large numbers on whether or not there will be a run in the first inning of games, condensing their betting excitement into the first six outs of play. These bets are not always the most high-value props, but are electric from an entertainment perspective.

Where to make prop bets?

One place to make prop bets is on DraftKings. It is very easy to place a prop bet at DraftKings Sportsbook, whether that bet is a player prop or game prop. 

To do so, bettors are able to select the game that they wish to bet on in the list of matchups in their preferred sport. Once they have selected that game, they will be shown a list of available prop markets, which are broken out into player props and game props that can be chosen from.

Once a bettor has decided on which prop bets they want to lock in, they can enter the amount they wish to risk on each of their prop picks. DraftKings will automatically show the amount that bettors stand to make from each of their selections once they have entered that risk amount. If those amounts are satisfactory, bettors can click to confirm their wagers and simply cheer on their selections from there.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (6) moves in for the dunk against the Toronto Raptors during the second half at Crypto.com Arena.
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Example of a prop bet

As an example of a prop bet, let’s say that a bettor is interested in wagering on a player prop in an upcoming basketball game. 

The star player of one of the competing teams has had his point total set at 29.5 points by a sportsbook going into the game. That means that player would need to score 30 or more points for the over to hit, with 29 or fewer points resulting in the under being the winning bet.

In the case of most over/under prop markets, the odds for each side will be somewhere around -110, meaning that a bettor has to risk $110 to win $100. Of course, this can fluctuate depending on how much money is on each side of a prop bet. Props that are not totals can have vastly different odds, and bettors will want to look for the best prices they can in any prop market they take.

Can I parlay prop bets?

Yes, it is possible to parlay prop bets. Parlaying prop bets has become a popular practice among newer sports bettors. 

Bettors are able to parlay prop bets from different games, or from within the same game if they so choose. Doing so can greatly increase the potential payouts of a bettor’s prop picks, but there is a tradeoff in that every leg of a parlay has to win in order for that parlay ticket to cash.

Putting together a parlay from within one game can be risky, but it might be the smartest way to utilize parlays. This is because the result of each leg can be correlated with the other legs, whereas prop parlays consisting of picks from several games are made up of props that can have outcomes completely independent from one another.

Example of parlaying a prop bet

For example, let’s say that a bettor puts together a parlay consisting of several prop bets from one football game. In that parlay, the bettor takes the over on a quarterback’s passing yards, along with the over on the receiving yardage totals from two of his top receivers. If the quarterback goes over his yardage total, there is no guarantee the other two legs will hit, but it stands to reason that a big passing game from the quarterback would result in big yardage outputs from his receivers.

On the other hand, let’s say that a bettor puts together a parlay consisting of props from three different football games. They take a quarterback’s passing yardage over in one game, along with the overs on two wide receivers in different contests. Their quarterback pick could go over the total by 500 yards, but that performance would have no positive impact on the chances of the other two legs winning.

Is there live betting on prop bets?

Something that is becoming more and more popular is the presence of live betting in prop markets. This is something that is offered at most major sportsbooks today, as those sportsbooks update their prop odds throughout the course of games to reflect what has happened in the game so far. Live prop betting is a great way to squeeze some extra value out of a prop market for those who develop a feel as to when they should seize the opportunity.

Going back to our example player prop in basketball above, a player might have a points prop total of 29.5 points going into a game. If that player goes scoreless for the first five minutes of a game, sportsbooks may drop their live point total to a lower number. Bettors who still think that player will go over the original total can then snag a more favorable number on that player just by timing things well.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (right) celebrates with wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (3) after catching a touchdown pass against the Cincinnati Bengals during the second quarter in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Can I bet on Super Bowl props?

Super Bowl props are by far the most talked about prop bets each year, as the Super Bowl is the most wagered on sporting event in the United States each year. 

Before the Super Bowl, sportsbooks release a massive amount of player and game props, offering action on more players than they would for any other game during the season. This allows bettors to wager on whether obscure players will make an impact on the biggest game of the year, in addition to all of the more traditional prop markets out there.

What bettors are often not allowed to bet on, though, are the novelty props that made Super Bowl prop betting famous in the first place. 

Regulated bookmakers in the United States are not allowed to offer action on things like how long the national anthem will be or what color sports drink will be dumped on the coach of the winning team. This is to protect the integrity of the betting markets that are available, as inside information on Super Bowl novelty props could become available and cause integrity concerns in the betting marketplace.

The best prop betting strategy

When it comes to prop betting strategy, the most important thing a bettor can do is to analyze the matchups they are considering betting on. 

While a star player in the NBA or NFL might have an incredible highlight reel, there are games where every star athlete just faces a bad matchup. Spotting those matchups can help identify chances to bet on player prop unders, while finding favorable matchups can illuminate great spots to bet overs.

Another important piece of prop betting strategy to abide by is to not be afraid to take unders in the first place. There is a reason that sportsbooks constantly recommend parlays to bettors that consist solely of player prop overs, and that is because unders hit just as often. Prop bets are about picking spots on both sides of the marketplace, which means holding your nose and taking an under or two.

Also, as obvious as it sounds, never bet on a coin toss prop bet at a sportsbook ahead of the Super Bowl. Unless the bookmaker is giving even odds on both sides of a coin toss market, which they would never do, paying juice or vig on a coin toss is a mathematical disaster as bettors would be dropping their implied probability of victory on a 50/50 proposition.

How Elias Game Plan can help with prop bets

For bettors looking for an edge on their next prop bet, the Elias Game Plan app can help. The app provides insights into individual player performance across major sports, helping bettors to gauge recent form as well as how players have done against their upcoming opponents. This can help bettors use less speculation and more data-driven insight to place their prop betting picks.