What is a Prop Bet? – Proposition Bets Explained

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Prop bets (or proposition bets) are recognized as some of the most popular markets for an online betting site. They fall into an “everything else” kind of category when it comes to markets, compiling bets that won’t necessarily include outcomes of the game or match.

In this article, we’re going to answer the question, what is a prop bet? To do this we’ve included a series of examples across multiple sports and events, along with a look at why you might want to place or avoid prop bets. Finally, we’ve added a strategy section that will allow you to be more effective with the types of prop bets that you wager on.

How Do Prop Bets Work?

At their core, prop bets are wagers placed on specific events or outcomes within a sporting event that is not directly related to the final score or result of the game. These bets often revolve around individual player performances, statistics, or specific moments during a match. What sets prop bets apart is their ability to add an extra layer of excitement and engagement to a sporting event, as they allow bettors to focus on specific aspects beyond the overall outcome.

BetOnline prop builder.

To illustrate how prop bets work, let’s consider the betting on NFL games, for example. Imagine a Super Bowl matchup between Kansas City Chiefs and New England Patriots. While traditional betting options may involve wagering on the winner of the game or the point spread, prop bets offer alternative opportunities.

One popular prop bet might involve predicting the total number of passing yards quarterback Patrick Mahomes will accumulate during the game. So, instead of betting on which team will win, you can place a prop bet on whether the quarterback will throw for more or less than a specified yardage total set by the sportsbook.

In essence, prop bets allow bettors to delve into the intricacies of a game and make predictions on specific player performances or noteworthy events, making them a thrilling and unique aspect of sports betting.

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Where Can I Bet on Prop Bets?

One of the best things about these types of betting markets is that they are widely available, in some form at least. The biggest betting sites have a wider range of markets to choose from, but all online sportsbooks will cater to a prop bet within.

Prop bet markets at BetOnline.

We’ve three sportsbooks that we would consider to be standouts for proposition bets. These are BetOnline, Bovada and BetNow.

With all three you’re going to get a wide range of markets to choose from. BetOnline, for example, is the GOAT when it comes to NFL prop bets, being able to bet on anything from the coin toss to if the coach is going to get Gatorade poured on them after winning the Super Bowl.

Both Bovada and BetNow are solid alternatives to BetOnline and cover all US-based sports in great depth. BetNow is one of the best MLB sportsbooks and tennis prop bets, but Bovada has a strong selection for NBA and soccer games.

Examples of Prop Bets

Prop bets are generally broken down into four categories that include player, game, team, and novelty prop bets. We’re going to run through examples of each to highlight how they work and what types of prop bet you might expect to find on the best offshore sportsbooks out there.

Player Prop Bets

Player prop bets focus on individual player performances or statistics. This allows bettors to wager on various aspects of a player’s performance, such as points scored, rebounds, assists, touchdowns, or even specific milestones they may achieve during the game.

In the NBA, a common player proposition bet involves predicting the total number of points a player will score in a game. Let’s say there’s a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets, and you believe that LeBron James will have a standout performance. The sportsbook might set the over/under line for LeBron James’ points at 28.5. If you wager on the over, and LeBron scores 29 points or more in the game, you will win the bet.

In the NFL you might come across examples of player props regarding the total number of passing touchdowns a quarterback will throw. Let’s say there’s a match between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and you believe that Patrick Mahomes will have a strong performance. The sportsbook might set the over/under line for Mahomes’ passing touchdowns at 2.5. If you wager on the over and Mahomes throws three or more touchdowns in the game, you will win the bet.

Game Props

Game prop bets revolve around specific events or occurrences happening during a sporting event. These bets focus on various aspects of the game itself, rather than individual player performances. Let’s explore real-world examples of game prop bets from the NHL and MLB.

Soccer game props.

Popular game prop bets in the NFL could involve predicting the total number of goals scored in a match. For example, let’s consider a game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Boston Bruins. The sportsbook might set the over/under line for total goals scored in the game at 5.5. If you wager on the over, and the combined goals scored by both teams in the game are six or more, you will win the bet.

In the MLB, you might come across a prop bet regarding the total number of home runs hit in a game. Let’s say there’s a match between the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. The sportsbook might set the over/under line for total home runs at 2.5. If you wager on the over, and the combined home runs hit by both teams in the game are three or more, you will win the bet.

Team Props

Team props focus on specific outcomes or performances of a team within the game. These bets allow bettors to wager on various aspects of a team’s performance, such as total points scored, total goals scored, turnovers, penalties, or even the outcome of specific game situations.

For example, in soccer, a common team prop bet could involve predicting the total number of goals scored by a specific team in a match. Let’s consider a game between Barcelona and Real Madrid. Examples of team props here on the best online sportsbooks might set the over/under line for Barcelona’s total goals at 2.5. If you wager on the over and Barcelona scores three or more goals in the game, you will win the bet.

NFL team prop bets can be equally intriguing. For example, you might come across a prop bet regarding the total number of sacks made by a particular team in a game. Let’s say there’s a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens. The sportsbook might set the over/under line for the Steelers’ total sacks at 3.5. If you bet on the over and the Steelers record four or more sacks in the game, you would win the bet.

Novelty Prop Bets

Novelty props, also known as entertainment prop bets or special prop bets, are a unique category of prop bets that extend beyond the realm of traditional sports and delve into the world of entertainment, politics, and popular culture. Here we can wager on various non-sporting events or outcomes, such as who sings the National Anthem before major sports events, but also award shows, reality TV competitions, political elections, and other notable happenings in the world of entertainment and politics.

One example of novelty prop bets can be found in TV shows, specifically reality competitions like “American Idol” or “The Voice.” Bettors may have the opportunity to wager on the eventual winner of the competition or for contestants to be voted off at certain stages of the competition.

politics prop bet

Another example is political events, particularly during major elections or significant political milestones. Bettors can place wagers on various outcomes, such as predicting the winning candidate in a presidential race, forecasting the margin of victory, or even speculating on specific policy decisions.

For example, during a presidential election, a novelty prop bet might involve wagering on the outcome of the electoral college votes. Bettors could predict the exact number of electoral college votes a particular candidate will receive. Let’s say the sportsbook sets the line at 320.5 electoral votes for Candidate A. If you wager on the over, and Candidate A receives 321 or more electoral votes, you will win the bet.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Prop Bets

Proposition bets are arguably the most exciting form of betting if only to break up from the standard betting markets. In this section, we’ve covered some of the advantages and disadvantages of using these types of bet and how they might differ from traditional sports betting markets.

Advantages:

  • Increased engagement – Prop bets add an extra layer of excitement and engagement to sporting events or other occasions. They offer additional opportunities for bettors to stay involved and invested in the outcome, even if the overall result of the event may seem predictable.
  • Diverse betting options – You get a wide range of creative and unique wagering opportunities with these bets on major sports. They allow bettors to explore various aspects of a game, match, or event beyond the traditional outcomes, enabling them to showcase their knowledge and intuition in different ways.
  • Potential for higher payouts – They often come with higher odds and payouts compared to traditional bets. Since they focus on specific events or occurrences within a game, the outcomes can be more challenging to predict accurately. Successful prop bettors can enjoy significant winnings if they make informed predictions.
  • Skill-based betting – Prop bets can involve analyzing specific player performances, team dynamics, or other factors that require a deeper understanding of the sport or event.
  • Extended entertainment value – Prop bets provide an opportunity for bettors to enhance their overall enjoyment of an event. They can make a game or other occasions more thrilling, as bettors have a vested interest in specific outcomes or occurrences beyond the result.

Disadvantages:

  • Higher unpredictability – While the potential for higher payouts exists, prop bets are inherently more unpredictable compared to traditional bets. They involve specific occurrences or performances that may be influenced by various uncontrollable factors, making accurate predictions more challenging.
  • Limited information and research – Prop bets may not have as much readily available information or statistical data as traditional bets. Bettors may need to rely on their knowledge, intuition, or limited information provided by sportsbooks, making it harder to conduct in-depth research for making informed decisions.
  • Higher house edge – Due to the complexity and unpredictable nature of prop bets, sportsbooks tend to have a higher house edge for these types of wagers. The prop bet odds and payouts may not be as favorable for bettors compared to more traditional betting options.
  • Limited availability – Prop bets are not available for every sporting event or occasion. Sportsbooks may offer prop bets only for high-profile events or specific markets, limiting the availability of these wagering options.
  • Emotional biases and distractions – The nature of prop bets, with their focus on specific occurrences or performances, can sometimes lead to emotional biases or distractions. Bettors may become overly fixated on a particular player or outcome, potentially clouding their judgment, and leading to less informed or irrational betting decisions.

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Sports and Prop Bet Examples

Proposition bets can vary massively from sport to sport. In this section, we’ve taken a series of the most popular sports to bet on in the US and included a range of betting props that you can place on each.

NFL

Given that the NFL is the most popular league to bet on for US-based sports bettors, the range of prop bets you can wager seemingly grows each season. Here is a look at a handful of them and how they work.

  1. Over/Under Total Passing Yards – Wager on whether the total passing yards by both teams combined will be over or under specific yardage set by the sportsbook.
  2. Team with Most Rushing Yards – Online sports betting on which team will have the most rushing yards in the game.
  3. First Scoring Play – Predict the method of the first scoring play in the game, such as a touchdown, field goal, or safety.
  4. Player to Score First Touchdown – Bet on which specific player will score the first touchdown of the game.
  5. Total Interceptions – Total number of interceptions made by both teams combined during the game.
  6. Longest Field Goal – Distance of the longest successful field goal in the game, whether it will be over or under specific yardage set by the sportsbook.
  7. Total Sacks – Total number of sacks made by both teams combined during the game.

NBA

The NBA covers thousands of games and markets every season. As you can imagine, prop betting sites love to get creative, and below, we’ve listed some of the more popular props for sports betting.

  1. Total Points by a Player – This is the total number of points a specific player will score in the game, whether it will be over or under a set point total.
  2. Three-Pointers Made – Bet on the total number of three-pointers made by both teams combined during the game.
  3. Player Rebounds – Predict the total number of rebounds a specific player will grab in the game, whether it will be over or under a set rebound total.
  4. Double-Double or Triple-Double – Wager on whether a particular player will achieve a double-double (reaching double digits in two statistical categories) or a triple-double (reaching double digits in three statistical categories) in the game.
  5. Team to Score First – Bet on which team will score the first points of the game, whether it will be a field goal, three-pointer, or free throw.

NHL

Hockey is more popular in Northern-US states and across Canada, but again, has huge coverage online. Here are some examples of props sports betting options for the NHL.

  1. Total Goals Scored – Wager on the total number of goals scored by both teams combined during the game, whether it will be over or under a set goal total.
  2. First Team to Score – Bet on which team will score the first goal of the game.
  3. Total Saves by a Goaltender – Predict the total number of saves made by a specific goaltender in the game, whether it will be over or under a set save total.
  4. Player Points – Wager on the total number of points (goals + assists) accumulated by a specific player in the game, whether it will be over or under a set point total.
  5. Power Play Goals – Bet on the total number of power-play goals scored by both teams combined during the game.

MLB

The MLB is another sport with thousands of games per season, so leans well to prop betting. Here’s a handful of bets you can place.

  1. Total Runs Scored – Wager on the total number of runs scored by both teams combined during the game, whether it will be over or under a set run total.
  2. Player Hits – The total number of hits by a specific player in the game, whether it will be over or under a set hit total.
  3. Home Runs – The total number of home runs hit by both teams combined during the game.
  4. Pitcher Strikeouts – The number of strikeouts recorded by a specific pitcher in the game, whether it will be over or under a set strikeout total.
  5. First Inning Runs – Bet on whether there will be runs scored in the first inning of the game, with options to wager on “Yes” or “No.”

Soccer

Soccer is more of an international sport, with leagues such as the Premier League, Serie A, Bundesliga, and La Liga, being the biggest in Europe. In the US, the MLS is at the top of the pile. Example soccer bets on props are listed below.

  1. Total Goals Scored – The total number of goals scored by both teams combined during the match, whether it will be over or under a set goal total.
  2. First Goal Scorer – Bet on which player will score the first goal of the game.
  3. Total Corners – Total number of corner kicks awarded in the match, whether it will be over or under a set corner total.
  4. Player Assists – Assists recorded by a specific player in the game, whether it will be over or under a set assist total.
  5. Total Shots – The total number of shots on goal for a team being over or under a set amount.
  6. Yellow Cards – Bet on the total number of yellow cards issued to both teams combined during the match.

Golf

Golf is unique in that it runs for almost 52 weeks of the year. With a tournament every week, the range of bets you can place is vast, but it’s across Majors and elevated PGA Tour events where you will find the most props to bet on.

  1. Tournament Winner – Wager on which golfer will win the tournament outright. This is a bet on the overall winner of the entire event.
  2. Head-to-Head Matchups – Bet on the outcome of a head-to-head matchup between two golfers. The goal is to predict which golfer will have a lower score at the end of the round or tournament.
  3. Top Finishing Position – Choose which golfer will have the highest finishing position among a selected group of golfers. This bet does not require the golfer to win the tournament but rather has the best result among the chosen group.
  4. Hole-in-One – Bet on whether a golfer will hit a hole-in-one during the tournament. This can be for individual players or more commonly, the field.
  5. Winning Margin – Calculate the winning margin in strokes or the number of strokes separating the first-place golfer from the runner-up. This bet focuses on the gap between the winner and second place.

Tennis

Like golf, tennis is played throughout the year, with a huge range of games to target. Again, proposition bets are much more prevalent within the majors, and examples of these are below.

  1. Set Betting – You can bet on the exact number of sets won by each player or predict the result of the match in terms of a straight-sets victory or a match that goes to multiple sets.
  2. Total Games – Total games is the cumulative number of games played in the match. You need to choose the over/under of this line.
  3. First Set Winner – Wager on which player will win the first set of the match.
  4. Total Aces – This is the total number of aces served by a specific player or both players combined during the match, whether it will be over or under a set ace total.
  5. Match Tiebreak – Bet on whether the match will go to a tiebreak set. Again, the market is a simple yes or no answer.

Boxing

Boxing is an incredibly exciting sport and with it comes a wide range of prop markets to take advantage of.

  1. Method of Victory – How the fight will end in terms of method of victory. You can bet on options such as knockout (KO), technical knockout (TKO), unanimous decision, split decision, or draw.
  2. Round Betting – Specific round in which you think the fight will end. This prop bet requires you to predict the round in which one of the fighters will win the match, whether it’s by knockout, technical knockout, or decision.
  3. Over/Under Rounds – Over or under a specific round total set by the sportsbook before it ends. You can bet on whether the fight will go the distance (all scheduled rounds) or end before a certain round.
  4. Fight Outcome – Predict the exact outcome of the fight, such as a specific fighter winning by knockout, technical knockout, or decision. This prop bet combines the method of victory and the specific outcome.
  5. Total Knockdowns – Bet on the total number of knockdowns in the fight. You can wager on whether there will be over or under a certain number of knockdowns during the match.

Formula 1

Formula 1 has grown exponentially in the US over the last decade or so (mainly down to the Netflix-derived Drive to Survive series) and as a result, the range of props you can place grows with each season.

  1. Race Winner – Which driver will win the race outright? This bet is placed on the driver you predict will cross the finish line first.
  2. Podium Finish – A driver to finish in the top three (podium) positions of the race.
  3. Fastest Lap – The driver that will record the fastest lap time during the race.
  4. Head-to-Head Matchups – Bet on the outcome of a head-to-head matchup between two drivers. The goal is to predict which driver will finish ahead of the other in the race.
  5. Number of Safety Car Periods – Total number of safety car periods during the race. This prop bet focuses on the frequency of safety car deployments due to accidents or hazardous track conditions.

Politics

Politics have some of the most interesting props in the industry. It’s not a commonly wagered on market, so when elections are running, it creates a great change from traditional sports betting.

    1. Election Winner – The outcome of an election, such as a presidential election or a local government election. This bet involves predicting which candidate or party will win the election.
    2. Popular Vote Percentage – Percentage of the popular vote a specific candidate or party will receive in an election. This prop bet focuses on the overall level of support for a particular political entity.
    3. Electoral College Outcome – Predict the outcome of the electoral college in a presidential election.
    4. Cabinet Appointments – Wager on who will be appointed to specific cabinet positions in a government. This predicts the individuals who will hold key roles within the government administration.
    5. Referendum Outcome – Bet on the outcome of a referendum or ballot initiative. Focuses on predicting whether a specific policy, law, or constitutional amendment will be approved or rejected by voters.

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References

Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert
Jonathan Askew
Sports Betting and Casino Expert

Jonathan is a freelance writer working with Techopedia. He has been working within the gambling sector for over 15 years and has been fortunate enough to work with brands that include Gambling.com, CheekyPunter.com, BasketballInsiders.com and Betfair. He specializes in US and UK-based sports and casino content for Techopedia.