Prop Bets Explained

If you’re the type who likes having lots of options, then prop betting could quickly become your thing. For many of the games on the sports betting menu, you’ll find dozens of props available — from player accomplishments like how many strikeouts a pitcher will get to team milestones like total rushing yards.

For those new to sports betting, there’s a strong correlation between daily fantasy sports and props. If you’ve found success in projecting various situations in the past, then there’s a good chance you’ll hit the right notes here, too. For those without fantasy experience, that’s perfectly fine, as props let you focus on specifics as you tackle the learning curve.

So how do you know if prop betting is for you? What are the best sports for prop betting? We have the answers to those questions and more in our guide to prop betting in New York, as well as some actionable tips you can implement right away.

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What exactly are prop bets?

Prop bets first started gaining prominence because of the Super Bowl. While the game itself was enough of an attraction, sportsbooks were looking for ways to enhance the action beyond just the outcome of the game. Enter prop bets.

A prop bet is akin to a side bet on a game or event. As opposed to caring about the entire outcome, the bet is based on a smaller snippet. Props can fall into a few categories:

  • Game: Which side will have more rushing yards — Dallas Cowboys or New York Giants?
  • Team: How many total points for the New York Knicks in the first half — over/under 59.5?
  • Player: Will Aaron Judge hit a home run in the game — yes/no?

Prop bets are available at all the leading sportsbooks. It’s a standard option that you can find by clicking on the main game listing, typically in a spot that’s labeled “more wagers” or something similar. As a general rule, the more popular the sport or game, the more props you’ll see available. That said, you’ll generally see dozens of options for the contests you’re interested in betting on.

Prop bet odds & payouts

How much can you make betting on props? As with every other type of wager, it depends on the odds attached to your selection. Additionally, there are props with just two choices, and others with multiple possible selections. Let’s run through the math on both, starting with this NBA prop.

  • How many total points will LeBron James score in the game?
    • Over 31.5 (-108)
    • Under 31.5 (-114)

This prop is set up just like a regular totals wager. Oddsmakers have set the bar with an estimated number — 31.5 points — and bettors will then weigh in with their call on the over or under. Both choices have odds attached.

The potential return depends on the direction of the odds. For negative odds, the number is what you would have to bet to get back $100. In this case, it’s $108 for $100 on the over and $114 for $100 on the under. If either of the numbers is positive, that’s how much you could get back on a winning $100 bet — i.e., $105 at odds of +105.

On the multiple-choice front, let’s consider this example from an NHL game. There are odds for which player will score the first goal. Odds for the top favorites might look like this:

  • Jack Eichel +1050
  • Mathew Barzal +1300
  • Jordan Eberle +1300
  • Anders Lee +1300

If you make the right call, your payout will be based on the odds for your wager. For example, if you choose Lee at +1300 and place $20 on it, you’re looking at a potential payout of $280. As always, you should never base bets on the potential return alone, but it’s quite the nice payout and a good part of the appeal for certain prop bets.

What are the different types of prop bets?

Props have grown in popularity through the years, and so have the available options. You’ll find bets on teams, individual players and various game circumstances, with some variation depending on the sport.

NFL prop bets

(AP Photo/John Munson)

Props have grown to be incredibly popular for full NFL slates and the standalone primetime games.

  • Who will have more combined yards in the game — Saquon Barkley or Ezekiel Elliott?
  • Which side will have more sacks in the game — Green Bay Packers or Kansas City Chiefs?
  • In what range will the margin of victory fall — 0-6? 7-13? 13+?

Related articles: NFL player propsNFL odds; NFL playoff odds

NBA props

The high-scoring nature of NBA games translates very well into the world of props.

  • Who will have more points plus rebounds — Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard?
  • How many total points before halftime — over/under 109.5?
  • Which team will hit more 3-pointers in the game — Houston Rockets or Utah Jazz?

Related articles: NBA player prop oddsNBA betting odds

MLB props

As a sport that’s very stats-centric, MLB also aligns well with prop betting. You’ll see team, player and game props.

  • Who will have more hits plus walks — Pete Alonso or Freddie Freeman?
  • Which team will score three runs first — New York Yankees or Boston Red Sox?
  • How many total home runs in the game — over/under 2.5?

Related articles: MLB player props odds, MLB odds

NHL props

Over in the NHL, you’ll find the usual suspects like player and team performance, as well as options around the game as a whole.

  • Will overtime be necessary — yes/no?
  • How many total points for Mika Zibanejad — over/under 0.5?
  • Which side will have more saves in the game — New York Islanders or Toronto Maple Leafs?

Related articles: NHL player props, NHL odds

College football props

Offerings of props for college sports aren’t quite as abundant as what you’ll find in the pros, but there’s still a good assortment.

  • Which team will have more rushing yards — Michigan or Ohio State?
  • How many total turnovers in the game — over/under 2.5?
  • Will there be a pick six in the game — yes/no?

Related articles: College football odds

College basketball props

It’s a similar story to college football: Props are available for NCAA basketball betting, but the bench doesn’t run quite as deep as it does in the pro game.

  • Will the game go to overtime — yes/no?
  • Which side will have the better free-throw percentage — Villanova or St. John’s?
  • How many total points in the second half — over/under 69.5?

Related articles: College basketball odds

Golf props

As PGA events draw near, oddsmakers will put together select props for the tournament as a whole and individual rounds.

  • Total birdies for Tiger Woods in round one — over/under 4.5?
  • Will any player record an ace in round two — yes/no?
  • Who will have more eagles during the tournament — Jordan Spieth or Justin Thomas?

Related articles: Golf odds

Tennis props

Tennis is similar to golf in that there will be some props for an entire event, but many more will be available on the individual matchups during it.

  • Which player will win the first set — Ashleigh Barty or Naomi Osaka?
  • How many total sets for this match — over/under 3.5?
  • Will a tiebreaker be necessary during the match — yes/no?

Related articles: Tennis betting

NASCAR props

Some of the most popular bets when a NASCAR race rolls around are on the prop side.

  • Which driver will record the fastest lap time?
  • Who will lead for the most laps during the race?
  • Driver to win the pole position will be …?

MMA props

While much of the chatter on a UFC fight night revolves around who will win, you can also go much deeper than that with a range of props.

  • Exact round when the fight will end — 1/2/3?
  • Winning method — KO/submission/stoppage/decision?
  • How many total KOs will there be on the card — over/under 3.5?

Related articles: UFC betting

Soccer props

You can choose from dozens of soccer leagues across the globe during the average week, and a whole host of props for each game on the docket.

  • Winner of the first half — Manchester City/West Ham/tie?
  • Total corner kicks in the game — over/under 6.5?
  • Will there be a red card in the game — yes/no?

Related articles: Soccer odds

What kind of Super Bowl prop bets can you make?

As with most developments in the world of sports betting, we can trace the origins of props back to Sin City. It all started with the biggest annual betting event, the Super Bowl. The popular Westgate, which was then known as the Las Vegas Hilton, unveiled a number of props for the big game. Let’s just say that it was a winning idea.

Interest in betting on Super Bowl props has exploded through the years. These days, hundreds of options are available when the game rolls around. While many of them revolve around the usual suspects like player performance or team accomplishments, there also are a few that are aimed toward the casual fan.

  • Coin flip result — Heads/Tails?
  • What color Gatorade will be used for celebrating — red/orange/yellow/purple?

You won’t be lacking for options on Super Bowl Sunday. Props are released well in advance of game time, so you’ll have plenty of time to sort through all of the options.

Benefits of props over other bets

Props can fit into an overall wagering strategy for all bettors, from those new to the game up to seasoned handicappers. Many folks who have experience with daily fantasy sports have used props as a starting point. Here are just a few of the benefits of prop betting.

  • Chance to specialize and focus: Props give you the chance to really focus on specific players and segments of the game. If you’re the type who has a good read on when players may go off or when a team can excel in a certain facet against an opponent, props will be right up your alley. Props let you focus on your strengths while specializing on what you’re good at.
  • Fantasy sports skills transfer well: Whether it’s DFS or traditional season-long fantasy, any knowledge you have obtained will be applicable with props. Projections can go a long way, but so too can the ability to spot numbers that appear to be off. If you love fantasy sports, prop betting will quickly join the ranks of your favorite things.
  • Array of options to consider: The average game will have dozens of props attached. That gives you lots of angles to consider. For example, just picking out three matchups on the average day will open the door to a slew of bets to comb through, so there’s a good chance you’ll find a few that jump out.

Which sport is best for prop betting?

Overall, there’s no one sport that’s above and beyond the rest, so it really comes down to your interest level. If you’re a huge NBA fan who doesn’t know a thing about the NFL, stay in your wheelhouse and focus on hoops. Generally, the more popular the sport is, the more choices you’ll have for props.

That means you’ll find the most with the NFL and NBA, followed by a solid assortment for MLB, NHL and soccer. College sports will have a decent array, as will the major individual sports like golf, tennis, NASCAR and UFC. The best approach  is to begin with what you know and then look to branch out once your skill level increases.

How does in game prop betting work?

Live betting has been a huge growth area for sportsbook apps. Often referred to as in game betting, it allows you to wager along in real time as games and events play out. You’ll find updated odds on the outcome based on the current state of affairs, but there’s much more to see.

Props are a big part of the live betting experience. You’ll see similar offerings to what you’ll find in advance of the game, as well as new ones based on how things are playing out.

  • Who will have more receptions in the first half — Evan Engram or Eric Ebron?
  • Total points plus rebounds for Julius Randle in the second half — over/under 14.5?
  • Which side will score the game’s first run — New York Mets or Atlanta Braves?

Apps are a great way to stay on top of the live betting market. When games get underway, you’ll find a dedicated section for current offerings. From there, just glance at the app as the contest plays out and keep an eye out for props you like.

Do online sportsbooks let you cash props out early?

When a game looks to be well in hand, some operators will offer an early payout option for winning bettors to consider. Many will do the same thing with props. When the result appears to be a certainty, books offer a portion of what you would see if you were to hold out until the end.

As an example, let’s say that you have a bet on Daniel Jones’ passing yards. You chose over 280.5. At the end of the third quarter of a tight game, he’s sitting at 252 passing yards. Your total return on a winning bet would be $100 if it comes to fruition, but the book may attempt to mitigate the damage by offering you $75 for an early payout. As the game plays out, keep an eye on your open wagers for potential payout options.

Prop betting pitfalls to watch out for

While there’s a lot to love about prop betting, any discussion of the topic would be incomplete without a look at the potential downside. There’s no one single thing that makes props an automatic no, but there are some possible pitfalls to be aware of.

  • Number of choices can be overwhelming: The number of props can be a huge positive, but it can also be a bit on the intimidating side. It takes time to find the options you like from all of the available choices. Additionally, consider focusing on your strengths and disregard the rest of the available options.
  • Tougher props offer enticing payouts: Props provide a lot of opportunities for really nice payouts. Unfortunately, props of this nature can be tough to hit. Examples include the first scorer in a game and things of that ilk. The payouts for these wagers can be tough to pass up. You don’t necessarily have to skip them altogether, just know that they’re very speculative, and budget your wager amounts accordingly — i.e. a small wager here or there.
  • Projections are no guarantee of actual performance: Even the best-laid plans can go awry once athletes step onto the field. This is true for game outcomes, as well as for the performance of individual players. While there are plenty of projection systems out there that tout their overall accuracy, remember this simple fact: They are projections, not guarantees. You can absolutely use them as a guideline, but keep your expectations in check.

Sportsbook house rules for prop bets

All NY sportsbooks have house rules for you to follow. The rules cover what happens with bet placement, how the sportsbook settles wagers and various other circumstances. For props, here are some of the main points to keep in mind.

  • The sportsbook will consider all bets action once the game gets underway. In the event of a player sitting out in advance of that, sportsbooks will void and refund bets involving that player.
  • If a game is canceled, the sportsbook will void associated wagers. In the event of a slight delay, props will remain active and in play once the action resumes.
  • Player prop markets will be settled regardless of playing time. For example, if a player doesn’t see much playing time and fails to reach any benchmark numbers as a result, bets on that athlete will still stand and be settled accordingly.

While those are solid general guidelines, you should still take the time to review the rules at the books where you play. There may be differences here and there to be aware of. Many books have a dedicated section for house rules, while others include them in the FAQ or help sections.

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