A guide to prop bets

Now that sports betting is legal in the United States, betting on sports seems to have lost some of its pizzaz.  In states where land-based and online casino sports betting is legal you can place bets at your leisure in conventional casino venues and, in some states, even online.

Prop bets are bring new excitement into sports betting. Prop bets are kind of like the Wild West of the betting world.  Some prop bets are dull and uninspired but most deliver a bit of sparkle that adds the element of the unknown to an otherwise run-of-the-mill wagering event. 

If you’re looking for some entertainment value in your betting event, try placing some cash on some of the props bets.

Props Bets   

A prop bet is a wager on the proposition an event will or will not happen. You’ve probably done this a million times without giving it a name – you said “I’ll bet that you can’t get out of bed by 8:00a.m. tomorrow morning” or “If you do 50 push-ups I’ll give you $20.”

Those are 2 examples of props bets. You attach a bet to whether or not something will occur. Prop bets are sometimes referred to as ‘specials’ and there are prop bets for all sporting events and for all sports.

In sports betting, prop bets aren’t generally based on the final outcome of a game (though sometimes they are). For example, in a team sporting event, there are often prop bets on which player will score first or which player will exceed a specific threshold. The prop bet isn’t dependent on the final outcome of the game – if you bet that Team A would score first and they do, you’ve won your bet, even though, in the end, Team B won the game.

Fun Vs. Skill

Prop bets are a great source of fun and entertainment. They make novice bettors who don’t know much about the sport and/or don’t know much about sports betting feel that they’re a part of the action. They can also be a crucial piece of a long term profitable and winning sports betting strategy. 

Types of Props Bets

There are different types of prop bets. A prop bet usually lends itself to one of these two goals, though sometimes to both.

Fun Props Bets

Some prop bets  are fun prop bets. They involve wagers that require zero skill to place and are mainly for the bettor’s entertainment. For example, a prop bet on whether a football game’s coin toss will be heads or tails – no knowledge is required to get it right so this type of prop bet is simply for fun.

Sometimes, prop bets have nothing to do with the game itself. Will the National Anthem take over or under a certain length of time? No skill in predicting the outcome, just a good guess for some fun.

So unlike a bet in which you wager on a player’s performance or the final result of a game based on what you know about the players, the weather, the team’s history, etc, a fun prop bet is just a wager on a guess and it requires no skill.

Skilled Prop Bets

The second type of prop bet category is the skilled prop bets. Here, you  leverage knowledge and skill to make an educated prediction of the outcome. It’s still a prediction but it’s based on something more than guessing. For example, if you want to place a prop bet on whether Jack Sprat will score under or over 1.5 touchdown, you’d use your knowledge base to make that prediction based on whether he has had any injuries during the season, who he’s matched up against, and other factors that could give you insight into his expected performance. If you have the skill to make accurate predictions you can increase your chances of winning prop bets. 

Knowing the Difference

If you’re going to be successful at placing prop bets you need to figure out which bets require skill and which don’t – and then determine which bets are the ones that you want to place. You need to assess your goals – do you just want to have fun or are you looking to leverage your knowledge to make some money.

Fun prop bets are straight gambling – relying on luck. They aren’t part of a strategy that involves making a profit from betting. If you are a knowledgeable bettor and want to make money, you need to choose prop bets that require that you have skill and expertise.  


Prop bets will be paid out according to the odds that are associated with the bet. For wagers that have an under/over line, you’ll generally see payouts of -110 on both sides of the bet. On your football bet where you wagered on whether Jack Sprat would score under of over 1.5 touchdowns, both sides pay out at -110. So for a $100 bet, your profit would be $90.91. There are varying payouts as well.

You might also see prop bets with multiple different lines on which you can bet. For example, you might have the opportunity to bet on whether Jack Sprat will score under or over 1.5 touchdowns or under or over 2.5 touchdowns.  Such bets pay out at different rates since the likelihoods of the two options differs.

On prop bets regarding whether or not something will happen, the sportsbook will give varying odds. For instance, on a bet of whether or not a baseball game will have more than 9 innings, you might see that at +800 (or something like that) which means that  on a $100 bet, you would get $800 in profit if you make the right choice. That number will vary based on how likely (or unlikely) the occurrence is to happen.


Now that there are prop bets you can bet on a specific part of the game, not only the final outcome. You can bet on the performance of one specific player, one quarter or inning or any of a million things that might occur during the game. Prop bets are good for entertainment, to introduce new fans to the intricacies of the sport, share your interests with a family member who isn’t as “into” the sport as you and other benefits. 

Many people who place prop bets believe that these bets can be more profitable than other types of bets. You might not know intricate details of an upcoming match but you can still participate in the excitement of the event through a prop bet. You can bet exclusively on prop bets or you can add prop bets to traditional bets so you can expand the possibilities that you’ll collect.

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