First, a bettor must understand the prop bet they are looking for. There are two kinds of prop bets, which are fun prop bets and skilled prop bets. Both serve their purpose in the prop betting world.
Fun Prop Bets
Fun prop bets focus more on the thrill of gambling rather than the skill it takes to win a bet. Fun prop bets are usually seen around the Super Bowl, or sportsbooks will post them for events like "Who will win The Bachelor?" Fun prop bets don't take skill to win. There is a way to handicap the coin toss, but it is a fun way to start off watching the Super Bowl. That is if the bet wins.
Skilled Prop Bets
Skilled prop bets focus more on finding an edge in the individual market. A skilled prop bet might be Tom Brady over/under 300 passing yards. A bettor could look at that and do some homework. How many yards does Tom Brady average a game? How many passes does he throw a game? Who are they playing? How good is the defense? Are there injuries to factor? Is the weather ideal for passing? All of these questions go into the bettor deciding whether or not to wager on the prop.
How Prop Bets Are Calculated
Like spread, totals, and moneylines, prop bets are strategically set to get an even amount of money on both sides. Sportsbooks look at the individual bet and decide the factors in creating an accurate line. Some factors include player skill, role, opponent, and other factors. If it's an individual event in the game like "What will the team score a touchdown the first series?", then sportsbooks will look at the likelihood at the offense scoring, and the possibility of the defense stopping them.
Depending on the prop bet, bettors should look at the juice offered. Juice is the amount sportsbooks charge the bettor. For example, standard juice is considered -110, meaning that a bettor has to be willing to be $110 to win $100.
Some prop bets might have juice of -500, which means that a bettor would have to wager $500 to win $100. In those cases, the odds say that the outcome has an excellent chance of happening. However, a prop bet could have juice of +500. This means that a bettor would have to bet $100 to win $500. The payout looks more enticing, but the odds of it happening are less likely.
From there, bettors can decide whether or not the juice is worth taking a stab. Many prop bets are -110 juice. However, the ones that don't need extra consideration before placing. Remember, sportsbooks are good at what they do, and strategically make spreads to beat sports bettors every week.
Looking for Value in Prop Bets
Trying to find value in a prop bet is no different than trying to find value in a spread or a total. First, a sports bettor needs to do their homework. They must decide if this is a skilled or a fun prop bet.
Fun prop bets don't take as much work as they are for gambling purposes rather than finding an edge. However, some fun props could have value if a bit of insight is found.
Skilled prop bets are where the value is found. First, a bettor will look at what the prop is offering. If a player is interested in a wide receiver prop bet, then there a few extra steps that will be made to make sure the value they see is there.
A bettor might look to see who the quarterback is and how they're playing. This will determine if the receiver has a reliable player to throw them the ball. Also, a bettor might look at the other receivers on the team. They could ask themselves if any players could take away from the receiver prop they are eyeing.
Also, paying attention to the opponent's defense, specifically pass defense, is key. If the opponents pass defense is top tier, then the receiver might have a tougher time making the plays he needs to win the prop.
How is the player used?
Player usage could be one of the biggest factors that go into a prop bet. In the NFL, players have different roles on a team that best fits their scheme. With the NFL being a week to week league, sometimes players are more fit against one team than others. This gives skilled prop bettors an edge because if they know the players and schemes they're in, then they can circle individual matchups that could exploit the market.
Also, prop bettors might find a player that is seeing his usage increased. Depending on the week, if the matchup is good for that player, then that is something that will interest prop bettors. The increased workload might pay off for a week or two long enough for a bettor to take advantage of an inefficient market.
Looking at more advanced metrics could decide whether or not a prop bet hits. If someone looked at yards per game, that wouldn't tell the overall story of a player's skill. Bettors need statistics that measure a player's ability instead of telling an audience their performance. These are the things to keep in mind that make or break a prop bettor.
Prop betting is no different than betting spreads, moneylines, or totals. The goal is to find inefficiencies in the market and exploit them. Prop betting is a tricky market to get into, but there is a lot of value once a bettor gets their feet wet.
Perks of Prop Betting
Prop betting is tricky to get the hang of for novice bettors. However, once players understand the prop betting market, then it becomes a lot more intriguing. Of all the bets sportsbooks give to bettors, prop bets are the field that has the most value.
Oddsmakers aren't as concerned with prop bets since there could be so many for one game, that if they are wrong, then it doesn't hurt the bottom line. The oddsmakers focus is on the spread, total, and moneyline, which gives players more value.
If players focus on prop bets, then they could find value on players that the sportsbooks miss. Especially with the NFL being a week to week league, sportsbooks might not be able to keep up on the latest injury news, or recent trends that go on with individual players. This creates an edge for the bettors if they can sniff it out.
Prop betting is still a lot of work, and arguably, even more work than betting spread and totals. However, prop bets could also give more value than anything else on the board.
Prop Bets FAQ
Where can someone bet props?
Someone can bet props at any sportsbook that offers them. Prop bets are becoming popular in the U.S., and, rarely, oddsmakers don't make multiple props for a single event. Usually, prop bets have their section at sportsbooks, so they are easy to find.
Can someone bet on prop bets during the game?
Yes, some sportsbooks offer in-game prop bets. These prop bets can vary from, "what will the next play be?" or "what will be the outcome of the next drive?" In-game prop bets are more fun props to bet on and get people in the thrill of gambling and the game they're watching. Rarely do more skilled prop bets pop up in-game.
What are the wagering limits on prop bets?
Depending on the sportsbook, limits are very low compared to wager limits on the spread, moneyline, or total. The prop betting market is challenging for sportsbooks to navigate. There can be hundreds of prop bets to follow every single week in the NFL. So, sportsbooks know that some bettors have an edge on them in the prop betting market. They keep the prop bets low to limit their risk and focus more on the spread and total.
Can sportsbooks create prop bets on non-sporting events?
Yes. Sportsbooks will make prop bets on the election, red carpet events, and even the weather. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it was reported that people were placing bets on what the temperature would be outside. While the sports world ground to a halt, bettors needed to find something to bet. If people are willing to bet it, then sportsbooks will write a ticket for it.
The prop betting market is vast. On any given NFL Sunday, there could be well over 100 prop bets on the board. The Super Bowl continues to add to the hundreds of prop bets sportsbooks offer for the one event. Super Bowl props range from who will win Super Bowl MVP to what will be the first song played during the halftime show.
That is just one example of how crazy the prop betting market can be. The market is still young, and is starting to grow in the U.S. Bettors are find more value in props than they are on the games themselves. Sportbooks can't keep up with the number of prop bets they offer during the NFL season. Skilled prop bettors find value weekly on some of the props they throw on the board. However, prop betting is tricky. Players need to understand individual players and matchups within a game. If bettors figure out the market, then they have a great chance at turning profit.