Prop Betting Strategy Explained with Examples

Props, short for propositions, have exploded in recent years and are now one of the top betting markets for sports gamblers. Originally invented as novelty wagers by Las Vegas sportsbooks for Super Bowl wagering, prop markets have caught on in a huge way.

Today, the bets extend far beyond the Super Bowl and even the NFL and are available for just about every major market sport. Player and team props are now updated daily across many different sportsbooks for just about every sport.

Prop markets are geared toward recreational bettors but offer a unique option for betting with a +EV mindset to take advantage of potentially some of the softest lines that bookmakers offer. It’s one of the best ways to find profitable markets early on and build your bankroll up.


Examples of Props

Props, by definition, are betting markets that occur during a game, but do not directly affect the game’s final outcome or score. One of the most common props in today’s market is, “Which team will score first?”

Here’s an example of this fundamental prop:

Who Will Score First?

New England Patriots (-130)

Buffalo Bills (-110)

This is what we would call a team prop; a player prop is centered on one or more players. Again, an example:

Total Receiving Yards – Calvin Johnson

Over 80.0 Yards (-110)

Under 80.0 Yards (-110)

This player prop focuses on a player’s reception yards. In this case, it’s the total yards receiving by Detroit Lions’ receiver Calvin Johnson.

The above examples only scratch the surface when it comes to player and team props. Players can be pit against each other in terms of stats (even between sports), even if they’re not playing the same game. The number of props a sportsbook can offer is endless and is entirely up to the oddsmakers’ imagination.

Remember, propositions can be related to any aspect regarding a sporting event, even stuff that happens before the game, at halftime, etc. Bettors can wager on who will win the coin toss or on the length of the National Anthem.


Are Props Profitable?

Propositions are much smaller markets compared to sides, totals, and even money lines betting on an average game. Bookmakers only have so much time to devote to keeping accurate lines; they’re much more interested and keeping their massively bet markets sharp, rather than smaller markets.

Furthermore, props are generally bet by novice bettors, meaning that sportsbooks can throw out some weak lines, use their vigorish edge, and collect an easy profit most of the time. However, this is also the reason why propositions might have lower limits compared to other markets.

Many sharp bettors have realized that propositions are excellent markets to target, especially for players looking to build a bankroll who bet lower stakes. The reason props have much lower maximum bets compared to sides and totals is because, while they’re moneymakers for the sportsbooks against the public, they offer loads of expected value for experienced bettors.


Large Differences in Odds

One of the biggest reasons for inefficiencies in prop markets is because of how vastly different the odds can be depending on the sportsbook. It’s almost impossible to find odds that differ so wildly when it comes to larger markets, such as side and totals.

Bettors will sometimes get a half-point advantage on their prospective side, but when larger markets shift, the lines move everywhere across worldwide betting markets. This is not always the case with proposition markets.

While some bookmakers are much sharper than others when it comes to keeping an eye on their propositions, many sites are slow to move props, and some may not move them at all. Also, since propositions are drawn up in the minds of oddsmakers, there will be some stark differences in pricing, especially when they are first posted.

This allows bettors to find inefficiencies much easier compared to other markets, therefore making propositions potentially lucrative.


Individual Matchups

As I mentioned above, sportsbooks simply don’t have the time to put a lot of thought into their proposition markets. When bettors combine line shopping with their knowledge of the sport, it can be an excellent combination.

In the age of technology and social media, getting up-to-date information on injuries is now easier than ever, which can be used to your advantage when it comes to betting props. News breaks quickly and affects teams’ and coaches’ game plans against each other. Monitoring injury reports and news will give you another tool in your arsenal.

General knowledge of the league and players also can’t hurt. Getting the best price on your prop wager is going to be your best tool to win consistently, but understanding the game plans of coaches and how teams match up against each other can’t be understated.

Everyone can read an injury report and see who is suiting up to play that day, but few can understand how that injury will affect the rest of the team’s play. Doing your best to figure out the “game script” and taking into account matchups, advanced data, and coaching decisions is the best way to see the whole picture.