The world of professional sports is massive, and by now, you’ve no doubt heard of people making bets on important games like the Super Bowl or the World Cup. Whether you’re a complete newbie or a seasoned better, that feeling of success that comes when your strategy plays out is truly unforgettable. However, personal biases tend to get in the way of accurate bets – we all want our team to win, after all, no matter who the odds are in favor of.
Prop betting is an interesting way to work around your favoritism by placing bets on specific events that happen during the game. From how long the national anthem is to whether or not a game will go overtime, these wagers add variety to the betting pool other than just “which team will win.” To get the most out of your wagers and build a strong prop betting strategy, check out our ultimate guide below.
Traditional Sports Betting
Before getting into the fine details of prop betting in sports, let’s review how traditional sports betting works. After all, that is the foundation of all varieties of sports betting that came after!
Traditional gambling is often played on a win-lose ratio. The person who bets on the winning team wins the bet and gets whatever was wagered in the bet.
Sports betting is an old, widespread practice that just about every culture participates in. In the United States, betting on horse races was the most popular method for sports gambling before the development of television and televised sports programs. In these settings, gamblers would place bets on horses they thought would win the race at a betting counter at the racecourse. Many stadiums also have betting counters for people looking to gamble on their favorite team. Sportsbooks allow people to place bets based on a given list of betting options and were initially sold at brick-and-mortar stores but are now available digitally so users can bet anytime, anywhere.
What is a “Prop Bet?”
If you’re wondering, “What is a prop bet in sports?” this is a great place to start.
Prop bets are smaller bets that don’t rely on a specific winner or loser. Instead, they focus on different aspects of an event. Although popularized in sports, you can see prop betting everywhere: betting on whether or not the bus will be late, how many times a presidential candidate says “you” in a speech, or whether or not your boss gives everyone a raise for the fourth year in a row.
Prop bets can be almost anything, no matter how weird they seem. They just can’t be about a winner or a loser.
Prop Betting in Sports
In the world of sports gambling, prop bets have a place in sportsbooks, too – they’re pretty old, at least in internet years! The first ever Super Bowl prop bet occurred during Super Bowl XX when the Bears faced the Patriots. Since then, prop betting has become a popular addition to traditional sports gambling and has become especially popular for casual fans who just want to enjoy the game without worrying too much about specific team strategies and statistics.
Examples of Prop Bets
As we’d mentioned earlier, prop bets can get pretty wild. A personal favorite of ours is “how long will the national anthem last?” since it’s a good conversation starter for just about any game. Sportsbooks will often have typical prop bet categories based on a given sport.
In the NFL, you might find the following:
- Will there be a safety in the game?
- Which team has more rushing yards?
- Which team will have the most receptions?
- Which player will have the most receptions?
- Whether or not the game goes into overtime
- How wide is the winning team’s margin of victory?
- Which player scores the most three-point shots?
- Which team will score first?
- Will there be extra innings to decide the game?
- Will an animal show up on the field, forcing the game into timeout? Note: this kind of bet is illegal in professional settings but totally fine to do with your friends.
- Which player will score first?
- Will the game go to a shootout?
- Will a specific player go to the penalty box?
Ways to Bet
So, how do you make a prop bet? Generally speaking, there are two ways to do so:
Prop bets between friends are a fun way to liven up a game night, and they’re usually the most relaxed option. While we’re mainly talking about formal prop bets here, there’s nothing wrong with a friendly wager between you and a couple of your friends, especially if you’re just learning how prop betting works.
The best way to bet in person, however, is at a betting site, where people can watch the game and make bets throughout the event. Typically found in and around sports stadiums, betting sites aren’t nearly as popular anymore, but if you can find one, it can be a lot of fun.
The most popular way to bet on sports is through online sportsbooks. These databases provide betters with plenty of information regarding a game and easy access to fast and secure betting methods. Users can make or change their bets with just a few clicks – or, if you use one that has an app, with just a few taps on your phone. This method is also far more accessible than in-person betting sites since they allow users to bet on any game, not just local ones. Some sports television networks even encourage betting through their own website!
Finding an Online Sportsbook
The first step to a successful prop bet is to find the right place to do it. Here’s how to find the right sportsbook for you:
Your first step to finding a good sportsbook is to do your research. Look into the site’s history and how it treats customers. Reviews are a great place to start – both on major news sites and just swimming around online. Consumer reviews are the best way to determine if the sportsbook treats customers fairly and has decent security measures. News sites don’t often cover security breaches.
You’ll need to research multiple sportsbooks before moving on to the next step.
2. Compare Sportsbook Offers and Regulations
Next, it’s time to compare and contrast. Make a list of what you’re looking for betting-wise, and see how each option compares to your dream list. Then, compare them with each other; maybe one site provides lots of promotions or low-risk incentives but has higher subscription fees. Or perhaps another site offers some lesser-known, niche sports you’re interested in.
Use this time also to compare and contrast each sportsbook’s house rules. Since house rules vary from site to site, finding ones that align with your betting style is essential to success.
3. Be Aware of the Rules
Before placing a bet with any online sportsbook, always familiarize yourself with its house rules – that way, you can ensure that you’re betting safely and legally. We’ll go more in-depth with the rules to prop betting below:
Common Rules and Regulations for Prop Betting in Sports
Before making your prop bet, there are some general guidelines to follow in order to bet safely and legally. These regulations vary from state to state but generally include the following:
1. No Betting at College Games
Many states prohibit betting on college sports games because there is no way for the students participating to benefit from the game as a whole.
2. No Betting on In-State Teams
Some states also prohibit betting on in-state teams, probably to keep fights from breaking out over personal bias.
3. The House Rules
Every prop bet falls under general house rules, which do not vary from state to state but may vary from sportsbook to sportsbook. The most common house rule states that people cannot bet on any players pulled from participating in a game. The sportsbook management will void and refund any related bets in this case.
Legal vs. Illegal Bets
In states where sports gambling is legal, there are still rules as to what you can and cannot make bets on – we touched upon this briefly with college rules and regulations regarding in-state teams, but each state also has specific guidelines for what you can and cannot bet on. Typically, all wagers must revolve around player statistics and the game in order to be legal.
To work around this, offshore betting sites exist to broaden betting content. You might see prop wagers regarding entertainment aspects of the game or other highly specific bets. Just because offshore betting adds variety to your betting options doesn’t mean they come without risk. Since the location is offshore and technically outside of national jurisdiction, many offshore betting sites do not follow standard rules for security within the country. Although these places are technically “legal” betting locations, their status as independent from United States’ regulations allows those in charge to cut corners – betting at an offshore site is significantly riskier than betting on land.
The Secrets to a Successful Bet
Aside from choosing a good sportsbook, there are some other ways to make a successful prop bet in sports. We’ve got a great article regarding sports betting in general that goes into extensive detail regarding what makes a great bet. For prop bets, the information is about the same:
The best and worst part about online sportsbooks is that they’re constantly updating. The tide of a game may change based on several factors, and for you, constant updates mean access to a constantly-changing strategy. The most successful sports betters stay on top of these changes and adjust their bets accordingly.
One of the most important factors in building your strategy is to research who and what you’re betting on. For prop bets, this doesn’t necessarily mean researching a whole team’s statistics but instead focusing on a single player or a common issue with a particular stadium.
Prop betting opens up a wider avenue for statistical research, making it much more fun for people who know a lot about referees and the history of a team mascot. When you plan to make your bet, ensure it’s backed by research.
Parlays are a string of semi-related prop bets that can potentially spell massive rewards for the winner but equally massive losses. For those who are especially new to sports betting or those looking to make some extra cash, parlays are a high-risk, low-payoff gamble – you’re better off avoiding them.
Success in any gambling scene comes from moderation. Creating a budget strategy for placing bets is key to avoiding massive losses down the road. It’s also essential if you want to continue participating in the community. Lots of betters tend to place spending caps on their bets: 1% of a paycheck goes towards betting this week, or you can only bet $500 at a game. This way, you’re planning ahead for potential losses and setting yourself up for long-term success. You’re more likely to make little wins over a long period than one massive win in one game.
Abandon the Fandom
Another way to get into that success mindset is to abandon your favorite team. Well, it’s more along the lines of not letting your personal biases affect how you bet. While prop betting allows for less team loyalty, it’s still necessary to put aside biases on your bets if you plan to make money.
Getting in touch with betting pros and others interested in the fun of prop betting is an excellent way to expand your statistical skillset. Whop offers tons of sports betting Discord and Slack chatrooms for amateur betters, seasoned professionals, and casual betters alike. Connecting with others who enjoy the same hobbies as you is a fun way to build your skills and create connections with others for more betting opportunities and events. Most sports betting group chats also feature channels that feature real-time updates and advice from experts, giving you a statistical advantage.
Looking to get into the prop betting scene? Check out some of our premium sports prop betting channels and organizations for more information!