What Are Prop Bets?

Prop bets are compelling for new bettors because they’re the closest thing to daily fantasy sports that sportsbooks offer. The question is, are prop bets easier to get correct than other bets, or are they strictly for experts?

Or an even simpler question might be, what actually is a prop bet?

Sports betting in Massachusetts isn’t legal quite yet but if and when it is, there will be a large market for prop bets. And in today’s prop betting markets, you can bet on virtually any player to hit any number of milestones in a game or season — from 3-pointers to passing yards to strikeouts, and mor.

Best online sportsbooks for prop betting

All legal online sportsbooks will offer prop bets. However, some books provide more compelling options than others:

DraftKings

Thanks to a user-friendly interface, DraftKings Sportsbook makes its prop markets easy to find. Click any game listing and select the “player props” tab. What you’ll find is a fun and diverse range of prop betting options including:

  • An extensive selection of prop categories for NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, and more
  • Props for more obscure starters/bench players.
  • Tons of live betting props once a game has started.

FanDuel

FanDuel Sportsbook props are also easy to find via a clean interface and marked tabs inside individual game listings. FanDuel is close to DraftKings in prop betting options:

  • A solid list of props for all major sports and leagues (slightly less than DraftKings but still among the best in the industry).
  • Good selection of single-game parlays that allow you to combine props and other game outcomes.
  • Terrific live betting prop options.

BetMGM

The BetMGM app is intuitive and easy to use, with clearly labeled prop betting options. While BetMGM does not provide the same number of individual player props as FanDuel or DraftKings, it still offers a fantastic range of:

  • Team and player props.
  • Point total props.
  • Same-game parlays.

What is a prop bet?

Prop bets are wagers that you can place on individual aspects of a game, rather than just betting on which team will win. For instance, a prop bet can be on specific players or in-game events that may or may not directly impact the game’s result.

Prop bets can include individual statistical milestones, in-game events or even stray into more random elements. Some popular prop bet examples include:

  • Individual player milestones (receiving yards, assists, hits, etc.)
  • Which team will score first in the game
  • Which player will score first
  • Which team will be the first to reach a particular score (first team to 20 points, for example).

How do I place a prop bet online?

You need to find a sportsbook, sign up to claim any online sports betting bonuses and download the app if you plan to bet on your phone a lot. Once you open an account and make your first deposit, you are ready to begin placing bets. From there, check out individual games that interest you to see what prop bets are available.

One compelling aspect of prop betting is that you can make them at any time before or during a game/season. With odds and betting options that continue to update once a game starts, you can continue betting on prop lines and odds that change depending on what’s happening on the field.

Game props vs. season props

In addition to betting on individual games and player milestones, you can also bet on season-long accomplishments. Prop futures are often tied to team/player statistics but reflect the entirety of the season rather than just one game.

Betting on season-long props comes with additional risks and rewards. Given the greater sample size, you may be able to make your bet with greater confidence. However, unforeseen factors — such as injuries — can also influence these bets. Here are some examples of prop bets you can make both for a game and the entire season:

  • Points scored (over/under).
  • Statistical milestones (number of home runs, receiving yards, assists, etc.).
  • Yes or no bets (player X to have the most rebounds in the league).

How are prop bets paid out?

Payouts usually happen as soon as the prop bet in question has a result. For instance, if you bet “Rob Gronkowski to score the first touchdown,” the bet closes as a win or a loss as soon as there’s been a touchdown in the game.

The same goes for season-long props if a player reaches the milestone in question before the end of the season — for example, “Rob Gronkowski over 650 receiving yards.

You’ll want to confirm this by checking the rules of your sportsbook, as there are some exceptions where bets only pay out at the end of the game/season or have slower processing where prop bets take a little longer to pay out.

Can you parlay prop bets?

You can, depending on the sportsbook. Many books will not let you parlay props because of their increased odds (i.e., Rob Gronkowski first touchdown +700). Sportsbooks want to limit their exposure by stopping you from parlaying lines that are already juiced.

Some books, like BetMGM, might limit which props you can parlay or allow you to parlay a prop bet with a game outcome (i.e., New England Patriots to win and James White to score). FanDuel is one notable exception, with a wider variety of player props you can use in its same-game parlays.

Popular prop bets by sport

Prop bets can vary quite a bit depending on the sport in question. Here are some of the most popular prop bets for major sports leagues (NBA, MLB, NHL, etc.): 

NFL prop bets

  • Player to score the first touchdown
  • Player to score at any time
  • Total passing/rushing/receiving yards for a specific player (over/under)
  • Defensive touchdown (yes/no)
  • Number of receptions (over/under)
  • Number of interceptions (over/under)

NBA prop bets

  • Points, assists or rebounds by a specific player (over/under)
  • Player to score the first basket
  • Number of 3-pointers (over/under)
  • Player X double/double (yes/no)
  • Player X triple/double (yes/no)

MLB prop bets

  • Pitcher X total strikeouts (over/under)
  • Player X total hits (over/under)
  • Player X to hit a home run (yes/no)
  • First team to score a run
  • First player to score a run
  • No runs in the first inning (yes/no)

NHL prop bets

  • Player X to score (yes/no)
  • Goalie X total saves (over/under)
  • Player X total shots (over/under)
  • Player X total assists (over/under)
  • First team to score

College football & college basketball prop bets

In addition to the popular basketball and football props above, specific NCAA-themed prop bets might include the following:

  • Team X to earn a No. 1 overall ranking at some point in the season
  • The school with the most players drafted
  • The conference with the most playoff teams

Golf, tennis, MMA, soccer prop bets

A few examples of popular prop bets across other sports including golf props, tennis props and more:

  • Player X to shoot below a certain number (golf)
  • Player X to finish higher than player Y (golf)
  • Number of aces (tennis)
  • Number of unforced errors (tennis)
  • Total rounds a fight will last (MMA)
  • Player X to win by KO (MMA)
  • Player X to score a goal (soccer)
  • Number of corner kicks (soccer)

Super Bowl prop betting

The Super Bowl is synonymous with prop betting, ranging from the standard bets listed above to an even more extensive selection, sometimes straying into the bizarre or random.

In addition to the standard football props above, here are some of the most popular Super Bowl bets:

Game related:

  • First offensive play (run or pass)
  • Team X to score on its first drive (yes/no)
  • Will there be a safety? (yes/no)
  • Two-point conversion attempt (yes/no)
  • Last play QB kneel (yes/no)

Unrelated to the game:

  • Coin toss (heads or tails)
  • Length of the national anthem compared to the shortest scoring drive

You can also make crossover props involving the Super Bowl and another sport. An example of this would be “more points scored — Jayson Tatum or the New England Patriots?”

Most extreme, weirdest prop bets

Prop bets allow for a lot more flexibility than traditional game lines. This added level of creativity can sometimes stray into the more extreme. Here are some examples of such prop bets:

  • Kicker X to hit the upright during the game (yes/no) (aka the “Doink” special)
  • Color of the Gatorade poured over the winning coach
  • The first coach fired (season)
  • The first player to get a technical foul (NBA Finals)

Some offshore sportsbooks will even offer prop bets related to politics or pop culture. However, legal sportsbooks in the US won’t offer these bets. It is illegal to provide odds on political elections, so you know you’re using an unlawful sportsbook if you see them.

While it can be fun to mix things up with an outside-the-box bet, make sure you remain in your comfort zone.

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