Main market sides and totals make up the vast majority of sports betting discussion both in casual conversation and online, but there’s just as much if not more money to be made in prop betting.
In fact, it’s often easier to make a profit betting props for three reasons: mathematical edge, personal analysis and fewer variables. Below, I’ll break down these reasons and share how you can use them all to become a profitable prop bettor.
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The best bets and resources to make you more profitable
Mathematical Edge in Prop Betting
Here at OddsJam, we’re all about finding as many edges as possible and using our Positive Expected Value tool to identify them.
The +EV tool compares lines and odds from all the sportsbooks and finds outlier lines with positive expected value (as you may have guessed from the name), where if you bet them over time with a large sample size, you will come out ahead.
In any given game, whether it be football, basketball, baseball, hockey or any other sport, there are just three main markets: the moneyline, the point spread (or run/puck line) and the total.
In each of those games, there are often hundreds of prop markets to bet on, which creates so much more potential for value than if you were limited to only main markets.
For example in football, you can bet on player passing stats, rushing stats, receiving stats, touchdowns, if a defensive player will record a sack or not and even more. There are also team-related prop bets like team yards, touchdowns and more.
One of the strangest props in football that consistently shows up on the +EV page are player longest receptions. For example, would Travis Kelce’s longest reception of the game be over or under 22.5 yards?
This seems incredibly random, but if value is identified in the line and/or odds, then it’s still worth betting.
For bigger games especially — like primetime games or playoff games — there’s an even larger assortment of props ranging from the result of the coin toss to if there will be a score in the first five minutes.
It’s the same with the other three major sports. Baseball has props like NRFIs (no runs in the first inning) and YRFIs (yes runs in the first inning) in addition to player props for everyone in the lineup.
There are props for if a player will get a hit, over/under 1.5 total bases (the over can hit with two singles, or obviously one double, triple, or home run will do the trick), runs scored, RBIs and home run props.
For pitchers, you can bet on pitcher strikeouts, pitcher runs allowed and pitcher outs recorded.
For basketball, there are over/unders for every type of stat including points, rebounds, assists (and the combination of the three added together), 3-pointers, who will score the first basket and much more.
Hockey has lots of props too, including goals, assists, points (goals or assists), shots on goal and goaltender saves.
As you can imagine, when you add all of these bets to your options instead of just main market sides and totals, there’s lots more opportunity for positive expected value to show itself. After all, sports betting is a numbers game.
These props are also bet on by a lot fewer people than the main market sides and totals, so the market is less efficient. The sportsbooks don’t put as much effort into player props since fewer people will bet on them.
Granted, this does often mean they take a higher percentage of vig/juice (by having a higher market width) in order to protect themselves, but it’s still much easier to find value on props than on main markets.
Personal Analysis in Prop Betting
Even though we strongly recommend exclusively betting based on expected value, we understand that’s not everyone’s cup of tea. While most people struggle to make a profit based solely on their own personal picks, it’s not impossible.
For those who enjoy using their own personal analysis to make picks, prop bets can be a great way to do so.
Bettors can target specific matchups and reasoning within a game. For example, let’s say Jared Goff and the Lions are taking on the Chiefs.
I might not be confident in the Lions to keep the game close and cover the spread, but even if they don’t and are trailing by multiple scores, that means they will be trying to pass a lot to get back into the game.
Even though I liked the Lions to put up a lot of offense, the safer bet may be to take Jared Goff’s over pass attempts.
In a baseball hypothetical, I may not trust the offense of the San Francisco Giants to actually score many runs against Max Scherzer of the Mets, but I do know that the Giants love to work deep into the count and at least force the opposing pitcher to throw a lot of pitches.
Since I don’t trust the Giants to turn it into many runs, my best option might be to bet on Max Scherzer’s under for outs recorded — rather than betting on the Giants — as I don’t expect Scherzer to pitch deep into the game with a high pitch count.
Fewer Variables in Prop Betting
This goes hand in hand with both personal analysis and the mathematical edge. With specific props, especially player props, there aren’t many variables that matter other than your specific prop.
For example, you don’t have to feel fantastic about the chances of the Phoenix Suns winning the game in order to take Chris Paul to get over 4.5 rebounds.
Though Paul is more likely to get defensive rebounds, which would require a missed shot from the opponent, the opposing team is going to miss way more than five shots even if they have their best shooting night of the season.
So naturally, it’s possible for Paul to hit his over rebounds even if everything goes wrong for his team in the game.
The Suns don’t need to win, or even play well. Paul can have the worst offensive performance of his life, but as long as he pulls down five rebounds that’s all I care about.
When seeing a prop like this on the positive expected value tool, it’s important to remember how little correlation there is between the player stat prop and the actual outcome of the game.
Putting These Strategies to Use
The Positive Expected Value tool will show you any profitable prop bets, but it’s far from the only way to attack props. The Arbitrage tool can also show ways to guarantee profit on every single bet. For example, if one book has over 4.5 strikeouts at -105 and another has under 4.5 strikeouts at +110, betting on both sides can ensure profit.
Even if you’re just using your own personal analysis, be sure to download the OddsJam Player Props App, which will show you statistical trends from any player’s recent performances.
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