A “proposition” bet, or more commonly known as a prop bet, is a wager that is not directly related to the final score of the game.
The most common bets you see are moneyline bets, bets against the spread, or totals. Those are not prop bets as those are all dependent on the final outcome of the game.
A prop bet, on the other hand, isn’t as common but can be much more profitable. Most popular types of prop bets are player props, but there are also fun non-player prop examples such as the coin toss or how long the national anthem will go for in the Super Bowl.
As you can see in the screenshot above, the OddsJam Positive EV page is filled with sharp, profitable player props.
Types of Prop Bets
As mentioned earlier, the most common types of prop bets are player props.
What are Player Props?
The easiest way to sum it up is if it is a stat that is tracked and leads to points in fantasy, then there is a prop bet for it.
NFL: Most popular include passing yards, rushing yards, receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns, and longest reception
NBA: Most popular include points, rebounds, assists, three pointers, blocks, steals, double-double, and triple-double.
What are Game Prop Bets?
Along with player props, are also game props.
Types of game props include: longest touchdown, first team to score, first team to X points, and total touchdowns.
What are Special or Exotic Prop Bets?
Lastly, and also the least common, there are some novelty bets that books will have. You will mostly only ever see these on big games like the Super Bowl, but they can be fun to bet on.
Examples are coin toss heads or tails, which team wins the coin toss, what color will the Gatorade bath be, and how long will the national anthem go.
How to Read Prop Bets
The odds on prop bets follow the same logic as a normal spread or total that you commonly see at -110 odds. The main difference is that prop bets generally have a much higher variance as far as the odds go.
As you can see above, instead of both sides being -110 each, you will see sides as high as +140/-180 for the Chris Godwin over/under receptions. So, if you were to bet $100 on Godwin over 7.5 receptions you would profit $140. These wider markets indicate there is more juice baked into player props. This is due to the high amount of variance in these types of bets.
Should You Bet Prop Bets?
Short answer? Yes, absolutely! For starters, it’s fun. Betting on sports is supposed to be fun, and prop bets are a good way to get some skin in the game if you aren’t confident in any of the main markets. Not sure if you want to touch the spread or total on a Tuesday night football game? No problem! See what props are out there instead.
Another reason why you should bet prop bets is because they can be extremely profitable, but you need to be careful. Let me explain.
Using a tool like OddsJam is the easiest way to take advantage of sportsbooks with player props. The reason for this is there are so many different types of props, it is impossible for these books to set the best lines for each prop. This means that having a sharp tool such as the OddsJam Positive EV and Arbitrage page gives you more opportunities of a sharp, positive EV bet or an arb opportunity.
Sportsbooks know this, though, and because of that they set lower limits for player props. Since they are unable to set the proper line for each and every prop, they instead just rely on lower limits to protect themselves.
Prop Betting Strategies
There are a couple different strategies you can use when betting on player props, and it is up to the individual better and their bankroll to decide which is the correct one for them.
Let’s go back to the same screenshot of the receptions market of the Bucs/Saints game. The first thing to look for when analyzing prop bets is the market width.
Market width signifies a sportsbooks confidence in the betting market. It looks at the difference between the two betting markets. The higher the number the less confident the sportsbook is, so you want a lower number or a more narrow market. Traditionally, the highest width you should bet is 20-25 cents. The way you calculate the number is very easy.
All you need to do is take away the negative odds and subtract the odds for each side. I’ll use the Alvin Kamara over under 4.5 receptions side for this example. The over is +125 while the under is -165.
165 – 125 = 40. In this case, I wouldn’t bet this market as the market width is 40.
Two props I would touch are the Marquez Callaway (no width at all) and Mike Evans (20 cents) as those are both below the 25-cent threshold.
Using this same screenshot of the OddsJam Positive EV page, the best strategy to consistently profit using prop bets is to only look at props where the OddsJam Perfect line is around the 25 market width threshold. This is a good way to find sharp, profitable bets. But ultimately it’s up to your risk tolerance as a bettor to potentially look at props with wider market widths say 30-40 cents.
Another strategy is to use a sports handicapper when finding sharp prop bets. One handicapper that we recommend is The Best Bet on Sports.
Be Careful with Prop Bets, Though
As mentioned earlier, sportsbooks are quick to limit you when betting on props. This is especially true if you are placing large wagers on props. So, make sure you are diversifying your portfolio and keep tabs on how much you are spending specifically on props so you don’t have the dreaded sportsbook limit.