For most sports bettors, the introduction to the crazy world of prop bets happened during, or leading up to a Super Bowl. Learning you could bet on the length of the National Anthem, the number of times the broadcasters mentioned a certain topic, and of course, which quarterback would throw for the most touchdowns, opened up a new world of opportunities.
Then, you realized that these bets might not just be the best thing for your bankroll. Even after coming to that realization, I refuse to give up prop bets altogether. In this article, I’ll lay out my top reasons why these bets can be part of an effective betting strategy.
1 – They’re Entertaining
I’m fully aware that betting solely for the entertainment value is not going to end well. If simply adding some excitement to a sporting event was the main objective, most bettors would be wagering primarily on the longshots.
With that being said, most bettors aren’t only in it for the money either. Pro gamblers, or sharps, might take a more analytical approach to what many would consider a hobby. For the vast majority of sports gamblers, the perfect betting strategy makes money, and provides additional entertainment to the games.
I’ve become a fan of prop bets, especially in the NFL, because they’ll keep you locked in throughout the game. For example, if you bet on whether or not the third-option receiver on a team will end up with 40 yards or more, one play can give you the win. On the other hand, if you bet on a team to cover by 10 points and they’re losing in the fourth quarter, hope is mostly lost.
In events like the Super Bowl, props are entertaining because they give every single aspect of the game an opportunity to be a betting win. Things like the coin toss, commercials, and halftime show all have components that you can bet on.
I’ll get into the more rational reasons that prop bets can be part of a successful betting gameplan, but for me personally, entertainment still tops the list.
2 – Prop Betting Offers Unique Value
When you look at the point spreads on most games, if you’re a fan of the sport, you can predict what the number will be with good accuracy. Similarly, sportsbooks will almost always be within a point of one another when setting lines. Prop bets, on the other hand, have a much wider range of potential odds across various platforms. To me, this means there’s added value if you can find a bet at the right number.
As I mentioned in the first reason, I like prop bets because a single play can be the determining factor of whether or not a bet hits. I don’t care how many analytical data systems are in place, predicting how likely it is for a third string running back to score a touchdown is not a black and white equation.
For that reason, I find that some prop bets, especially longshots, are worth taking a flyer on.
The bottom line is that any time it is difficult or complicated to place odds on a certain event taking place; the public is typically going to have more of an advantage over the sportsbooks than they would otherwise. This doesn’t always mean you’re going to win the bet, but it does mean you have a slight advantage, which is rare when it comes to gambling on sports.
3 – Many Available Options
This will vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, but even on the most limited platforms, you’ll find dozens of prop bet offerings for just about any major sporting event.
Have a feeling that a certain backup point guard is going to have an above-average scoring night based on a matchup problem? You can bet on that! Think the wind is going to cause two or more missed field goals in an NCAA football game? Seek and you shall find.
While you might be limited to your choices in terms of betting on the overall outcome of the game, you can avoid this problem by utilizing prop bets. Even if you can’t get a read on how the two teams will match up against each other, you can often break down the matchups into contests between individual players, which are easy to study and predict.
My advice for selecting the right plays is to look for more obscure options. The reason is that sportsbooks will have more trouble putting an accurate price on the bet, and when that happens, gamblers usually benefit.
4 – Prop Bets Help Simplify the Game
As mentioned in the previous section, it can be challenging to know how teams will match up against each other. With so many variables and so many players involved, predicting outcomes is challenging. Prop bets allow you to break down the game and focus on a specific area where you can more easily research and gather data.
For example, I like to bet the over/under on how many rushing yards a particular NFL running back will get in a game. There exists a very black and white checklist of criteria that can be used to help you make an educated decision. First, I’ll examine the health of the running back and the offensive line. Next, I’ll look at the health of the defensive line. After that, I’ll look at the defense’s rushing stats and compare that to the offense. Finally, I’ll take into account the weather and make a decision.
Obviously there is no perfect system, and if I’m lucky I can win 60% of these types of bets. However, if I pick and choose the games that give me the best odds, that 60% can go a long way in contributing to a profitable betting system.
My advice would be to find a certain aspect of a sport (passing yards, rushing yards, sacks, etc.) and follow it for a couple of weeks. Chances are that if you follow it closely, you’re going to have a major advantage over the public.
5 – Sports Betting Public Bias
When looking at odds on a bet of any type, it’s important to recognize that the public has tremendous influence over what the eventual numbers will be. For example, if 70% of the money comes in on the Patriots at -6, you can bet (not literally) that the line will grow (-6.5, then -7, etc.) until the money begins to even out.
The reason for this is simple to understand. Sportsbooks don’t want to bet their profits on the outcome of the game one way or another. In a perfect world, 50% of the money would be on either side of the bet, the losing bets would cover the winners’ payouts, and the house would take home the juice.
Because the majority of the people making prop bets do so without properly researching first, the public money often falls into the trap that sportsbooks set.
For this reason, fading the public is even more of an advisable strategy on prop bets than it would be on typical bets. If you’re looking at a prop bet and it seems “too easy,” go the other way and you’ll be shocked at how much success you’ll have using this strategy.
Conclusion – Try Prop Betting Today
Even with all this praise for prop bets, it’s still important that I mention it’s not the best idea to make your whole strategy revolve around them. Although they can result in some nice wins, they’re more inconsistent over time.
With that being said, next time you log into your preferred sportsbook, look over the prop bet options they’re offering. If you find one that looks particularly enticing and has good value, try your hand and see if you can capitalize.