In sports betting on a proposition, also called a prop bet or a prop, a wager is placed on anything other than a point spread, moneyline or game total. Exactly what this wager might be is anything from which team will score first, to which quarterback will have the most passing yards, to any other scenario described by a betting site
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This form of wagering is generally considered the easiest to beat. To support this, Las Vegas’ number one sports book for prop wagers, the Las Vegas Hilton, has gone on record many times claiming that Las Vegas sports books frequently lose money on prop bets. Meanwhile, many betting sites willing to take $5K-$40K per bet on NFL sides limit props to $200 or $300 max bets.
The reason props remain the easiest wager to beat relates largely to careless bookmaking. Don’t get me wrong: this is not at all a knock on the bookmaker. With several hundred lines to create and manage, lines managers are content with simplistic methods and low betting limits for small market props. This means that it is quite possible for a serious low to mid-stake pro to analyze a single prop in far greater detail than the odds maker that created it. Meanwhile, the small max betting limit keeps the sharks away and allows for line movement based on recreational action. Careless bookmakers, no sharks, and lots of fish, sounds like a profitable market to me
To make one thing clear about prop betting, the more smart bettors there are betting props, the lower the opportunity becomes. No one in their right mind is going to write a detailed guide to betting props. To learn, you’ll need to pick things up in bits and pieces. So, while you’ll need to do some digging to get to the point where you can analyze any prop offered, I’ll go ahead and get you started in the right direction. Here, I’ll cover a prop widely available for NFL football, “Which team will score first?”
A Little About Derivatives
The prop bet we just analyzed was a two level deep derivative: Which team to score first is derived from the half time line, which is derived from the full game line. If you’ve read my article on the current betting market, you likely understand that the top level derivative here is the most efficient. The beautiful thing about derivatives in sports betting is that as the main market moves, derivatives follow at a slower pace. Going back earlier in the week to when this prop market first hit the board, the Patriots were favored by more points than they are now. The fact that a small-market level two derivative never fully caught up, combined with recreational bettors moving the line, are the reasons we were able to find this +EV bet. This is an article for another time, but one of the top ways to win in sports betting is to find slow moving derivatives. When you go forward to learning other props, look for ones that are as many derivatives deep as possible, and you’ll have an easier time quantifying your edge.