How to Win Betting Prop Bets

How to win Betting Prop Bets

If you bet at a sportsbook already, you probably see a lot of marketing emails featuring star players and references to how they will perform. Sportsbooks are capitalizing on names as much as teams, and in some cases moreso. Maybe you don’t know much about women’s college hoops but you probably knew that someone named Caitlin Clark was a flamethrower who broke records.

Big college names aside, prop bets are most common in the pro leagues like the NFL and NBA which is more about superstars than it is about the teams they play on.  And that’s why prop bets have gotten so popular. Bookmakers can’t afford not to offer them on most major events because bettors will go elsewhere to bet on individual players.

Sportsbooks have a Love-Hate Relationship with Prop Bets

A sportsbook’s marketing department loves props. But the actual bookmakers hate them. That’s because it’s nearly impossible to manage a true market on proposition wagers. 

Cumulatively there is a lot of prop bet action. On the Super Bowl prop bets can out-number the actual game lines at some books. But each individual proposition wager is supposed to be its own market.

You see, with regular sides and total bets, the lines across all sportsbooks move almost in concert. All sportsbooks typically follow a stock-trading style app that shows all the line moves in real time. The most popular one is still Don Best. For $550 bettors can watch the odds change and try to react before their book does.

Typically Pinnacle or BetOnline will open a team’s odds and Vegas will follow. If someone bets $500k at Pinnacle, on a baseball team, you’ll see the Don Best Screen light up like a Christmas tree as all the books adjust to the new market odds.

With Prop Betting, this system doesn’t work… at all. 

Sportsbooks manage inefficient prop markets

So, How do sportsbooks manage prop odds? There are three ways...

First, they inflate the prices. Lets say you want to bet on the Over 34 on  Lebron Points+Rebounds+Assists total instead of the Lakers spread. You are used to seeing 10% margins AKA -110 on spreads. But now you are seeing -115 or -120 to bet either side of this prop. This bigger margin helps the sportsbook protect itself by building in a cushion.

Second, they keep the limits low.

That’s Why Jontay Porter was busted

When the Jontay Porter scandal broke, mainstream media talked about bettors getting down as much as $2,000 and trying for $10,000. NBA reporters were embarrassed when bettors jumped down their throats challenging them to show a book with even a $1k prop limit. They don’t exist.

Porter bettors were very dumb trying to get down extra money on a role player.. a player who only had a prop bet market because, as we talked about earlier, the sportsbooks now offer them on most players.

For prop bets a sportsbook usually uses software to auto-move the line. This means if you bet on the Lebron James over bet for a max bet of $400, a sportsbook like Pinnacle will automatically move the line from over 34 -120 to over 34 offered at -135. At that point the same bettor can re-bet the new market again and again. Or, they can wait until another bettor bets on the under.

With a prop bet for Jontay Porter there was no market or betting demand and it was the same bettors trying to keep betting the under at all costs. This set up red flag with regulatory bodies.

With this prop bet being so obscure, had these bettors placed the bet offshore instead, Las Vegas wouldn’t have even paid attention since no one else is betting on the lesser known Porter. Did you know MPJ even had a little bro in the NBA?  Me neither. 


Low Hanging Fruit Ripe for the Picking!

The third way sportsbooks manage prop bets is by simply letting players get the free money!   We talked about how the lines can automatically. We talked about how the limits are low and pricing is higher. At this point the sportsbooks are often content to let the players knock them around. If one player gets $300 on a bet that doesn’t have an advantage for the house, its not the end of the world… especially if more bets follow it.

There are bettors who have a predetermined  points total for every player before prop bets even come out. Once the props are released they go in and bet down all the numbers that don’t match theirs until the line is priced out or matches what they have.

But how do you gain an advantage if the vig is high?

Look for a good Prop Betting Value

 Remember what we said earlier…If someone makes a bet at Fanduel, unlike regular spread bets, it probably isn’t going to impact the line at Draft Kings or offshore. That means that if sharp players bet it at Bookmaker,eu, you may still see Lebron over 34(-110) at Fanduel. Even with higher margins on props, the out-of-market lines are good value.

You shouldn't limit your prop betting to one sportsbook. 

Prop Bets are About the Price Not the Line… so SHOP!

Let's say you want to bet on the Under 2 for total TDs by Travis Kelce. Just because 3 bettors take the Under 2 TDs for the max, don’t expect the prop to change to O/U 1.5 TDs. Instead you’ll see the Under 2 at -160. It’s similar to an MLB run line.  Even betting NBA player point totals, it takes a lot of wagers to move the line a half point.

Think of it this way… If you were betting on an NBA first quarter or even first few minutes, a half point is worth a lot right? That’s because its a larger percentage of the line. Props are no different. 

The moral of the story? If you can find a half point difference in your favor on a player with an over under of 15 points, that’s HUGE and can make up for inflated juice.

The smaller the number, the more greater impact and value the half point has. So if you can bet on player point totals to Lebron’s backup rather than Lebron, you find more advantages.

Sportsbooks are aware that small totals leave an advantage for the bettor. That’s why it’s common to see Draymond Green O/U 20 Points+Rebounds rather than O/U 8 Points.

Use Team Schedules to Bet Player Props

Most opening lines are set based largely on averages. The bookmaker takes the averages and adjusts the line for things like back-to-backs, injuries, and travel. But rarely are the most likely game scenarios taken into consideration.

For example, you might believe that the Mavericks are a bad matchup for the Knicks and stand a good chance of blowing them out. You also happen to know that those same Mavs have a game the next day. You're handicapping of this game tells you that Luka stands a better than average chance of not playing his average minutes leading you to value the under in Luka’s points.

Use the Game’s Total Line to Handicap Player Props

Another factor is pace of game. Lets say a fast paced team is playing a half court team in the NBA. The game total shows oddsmakers have the pace set to be somewhere in the middle. You however, believe the half court team will not be sped up and the pace will be slower. A slower pace means fewer possessions. The same can be true of an NFL team that runs the ball and how you believe that will impact the pace of the game and the opposing QB’s attempts.

Handicap Player Matchups

You also should pay attention to player matchups, especially in games like the NBA and baseball. Some players can dominate their counterparts, such as a dominant NBA or NCAA basketball center having a strong advantage over the other team’s center. 

The dominant center might be especially good at winning tipoffs or grabbing rebounds. You might use that information to lay a prop bet on the team with the dominant center winning the tip off to start the game. 

Player matchups make it possible to find very promising prop bets in any sport, but you need to have good data and knowledge of the individual players and their roles with their respective teams. You also need to know about opposing teams and players who might affect the outcome, either positively or negatively. As Jay Briggs says, it's about putting together the story and seeing what fits and does not fit.

Look for Outliers when Betting Props

An example is Porzingis vs Jokic. Porzingis usually changes a lot of shots and impacts scoring of the opposition. This average is likely going to drive down the scoring line of the opposing center.

But… if you have watched prior matches between KP and Jokic, or even Jokic vs Wemby, you know that Jokic gets his numbers vs bigger centers. KP struggles to defend Jokic.

This information may allow you to bet under on KP due to higher chance of foul trouble or over on Jokic’s performance lines.

Check Injury Reports and Roster Changes

No matter what type of wager you are laying, you need to check the injury reports and any roster changes that might affect your prop bet. When players have injuries that affect their athleticism, the injuries also affect their potential for covering prop bets.

If you see a prop bet that is based on a player’s average number of points scored in a basketball game, an injury to that player might be enough to make betting the under on total points scored to be a good wager. The injury might affect a player’s ability to make 3-point shots, slow down a pitcher’s fastball, or make a quarterback less accurate when passing. 

An injury might make it easier for an opposing NFL team to sack a quarterback, especially if the offensive line also is affected by player injuries and is less than its best. So might roster changes, so it’s important to understand how injuries and roster changes might affect a prop bet for a team or an individual player.

Skip Prop Bets that can’t be won over the long haul

Betting the Super Bowl props are fun. But a lot of these  are no better than pulling the slot machine lever.

Take the coin toss prop for example.

Winning the coin-toss prop bet requires luck and nothing else. There are only two possible outcomes, and no amount of skill or experience will affect the outcome.

If you bet heads or tales 300 times and risk $110 to win $100, or even $101 to win $100, there is no scenario where after 1000 bets, you are anything but a loser.

Have inside info on the Gatorade flavor the Chiefs like? No? Then don’t bet on that prop either.

Want to bet on the length of the National Anthem at the Super Bowl? Well, you're probably not reading this anyway. 

Ultimately, luck-based bets are there only for bettors who don’t normally wager on props and who don’t have the desire to research players, teams, and game matchups to find the best prop bets. 

Remember prop bets are just like any other bet in that we are looking for an edge. The edge comes from the sportsbooks inability to factor in everything for every prop before releasing it to the public. Exploit that and you can make prop bets profitable for you!

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