What is prop betting?

Prop betting is the act of betting on an event that takes place inside of or during a game or sporting event. Prop bets involve betting on events that take place inside the game but will differ from traditional point spread and total bets that deal only with the final outcome. A better way to think about it is like this. 

While a point spread or total bet asks you a specific question about the end result of a contest, a prop bet asks you a question about a result that will take place inside the game or event but isn’t directly tied to the final score. 

Prop bets expand our betting options as they allow us to bet on different elements of a contest. Player performance, team totals, who will score first and who will score last, are just some of the examples of the opportunities that prop bets provide us. 

While traditional point spread and side betting markets tend to be very efficient, prop bet offerings are so vast, and can encompass so many different areas, that they can also be easier to beat over the long term. As sports betting analytics has gotten more advanced, prop betting has become an increasingly popular area with both experienced bettors and fantasy football players who are looking for different and better ways to put their player and team expertise to good use. 

What is prop betting and how does prop betting work?

Prop bets work by asking the bettor a question related to a sporting event. The most famous prop bet, and the one that is often credited as launching the prop betting market into the mainstream, is from Super Bowl XX in 1986. This is when sportsbooks in Las Vegas allowed bettors to place a bet on whether or not William “The Refrigerator” Perry would score a touchdown in the game that year (spoiler: he did). 

In even more simplistic terms, prop bets work by asking us simple over/under or yes/no questions related to either a player, team or a portion of the game's outcome. In the above example, the prop bet on Perry asked bettors to answer over or under on whether or not William Perry would score more or less than 0.5 TDs. If you thought Perry would score, you would have bet over and if you thought he wouldn’t score, you would have bet under.

While prop bets are simplistic in how they work there are a ton of different categories and types of prop bets on offer throughout the sports betting industry – and the market for these is still growing. Understanding the different types of prop betting markets, how they work and how they are handicapped can often be key in becoming a successful prop bettor, especially if you are making the transition over from fantasy football. 

Speaking of the transition from Fantasy Football, the best way to start in the prop betting space is by having your first bet paid back if it loses

Is that possible? It sure is. Thanks to BetMGM, you can get your first bet of up to $1,000 paid back in bonus bets if it does not win. Simply follow the offer below to redeem.

Types of prop bets

Player props 

Player props involve betting on the specific outcomes of a player within a sporting event. These player outcomes are almost always related to some kind of general and popular statistical category that is easy to track. For example, touchdowns in football, home runs in baseball and goals in hockey are props that are offered on all major sportsbooks on a slate by slate basis, and are often very popular with bettors as well. Sometimes sportsbooks will offer more exotic types of player props but, for the most part, our player props will almost always be stat-based in some way, shape or form. 

As alluded to above, the most common type of player prop on offer to us will come as a simple over/under proposition – whether or not a player will go over or under a specified total. Below is a great example from BetMGM of a common type of player prop (passing yards) offered during the NFL season. 

QB Props

Choosing over from the above example means that we are effectively answering yes to the question of “Will Josh Allen go over 276.5 passing yards for the game”. Choosing under means that we are answering no to that same question. These kinds of player props are some of the most simple to understand and therefore also some of the most popular with bettors. 

Player props can be offered to us in different ways as well. While many player props are based on individual performance (how many TDs a player scores, how many rushing yards a player will gain) they can also be styled in different ways.

 In a head-to-head prop, a player is matched-up against another player of similar skill or style and the one who performs the best is declared the winner. Match-up style props are also popular on single player daily fantasy sites, like Underdog Fantasy, which allows you to parlay your props into larger tickets and payouts.  

Some examples of popular player props include:

  • Player to score the first or last touchdown of the game (e.g. will Cooper Kupp score the first TD of the game Y/N)
  • Over/under player receptions for an NFL game
  • Over/under total stolen bases for an MLB game
  • Over/under goals scored in an NHL or soccer game
  • Over/under points/assists/rebounds in an NBA game

Game props 

Game props involve betting on match outcomes that would be considered extraneous to betting on the full game money line or the consensus point spread/total of an event. Since sporting events entail such large portions of action, with many natural stops in between (such as quarters or half-time), many game props involve betting on sections of the game rather than final totals. 

These types of props add an extra element to any betting card, and can often provide us with solid opportunities as they allow us to divide the game into sections, if we so wish. For example, if you know a specific NFL team has a tendency to come out fast, but also tends to be very conservative towards the end of the game, you could bet them to win the game on the moneyline, but also use that tendency by betting on a higher scoring first quarter

Highest Score prop

In football, you can bet on the totals by quarter, and the winner of the first quarter, but you can also bet on props like which team will score first, the outcome of the first drive (punt, field goal, touchdown etc) and which team will hit a certain threshold of points first. 

Race to points

In the above example from BetMGM, our game prop isn’t even giving us an overall time frame to go by. We’re simply doing a matchup-based prop between the two teams involved, using the number 10.0 or 20.0 as our marker. 

As you can see, game props are nearly endless in their offerings. Because of that, bigger events like the Super Bowl, World Series or NBA Finals will often offer more game-focused prop offerings than a regular season affair would. 

Some examples of popular game props across the major sports include:

  • Winning margin in an NFL game
  • Will there be extra innings in an MLB game?
  • Will there be a hole-in-one in a golfing event ?
  • Method of finish in an MMA matchup (submission, knockout or decision)

Novelty or exotic props 

Novelty or exotic props are a smaller market of props that focus on things outside of the regular stats or outcome of a game. These kinds of props don’t show up much during the regular season but tend to be offered around larger events like the Super Bowl. Betting the length of the national anthem, the result of the coin toss, or the color of the gatorade to be thrown on the winning coach are some of the more popular kinds of exotic props we see at that event every year. 

Like most props, novelty or exotic prop betting is an expanding market. Political betting markets have been expanding over the last decade and betting on events like the Oscars (best actress, length of speeches etc) is also becoming commonplace. One great example of a exotic prop that gets brought up a lot is betting on who will be the next James Bond

James Bond Odds

These kinds of bets are often offered by online sportsbooks as a fun way to get people to visit their site so not all major outlets will have the same kinds of offerings. When shopping for lines in exotic markets, it never hurts to investigate what is available. Often these kinds of markets won’t get adjusted at the same speed as a player prop from a major sporting event would if significant news affecting the outcome were to drop. 

Live in game props

Live betting is becoming more and more popular as technology and website functionality at major online sportsbooks becomes more advanced. As a result, live prop betting is now available in most key game prop betting markets, and also in some popular player prop betting markets as well. Not every betting site is the same but most offer the ability to bet on in-play props like “which team will score next”, “who will win the next quarter”, and overall team totals. 

Many sportsbooks will also offer player props on things like the next TD scorer in the NFL or even in-game player receptions or yards. Betting live in game player props can be highly advantageous as well, although with the ever changing game environment and odds, you have to act fast. While the in-play odds will shift quickly, if you can foresee player usage in the NFL or understand the rotation of a team in basketball (e.g. when a player will come off the bench) it can lead to great opportunities when betting live props. 

Some examples of popular live in game betting props across the major sports include:

  • Betting on what the next scoring play will be in the NFL
  • Betting on which team will score next in the NHL
  • Betting on the outcome of a player at bat in MLB

Draft props 

The draft process has always been a heavily televised and watched event for several major sporting leagues, but specifically the NBA and NFL. With most betting sites expanding their prop offerings most also now offer a large selection of props regarding the outcome of the draft. Draft position prop bets (which spot a player will get drafted), team-based prop bets (which player or position a specific team will pick) and positional-based prop bets (how many WRs, QBs or RBs will be taken in a specific round) are all common offerings now come draft time in the prop betting markets. 

Prop betting around league drafts has not only become more popular of late, but it’s also been widely recognized as a great source of value betting. Sportsbooks will often put out early over/under lines on where a player will land in the draft well before the event actually occurs. As sentiment changes on players, a player’s over/under and odds will shift. However, oftentimes there is a large window of opportunity on these draft props – larger than there would be on a traditional point spread – to take advantage of new information before a drastic shift takes place.

Some examples of popular draft props includes:

  • Over/under props on which position a player will get taken
  • Team based props based on which position or player a team will take
  • Draft props based on how many players at a specific position will get taken in a specific round.
    • This prop can also extend to things like how many players from a specific college will get chosen 

Season long props (player total futures)

Much like we can bet on player props in categories like player yards, player TDs and player receptions over the course of a single game, so can we bet on these same props over the course of an entire year. 

Season-long player props are a large part of any futures market offerings from the NFL and other major sports. They work just like regular player props but you have to invest in them over a longer period. 

Passing Yards prop

Season long player props aren’t just limited to specific statistical categories either, like the one above, but also extend to markets like player awards and statistical leaders. 

Passing Touchdown prop

In the above example, we are being asked “which quarterback will throw the most TDs” in the league this season – which essentially works out as a match-up prop between all the quarterbacks in the league. In this scenario, Patrick Mahomes could throw 55 TDs next season (and go well over his single-player total) but if Josh Allen throws 56 he would still lose out on the above prop. 

Some examples of popular season-long player props include:

  • Over/under props on popular stats like yards, home runs, hits, goals
  • Award props on popular categories like who will win MVP, who will be rookie of the year
  • League wide match-up props based on who will be the statistical leader in popular categories like yards in NFL or goals in hockey or soccer

Types of props by sport 

Prop offerings obviously differ on a sport by sport basis. While some sports may be more ripe for prop betting than others, oftentimes which props are on offer will depend on the size of the league or popularity of a game (e.g. primetime vs. daytime). We’ve outlined the major prop offerings you can expect to see on a sport by sport basis below. 


The prop offerings across an NFL game or slate will be larger than any other major sport. The Super Bowl prop bets represent the largest prop-based offering across a single event on the planet. As such, there can often be lots of edge to be had across NFL props, if you know where to look. 

Some common NFL props to bet on include:

  • Over/under player props based on player yardage (rushing, passing or receiving)
  • Over/under player props on total TDs, player receptions, player passing or rushing attempts
  • First or last TD scorer
  • Game props based on team totals – which team will score first, race to a certain amount of points


NBA is becoming a massive market for betting in general. Prop betting in the NBA is also becoming more commonplace with player props spanning a bunch of league stats from rebounds and blocks to three-pointers. Match-up props are also popular in the NBA as the busy game schedule and robust statistical categories allow for a lot of exciting match-ups on a slate-by-slate basis

Some common NBA props to bet on include:

  • Over/under player props based on player points, rebounds, steals, blocks, three-pointers made
  • Combo props based on multiple statistical categories, the most popular being points/rebounds/assists
  • Match-up player props pitting one player vs. another in a statistical or combo category– these will often involve a handicap of some sort (e.g. -2.5/+2.5) much a like a point spread bet
  • Game props based on team totals – which team will score first, race to a certain amount of points


Major league baseball is known for being popular with stat geeks so it’s no shock that it also offers bettors a huge variety of player props. Player props in baseball span a huge variety of categories but since baseball games also span nine separate innings there are also a ton of different game props to bet on. 

Some common MLB props to bet on include:

  • Over/under bets on player categories like stolen bases, hits, RBIs, and home runs
  • Game props based on team totals, winning margin and inning by inning winners


The NHL is what we’d call a sport with a low event rate in that goals (aka, the most significant moment in a hockey game) don’t come as quickly as points do in sports like NBA or the NFL. Still, since there are peripheral categories like assists, blocked shots and special teams points to track, player props are becoming a more popular form of betting in hockey as well

Some common NHL props to bet on include:

  • Over/under player props based on goals scored, assists gained, blocked shots and goalie saves
  • First or last goal scorer props
  • Game props based on team totals, which team will score first, race to a certain amount of goals


MMA is becoming an extremely hot sport to bet on. Much like the NFL it’s a sport which doesn’t get exposure on nightly so each time we get an event or MMA slate there are plenty of fighter props for us to choose from. The prop market for MMA events has been expanding and remains an underrated source of value. 

Some common MMA props to bet on include:

  • Over/under fighter props for significant strikes or takedowns landed by a fighter
  • Match or game based props – which round the fight will end and how the fight will end (submission, decision, knockout)

Nascar and golf

Props in these two sports are mainly limited to match-up bets. Golf offerings will also often include props like “will there be a hole-in-one” or “will there be a playoff?”. As these events involve large single-player fields there will be different prop betting opportunities than you would normally see across the team-based major sporting leagues. 

Some common PGA and Nascar props to bet on include:

  • Player match-ups in golf based on a single round or their 72-hole finishing position 
  • Driver match-ups in Nascar based on finishing position
  • Group betting match-up props – picking the top finisher from a group of players or drivers

Can you parlay prop bets?

Most sportsbooks will allow you to parlay prop bets, as long as the props are from different games. So for an NFL slate while you won’t be able to parlay two player totals from the same team together on a single betting card, you could take multiple player total props, from different games, and parlay those together into one ticket. 

Since player props offer us more vast opportunities to find edges, parlay style bets which focus on prop bets over point spreads tend to be more profitable. Given the number of player props on offer each week, you can also go about creating betting tickets with small, medium or massive payouts. The parlay calculator on fantasylife.com is a useful tool that can manage your payout options and tell you how much or little you need to invest to reach your desired payout. 

Single-game or one game parlays

As a way to allow bettors to parlay player and game props together from the same game, sportsbooks have begun offering single-game parlay tickets. This gives bettors the chance to create parlays based on props from the same game. For the NFL season, BetMGM provides a simplistic way to create these tickets by providing a one game parlay option with every game on the NFL slate. 

Single Game Parlay

In the above example, if we’re predicting the game between the Rams and Bills to be a shootout we can create a higher payout betting ticket (in this case 11.0 or 10-1 in odds) by parlaying some of the star players in the game to have monster performances, via their props. 

These kinds of single game prop parlays have huge variance but do give bettors a shot at creating some “lotto ticket” kind of payouts for just a small investment. You can check out BetMGM here to create your own one game NFL parlay this season. 

How are the odds of prop bets calculated?

Prop betting odds will differ vastly based on what kind of prop is being offered. For most over/under player prop bets the traditional -110/-110 opening line is very common with both sides being equal in odds after the house vig or juice is factored in. As the bets from the public come in though, the lines on a prop can move. Odds can shift dramatically and it’s not uncommon for one side to move to be a larger favorite (e.g.-130) while the other moves to a more significant underdog position (e.g. +110). 

Much like the spread in a classic point spread bet, player totals in a prop offerings can also move. For example, if Josh Allen’s yardage prop on opening day is set at 276.5 yards, but a significant amount of money comes in on the over, the line could move to a number like 280.5 so as to discourage more money on the over side. 

Looking at how the odds on a player prop is set or calculated is an important part of prop betting. As with all betting, line shopping should be a big part of your routine when prop betting. Oftentimes you’ll be able to find alternate lines or alternate odds on player or game props simply by checking around at various sportsbooks. If you wanted to bet the under on the above Josh Allen prop, perhaps you’ll be able to find a book that has a larger total set at 284.5 yards or is offering better odds (like +130) to the under. You can read up more on why line shopping is important here

Where can you bet on props?

Most major sportsbooks now offer player and game props across a wide variety of categories. Given the array of options we now have, bettors should be looking at things like site functionality, competitiveness of odds and of course the variety and number of actual prop bets offered. 

One of the best overall sites for prop offerings across all of the major sports right now is BetMGM. As we alluded to earlier, Bet MGM doesn’t just offer normal game props and player props but they also allow players to create one-game parlays using props from a single game in combination with each other. We can create complex player prop parlays or more simplistic game prop bets that correlate and offer us chances at bigger payouts.

Not only do they make prop betting fun and easy to navigate, but they're also offering you up to $1,000 paid back in bonus bets on your first bet if it loses with the following offer.

How to profit from betting on props?

Profiting from sports betting is no easy task. However, with sportsbooks now offering such a wide variety of markets in the prop betting category – and analytic tools becoming more and more advanced – there are a lot of opportunities to gain an edge. Below are some common guidelines and advice to consider before getting started with prop betting.  

Make good use of prop betting tools

Sports analytics is becoming more and more commonplace to the point where there are now valuable tools available to the public which we can apply to help us become more profitable bettors. Basic tools like parlay calculatorsprop finders and odds calculators can all help us with line shopping and bankroll management. These kinds of tools are all available for free on Fantasylife.com as well as additional advice on betting in general.

One of the best tools out there at the moment for helping with player prop bets – and specifically understanding if there is value to be had in a prop betting line – is props.cash. Props.cash provides data that helps us determine whether or not we have an edge in betting an over, or an under, on a certain player total. For example, if we were to have interest in betting on a specific quarterback yardage total, props.cash would be able to provide us information such as game-to-game yardage totals from prior years, home/road splits, and seasonal performance over his career. 


Props.cash also provides us with a very important piece of data in what they call the “Hit rate to Odds”. This directly compares a player’s performance in the prop you are referencing to the actual sportsbooks odds available and provides us with an idea as to whether or not this bet has, historically, offered significant value in either direction.

Props.cash currently offers a free one-week trial and is worth checking out if you are interested in taking your prop betting experience to the next level. 

On top of the trial, you can get 25% off of your monthly subscription with promo code LIFE. Get your discount on one of the best prop tools in the industry below.

Set your prop betting strategies

In much the same way that we’d approach a fantasy draft or any investment venture, it’s always good in prop betting to have a plan. Below are some simple but effective strategies you should be looking to employ when selecting which props. 

Create a narrative 

  • Prop betting is about taking sides, not just on a player but on how a game will actually go. If you think a game will be a shootout or involve lots of scoring, you’ll likely want to skew to the over on any player props for that game.
  • Likewise, correlating your game props to fit narratives is key as well. If you like a team to start fast, taking them to go over their team total in the first quarter is a good way to exploit that lean. 

Use effective prop betting strategies 

  • Make sure to use line shopping techniques and tools to get access to the best lines and totals possible on any prop you decide to bet on.
  • Other techniques like ladder betting can also be used, especially on players or props that you think have been mis-priced.
Josh Allen

Aug 20, 2022; Orchard Park, New York, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks to throw the ball against the Denver Broncos during the first half at Highmark Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Avoid risky prop categories unless you have a strong lean 

  • Categories like first touchdown scorer or margin of victory may have longer odds attached to them but they can also be very risky bets with high variance attached. 
  • Events like goal scoring and touchdown scoring tend to be hard to predict over the long term
  • Over/under player props based on more regularly occurring statistics (yards, attempts etc) tend to have less variance and are more predictive 

Make sure your player fits your player prop

  • You don’t want to target a running back with low red zone usage in the NFL in touchdown scoring props (unless there is an under option). 
  • Similarly, a running back who runs an abnormal amount of routes out of the backfield could make for a solid over target on a reception prop. 

Frequently asked questions about betting player props

Should you bet on props?

Yes. Props are generally a fun category to bet on and easier to beat than traditional point spread offerings. Sportsbooks offer a wide array of props on almost every game now to attract new players. The odds in the prop markets tend to be less efficient at larger sportsbooks than match odds (point spreads and totals) and result in better opportunities for bettors. 

Prop bets also allow fantasy players to use their player knowledge and research directly to their advantage in the form of player props. Player props are an easy way for regular fantasy football players to transition into sports betting. 

Where can I bet on player props?

Most major online sportsbooks and betting sites offer a wide variety of player prop offerings. 

BetMGM has one of the most extensive offerings for game props and player props in the industry and also offers competitive odds. Their one game parlay feature allows bettors to combine game and player props from the same contest into larger tickets featuring big payouts. 

Where are the best tools available to help with prop betting

Fantasylife.com and props.cash both offer helpful tools and data. Props.cash has features like “Hit rate to Odds” which directly compares a player’s performance in the prop you are referencing to the actual sportsbooks odds available. 

Can I parlay prop bets?

Yes. Most sportsbooks allow you to parlay player or game props from different contests into one parlay style betting ticket. 

Some sportsbooks like BetMGM also offer one game parlays which allows you to parlay props from the same game into larger tickets. 

Can I do live prop betting?

Yes. Most sportsbooks now offer live prop betting, including BetMGM

Geoff Ulrich
Geoff Ulrich
Geoff Ulrich is a writer and content provider who works in the daily fantasy and gambling space for DraftKings and other operators. He loves the quest of finding the next batch of underrated breakout players for his season long and best ball teams and then proudly watching them become mainstream stars. An inquisitive person by nature, you can often find him on twitter (@thefantasygrind) tilting his latest bet or going over his favorite plays for the upcoming NFL or Golf slate.