There are so many types of props that one could write an entire novel devoted to them. Let me break them down into general categories of basic, intermediate, and advanced. These are loose categories and very subjective but will provide a nice overview for the prop newbie.
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Basic propositions are things that are easy to define and bet. Things like “will the coin toss be heads or tails?” or “how many catches will Wes Welker have?” These are very standard and offered at most sites for most NFL games. These types of basic props are usually for short durations.
These props are a bit more involved. They may last for a few months, or even a whole season. They may include questions such as “will any NFL player have over 4800 yards passing this season?”
These advanced or specialized props can include anything the sportsbook is crazy enough to think up. Especially around Super Bowl Sunday, these props get creative. Questions such as “total number of players to throw a pass” and “Dwayne Wade free throws vs. Ben Roethlisberger completions” are asked, bet on, and answered. Again, almost anything you can think of is fair game.
What’s The Juice?
Props usually have higher than usual juice, or house edge, than standard sides or totals. Some sites have higher juice than others. For example, a popular bet is to bet on the coin toss for the Super Bowl. Some sites use the standard -110 for heads/tails, while others have juice as low as -101.
Usual juice ranges from -110 to -120, depending on the sportsbook. Obviously, the lower the juice, the better the value, and the easier it is to make money.
Finding Value In Props
With such a wide range of props available, bookmakers don’t always have the time or resources to stay on top of props. This means that if the game line or other factors change, the props related to that game may not be as fast to change as expected. These “underlying” bets or props are also known as derivatives. So there may be a prop that lists the total number of touchdowns scored in a game. All of a sudden, the total starts dropping fast. The prop may not move at all, and savvy bettors see an opportunity and pounce, betting big on the under. After a few max bets, the book may move the line or adjust the juice. But it’s too late at that point.
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Props aren’t as efficient as regular game lines because of this feature. Some sportsbooks take large, five (sometimes six!) figure wagers on game spreads but only maybe $500 or $1000 max on props. This inefficiency can be exploited and profitably bet. However, most books will be quick to limit/ban players who take advantage and aggressively bet props.
Props can be analyzed and overanalyzed to death, and that is another reason books limit their exposure. A player who has specialized knowledge can edge over a sportsbook where the lines maker may set lots of lines and not devote as much time to each player/team/situation.
We Can Beat Exotics, But Not For Long
Exotics, or props, are easy to beat for professionals who invest the time necessary to do so. However, the sportsbooks are usually quick to limit players who try to do this. It is a cat and mouse game that often results in players and sportsbooks going back and forth trying to cover their true intentions. It is interesting and often profitable one way or another.
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[…] 40% juice has poor odds for almost every team, so an amateur gambler passes them up, where a sharp bettor at least looks to see what their lines are […]