What Are Prop Bets?

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Published: 20/06/2011

When wagering on sports, bets can be placed not only which side will win, but also on virtually every other aspect of a contest When a bet is made on a proposal other than the final result, it is frequently referred to as a “proposition” wager or a “prop” bet. Other names given to such wagers are “side bets,” “specials” and “exotics.”

Some typical examples of prop bets are who will score first in a contest and which side will be leading at the end of the first half of a game. However, props are certainly not limited to what’s typical. In fact, they can be offered for any measurable activity, from the speed of a tennis player’s next serve to whether a particular coach will survive till the season ends, among others.

Most props are offered as fixed odds bets. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup, for example, many excellent prop bets were available. For example, in the Mexico versus South Africa opener, which featured four yellow cards, the ante post odds of a “Penalty to Be Awarded” were 11/4. For a “Red Card” in the Germany versus Australia match-up, the odds were 3/1 and Aussie Midfielder Tim Cahill came through nicely. On the other hand, those backing “Serbia to Advance to the Semi-Finals” at 15/2 were out of luck.

Other prop bets are made using point spreads. The underdog is supported by a points handicap (i.e., +3 or +6.5), while the favourite is saddled with a points deficit (-3 or -6.5). Commonly referred to as betting “against the spread” (ATS), wagers can be made on which side will be ahead at the conclusion of a quarter, a half or a single period of play using such handicaps/deficits.

One of the most popular forms of proposition betting is the “over/under.” The bettor attempts to predict whether a result will be greater or less than a given benchmark, such as the final combined score of an event or how many games a team will win in a season. Just about any sports statistic can be the object of an over/under prop, from the number of penalties recorded in a match by one side or both, the length or winning time of a particular event, and so on.

Until recently, America’s NFL Super Bowl was the only major sports event that featured a broad array of prop betting options. Bookmakers saw insufficient interest among the betting public to make them profitable for other markets. However, during the last few years, proposition wagers have expanded in several new areas, including “in-running” or “live” betting.

Thanks to real-time telecasts of international events as well as live streaming videos via the Internet, it is possible to view numerous sports as games are being played. Rather than placing bets before the games begin and then waiting for the results, bettors can now wager on outcomes as the games are in progress.

Will a particular golfer miss or make the next putt? Will the leader in a motor sports race pull into the pit stop for fuel and a tire change on the next lap? Will the next dart tossed fetch a double? Taking a stake in occurrences such as these is now available through in-running betting.

Another growing segment of the prop betting market is entertainment wagering or “novelties.” Bets on what movies and stars will win Academy Awards are now readily available. Followers of literature can wager on what authors will make the shortlist for the Booker Prize. Fans of reality television shows have the opportunity to bet on who will be eliminated from the next show.

Other prop possibilities include whether a certain celebrity will go into rehab, get arrested, file for divorce or announce a pregnancy within a specified period of time. Prop bets such as these are cracking new markets, and the trend can only be expected to spread in the future.

Published on: 20/06/2011

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