Gambling 101: What is Proposition Betting?

Our Sports Gambling 101 series continues with a dive into proposition betting. What is prop wagering and which sports offer these unique exotic betting options?
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Simply stated, and as the name suggests, prop options ask bettors to decide on a “proposition” posted by a bookmaker. Also known as exotic or novelty side bets, prop wagering offers may ask, “which team will score first?” “Which player will score last?” Or, “how many touchdowns will player X score”?

Anything that can happen during a sporting event: from the opening coin toss, to the post-game Gatorade shower may be posted as a proposition betting option.

One Prop Offer Started a Sports Betting Phenomenon

Proposition wagering has been around for decades and the concept is always evolving. Once viewed as “gimmick” bets, prop betting gained worldwide attention during Super Bowl XX that featured the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots. Aiming to attract action from casual bettors, Caesars Palace bookmaker Art Manteris is credited with opening the prop wagering floodgates. A single YES or NO prop offer has morphed into a mainstream sports betting market.

Prior to Super Bowl XX, bookmakers like Manteris and Jay Kornegay posted a YES or NO prop on whether defensive tackle William “Refrigerator” Perry would score a touchdown. Having already posted two rushing and one receiving touchdown, during the 1985 regular season, Perry had become a pop culture icon. That gave Manteris the idea to post a prop on whether he would score in the Super Bowl. Betting odds opened at 20/1 and dropped to 2/1 prior to kickoff.

Already up 37-3, late in the third quarter, Bears head coach Mike Ditka sent Perry into the game to line up in the backfield with superstar running back Walter Payton. Facing first and goal from the 1-yard line, instead of Payton leaping into the end zone, Perry plowed straight ahead for the score. Although Vegas bookmakers lost a boatload of cash, the publicity the Perry prop received along with the growth of prop betting today makes it the best money the books ever paid out.

Prop Options are Offered During Most Sporting Events

Prop betting options, which get more creative every year, are available on a variety of sporting events. Props are offered as futures in the preseason, player and team bets during the regular season and playoffs, plus as LIVE in-play betting options. Props are also plentiful on individual sports like golf, tennis and motor sports. In the example below, from the 2020 RBC Heritage golf tournament, Bryson DeChambeau was the favorite on this “Top USA Player” prop.

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NFL Super Bowl is the Reigning King of Prop Betting

While bettors can wager on prop options throughout the year, it’s wise to set aside some betting cash for Super Bowl Sunday. Increasing in amount and variety every year - prop offers on the NFL Championship game are more plentiful than any other single day sporting event. As outlined in our SI Super Bowl LIV prop betting preview, the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas offered eleven pages of prop wagering options. Plus, additional prop bets were available online.

Wagering on Props is More Popular Than Ever Before

Whether at land-based sportsbooks, or at online betting sites, players have access to a wealth of prop betting options daily. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, props were the focus of bettors everywhere.

With live sports on lockdown, betting boards were loaded with props of all sorts. For example, the 2020 NFL Draft was the heaviest bet draft in sports history. Wagering on college draft prop options helps bettors become more familiar with potential stars of the future.

Players are wise to keep props in mind when researching standard betting options. For instance, if research shows a high scoring NHL team is facing a weak defense, a prop like “anytime scorer” should be considered. Props offered prior to and during the NBA and MLB seasons are also popular. Open an account at a couple of trusted sportsbooks to gain access to a broad range of props. Stick with SI Gambling for prop betting picks and tips from a variety of sports.

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