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What Is a Prop Bet?

Sports betting is an extremely popular hobby in Tennessee and around the world. Handicapping which teams will win on the moneyline or against the spread is always interesting, as is determining whether a game’s score will go over or under a posted total. But as fun as standard betting lines can be, they leave sports bettors with very limited options. Prop betting, on the other hand, opens up a whole new world of choices for sports bettors to handicap and wager on.

What are prop bets?

Prop betting is short for proposition betting. A proposition bet is one that takes place on a specific occurrence related to the game that is often independent of the result of the game itself.

For example, you might find a prop bet on a Tennessee Titans game that asks whether Derrick Henry will have over or under 18.5 rushing attempts in an upcoming game against the Indianapolis Colts. If you decide to place a bet that Henry will carry the ball over 18.5 times, this occurrence is the only thing your wager cares about. Whether the Titans win or lose, how many touchdowns Henry scores, and what the final score is are all irrelevant. Your bet cashes if Henry has 19 or more carries and loses if he has 18 or fewer carries.

Prop bet examples

The example listed above is a proposition bet that revolves around a player’s in-game performance. There are hundreds of different prop bets, including many that don’t fall into clearly defined categories, but most sports betting props can be classified as player props, team props and game props.

Player props

Player props (such as the Henry example above) refer to proposition bets that are based on the statistics that a player records during a game or season. For example, a quarterback could have betting lines set on number of pass attempts (over or under 27.5), number of interceptions (over or under 1.5), number of touchdown passes (over or under 2.5), and so on. Player props can also be phrased as “yes” or “no” questions, such as “Will Alexander Ovechkin score a goal?” with odds given on both the yes and the no.

Player props are an excellent option for bettors who play fantasy sports or have an easier time with handicapping individual performances than they do with game outcomes.

Perhaps you aren’t sure whether the New Orleans Saints are going to get blown out by the Atlanta Falcons or get caught in a shootout with them. But either way, you anticipate that Drew Brees will rack up a ton of passing yards, either throwing the ball a lot in an offensive showdown or in an effort to help his team come back. Instead of trying to guess whether to take New Orleans on the moneyline or against the spread, you could just bet your actual lean by taking Brees to go over his projected passing yards or passing attempts totals.

Team props

Team props are proposition bets that rely on an entire team’s statistics instead of just one player’s. One of the most common team props is the team total, which is betting on whether one specific team will go over or under a projected total. Once again, this allows bettors to bet on their specific leans if they aren’t sure on how the game as a whole will go but feel confident that they have one side pegged.

Other examples of team prop bets include how many runs, hits and errors a team will combine for in baseball, how many sacks a team will record in football, how many shots on goal a team will attempt in hockey, or how many rebounds a team will have in basketball.

Game props

Game proposition bets are on events that are set to occur during a game. Which team will score the first goal? Will the first possession of Monday night’s football game result in a touchdown, field goal, turnover or punt? Which team in the Memphis Grizzlies vs. San Antonio Spurs game will be the first to score 10 points?

Prop bets on game events often give sports bettors the chance to improve their payouts compared to the regular odds on a game if their hunch is correct. For example, say that you’ve handicapped the Houston Rockets vs. Orlando Magic game and believe that the Rockets will jump out to a big lead in the first half and will hold on for the win, but you aren’t sure that they’ll cover the spread as 8.5-point favorites.

Thanks to prop betting, you have multiple options in this scenario. You can bet Houston on the first-quarter and first-half line to cash in on your hunch that the Rockets will get off to a hot start. You might also be able to find a prop that offers exact outcomes, such as “Houston leads at the half + Houston wins the game” or “Houston trails at the half + Houston wins the game.” Betting on Houston leading at the half and winning the game would pay better than simply betting the moneyline on the Rockets.

Live props

With online sportsbooks placing sports betting just a few taps or clicks away, live betting has become extremely popular in recent years. Live proposition bets allow bettors to make wagers on events as they are happening with odds constantly changing based on how the game is unfolding.

For example, while watching a football game live on television, you could have your live betting screen pulled up on your tablet. You could bet on live props such as whether the next play will be a complete pass, an incomplete pass, a run or a turnover. Other examples of live prop bets include whether the current possession will end in a score or how many runs will be scored in an inning.

Are prop bets legal in Tennessee?

Prop betting is legal in Tennessee. The only exception is that prop bets on college and high school sports are not allowed. But in the professional leagues, proposition betting is legal and offered at most Tennessee online sportsbooks. This includes NFL prop bets, NBA prop bets, MLB prop bets and NHL prop bets.

Popular Super Bowl prop bets

No event generates more prop bets than the Super Bowl. With millions of fans watching around the nation, online sportsbooks offer hundreds of prop bets, from how many yards the first play from scrimmage will go for to what color Gatorade the game’s winning coach will be doused in. If you can think of it, chances are there’s a prop bet available on it during the Super Bowl. Here are just a few popular examples of prop bets for the Super Bowl:

  • The coin toss — Heads or tails? Tennessee Titans or Los Angeles Rams? You can get your betting fix in on the coin toss before the Super Bowl even begins.
  • National anthem length — This is another prime opportunity to get your betting juices flowing before opening kickoff. Will this year’s performer go over or under a set time in singing the national anthem? This one often comes down to how much the artist hams up the final line of the song.
  • MVP odds — Far more often than not, the quarterback on the team that wins the Super Bowl also goes on to win Super Bowl MVP. But when a non-quarterback wins the award, bets on that player generally pay out handsomely. Just about every player participating in the game will be listed with betting odds to win MVP. Another player prop like this is which player will score the game’s first touchdown.
  • Player props — While player props are available throughout the season at some sportsbooks, they are usually limited to just key players like the quarterback or star wide receiver. Super Bowl player props list dozens of proposition options for virtually every player on the field, from the kicker to the free safety. Super Bowl props really give fantasy sports experts and player handicappers the chance to shine.
  • Cross-sport props — The Super Bowl may be the first thing on every sports fan’s mind on Super Bowl Sunday, but other sports are taking place as well. This creates the opportunity for cross-sport props, with examples like choosing which will be higher: LeBron James’ points or Aaron Rodgers’ pass attempts? Lionel Messi goals or Ezekiel Elliott rushing touchdowns? Mike Trout hits on opening day or Baltimore Ravens interceptions?
  • Halftime show props — The halftime show might be a betting reprieve for some sports bettors, but not for those who enjoy entertainment props. Every year the props are different based on the act; you can bet on things like which song the artist will lead with or close with, and how many costume changes will happen during the act.

Fun prop bets vs. skilled prop bets

As you can see from the list above, proposition bets can vary greatly between skill-based wagers and entertainment-based wagers. There is no way to handicap what color shoes Jennifer Lopez will be wearing during her halftime show or whether the opening coin toss will land on heads or tails. But that doesn’t make these types of wagers any less fun for casual bettors that are betting for entertainment.

It is often the silly proposition bets that get the most attention in the lead up to the Super Bowl, as they are fun to discuss and easy to understand even for casual fans. But make no mistake about it — sharp sports bettors are also extremely interested in proposition bets during the Super Bowl and other big events that offer in-depth props. Every year there is value to be found for those willing to put in the research.

Generally speaking, casual bettors like to bet on the over when it comes to props like a star wide receiver’s receiving yards as they want to root for their team’s players to do well. As a results, lines might be inflated toward the over, leaving the astute bettor the golden opportunity to bet the under after he handicaps how well a team’s Cover 2 defense plays against the top target on opposing teams.

There is no right or wrong way to bet on props. Whether you are a recreational sports bettor, a professional handicapper or anywhere in between, chances are there are going to be some prop bets throughout the year that pique your interest. The proposition bets offered vary from sportsbook to sportsbook, so be sure to visit all of the Tennessee online sportsbooks to find the ones that best suit your prop betting needs.