“In gambling the many must lose in order that the few may win.” ~George Bernard Shaw
The purpose of this piece is to provide even the most novice sports bettor a look into the different aspects of sports betting. The focus of this particular article is for you to understand how to bet College Football “prop bets”.
What is a prop bet?
A proposition bet in sports betting is more commonly known as a “prop bet”. Normally, a prop bet is a wager on an individual player or a specific event. Some prop bets may sometimes appear to be similar to futures bets, but the difference between the two is that a prop bet is a wager on a specific individual player during a game or on a particular game’s outcome.
The majority of prop bets at a sportsbook are on individual players. But, there are also non-game events such as award winners (i.e. Alabama to win the National Championship, Trevor Lawrence to win the Heisman), and even simple yes or no bets on teams to do something (i.e. Will the Ohio State Buckeyes make the College Football playoffs).
There are also Exotic prop bets, these are offered by some sportsbooks. These non-traditional bets are not based on activities that take place during a game. The most popular of these exotic prop bets are ones that are offered during the Super Bowl, which include the likes of the length of the national anthem or the coin toss result.
These props can be as crazy as the sportsbook operator wants them to be. They usually take place during the most popular events, such as who will win the next election or who will play a specific role in a movie series, like the next James Bond.
Prop bets really became popular due in large part to the Super Bowl. Betting “heads” or “tails” on the Super Bowl coin toss is a type of prop bet that everyone is familiar with. More importantly, it is a very easy bet to make if you are starting out, and want to have some fun. The same thing goes for the color of the Gatorade that will be dumped on the winning team’s coach. This ease of prop bets appeals to a lot of gamblers, especially for those that are new to sports betting. Newer bettors are drawn to prop betting because it is a simple entry point.
Another reason for the popularity of prop betting is that you’re not forced to choose a team. You don’t have to bet or root against your favorite team or player. If you are a Michigan fan, you don’t have to put your money on Ohio State. The only thing you’re interested is the result of the prop bet you have your money on.
The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas was the first Nevada sportsbook to offer hundreds of prop bets for an individual game, starting with the Super Bowl. Today, pretty much every sportsbook in Nevada offers the same.
Prop bets have a lot of positives and negatives that sports bettors either love or hate. But, one thing is for sure, prop bets have become one of the most popular and fastest-growing markets in all of sports betting nowadays.
Some people consider props “sucker bets”. Many bettors play them solely for fun and don’t really do too much research before placing their wagers. Think about your annual Super Bowl party and the pools or prop bets you usually bet on. Things like how long will the National Anthem be. Very different than betting on the point-spread, right?
Another reason some professional bettors do not like prop bets is due to the juice on these types of bets being usually much higher than your average bet against the point-spread. Also, since College Football is so unpredictable with injuries, the random way the ball bounces, and usually subpar officiating compared to the NFL, it’s often tough to cash in on these bets consistently and in the long-term. Plus, most amateur bettors always take the over on prop bets, which is also not the best way to consistently make money, especially because bookmakers have already taken that into account.
On the other hand, some pros love betting props because to them there is an edge that they can take advantage of. A lot of bookmakers spend less time making prop odds than they do on more traditional lines such as point-spreads, moneylines and Over/Unders (totals).
Because of this reason, there are plenty of bettors who make profits wagering on props, especially College Football props. One segment to focus on is College Football individual player props. Most sportsbooks offer some variety of these types of bets, usually in Over/ Under form.
The most common type of sports wager is against the point-spread in football and focuses on handicapping the teams as a whole. Prop bettors analyze individual stats and become specialists, often finding prop lines at sportsbooks that are quite a bit off from a player’s projected production per game.
An example of an individual player prop you might see you might see:
How many touchdowns will Trevor Lawrence throw this game?
Over 4 (-130)
Under 4 (+100)
If you bet “Over”, you are putting your money on Lawrence tossing five or more touchdowns in that particular game. If he does, you win your wager. If he throws three or less, you lose your bet.
Sometimes there is a possibility of a push (money back), if the player’s results land exactly on the number. If you bet the over or under 4 above, but Lawrence ends up throwing exactly four touchdowns, you would push your wager.
Another thing to make sure you look into and keep track of when it comes to prop bets is the elevated juice. Looking at the Lawrence example again, you will see the Over comes with an added juice of -130. What that means is that you would need to risk $130 to win $100. On the flip side, if you wagered on the money, you would need to risk $100 to win a $100. Every dollar counts in the long-run, so this is something to be more mindful of when betting these types of wagers.
Before every game, oddsmakers set individual player prop totals just like they do point-spreads and totals. But, sportsbooks usually do not have the time to focus on every single player on which they offer prop bets. Individual player prop odds are set using the basics, such as a player’s average stats and the average stats of the defense he is going up against.
Because of this, bettors have a slight edge over some sportsbooks, because they have the time and ability to research and dig deeper. A lot of professional bettors use advanced analytics to now dig deeper into individual player stats, thus giving them a so-called edge that they want to take advantage of.
Good basics to look into if you are just starting to bet on props are: How has this player done against this team, scheme, or coach in the past? How is he playing the last three weeks, as opposed to the whole season? Is he 100 percent healthy? In a sport like football, as the season goes on, the less likely it is a RB or a WR is healthy as opposed to a QB. With literally hundreds of props available to bet on every week, you can find regular discrepancies if you look research and put in the time.
One particular discrepancy a lot of gamblers come across involves lines appearing too high. As we spoke about above, novice bettors like to bet popular star players to go “Over” their posted total. What they don’t take into account is that these lines for these stars are already adjusted accordingly and inflated. Because of this inflation, projections are way too high and have enough value on the “Under”, regardless of the extra juice.
As you can see above, there are a lot of ways to have fun and make money betting on College Football props. But, there is still a lot to consider if you want to make regular and consistent profits when betting on these types of bets. Remember, the bookmakers are very good at setting these lines, so you’ll rarely find future bets where it’s obvious which way you should bet. You’ve got to do your research and try to make genuinely informed judgements. You need to be patient too, and wait for the right opportunities. Now, go get them!