Question: What are prop bets and how do they work?
Answer: In last week’s article, we covered what over/under mean; prior to that we covered “against the spread”, “moneyline”, and -110/+110/even money. The listed odds will govern a winning payout by a sportsbook. Moneylines will always list the odds for a given contest. To know how much a winning bet pays, look at the line; often it is -110, +110, or even money. Even money doubles a winning bet, -110 wins 90% of the bet, and +110 wins 110% of the bet. A wager placed against the spread may not always list the odds. Over/under looks at the combined total of points, or goals, scored by the participating teams.
Courtesy of our friends over at Sportsbook.ag, we’ll provide an example.
Prop bets are bets that take place within a game but do not rely on the game’s outcome. For example, refer to the second prop bet listed – regardless of who scores first, either team can win the game (whoever scores first will also not affect the over/under). Note that most of the prop bets have a winner and a loser (rather than a push). Point spreads and over/under bets can result in a push, that is, where all parties receive their wagers back. Note that the first three prop bets listed CANNOT be a push – either a team will or won’t score in the first six minutes, either the Giants or the Patriots will score first, and either a touchdown or any other score will occur as the first score (the game cannot end in a tie).
For example, for the second prop bet, the Giants were the first team to score, by virtue of a New England safety. Remember, a bet of $115 would win $100, for a total of $215. For the second bet, because it was a safety, the “Any Other Score” would be a winning wager; a bet of $100 would win $155, for a total of $255.
Because prop bets can be a bit quirky, be sure to refer to your sportsbook for the official rules (the official time a score takes place and the longest touchdown yardage, for example). Sometimes ESPN or Yahoo Sports will have a number listed differently from a sportsbook.
Like other bets, the odds can move. For the last three prop bets listed, the odds and the numbers can move.
Other notes related to prop bets:
- How do I place a prop bet in Las Vegas?: If you were placing a prop bet in Las Vegas, the proper way to place the bet is by the identifying number. You do NOT approach the bookmaker and say “I would like the bet that says there will be a score in the first six minutes”; instead, say “110 Yes”, remembering that 110 is the unique identifier for the points scored in the first six minutes. Be sure to indicate whether the bet is for a single game contest or whether it is part of another wager. Two things: (1) The unique identifier may be different from sportsbook-to-sportsbook, do NOT assume that they are the same; (2) The minimum sports bet at Las Vegas casinos varies, from $5-$10 a contest. Consult your sportsbook for exact minimums and maximums. Not all contests will have a moneyline available. Most contests where the spread is high, a sportsbook will not allow a moneyline wager.
- When can I collect my winnings?: Depending on the sportsbook, contests are collectable once a final result is posted. If you are placing a sports wager, other than online, you may be able to mail in a winning ticket. Consult the sportsbook of your choice as to whether that method is available.
- What if the game goes into overtime?: Remember that a contest generally includes overtime. So if the team you bet on wins, in overtime, you win. If that team loses, you lose. Note that over/under wagers generally include overtime. Consult the sportsbook of your choice for their rules.
- When does a contest go final?: It depends on the sportsbook and what sport you are wagering on. In baseball, a contest is considered final once a team wins, obviously. If however, the game needs to be shortened, it is considered final after at least five completed innings have been played, and where one of the teams is leading. Where an inning has not been completed or where the score is tied, in the case of baseball, the event will be suspended (picked up where it was left off) or cancelled (the event will start over from the beginning, but wagers placed on the original contest will be refunded). Consult the sportsbook of your choice for their rules.
- The moneyline changed since I placed by wager, what happens?: NOTE: Whatever your ticket says is the moneyline for the contest matters! Do NOT refer to a different moneyline. For example, assume you bet the first score of the game to be a Touchdown -190. Since you place your bet, Touchdown moves to -210 (this would be due to more people betting Touchdown as opposed to Any Other Score). A Touchdown scored means your payout is based on the -190 line, not -190. Generally, you may not cancel and re-bet in order to gain the benefit of the more favorable spread. By contrast, a less favorable line that occurs after the placing of a wager does not affect your wager.
- I want to wager on a game, but I don’t see it as being available: Not all games will be available to bet on. Sportsbooks pick the contests that are likely to have the most action. Note that some sportsbooks will not accept bets on certain teams (The Palms will not accept bets on the NBA’s Sacramento Kings, because the Maloof family, owner of The Palms, owns the Kings; Harrah’s casinos will not accept bets on the NBA’s Boston Celtics because Harrah’s has an ownership interest in the Celtics).
- The game I wagered on says “refund” or is no longer on the board, what happens now?: Sometimes a sportsbook will remove a game which they had previously allowed bets on. This may occur due to an injury or some other concern. When this happens, sportsbooks will refund the amount wagered, and a new bet can be placed once the new odds are posted. Occasionally, a sportsbook will still honor the original bet; consult the sportsbook of your choice for their policy.
- I saw that The Palms Las Vegas had one set of odds listed, but Flamingo Las Vegas has a different set listed, will the Flamingo Las Vegas honor the odds listed at The Palms Las Vegas?: Sportsbooks may have various odds for a given game. Note that whatever sportsbook you place a wager at, those odds (which are listed on your ticket) govern the game. Generally, you cannot request different odds other than the ones that are posted.
Other questions related to “prop bets” or another Sports Wagering question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.