Prop Betting Explained

It wasn't started until the fat man slammed across the goal line. Prop betting became a thing thanks to the Fridge, and today, you can bet on almost everything but the kitchen sink. The Chicago Bears weren't just the best team in the NFL in 1985, they were a cultural phenomenon, from ornary coach Mike Ditka, to punk rock quarterback Jim McMahon, to Sweetness himself, the one and only Walter Payton.

Props To The Fridge

The star of the many side shows among the Monsters of the Midway that fall was a pudgy rookie defensive tackle with a gap-toothed smile and a positive attitude that made everyone fall in love with him. William (The Refrigerator) Perry became a pop culture sensation when Ditka put the 6-2, 350-pound DT at fullback and he started scoring touchdowns. The Fridge was a fridge magnet for attention. As the Bears prepared to play the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX, the light bulb went on at the Las Vegas sportsbooks.

As a lark, to drum up business, a prop bet was offered on whether Perrry would score a touchdown in the Super Bowl. Thanks to Perry's popularity, which was as huge as his appetite, thousands of bets were placed on this prop. The line opened at 20-1 and was down to 2-1 by game time. And when Perry did score a TD in Chicago's 46-10 rout of New England, many bettors happily cashed in. And the sportsbooks realized they had truly hit on a winning concept.

Today, there are prop bets galore on the Super Bowl. It's estimated that some $4 billion is wagered on every Super Bowl game, and about 25 percent of that is played on prop or proposition bets.

Super Props

On the day of the big game, you can wager an over/under on the length of the National Anthem. You can wager on whether the coin flip will be heads or tails. You can wager on how the first points will be scored, as well as which team or which player will do the scoring. Which song will the halftime act open with? What color Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach? How many times will President Trump tweet during the game? You can place a bet on any or all of these props.

Why Props?

Well, simply put, they are fun, good-time wagers, and they are also bets for people who know nothing about the game that is being played. You don't need to comprehend what an off-tackle play is to wager on whether or not the coin toss will come up heads or tails. There are people who watch the Super Bowl for the halftime show. They might not know who is playing in the game, but they can't wait to see who is playing when the game breaks. So they are more likely to bet on that event than the game itself.

The old school, hard-core bettors may snub prop bets as nothing more than a novelty act, but that is exactly what it is and what purpose it serves. It brings those who normally wouldn't bet on football in to bet on football. And it is guaranteed that the media will churn out story after story on the numerous Super Bowl prop bets, giving the sportsbooks the kind of publicity that even the most savvy of marketing mavens couldn't create.

A prop bet differentiates from straight betting on the outcome of the game, or the total or over/under, because the final score has no bearing on these wagers. Heck, often the game itself has no bearing on these wagers. In baseball, you might wager on how many strikeouts a starting pitcher will have in a specific game. In hockey, you could place a bet on the number of power-play goals that will be scored in a game. Soccer games will offer bets on on which players will be issued yellow or red cards for disciplinary infractions.

Sportsbooks are constantly on the search for new, intriguing and off the wall prop bets that might catch the fancy of the public. During the heyday of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the NBA, his most common scoring move was the sky hook. One Vegas sportsbook came up with the notion to put an over/under on how many points Abdul-Jabbar would score in a game via sky hook. There's a famous story of two bettors who played the over sitting in the sportsbook's bar, hollering "sky, sky" everytime Abdul-Jabbar brought the ball near the hoop.

They're Everywhere, They're Everywhere

Born from the Super Bowl, prop bets are available in all walks of sports betting today and in fact, are not limited to sports. You can lay a prop bet on what the flop will be in a game of poker. BetOnline offered the following prop bets on goal scorers for England in its 2018 World Cup soccer match against Panama:


As you can see, if you guess the correct player and the right number of goals they will score, it can pay off handsomely for you. So even though there are those who scoff at prop betting, these prop bets are certainly nothing to scoff at.

There are prop bets on total wins for NFL teams at the start of each season, and on whether a college football team will qualify for the NCAA playoff. During the lead-up to the July 1 NHL free agency period, you can wager on which teams the league's top unrestricted free agents will sign with. You could put some money down on what nation will produce this year's main event winner at the World Series of Poker.

The hard-line bettors can harumph all they want about the silliness of prop betting, but the fact of the matter is these wagers are here to stay. They are all about fun and excitement and these days, who can't use a little fun in their lives? So take a chance and play a prop bet. You'll be glad you did.