Sports prop bets: An easy way to lose money?

A huge number of bettors love to put their money on proposition bets – often simply referred to as “prop bets”. The attraction is obvious – there is a simple proposition in front of you, and you can decide whether the outcome will be a Yes or a No. Or, during a sporting matchup, you can bet on something that won’t necessarily affect the outcome of the game. It often feels easier to predict one-off propositions than to guess the overall outcome of a game, and this makes prop bets popular.

If you’re looking for a new betting site at then you might be attracted by a sportsbook that offers a wealth of prop bets. But are they a legitimate way to bet, or simply a gimmick that fools people into parting with their money? There are people in each camp on this question, so it is probably worth looking deeper into the question and seeing whether a prop bet can be part of a decent overall betting strategy.

It depends on the type of prop bet

In soccer, every time a manager gets fired, the bookmakers open betting on who will replace them. The same names often turn up in the frame as a potential replacement: the old stalwart who can step in as a steadying hand; the overseas coach with a burgeoning reputation among hipsters; the guy who got a team promoted last season and is doing quite well this time around considering the challenges of a higher division. In truth, the people in control at a club usually have an idea of who they’ll bring in before they fire the first guy, so all of this speculation is generally groundless, and betting on it unproductive. Unless you actually know the club chairman, there’s little point to making this kind of prop bet.

In-game props are generally quite promising

For reasons that aren’t immediately clear, the expected value (EV) of an in-game prop bet can be among the highest on any bet you’ll place. This means that – if you pick the right proposition – you can expect to win more often than if you bet on something else. Obviously, it needs to be a quite informed bet, but you’d hope you’ll only bet on something you’re informed on in the first place. But if you’re watching a game, it’s often effective to bet on the next person to score, or whether there will be a red card, or something else that can often be predicted simply based on the flow of a game.

Long-term prop bets tend to be a money black hole

If you look at the right betting sites right now, it is possible to find bets on many things, including politics and current affairs. You can bet on the results of elections that won’t be held for more than a year, or on TV shows where the script is yet to be written. The longer a bet will take to “mature”, the more pointless it is. First of all, you’ve just tied up your stake and have a bunch of money frozen, doing nothing for you. Second of all, if the last few years haven’t taught you that predicting global events is a fool’s game, nothing will. A prop bet that will win or lose in the next couple of hours is fine. One that will take more than a year isn’t.

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