Sports Betting 101
Basics by Sport
Betting on Sports Futures, Props and Lay Bets
by Dave Schwab
Sportsbook are always looking for ways to add betting action to the plate and one of the best ways is through futures, props and lay bets. These types of sports wagers can offer quite a bit of value if you know where and how to look, but the first step to cashing-in on these bets is to have a good understanding of how they work.
Just as the name suggests, these are bets placed on a sporting event based on odds that are released well before the start of that event. A perfect example of a futures bet is on which NFL team will win that season’s Super Bowl. Many times the betting odds for this futures bet are released just days after the previous season’s Super Bowl had just been played.
Sportsbooks release futures for just about any conceivable event you can think of and they are not just limited to the world of sports. Keep in mind that it is very hard to predict anything too far out in the future, so sometimes the best betting strategy is to wait and see how the betting public reacts to the initial odds. Most times the early money will gravitate towards betting on the obvious favorites which in turns squeezes quite a bit of value out of their odds.
While futures bets should never make-up too much of your overall sports betting bankroll because of their highly speculative nature, a timely wager on an up and coming team to win that season’s title can provide a healthy return if your hunch turns out to be right.
A prop bet is short for a proposition on the outcome of a stated event. Most times they are in the form of a “yes” or “no” answer or a wager on the “over” or the “under” if a set number is involved.
Prop bets are a huge part of the mix when it comes to the action a sportsbook generates on either a daily basis for that day’s events or for a sporting event that will take place at a later date. You can find daily player and team props for sports such as basketball, baseball and hockey and sportsbooks routinely release player and team props for sports such as football a few days in advance of the games.
Without a doubt, the biggest single event for betting props is the Super Bowl. Well before the kickoff for the biggest single-day sporting event in the world, you can bet on just about anything that pertains to this game. You can bet the over/under on how many touchdowns one team may score all the way to which color of Gatorade will be poured over the winning coach’s head.
There can be a ton of value when it comes to betting props, but much like betting futures, you have to avoid getting carried away. Props are a very lucrative profit center for sportsbooks because people tend to bet on them with very little handicapping skills. These bets are made more like an educated guess as opposed to a calculated play based on solid research into key stats, facts and figures.
Lay bets are really another form of prop bet, but you are always wagering against something taking place. These types of bets take place on a regular basis without the use of a sportsbook to cover the action. A good example would be in the game of golf. How many times during a typical friendly round at the local municipal course has someone bet another player that they will NOT make a putt? That by definition is a “lay bet”.
The casino game of Craps offers one of the best explanations of how a lay bet works. One of the most basic premises of playing craps is to bet on someone rolling a set number once they have set the “point”. If the point happens to be nine and they roll a nine everyone betting on the Pass Line wins. You can also make a lay bet on the Don’t Pass Line that they will not roll their number before they roll a seven, which is craps.