Profitable Prop Betting In 3 Easy Steps

Profitable Prop Betting In 3 Easy Steps

Unabated Staff
The Process
June 3, 2024

Some of the most beatable lines that a sportsbook puts out are on player prop bets. However, there is one major mistake that most bettors make when betting props. I’ll show you step-by-step how to beat player props and how to avoid that mistake in this video.

Hi, I’m Jack from Unabated. When I was first starting out in sports betting, over 20 years ago, I built up my bankroll crushing player prop bets. The lines were probably easier to beat back then, but we didn’t have nearly the variety of bet options that are available to today’s bettors. We also didn’t have the tools available that we do today to spot the edges quickly and get bets down swiftly.


You Can’t Put the Top Down in Prop Betting

In a previous video, we explored how beating sports betting doesn’t have to be about predicting the future. It’s more about price and probability. That method is known as top-down betting, and if you haven’t watched that video, check it out

Many of the reasons that top-down betting works for game sides and totals are the same reasons why it’s not the preferred approach of beating player props.

You see, top-down betting relies on sharp bettors shaping the lines at sharper books that will take their action. You then use that as your cue on what the line should be. Their sharp liquidity hammers the line into shape. 

However, player props typically don’t have massive liquidity in their markets. It’s a much tougher bet for a sharp book to handle, so they don’t take as much on these bets. For both the sharp bettors and the sharp books, it’s not a priority. You can’t effectively use top-down betting on props.

When it comes to props, the better approach is to find trustworthy projections as your source of truth and use them as your guide. Sometimes paying for these projections can be worth it.


Projections Are Paramount

But Jack! You told us not to buy picks  – aren’t projections just picks for player props?

No. Player projections give a full picture of what the expected output is for a player in a game. You then apply that to the market of available prop bets. Shopping for the best line is still key to prop betting, just like in top-down betting. Our members have found the most value downloading projections from sites that require a subscription.

To many bettors, player prop bets are attractive because they are a natural extension of daily fantasy sports, where you construct a lineup of players and then their individual performance dictates how many points your lineup receives. Today’s bettors have become hyper-focused on player performance. Factoring in everything that could influence that player’s stats. 

This is actually one of the reasons player props are so beatable.

When you’re trying to predict who will win a full game there are a lot of factors and variables involved. You need to account for all those things, and it’s very difficult to master.

However, with player props, you’re narrowing your focus down to just one player’s performance. Typically just on a single key stat. If you’re comfortable enough to create your own projections that’s great, but for a lot of bettors that might be beyond their skill level, or just too daunting to do for every player in a league.

This is where the popularity of DFS plays another key role. Because of DFS, there are sites that cater to projecting statistics for players. You can use their subject knowledge to help power your betting.

For instance, FanDuel offered an Over/Wnder on the number of strikeouts by Tanner Houck against the Rays. We could use a DFS helper site like NumberFire to look up their projection on Houck for this game. It’s 5.65. Seems like the Over 5.5 might be a play. 

However, this is actually the major flaw I warned you about at the top of this video.


Know Your Means and Medians

You see, a DFS site is going to list an average projection for a player. This is called the mean in statistical terms. In DFS, you get more points the more strikeouts the pitcher accrues, so their average is important to you.

However, a sportsbook only cares about bettors going over or under their line. They don’t care by how much. As a result, a sportsbook lists a median projection for the line. The point where 50 percent of the results would be over and 50 percent would be under.

When you started to play this video, you probably didn’t think this would be a deep dive into statistics and probability theory. And it’s not, just hang with me a little longer on this because the payout for your future of betting props is huge.

If player performance followed a normal distribution, the mean and the median would be similar. However, in something like strikeouts, it’s not normally distributed.

You can’t go below zero strikeouts and the distribution tail to the positive side goes out considerably longer. This is called a right-skewed or positive-skewed distribution. The mean or average is going to be higher than the median. In props with fewer trials or attempts, this is going to be a meaningful difference.

If you followed these mean projections in your prop betting you would end up on more Overs due to the mean projection being higher than the median sportsbook line.

However, you’ll actually be on the wrong side of the bet in terms of probability of it winning. When it wins, you may win by a bigger margin, but you’ll win less frequently than if you had used the median. Don’t bet the mean, you have to bet the median.

Now in order to find the median, you need to run the projection through a simulation to produce the full distribution of results. Suddenly, what seemed like a simple hack for beating props has turned into a science fair experiment.

I really don’t expect people watching this video to be able to also create a simulation tool to find the median. But this is why so many people lose betting props. Fortunately, today’s tools make it so much easier for the bettor.

At Unabated, we have player prop simulators built into our Prop Odds Screen. By clicking one button, I can simulate Tanner Houck’s performance 10,000 times and find that the edge in this market is actually on the Under. The median being lower than the mean gives me a 2 percent edge against the Under line at Sugarhouse sportsbook.

In fact, we have these simulators for a wide range of player props in MLB, NFL, College Football, NBA, and even WNBA. You bring the projections and we’ll help you simulate and find value in the market. 


The Step-By-Step Process

Speaking of projections, that’s really the key here. You’re only as good as the projections. Garbage in, garbage out so to speak. There are a lot of projection sources out there on the internet. Pretty much if you can export them from a website as a .csv file, we can import them into our prop odds screen and run simulations for you.

In the case of the WNBA and college football, we couldn’t find projection sources we liked, so we made our own. These projections have been performing incredibly well for our members. 

The process for beating props is nearly as simple as the process we laid out for top down betting.

Step 1, you identify your source of truth. You find a projection set you believe is sharp.

Step 2, you load that projection set into the prop odds screen and simulate the player performance to identify edges.

Step 3, you shop for the best price.

Remember what I said though, the prop betting market is less efficient than major sports sides and totals. As a result, you may see some eye-popping edges on the prop odds screen.

It’s your projections against the market, and sometimes the market disagrees. You still need to respect the market, even when it’s less than efficient.


Tighten Up Your Prop Betting Edges

That’s why at Unabated we allow you to blend your projection sources. Not only between multiple projection providers, but between your source and our market-based projections which calibrate based on movement in the market. 

Be careful with big edges you find in prop betting. Back in our video on building a bankroll, I talked about Kelly staking and using quarter-Kelly due to the uncertainty surrounding your edge in sports betting. I’d advise that when betting props you use a stake size you are comfortable with but Kelly staking might not be the best way to go. 

Sportsbooks have a habit of not tolerating bettors who beat them on props, so keep that in mind as well when devising your stake size. Feasting just on props is not a way to sustain your account, but we’ll talk more about that in a future video. 

We have a lower -priced tier that is designed just for the prop specialist. It includes the Prop Odds Screen, the simulators, and other tools to help you crush prop markets, DFS pick’em sites like PrizePicks and Underdog, and even office pools. 

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