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In gambling, a "proposition bet" (prop bet, prop, novelty, or a side bet) is a bet made regarding the occurrence or non-occurrence during a game (usually a gambling game) of an event not directly affecting the game's final outcome.
Proposition bets in sports are differentiated from the general bets for or against a particular team or regarding the total number of points scored. Traditionally, proposition bets can be made on outcomes such as the number of strikeouts a pitcher will accumulate in a baseball game, whether a non-offensive player will score in an American football game, which team will score the first points of the game, the discipline record of teams in a match, the timing of certain events, the number of specific events per team or in the entire match, realistically any statistically discrete event contained in a match or game could be bet on.
Fixing part of a match for a certain result in a proposition bet is called spot-fixing.
There are a wide range of events or outcomes commonly bet on, including:
- Which specific sub-outcomes occur during a game in which multiple sub-outcomes normally have the same value, for example:
- The number of balls/strikes thrown by a baseball pitcher
- Which team scores first in a match
- The specific face value of one or more individual dice in craps
- Which cards will make up the flop in a hand of poker
- Which cards are dealt in blackjack: Over 35 different blackjack side bets are widely recognized in casinos. On some bets, such as the "Lucky Ladies" side bet that wins only if the first two cards dealt to a player equal 20. These bets are rarely favoured by experienced gamblers as the house edge on them typically exceeds the edge in a normal game. For example, the "Super 7s" side bet in blackjack has a house edge of 12.6%, while blackjack itself has a house edge of around 1% if the player follows basic strategy. There are side bets however that have very low house advantages such as "The 18 Bet" at the Eureka Casino in Mesquite which is almost under 2%.
- Specific aspects of the pageantry surrounding a sporting event, such as a) the duration of the word "brave" in the pregame performance of the U.S. national anthem or b) the colour of the Gatorade or other sports drink dumped on the winning team's coach in the traditional practical joke and victory ritual known as a Gatorade shower
Some jurisdictions do not allow casinos to offer any type of non-sport related proposition bets, but these kinds of prop bets can often be found online.
Dare for money
Less commonly, "proposition bet" (in this context also "one-of-a-kind bet") denotes a dare for money. The bet is on whether the "dared" person will make a given event happen. If the "dared" person accepts the bet, he will collect if he succeeds or pay if he fails.
For an example detailed in the book The Professor, the Banker, and the Suicide King, David Grey once bet Howard Lederer, a professional poker player who became vegetarian following gastric bypass surgery, $10,000 that Lederer would not eat a cheeseburger. Lederer accepted the wager, ate the cheeseburger, and won the bet.
Spot-fixing is an illegal activity where a person involved in the game takes steps to ensure a certain result for a proposition bet. Instead of fixing an entire match, or shaving points, spot fixing can be done with as little as one player, and can involve ensuring a certain outcome on only a single play, and may be completely unrelated to the points/results in a game.
Examples include Matt Le Tissier attempting to fix the time of a throw-in by kicking it out immediately after the game started, or Ryan Tandy attempting to fix the first point scored method in a rugby league game, failing after the opposition decided against kicking a penalty goal and instead scored a try. Multiple cricket players on teams at all levels of the sport have also attempted to fix events, such as the number of wides or no-balls in an over or the number of runs scored.
The fact that these minor events often contribute a minor or non-existent impact on the score or result of a game makes recruiting players for spot fixing an easier attraction than attempting to fix an entire match that may consist of dozens of players.
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- "Le Tissier in failed betting scam". BBC Sport. 3 September 2009. Retrieved 2 June 2010. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
- "Tandy guilty in NRL fixing scam". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). Abc.net.au. 6 October 2011. Retrieved 28 April 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)