Submitted by Richie Baccellieri on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM
One of the main reasons Las Vegas sportsbooks make so much money during Super Bowl Week is because squares (the general public) loves betting on propositions, or “prop” bets. Squares usually take the worst of it on these plays…which means sportsbooks are locked into a profit before kickoff unless they’re heavily one-sided on the game and lose that side.
*Choices that offer odds, aren’t offering “true” odds. Let’s say you want to pick the player who scores the first touchdown…or who wins the MVP award. There are many possible choices to bet on…yet only one player can score that first TD…and only one player can win the MVP. All bets on all other players lose! Oddsmakers put prices that seem appealing to longshot bettors…but that actually understate the true chances for any individual by a good bit.
Frankly, these are sucker bets and YOU shouldn’t mess with them. If you’re just having fun…and you want something to sweat…well, I’m not likely to talk you out of a bet. Just remember that sportsbooks clean up on people making dumb sweat bets. There’s a difference between betting for entertainment and betting to win money.
*Props involving the “likelihood” that something will happen (there will be a safety, the game will go overtime) are listed at prices that don’t reflect the real-world likelihood. The payoff may seem nice at first glance. But, if you go back and look at how often there are safeties, or how hard it is for a Super Bowl game to go overtime…you realize that the payoffs are actually BAD. The public loves taking flyers on longshots, without realizing those longshots are even more unlikely to happen than they anticipated. These are also props that YOU should generally avoid.
*Choices that involve individual players reaching specific statistical targets (how many passing yards a quarterback will have, how many rushing yards a running back will have) are priced against public prejudices. Squares tend to bet Overs on these props because they like rooting for things to happen. Patriots fans are going to bet on Tom Brady to go Over his passing total, for example. Oddsmakers inflate the numbers to charge a premium to root for Overs. But, they also do this while limiting bet sizes to keep sharps from coming in and making big “value” bets to get those free yards. Limits are set to entice squares and limit sharps (who are looking for bigger fish to fry).
Now, I don’t want to suggest that sharps don’t bet these yardage props. They do for limit bets at the small limits. Sharps don’t turn away free money! But, when it comes to Super Bowl betting, square money absolute dwarfs sharp money. The public will be rooting for Overs, while sportsbooks and sharps will be rooting for Unders.
And, this brings up the smartest way for YOU to bet Super Bowl props. Look for “targets” that are clearly inflated because of public betting patterns, and bet the Under for value. This will fly in the face of how you usually handicap. Your gut will be saying “I think this guy is ready to have a huge game!” You’ll want to bet the Over. Just remember that your gut is a square! That player might have a huge game…but he probably won’t. You’ll lose more than you win over the long haul.
I should also point out that timing is important. Sharps tend to hit the openers on player props, because they’ve already done the legwork to make their own number. This is another reason for YOU to avoid props…the best lines to attack have already been taken out by sharps! But, there could still be some openings on game day where sharps are waiting for public betting on an Over to stop before they hit the Under. You’ll still find value in those situations because any correction hasn’t come into play yet.
As an oddsmaker, creating and monitoring Super Bowl props is one of the biggest headaches we have. It’s out of our comfort zone because it’s not something we do much of during the regular season. We want to find appealing options that attract public bettors, while not putting our employers at risk with poor estimates of how the public will bet any given option. It usually works out for the best, particularly for experienced oddsmakers who have lived through a lot of prior Super Bowls.
If you’re committed to playing some props to enhance your viewing experience, I’d suggest the following.
*Only play a few
*Bet what “makes sense” rather than what you’re “hoping for”
*Fade the public
*Stay within the confines of your normal bankroll
The dumbest thing you can do is risk way too much money on a bunch of Over bets you’re making for entertainment. This is what the sportsbooks WANT you to do!
If you’d like some help making your final decisions on game day, you can purchase my Super Bowl slate this weekend right here at the website with your credit card. I hope you’ll build your bankrolls between now and then with nightly basketball. If you have any questions about personal service, call the VSM office at 1-888-777-4155 any weekday during normal business hours.
I’ll be back with you again Friday to fully review how sharps have been betting the Super Bowl side and total so far, and to talk about how the market might play out over the weekend before kickoff. It pays to have a friend in Las Vegas! Thanks again for reading…I’ll see you Friday afternoon.
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