By Phil Simon
When it comes to wagering on sporting events there’s nothing quite like the Super Bowl. Much like the game has changed into more of a spectacle over the years, so have the ways to gamble on it. Sportsbooks go all out for the biggest game on the sports calendar, and as a result we see billions of dollars wagered on the big game. What sets this day apart from all the others on the season schedule is the sheer volume of bets available. Not only are the traditional markets posted like the spread and total, but the number of proposition bets range in the hundreds if not thousands. Even if you hate football and don’t know Tom Brady from Greg Brady, there is something on the board for you to wager on.
Traditional Super Bowl Betting Markets
When it comes to football there are two common wagers. First is the spread and second is the over/under. Every game has a favorite and an underdog determined by oddsmakers based on how the teams have performed over the season. With Super Bowl LV upon us let’s dive into the odds. Just a few days before the game the line had the Kansas City Chiefs as a 3-point favorite ( -3 ) with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the underdog ( +3 ). The betting line looks something like this:
Kansas City Chiefs -3 ( -115 )
Tampa Bay Buccaneers +3 ( -105 )
In this scenario the Chiefs would have to win the game by more than three points to earn a payout. A one or two point victory or an outright loss makes a winner of the Bucs on the spread. Your sportsbook will take a commission for taking your bet. The number at the end of the line signifies how much. A $115 wager on the Chiefs would pay $100. You’d have to risk $105 on the Bucs to get the same payout. Once you become more familiar with how the point spread works most books offer quarter, half and adjusted point spreads. Live betting is also an option where the odds change based on how the game is playing out.
The other common wager made on football games involves the over/under or total. Oddsmakers handicap each team, current trends and injury reports to come up a total. That’s the number of combined points scored in a game. If you think the teams can score more than the total you bet the OVER. If not, you bet the UNDER. Here’s an example for Super Bowl LV:
Over 56 ( -105 )
Under 56 ( -115 )
The total is set at 56 meaning the teams must combine for more than that number for the OVER to payout. Tampa and Kansas City played a regular season game with the Chiefs winning 27-24. In the spread bet it would be a push since the Bucs were getting three points. The total for that game was 56, making winners of under bettors since the combined total of 51 was under the posted total.
What really sets the Super Bowl apart from any other game or sporting event is the number of prop bets that are available to wager on. A prop bet is one that is not directly related to the outcome or score of the game but involves the teams and players. You can place a wager on which team scores first and if their final score will be even or odd. The teams competing in the Super Bowl have some of the top players in the game making individual props a fun way to stay engaged. Many of the bets are yes/no or over/under wagers. For example, will Tom Brady have more passing yards than his listed total?
There is also a plethora of head-to-head player props. On these you are wagering whether or not Player A outperforms Player B at a specific position. One example is between Kansas City’s Tyreek Hill and Tampa’s Mike Evans for the most receiving yards. To make things a little closer odds are assigned. In this wager Evans is given 26.5 yard head start.
And don’t forget about the exotic props. These typically have absolutely nothing to do with the game, so you don’t have to be a fan of either team or the NFL to get involved. The coin flip rarely gets mentioned during regular season games, but it takes on a life of its own during the Super Bowl. You can wager on heads or tails, what team wins the coin toss and what the winning team elects to do. There are also a variety of pros for the National Anthem and halftime show, and even for the commercials.
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