Avoid the Vig
How to Bet the Super Bowl
The Super Bowl is a sports fan national holiday. It is a time to get together with family and friends, eat unhealthy food, drink too many alcoholic beverages, watch the NFL best battle it out, and, most importantly, make some money. Most viewers, even those who never gamble throughout the year, have some action on the game. With hundreds of options, gambling on the Super Bowl can be an overwhelming proposition. For those people that actually want to make money, we identify how to bet the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl Podcast
The Hitman joins the Avoid the Vig Podcast to talk about Super Bowl betting strategy.
Tails Never Fails
Several sportsbooks have stated that they have received more bets on the coin toss than any other bet. In some respects, this is understandable. It happens before the game even begins. Even someone completely unfamiliar with gambling or even football, can understand winning heads or tails. There are two options, heads or tails. You have exactly a 50% chance to win and this is exactly the crux of the situation. If you want to bet on the coin toss, you still have to pay the vig, which can be upwards of -110. This means you would need to win 52.38% of the time to make money. When the odds of you winning are only 50% (heads or tails), you are making a bad bet. For the love of God, do not bet on the coin toss at a sportsbook. If you feel that passionately about the toss of a coin, find your Aunt Wilma and see if she will take your action.
The Early Bird...
During the NFL Regular Season, there are upwards of 16 games and a lot less interest in betting on football. For the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, there is none. It is a stand alone game that will have more viewers than the series finale of M.A.S.H. (Fact check: 6 million more viewers watched the series finale of M.A.S.H. than Super Bowl VIII) For those 14 days, bookmakers and sharps will refine the lines and tighten the props. By Super Bowl Sunday, there will be very little value to bet and make money. Do not wait until game day. Bet the Super Bowl early.
Side and Total
When most people bet on the Super Bowl, they talk about the side or total. How many points will be scored during the game, which team will win, and by how much? These questions are pontificated by the sharpest books and bettors. By the time the lines are posted, the value in these markets are usually dried up within hours. Unless you attack the opening line, you probably are left to bet on one of the most efficient numbers of the year, which makes making money on these bets extremely difficult. Avoid the side and game total markets. There are plenty of other opportunities to make money during the Super Bowl.
Prop it Up
Because there is only one game, the side and game total is extremely efficient. However, there can be hundreds of Super Bowl props at a single shop. Compound those options with multiple sportsbooks, there are literally thousands propositional variations. The amount and variance makes the prop market ripe for the picking. If you have a strong opinion on a prop, shop around and get the best number. Even if you don't have an opinion on a prop, there still could be significant value and money making opportunities. Look for middle and arbitrages across sportsbooks and over the course of time. Numbers and odds can, and, most likely will, change as the days/weeks progress. Check back frequently to see if there is an actionable change to the market.
Know the Public
Sometimes it is very difficult to know what side the sharp money is going to be on. However, it can be very easy to predict the public marketplace. This can be very advantageous during the Super Bowl. If you can anticipate heavily public plays, you can get ahead of a number before the public starts betting it. By far, more squares bet the Super Bowl player props than any other time of the year. When you identify players the public loves (ex: Patrick Mahomes / Raheem Mostert) you can bet the overs early and, after the public drives up the number, you can catch the under for a high reward, low risk play. It is important to note that the public like high scoring and big plays, which means the vast majority of the time, they will be targeting overs.
Say No to Yes Only
Although there will certainly be value in the prop market, there will be certain plays that bettors should avoid altogether. Never bet a "yes" only or a "no" only prop. When there are one sided props, the vigorish is extremely difficult to discern. Most bettors are either ignorant or indifferent to the impact of these types of plays and will be them regardless. Which player will score the first touchdown? Will there be a 28-3 comeback? Will someone expose an unmentionable body party during the halftime show? All of these propositions may sound fun, but they are -EV plays and should be avoided. If you haven't done the math to see your expected return, you can most assuredly bet the bookmaker has. Avoid one sided props entirely.
For many bettors, the Super Bowl will be the last time they bet a game until the next September. The Super Bowl is the culmination of their betting season as much as it is for the NFL. With that in mind, novice bettors tend to bet more, or, even much more, than their typical plays. The Super Bowl shouldn't be an all in effort to maximize returns or recoup losses. Treat the Super Bowl as just another game, a part of the process. Stay true to your unit size and don't overexpose yourself. If you stay disciplined, over time you will make money.
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