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Wagering on Super Bowl Props

   by Al McMordie - 02/02/2006

This is it: Super Bowl week. With two weeks to fill and only one game left, get ready for newspapers and TV sports shows to exhaust their insight into every possible angle and personality on the game. From a handicapping perspective, it’s not always easy to find a soft betting line with respect to the side and total. With one game to go in the season, and two weeks to prepare, oddsmakers generally make a solid line on the side and total. And any kind of major line movement is less likely with so much public money flowing in on the game.

However, this isn’t the case with proposition wagers. Super Bowl props have become fascinating and near endless over the last decade. You can wager on almost anything, from the coin toss, to who will score the first TD, to the final score for either side. The purpose of prop bets is simple: The more balloons the sports books toss in the air, the more two-way money they can entice on the game. A person wagering on the Seahawks, for instance, might decide he also likes QB Matt Hassellbeck over 1½ touchdown passes, Shaun Alexander under 89½ rushing yards, and that a field goal is more likely to be the first score of the game -- a bet you can make with a return of +125.

And on and on it goes. The purpose for the astute handicapper is to carefully examine all the prop bets to see if oddsmakers have made a significantly soft line somewhere, which is likely. This happens often during the college football and basketball seasons. There are just so many of those games on a Saturday that oddsmakers are not going to be up on every single small college contest and therefore excellent wagering opportunities abound. If Louisiana Lafayette is in a revenge situation, or a small school like Arkansas State has nagging injuries to its starting backcourt, oddsmakers aren’t always in tune with this information. It’s the job of handicappers to go out there and unearth a soft line or significant situation.

In addition, Super Bowl props are unique because each sports book, both in Las Vegas and off shore, will have its own individual props that other books won’t have. You may not find any good props worth looking at in one book, but find two or three different props that are worth betting on at another. Searching for the best number and bet is a staple in this industry if you want to turn a consistent profit.

Also, some books will have different numbers on the same prop. At two different Las Vegas sports books this week, Matt Hasselbeck’s passing yards is 231.5 at one book and 240.5 yards at another. Anyone who is familiar with middling a bet can find opportunities on Super Bowl props. Meaning you can bet Hasselbeck under 240.5 yards, and then go to the other book and bet over 231.5 passing yards. This is an 8-yard middle, so if Hasselbeck throws for 235 yards, the bettor collects both bets with almost no risk. It’s not often you find no-risk bets in the sports betting industry, but it is possible during Super Bowl week!

Here’s a free prop bet I’ve been eyeing this week: Number of successful third-down attempts by the Steelers 'Over' 5.5. Pittsburgh has been running a highly successful ball control offense thus far in the postseason, facing numerous short yardage situations. And the Steelers have been making them, with QB Ben Roethlisberger’s pinpoint passing and their balanced offense and power running game. Enjoy the last game of the 2005-06 football campaign, and remember there are still plenty of soft lines out there, if you know where to look! Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

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