Bookmakers In Las Vegas And Offshore Are Worlds Apart On Sunday's Super Bowl Lines
Bookmakers In Las Vegas And Offshore Are Worlds Apart On Sunday's Super Bowl Lines - But They Share One Thing In Common-They Are Sweating Bullets
By Kelso Sturgeon
If one is a bettor with access to several sports books one can have a field day betting Sunday's Super Bowl. Those who like the favored Indianapolis Colts can lay 4½ at most of the big offshore books while those who have as their choice the underdog New Orleans Saints can get +5½ at most Las Vegas sports books.
The only thing bookmakers around the world have in common is that 99% of them are set up to get middled at their individual betting shops. The Super Bowl betting line officially opened with the Colts -3 -120, which meant if you wanted to lay the three you had to bet $12 to win $10.
That number literally lasted about 30 seconds before the sharps and the wiseguys stepped in with their heavy bankrolls and drove it to -3½ and then -4, and at that point the public and the legions of followers, seeing where the money was going, did the rest, sending the betting line to -4½, -5 and then to -5½.
The sharps and wiseguys rested for about an hour and then came back and pounded the New Orleans Saints plus the points, getting down most of their money at +5 and setting themselves up to middle the game and nothing takes the heart out of a bookmaker more than an awareness he was had before he figured out what had happened.
When one is down on the Colts -3½ and the Saints at +5 one has his foot on the first step into betting heaven.
For those who don't know how the middle works, here is a simple explanation.
If you bet $1,100 to win $1,000 on the Colts -3½ and then came back and bet $1,100 to win $1,000 on the Saints +5, you have just wagered $2,200 to win $2,000 but since you cannot lose both bets have in reality risk just $100 to win the $2,000.
All you need to do to get the 20-1 for your money is for Indianapolis to win the game by 4 points, or the number in the middle between 3½ and 5. If the Colts won by 4, you would collect the money wagered on them at -3½ and the money wagered on the Saints at +5.
This is precisely the situation bookmakers are in, and it is an understatement to say they are sweating bullets. Some members of that fraternity who have not seen the inside of a church in years have all at once become fans of God and are showing up each day for prayers.
The total on the game opened at 56, went immediately to 56½ and has for the most part remained there, with a handful of books raising it late last night to 57.
Money line betting on the game finds Indianapolis -205 and the Saints +185. This means if you take the Colts to win the game straight up, with no points involved, you would have to lay $205 to win $100 while, if the Saints were your choice to win straight up, with no points involved, you would get $185 for each $100 bet.
A Little Insight Into Wiseguy Betting
While most of the big bettors have already positioned their bookmakers for the middle, they are not done yet. In fact some of them who have already made middle bets in the middle six figures are hoping to take a second stand.
Most bettors are traditionally nervous about making a money line bet on a favorite, such as the -205 one would have to lay to take the Colts Sunday, but the wiseguys are not. It is all a percentage game with them and they are going to wait until the last minute hoping to get a better price on the Saints, which some bookmakers say may go to +6½ or even +7.
If they do this, it means they will try to get an additional middle with the Colts on the money line, lay the odds but no points, and getting the points with New Orleans. This reality was the buzz of the Las Vegas sports books when I made my rounds today.
I am sharing this with you just for your information. Do with it what you wish.
In the meantime, bookmakers are going to offer hundreds of proposition bets on the Super Bowl. It was rather stunning to walk into the so-called Super Book at the Las Vegas Hilton today and pick up its list of proposition bets, which runs 31 pages printed on 8.5 x 11.0 paper
A Few Thoughts On The Super Bowl
I have always said the biggest challenge a handicapper can face is to win a game in which a strong argument can be made that either team can win it-and I do think this is the case in this game. If I was on a debate team, I could take the side of the Indianapolis Colts and make a strong case for them to win-just as I could for the New Orleans Saints.
This year's Super Bowl opponents are two legitimate teams that have outstanding quarterbacks and the two best offensive lines in the NFL.
Indianapolis comes into this game 16-2 and would be 18-0, had they not tanked in their last two games of the regular season to rest up their starters and get ready for the post season. The Colts are 12-6-0 against the spread. New Orleans is 15-3 SU, 9-9 against the number.
The teams have between them seen an average of 54 points scored in their games this season. After 36 games that represents a very solid number and puts the total of 56½ or 57 in perspective.
There are two things about which the public is talking that I find irrelevant.
First, the thought New Orleans, which benefited from five Minnesota Viking turnovers in the NFC championship game to punch its ticket to Miami really doesn't belong here. The Vikings should be playing for the title.
That is simply fodder for the pundits who run out of things to write and talk about. New Orleans earned its way here and it did not go 15-3 by accident.
Then there is that major topic of conversation-that New Orleans is going to go after Peyton Manning with fury and take him out of the game. This comes courtesy of the Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams but no New Orleans player has said a word about it.
There is no question the loss of Manning would be catastrophic for the Colts, since his back-up is Curtis Painter, a rookie out of Purdue who has a quarterback rating of 9.8, or 100 points less than that of Manning.
There is always a chance Manning will get hammered and an unfortunate injury could take him out of the game but you can take it to the bank he will have the same protection in this game that he has had all season. Mark it down-Manning was sacked just 13 times in 18 games and buried every team that went after him.
As for the playing status of the Colts superstar defensive end Dwight Freeney, he will try to play despite a severe and painful ankle injury. How long he goes and how effective he will be remains the only question.
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For The Record My Super Bowl Record In This Century
2008 Super Bowl
Cardinals (+7) 23, Steelers 27 (W)
Over 46 Points (W)
2007 Super Bowl
Giants (+12 ½), Patriots 14 (W)
Under 54 ½ (W)
Parlay of Giants and the Under (W)
2006 Super Bowl
Bears (+7) 17, Colts 29 (L)
Under 47 ½ Points (W)
2005 Super Bowl
Seahawks (+4) 10, Steelers 21 (L)
Under 46 ½ Points (W)
2004 Super Bowl
Eagles (+7) 21, Patriots 24 (W)
Under 47 Points (W)
2003 Super Bowl
Panthers (+7) 29, Patriots 32 (W)
Over 37 Points (W)
2002 Super Bowl
Buccaneers (+3 ½) 48, Raiders 21 (W)
Over 44 Points (W)
2001 Super Bowl
Patriots (+14) 20, Rams 17 (W)
Under 53 Points (W)
2000 Super Bowl
Ravens (-3) 34, Giants 7 (W)
Over 33 (W)
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