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Super Bowl Betting: Public Comes Out in Droves for Big Game
by Aaron Smith - 1/25/2010

Indianapolis Colts Quarterback Peyton Manning

The popularity of the Super Bowl is undeniable, and that definitely spills over into the betting world. Every year the Super Bowl is the most popular single event that bettors gamble on. The sports books are absolutely flooded with orders for wagers from the point spread all the way to player props. Make no mistake about it: this is the weekend of the year for books and their business.

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The Super Bowl tends to bring in large swarms of amateur bettors who simply love to bet on an event this big. It is estimated by some in the industry that 90 percent of the wagers placed on the Super Bowl are made by gamblers who are not regular bettors. The public betting definitely influences the lines released by the oddsmakers for this huge game. What does the public typically bet on? How does the public tend to fare? These are the two main questions we will seek to answer today.

The first thing to realize is that the Super Bowl brings unprecedented hype from the media, which plays a major role in the line that is released for the game. No other sporting event in the world receives as much pregame coverage as this one. In the weeks before the Super Bowl there are so many “experts” coming out of the woodwork that it’s mind-boggling. While this hysteria is often not rational, it definitely plays a role in how the oddsmakers will release the line for the game. The books are not stupid and they know that media excitement matters a whole lot to many of the public bettors.

If you follow the betting industry much at all you probably realize that in all sports the public tends to like points. The average public bettor likes to watch the game and root for his/her bet to win, and most likely they are hoping to see a shootout with plenty of points. Unquestionably, the public is on the side of the ‘over’ in any general NFL game, and even more so in the Super Bowl. What about the pointspread? As the era of major media coverage from all sorts of outlets increases, the infatuation with the favorite has grown more noticeable. When you think about the hype that the team who is supposed to win receives for two weeks it makes sense that the public would feel as if it is inevitable that they will cover the spread.

Now that we have come to the conclusion that the public skews heavily toward both the favorite and the ‘over’ it is time to see how they have fared in past Super Bowls. Interestingly, for the 43 Super Bowls the favorite is 23-18-2 against the spread. On the other hand the favorite is just 2-6 ATS in the last eight Super Bowls. What significance could this hold? It certainly lends credence to the theory that as the media buildup grows, the value on the underdog becomes greater. For the 42 Super Bowls that have had a ‘total’ the ‘over’ has won 21 of the times and the ‘under’ has won 21 times. The recent trends show that the under has hit four of the last five years and six of the last 10 years. The ‘over/under’ does not seem to be quite as swayed by the public betting trends as does the point spread. This is likely because many more public bettors wager on the pointspread than the ‘over/under’.

After completing this article view our NFL Preseason Betting page. If you plan on betting NFL you'll also want to read our understanding odds page. Doc's bet on the super bowl coin toss resource is a must read for NFL wagering. For more NFL articles and free picks visit our homepage and view the "Doc's Daily Medicine" section.

The moral of the story is the public has fared worse of late in the Super Bowl, likely because there really isn’t much value on their side by the time the line has been inflated. Think twice before throwing your money on the side of the general public. A wise bettor will focus on the matchups and the key statistics as they make their wager. The single best advice is to block out all the media hype surrounding the Super Bowl and go back to the basics of betting!