Prop bets are the most fun part of Super Bowl betting. There are so many offered, and some of them are so creative, that it adds a whole new element of challenge and excitement to betting on the game. If you aren’t careful, though, props are also a very effective way to throw away a lot of money in a hurry.
Here are four tips for betting Super Bowl props that can help you find the path to success:
Think like the public thinks
The betting public isn’t particularly sophisticated in their analysis of football games, but they are predictable. Oddsmakers are very good at knowing what the public is likely to think in certain situations, and they will set the odds accordingly. That means that, whenever possible, the odds will be set so that there is less value on the side the public is likely to bet than there is on the other side. When you are analyzing prop bets, then, it is worthwhile identifying the ones in which the public is likely to be particularly interested, and on which side they are likely to bet. This doesn’t mean that you can’t bet on the sides that the public are on — sometimes they are right. It just means that when you are going to bet on the same side as the public on a popular prop bet you want to make sure you are confident in your position so that there is still value to be had. If you are sure of the side you want to be on but the public has bet the value out of that side, then you can look around for other ways to profit from the same opinion — like another less-popular prop bet, for example.
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Start by imagining how the game turns out
When you begin the process of handicapping prop bets the first step should be to look at the teams and their strengths and weaknesses and how that ultimately means you expect the game to turn out. Once you have an idea of your game picture, it becomes easy to evaluate whether prop bets are interesting — if they offer any value. You can look at each prop bet individually to see if it is particularly likely — or unlikely — to occur if the game turns out the way you expect it to. By doing it this way you don’t have to start from scratch analyzing each prop bet, and you can be sure that all of your bets are consistent — that you could win all of them if things turn out just as you expect.
Don’t contradict yourself
It’s hard enough to make money betting on the Super Bowl in the best of circumstances. It’s almost impossible to do so if you sabotage your chances with poor bet selection. It’s amazing how often people will bet two different prop bets that are very unlikely to both win. If one wins then the other is likely to lose. That means that depending on the odds you are going to have a small loss, or at best a small win most of the time, regardless of how things turn out. It’s not always immediately obvious when two bets contradict themselves, so you really have to think about what they mean. For example, let’s say that you are betting that a running back for a team is going to have a big yardage day. That likely means that he will be running a lot during the game and that his team will be focusing on the run. If you think that that is likely then it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to bet that the quarterback on that team is also likely to have a massive passing day. If the run is productive then that will run down the clock and dictate the pace of the game, and it is less likely that they will also pile up the aerial yards. Their opponent also won’t get as much possession time, so they aren’t as likely to score a pile of points and force the team to go to the air to catch up. Your bets would quite likely contradict each other, and you would be most likely to win one and lose the other.
Make sure your bets make sense
Every time you come up with a prop bet you think you want to make you should take some time to consider what it is actually asking and if it offers value. In other words, you need to make sure that the price of the bet and the potential payoff accurately reflects the risk involved. For example, Bovada has a prop bet that allows you to bet on whether the team that wins the coin toss will win the game. A study last year showed that teams that win the coin toss win the game about 52 percent of the time in the NFL. The problem is, though, that the odds are currently at -115 for both sides of the prop. That means that over the long term it wouldn’t be a profitable bet to bet the “yes” side, and it would be even worse betting “no”. It’s easy to determine what the likelihood of either side is and what a fair price would be, so you can easily tell that this bet makes no sense — it’s no better than a gamble. Unless you are just looking for the thrill of gambling, you should look elsewhere for better betting opportunities.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham