Pretty much everyone bets on the Super Bowl in one way or another. Not everyone knows what they are doing, though. For those who don’t have a clue but still want to bet, here are six useful tips. In other words, this is Super Bowl betting for dummies and novice bettors:
Understand the basic bets
If you don’t understand the basic bets you can make, then you have no chance of making sound decisions. You don’t have to master the math and philosophy behind every single type of bet — that can take a lifetime. What you do need, though, is an understanding of what the bet means and what you are agreeing to when you make a bet.
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The most classic mistake novice bettors make here is misunderstanding the point spread. They will bet on the team that they think is going to win the game. That doesn’t always matter. In the 2013 Super Bowl, for example, the 49ers are likely to be favored by more than three points at kickoff. That means that if San Francisco only wins by three points, then those who bet on the Ravens would win, and those who bet on San Francisco would lose. Since three points is the most common margin of victory in the NFL, this is a very possible outcome.
When it comes to betting the total, novice bettors are often too optimistic about what is going to happen. They assume that both teams will perform at their best offensive capabilities, and the bettor therefore will ignore all the factors that can get in the way of that performance — the pressure of the defense, the quality of the opposing defenses, and so on. That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t bet the “over”. It just means that you really have to consider what is likely to happen on the day — not what would happen if the game was played in a vacuum.
Don’t break the law
Sports betting doesn’t have to be illegal, but in some places it is. You need to understand the laws to be sure you aren’t breaking them. In most states live betting is illegal. Some online betting is legal and some isn’t allowed in the U.S., and some funding sources for online accounts are better than others. Spending a few minutes to find the legal way to bet is well worth it.
Don’t bet like a sucker
There are all sorts of different bets out there for the Super Bowl. Basically, you can bet on pretty much anything about the game. A lot of the bets are interesting, and potentially profitable. There are some very popular bets, though, that are offered precisely because people are dumb enough to bet them. The classic example is the coin flip. You can bet on whether it will come up heads or tails — a 50/50 proposition. The problem is, though, that you have to bet $110 or even $120 to win $100 on these bets. That means that over the long term you are absolutely guaranteed to lose money on these bets — there is no possibility for a long-term edge. Before you make any bet, take a minute to think about what it is actually asking and whether it is a sound investment.
Shop for the best price
One of the big mistakes novice bettors make when betting on any sport is accepting the first odds that they see. What they don’t realize is that the difference between a 3.5-point spread and a three-point spread can be massive. If you bet the favorite you would much rather bet the three-point spread because three is such a common margin of victory, and if your team wins by three you get your money back. If you are betting the underdog, though, you would much rather bet 3.5 because that three-point win would be a win for you. The price you pay is also a huge factor. If you are making a substantial bet then the difference between -120 and -110 can turn into a lot of money. That impacts both your return on investment if you win and the amount you lose if you don’t.
Quality, not quantity
It can be far too easy to get sucked into making too many bets on the Super Bowl. There is so much excitement around the event, so much time leading up to it, and so many options to bet on. The more bets you make on the Super Bowl, though, the less likely you are to come out with a significant profit at the end. Instead of trying to bet on the side, the total, the moneyline, and a bunch of props, you should spend the time finding the small number of bets that give you the biggest edge and invest more substantially in them.
Novice bettors always think that they know more than they do and that their chances of winning are much better than they really are. The truth is, winning money betting on the Super Bowl is very tough — much tougher than on any other game of the year. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bet on the game — betting on the Super Bowl is a big part of what makes the game so fun. It just means that you need to have the right attitude about it. You should be making bets to enhance your enjoyment of the game, not to set yourself up for a rich early retirement. Any bets you win should be viewed as a happy bonus, not as your right.
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Read more articles by Trevor Whenham