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Super Bowl Betting for Dummies and Novice Bettors
by - 1/22/2014

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Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin

A lot of people who don’t bet on sports 364 days a year like to make a bet or three on the Super Bowl. It is for those people that we present Super Bowl betting for dummies and novice bettors. If you follow these six tips, you are going to give yourself the best possible chance of having a fun and profitable betting day.

Understand what you are betting: Sports bettors talk in a language all their own. Point spreads. Moneylines. Totals. Sides. Vig. None of it is really that complicated, but it can feel very confusing if you are not used to it. Before you make any bet, then, you need to make sure that you know what it is that you are betting on. The biggest mistake novice bettors make understands the point spread. They think that they are betting on the team that is going to win the game. As bettors know, though, it doesn’t matter who wins — it matters how much they win by. This year the difference isn’t going to be that significant because, barring a major development, the point spread will be three points or less. In years when the point spread is more than a touchdown, though, it can be very easy to bet on the team you think is going to win, be right, and still make a losing bet because they don’t win by enough points.

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Don’t break the law: There are ways that you can bet that are legal and aren’t going to get you in any trouble at all. There are other ways, though, that are very much illegal (whether they should be or not is an entirely different debate). You don’t want to find yourself getting into trouble just because you want to have a bit of a rooting interest in the Super Bowl, so make sure you know that you are allowed to make the bets you want to make before you make them.

Don’t be an idiot: Taking a calculated risk that has a good chance of returning a profit is fun. Throwing your money away on stupid bets that are designed to make you poor isn’t fun. Make sure you understand the difference. My favorite example of this is the coin toss prop bets that are everywhere each year. You can bet on whether the flip will come up heads or tails. That’s obviously a 50/50 proposition — the league likely doesn’t used a rigged coin. To bet on either side, though, you face a price of at least -110, which means that you have to bet $110 to win $100. You know with absolute certainty that over the long term you will win half the time and lose half the time. When you lose more than you win, you are guaranteeing that you will lose money in the long run. There is no way at all to make a long-term profit. You are paying the sportsbook to rob you. Sports betting is tough enough when you have a fair shot, so don’t make bets that you can’t win.

Shop around: Bettors will often jump on the first odds that they see. There is a wide range of available prices between different sportsbooks, though — especially on prop bets. A lot of times the difference between a winning bet and a losing one is razor thin, so taking the time to find the best possible price can often make the difference between a profit and a loss. One classic example that could be relevant this year involves the key number of three on point spreads. The most common margin of victory in the NFL by a fairly wide margin is three points. If you are betting on an underdog, then, a spread of +3 is much more attractive than +2.5 because you get your money back if you lose by a field goal. When betting on the favorite, though, -2.5 is far more attractive than -3 because you have a winning bet instead of a push if you win by a field goal. In both instances, shopping around for a price could make all the difference, and depending upon which side you want to bet you would be looking for different things.

Quality over quantity: There is a shocking variety of betting options on the Super Bowl. You can bet on sides, moneylines, totals, halftime bets, quarters, and so on. Then there are the prop bets. From the standard to the ridiculous, there is an incredible number of prop bets available, and the number grows each year. Given so many options, it can be really tempting to make a whole bunch of bets — to spread out your risk and have more to cheer for. When you are making a lot of bets, though, then you are almost certainly making a few that aren’t ideal, and you are certainly making it less likely that you will secure a long-term profit. Instead of making a lot of bets, just focus on finding the few bets that give you the best chance of success, and concentrate your betting on those.

Have fun: Sports betting is really hard. People who devote their lives to it don’t always make a profit — especially on a game as tough to handicap as this one. When you are making your bets, then, remember that above all else you are out to have some fun. You aren’t going to get rich betting on this game, and you don’t have nearly as much of an edge as you think you do. Just give yourself something to cheer for, and have a great time enjoying the spectacle of the game.

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