Super Bowl Money Management
by Robert Ferringo - 01/30/2008
The Super Bowl is for amateurs.
I know, I know: that's blasphemy. I am urinating upon the Altar of The NFL. The Super Bowl is supposed to be not just another game, but THE Game. If you are up big betting on the football season then the Super Bowl is supposed to be your coronation, one last Big Score before you bury this season deep in your amygdala with so many other fragmented memories. If you are down on the year the Super Bowl is your Waterloo, a last-ditch effort to stave off defeat at the hands of the Unknown Forces. Either way, the Super Bowl represents something grandiose and important and it's nearly your duty as a red-blooded betting American to throw down some action on the game.
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The Game is the crowned jewel on the gambling calendar and the one game that will turn everyone from your grandmother to Jim in Accounting into an amateur handicapper. The amount that is wagered on this game - in offshore books, in Vegas casinos, in office pools and Super Bowl square pools, and with "local guys" - is staggering. I won't even peddle the Media numbers on what the total handle of last year's game was because the actual amount is probably closer to the GDP of Syria.
And that, my friends, is a factor as to why so many people bet so much money on a game that is essentially a coin flip. People want to feel connected to Greatness or they want to be part of something significant. We all feel it on that Sunday. You can feel the collective consciousness of The Public watching The Game, no matter how half-heartedly. We are connected through our focus, our confusion, our passion, and our strange and incomprehensible attraction to the little ball and the large mammals with hyperactive pituitary glands. The voyeurism of that moment makes you feel part of something. And while there are a million reasons to place some sort of wager on the Super Bowl, I feel like that is the underlying cause of it all: to feel connected with something larger than one's self. And the reason to bet an obscene, unruly amount is a feeble attempt to bring oneself on par with the largest spectacle in our nation. As if the residual Greatness will seep through their very ticket and into their soul.
But that's neither here nor there. My psychobabble isn't going to deter anyone from dropping a dime on the coin toss. But maybe this might - as a professional handicapper it is my opinion that wagering any more than you would for a standard football play on the Super Bowl is a poor investment strategy.
I understand that it is my role as a sports handicapper, a tout or false prophet to some, to pump up the Super Bowl and do everything in my power to keep people betting on The Game. After all, I want everyone to feed the machine, right? Wrong. I want people to make money. That's how I earn a living. I profit by helping other people put money in their pockets. And as a money manager or pseudo-financial advisor it's my solid opinion that wagering on the Super Bowl is a low-percentage bet and is not one that I endorse on any financial ground.
The reason that it's such a bad bet is that there is only one game to be played and the eyes of every oddsmaker, every bookie, every professional gambler, and every yahoo with a twenty and some Pop Warner experience has their eyes on the matchup and the line. The Super Bowl line is rock solid. The books aren't going to overlook anything and you're not going to find a line error. Essentially, you are flipping a coin because there isn't the same type of opportunities in this game that there are during the regular season.
There are no true go-to Super Bowl trends or systems. The oddsmakers slam the door on those things before they have a chance to take root. And even if you are able to find a decent system or indicator, let's say something that hits at 60 percent, it still doesn't make it that profitable. I mean, just how valuable is a 60-percent trend when it only applies to a game that's played once a year? It would take you at least a decade to see any return on that trend. I will have gotten rich and gone broke 500 times in between.
By comparison, there are 147 college basketball games tipping off the Saturday before the Super Bowl. Somewhere around 100 to 110 of them will have lines. Don't you think that the odds of finding a line discrepancy, an outright line error, or just a weak spread on that day is greater than anything you can find on Super Bowl Sunday? So, if that were the case, then why are people dropping $10,000 on the Super Bowl and hoping for some luck when they can find a mathematically advantageous situation in the Sun Belt Conference on Saturday?
The reason: the Super Bowl FEELS like greatness. The Sun Belt feels like raisins.
The key to sports betting is money management. Without money there is no gambling. I feel like the Super Bowl is, generally speaking, a low percentage play and my advice to all of my clients is that if they are going to make a play on the game keep it standard. Keep it smart. Stick to the two-percent and laugh at anyone who's letting it ride. Because you'll still be standing Monday morning, win or lose, and there will be many, many more moments to wager on. And I promise, someday we will get you to Greatness.