Super Bowl Odds and Betting Advice
by Trevor Whenham - 2/6/2011
It looked early on as if the Super Bowl odds for the 45th edition of the game were going to be volatile, but that just hasn’t turned out to be the case at all. It has been quite the opposite really, as this has been one of the least interesting Super Bowls in history when judged on line movement. The reason for that is really fairly simple - the oddsmakers got it right, and they got it right quickly.
There was a bit of early movement, but the line was established by Monday of the first week with the Packers favored by 2.5, or three depending upon the book, and almost two weeks later it’s still right there. There hasn’t been a lot of drama leading up to the game, the only injury stories have been ones that we knew about when the Super Bowl line was set, and the teams are well coached and match up well. There had better be some drama on the field because the betting sure hasn’t provided much.
Just how dull has it been? Well, as of late Friday afternoon the number of bets was split almost evenly between the Steelers and the Packers, with only the tiniest of edges to Pittsburgh. In the biggest game of the year the books have done the best possible job of balancing action by creating a number that splits public opinion all but perfectly.
The line and the lack of movement of the Super Bowl odds means that there is some betting advice that is always sound but which is particularly important here:
Be aware of the number three - This is very important in a game like this when the line can be found both right at the key number of three and just below it at 2.5. The difference between 2.5 and three doesn’t seem like much to casual gamblers, but to serious bettors it’s massive. Three is the most key number, which means that more games are decided by a margin of exactly three points than by any other -- significantly more games. When you are making your bets, then, you want to make sure that the key number is working for you, not against you.
If you are betting on Green Bay then finding a book that will give you 2.5 is dramatically more attractive than having to take 3.0. The reason is simple -- if the Packers win the game by a field goal then you have a winning bet at 2.5, but you would just get your money back at 3.0. I don’t know about you, but I’d take a win over a refund every day. On the other hand, Pittsburgh bettors should be much more interested in 3.0 than 2.5 -- they have the insurance of getting their money back if Green Bay wins by three. Shopping around for the best odds is always very important for bettors, but never more so than in a situation like this.
What’s your hurry? - The lines have been remarkably stable all week, and given the amount of money that has already been bet on both sides it seems reasonably likely that they will remain stable until kickoff. When making a bet early to get the best price isn’t a consideration then there is really no reason to make your bet before you absolutely have to.
In a game of this magnitude information is power, and the longer you wait to make your bet, the more information you have. Perhaps a late injury impacts your picture of the game, or maybe a player gets himself in trouble and will be suspended for the game. If you had bet early then you would be locked in on your side already, and you would have to live with a bet you might not be happy with anymore. If there is no advantage in the odds to betting early, then there is no reason not to bet late.
Don’t fall for lazy assumptions - Oddsmakers are way, way smarter than most sports bettors. They know not only what they think is going to happen in a game, but also what the public is likely to think is going to happen in a game. Those two situations are very different, and that’s the reason books make so much money.
The general betting public -- the people who happily take the money out of their wallets and throw it at the sportbooks -- listen to what the media has to say and make major assumptions based on what they feel or hear. They almost never test those assumptions to see if they are actually true or if they make sense. Sportsbooks know that and they feast on that.
Do you think that the Packers aren’t going to be able to run the ball at all this week? Fine, but is that because you have really thought about matchups and strategy, or because you have heard talking heads say it? Do you know for sure that Maurkice Pouncey’s injury will have a big impact, or do you just think so because you heard it on TV? Any time you make a decision based on lazy assumptions without proving them for yourself then you are falling right into the sportsbooks trap.
In the Super Bowl those traps are everywhere and they are very easy to fall into. Over the long term the ones who avoid those traps are the ones who will thrive and profit.
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