Sunday, January 30, 2011



Written by: The Crier
Date posted: 1/30/2011


This week, the Super Bowl will be the main sports talk topic around the country including here. Included in that talk will be talk about point spreads, box pools, prop bets, etc.

Despite the denials of the current NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell, and the two previous guys who held that job, Pete Rozelle and Paul Tagliabue, the foundation of the NFL’s popularity is gambling on the outcome of the games and various proposition and "futures" wagers associated with the games. In the US, more money “goes down” on football games than on any other sport.

When people have a financial interest in the outcomes, in addition to any fan interest, they pay attention to the games more closely; hence TV ratings; hence large fees for TV rights. And because lots of NFL fans love to bet on NFL games, there will be a lot of them in Las Vegas next weekend. In fact, if you don’t count the folks at the Super Bowl who are there as sponsors or “corporate partners” with the league or the teams, then there will be more fans in Las Vegas next week than at the game in Dallas.

Let me say that I have only been to Vegas several times in my life, but have never been there for a Super Bowl. And besides, I prefer to wager with my network of “bookies”, as there is no reason to lay out the money in advance and pay 11.1% vig on a straight bet in Vegas, as compared to 10% with my guys. Over the long run, that 1.1% difference adds up to thousands of dollars when you wager around $2M per year.

With that as a gauge and based on e-mail chats that I have had with folks behind the counter where wagers are made, the Super Bowl is a significantly big draw in the sportsbooks. That means the sportsbooks will be jumping next weekend. This year, the Vegas folks hope that the handle on the game wagers will top $90M and some are hoping that this year’s handle can eclipse the reported all-time record for legal wagering on the Super Bowl in Vegas set five years ago (Seahawks/Steelers) at $94.5M

The recession hit Las Vegas. Despite the bold front put on by the promoters there, tourism dropped significantly after the financial meltdown in September 2008. Last year, the Super Bowl handle was a reported mere $82.7M. Let me be clear about $82.7M; I would be thrilled to find that balance in my bank account one of these days knowing full well that will only happen six months after Adolph Hitler is ordained as a Saint. Nevertheless, that handle of $82.7M is down 13% from the largest handle in 2006. For the handle to get north of $90M this year, it will have to go up almost 10% from last year.

One reason for the optimism is that fans of the Steelers and the Packers "travel well". Not only will they travel to Dallas to see their teams, lots of them will travel to Las Vegas to “represent” in that venue. And if you are in Vegas “representing” the chances are very good that you will avail yourself of the fairly easy task of getting down a wager or two on the game.

According to reports, the sportsbooks did well during this NFL season but they did “take a beating” last week. Supposedly, there were lots of parlay wagers taking the Packers and the Steelers; when both covered, the books paid out at 13-to-5 on some hefty wagers and the books “went red” last weekend. However, if you ever travel to Vegas to see the casinos and the sportsbooks there, you will quickly realize that these establishments do not “go red” very often or for very long periods of time. Last weekend did provide the sportsbooks with a small breather, however.

The NY Jets opened the season at 20-1 to win the Super Bowl and at 10-1 to make it to the game. Reportedly, there was enough of that action to drop that line to 15-1 as early as Week 3 or 4 of the NFL season. As the year went on, and the Jets record stood up, more money came in and the odds dropped to 9 -1 to win it all and 4-1 to make it to the Super Bowl. When the Jets lost last weekend, there was a sigh of relief by the sportsbooks.

Speaking of gambling on sporting events, Jacques Rogge, President of the IOC (International Olympics Committee for the acronym-challenged), announced that the IOC will be meeting with “governments and other interested parties” sometime in March to discuss illegal betting on sports. According to the AP (Associated Press for the acronym-challenged), Rogge says that illegal gambling is as serious a threat to sports as doping and that it needs to be confronted with “seriousness and unity”. Some of the other interested parties in these talks will be sports officials, legal sports betting entities and public international bodies.

I suspect you all know my position on any and all attempts to eradicate illegal betting on sports or on anything else. Let me summarize it in three words: IT WON'T WORK!!!

People gamble. Like it or not, people gamble. They gamble with cards and with dice; they gamble on sports; they gamble (aka “speculate”) on stock prices and commodity prices; they play lotteries; they play slot machines, etc. You get the idea.

When legal/regulated/approved avenues to channel that gambling urge are unavailable or merely inconvenient, people will gamble in “illegal ways”. I do not care what kind of organizational entity attempts to eradicate illegal gambling, it just is not going to happen. Just because governments and a bunch of assholes decide that some activity or human condition is less than ”worthy”, that does not mean it can be taken out.

If you do not believe that last statement, let me remind you of the "War on Poverty" and the "War on Drugs". The first has been ongoing for about 45 years when Lyndon B. Johnson was president; the second has been ongoing for about 40 years, when Richard Nixon first coined the plrase. And how are those things working out? Is there any poverty left? Do people continue to use illegal drugs?

I have this hunch that if the IOC could figure out a way where it could dip their fingers into the gambling cash flow, they would not be hosting this assemblage of people in the first place.


"And on the seventh day, God created Super Bowl Sunday, and betteth that people couldn't resisteth laying money on various bets that maketh America's greatest sports spectacle even more all-consuming. And proposition bets were thus invented to increaseth the day’s money handle."

Just in case you’re not familiar with the gambling term, “proposition bet” (also called a side bet, prop bet, prop, or exotic), it is a bet made on an outcome or a proposition. These can be anything from statistics in a regular game to personal, one-of-a-kind bets. When a major sporting event comes along, some linesmakers let their imaginations run wild as they offer an interesting menu of bets, such as which team or player will score first, which team will score last, etc., etc., etc. 

The one sporting event that linesmakers really let their imaginations run wild is for the Super Bowl, the most wagered upon single game sporting event in the US. Just google “prop bets Super Bowl 45” and you will see the multitude of prop bets this year.

It's been 25 years since props first became popular for the Super Bowl. The hysteria began when William “The Refrigerator” Perry was offered at 100-1 to score a touchdown in Super Bowl XX and he was bet down to 3-1. This was supposed to be a joke of a bet, something to keep the tourists interested in case the game became a blowout. Instead, it became one of the biggest liabilities of that week for sports books. When he scored in the Chicago Bears' 46-10 romp over the New England Patriots, it practically turned the lights out in Vegas.

But what bookmakers realized, while they were emptying the cash from their cages, was that these props could, for one day at least, make their business legit. The worldwide attention that the “Fridge” prop attracted gave the betting game a warm, healthy glow. You didn't need to know point spreads, point totals, have any inside info, or really know anything about football at all to have an opinion. All you needed to understand, back in 1985, was whether or not the biggest pop culture phenomenon of the year would, at 300-plus pounds, take flight during the game and score a touchdown.

Now, bettors have several hundred different Super Bowl propositions to choose from. While sportsbooks in Nevada are limited to offering sports bets only, offshore sportsbooks are under no such restrictions and there are already bets being offered regarding the number of songs Fergie performs at halftime, the time length of the National Anthem, etc., etc., etc. 

The Crier has never wagered on a prop bet and never will. It is just another form of a "teaser" bet and nobody wins at teasing over the long run. That's why they're called teaser bets. Let the suckers have their fun because we know it's very unlikely they'll end up a winner over the long run.

Without further ado, here are some of the "special" prop bets for SB 45 that are guaranteed to spark interest for some. You can check out the possibilities for each proposition along with odds by googling:

How long will it take Christina Aguilera to sing the National Anthem?

Will Christina Aguilera wear a cowboy hat while singing the National Anthem?

Will Christina Aguilera's hair color be anything except completely blonde when she sings the National Anthem?

How long will Christina Aguilera hold the note “Brave” at the end of the National Anthem?

Who will President Obama pick to win the game?

What will the TV rating be?

Which region will have the higher local TV rating - Pittsburgh or Green Bay?

What will Fergie be wearing when she appears first on stage during the Super Bowl Halftime Show - skirt/dress, pants (below knees), shorts (above knees), or thong/G-string/bikini bottom?

Will Fergie be dressed as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader at any point during the halftime show?

How many times will FOX show Jerry Jones live on TV during the game?

Who will FOX show first on TV during the game - Jessica Szohr (Aaron Rodgers’ girlfriend) or Ashley Harlan (Ben Roethlisberger’s fiancĂ©e)?


How many times will FOX mention “Brett Favre” on TV during the game?

How many times will FOX mention “Lockout” on TV during the game?

Who will the FOX announcers say has better hair TV during the game - Troy Polamalu or Clay Matthews?

What color liquid will be dumped on the head coach of the winning Super Bowl team?

What side of the ball will the players that perform the liquid shower be from – offense or defense?

Who will the Super Bowl MVP thank first – God, teammates, family, coach, or no one?

Will a punt hit the scoreboard during the game?

Will a Steelers player do the Aaron Rodgers Championship Belt Celebration during the game?

Will any player do the Lambeau Leap after a TD?

Will B.J.Raji be on the field for at least one offensive play?

How many current NFL players will be arrested during Super Bowl Week?

Which Super Bowl commercial will have a higher rating on USA Today's annual Ad Meter?

If there is a picture of someone holding the Lombardi Trophy on the cover of the USA Today on Monday, February 7th, who will it be?

What will happen with the Dow Jones Average the day after the Super Bowl - Market Up or Market Down?

Will there be a wardrobe malfunction at halftime?

What will be mentioned first during the game - Cheeseheads or Terrible Towels?

How many American Idol commercials will air during the game?
How many times will Joe Buck say the word “Glee”?

How many people from FOX shows be seen on TV during the game?

Which FOX show will get the most promos during the game?

Will Howie Long pick the correct team to win Super Bowl 45?

How many songs will be played by Black Eyed Peas during the halftime show?

Will Barack Obama call the winning team before the broadcast goes off the air?

Will an animal appear as part of the haltime show?

Which sideline reporter will be on TV first after the game?

What will the first TV commercial during the game be?

Then you have some Cross Sport Prop Bets:

 Will the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl and Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2011?

Blake Griffin (LA Clippers) Total Rebounds against Miami Heat (2/6) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Total Points.

Rajon Rondo (BOS) Total Points + Assists against Orlando Magic vs. Green Bay Packers Total Points.

Total Field Goals made in the Super Bowl vs. Washington Capitals Goals against Pittsburgh Penguins (2/6).

Total Punts made in the Super Bowl vs 3-Point Shots made in Heat-Clippers Game (2/6).

Which game will have the larger Winning Margin - Super Bowl XLV or Orlando Magic @ Boston Celtics (2/6)?

LeBron James 1st half points against Clippers (2/6) vs. Green Bay Packers 1st Half Points

Total TD's in Super Bowl vs. Total Goals in Penguins/Capitals game (2/6)

Will Green Bay Packers win the Super Bowl and Milwaukee Brewers win on MLB Opening Day (3/31/11)?

I can go on and on, but you can google for all the prop bets you want, if interested.



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