Sports betting is like a world all its own, and Las Vegas is the only place in the world where you can walk in and place a legal bet on sporting events. Unless that’s not true, in which case it sounds like it could be true, and that’s close enough, right?
Anyway, there’s no busier day in sports books, in the world, than on the day of the Big Game We Can’t Name Specifically. You know the one. The one we can’t say because of the lawyers. But it’s the national pro football championship event spectacular thingy. And it’s happening February 3, 2013. Unless that date is trademarked, too, in which case all hope is lost for humanity.
We’ll say right up front, this blog is not a sports betting expert. And by “not an expert,” we mean, “We know almost exactly nothing about sports betting.”
We do, however, know sports betting experts. We popped into the sports book at Rio Las Vegas to chat with David Pemberton, Director of Specialty Games, about some of the fun bets, called “prop bets,” surrounding the Big Game We Can’t Name Specifically.
Right off the bat, we asked David for some bets everyone can make money on, guaranteed. Apparently, those don’t exist. Who knew? However, this didn’t deter us from learning more about prop bets.
“A lot of the prop bets are the same from year to year, but each game has its own custom bets,” says Pemberton. “We compile information from a variety of sources to determine the odds. The odds change, based upon betting patterns, right up to game day.”
David Pemberton was kind enough to give us a crash course in prop bets. Prop bets are bets on things like “Which team will score first in the game?” and “Total touchdowns scored in the game.” Odds makers use math and research this blog doesn’t even remotely understand to determine the likelihood of the various outcomes.
What makes betting on the Big Game We Can’t Name Specifically so entertaining is the virtually infinite number of wacky bets on things like “Will the team that scores first win the game?” or “Will the jersey number of the player to score the first touchdown be more or less than 27 1/2?”
It gets even better! Try this one: “Total yards of the shortest successfully-made field goal in the game.” Or “Will either team score in the final minutes of the first half?” There’s even a prop bet for “Will either team score three consecutive times without the other team scoring?” There also one for “Will the Ravens convert a fourth down attempt?”
There are even bets related to specific players, a group of bets where bettors seem to do particularly well, Pemberton says: “Total receptions by Michael Crabtree,” “Will Frank Gore score a touchdown?,” “Total rushing yards by Ray Rice,” etc.
This blog’s favorite weird bet involves a player who, we’re pretty sure, doesn’t even play football: “Which will be greater on Feb. 3, LeBron James points or the 49ers points?”
Prop bets can be made at the sports book right up to the opening kick-off, then betting is closed. At least until halftime, when more betting is allowed for the second half of the game.
Pemberton says, “Our second half betting is very popular. Everybody rushes to the windows during the halftime show. We’re writing tickets until the very last minute. During the game, people can cash as the results come in, so you don’t have to wait until the game’s over to collect.”
If you’re baffled by all the bets, ask a sports book team member for assistance. Just avoid waiting until the last minute, because things get crazed on Big Game day. Bets similar to the Rio’s prop bets can be found in sports books across Las Vegas, including the ones at Caesars Entertainment casinos, because they pay this blog’s salary.
One of the easiest ways to bet on the Big Game We Can’t Name Specifically is to use a “parlay card.” It’s kind of the keno of sports betting (with better odds), or like a Pick 4 bet in horse racing. You choose one of two options for multiple bets (up to 10 bets at once). Heck, even this blog took a stab at it. We’ll let you know how it goes.
Here’s some inside scoop that could give you a little edge: Take a look at the prop bet for “Which will occur first, a score or punt?” It’s been a punt for the last three Big Games. Another pattern: “Will there be a special teams or defensive touchdown scored in the game?” Yes, for the last three years. “Will either team score in the last two minutes of the first half?” That’s happened in the last three years, too.
Is sports betting an art or a science? We say both. So, who you rooting for in the Big Game We Can’t Name Specifically?