Get ready to prop till you drop. New Jersey Super Bowl props are coming soon.
The prop-betting party for the Feb. 13 Big Game has issued its first invitations at DraftKings Sportsbook. Bets on game MVP and which team beats which rival signal the imminent avalanche of wacky wagers.
The floodgates will soon open with bets that amuse, entice, entertain and even tickle the funny bone of New Jersey online sports gamblers. Several hundred props will emerge, from the abstract to the ridiculous.
What color of Gatorade will be dumped on the winning coach? Lines actually move on this. What’s the over-under length of the national anthem? Close to two minutes.
There are crossover wagers involving different sports from different countries, intersecting with the Super Bowl.
Combined, it augments the betting fire for Super Bowl LVI.
Handicapping the Gatorade shower color at DraftKings Sportsbook
So here’s a question: How do bookmakers establish lines for these wacky Big Game props?
Johnny Avello, the director of race and sportsbook operations for DraftKings, told PlayNJ. there is a team that looks at it and knows the props.
“We have a menu from last year. We know the ones that are going to do a lot of business and we have odds for them. Each year we keep adding to it and we introduce some crazy ones too,” Avello said.
Avello indicates that the book approaches props the same way it would regular-season bets. It tries to detect a pattern and plan accordingly, if possible.
Yet that’s not always possible. Take the Gatorade bets.
“People love them, which is why we put them up there,” he said. “You’re not too much at risk because people will play, what, $200 to $500 a pop maybe, but I dislike the Gatorade prop and in fact all props that are not played on the field.”
How does one handicap a Gatorade color?
How does a book project a national anthem length that can be affected by a stammer?
One glitch, a single “homina-homina,” and the over romps. The book has exercised its option to set bet limits. Some establishments do.
There is no skill involved. Just like there’s none for the coin flip, On that, at least, the books can make a modest gain. Put the line at -102 on either side and they are safe (maybe one day the coin will land on its side and the books will get it all).
Books view props as appetizers for the multi-billion-dollar party, for which the entire gambling world has been invited. NJ sports gamblers chuckle the more outrageous a bet becomes.
Super Bowl props with wide appeal
Avello does love a certain number of these wagers. Some originate from regular-season customer preferences that spill over. Others were launched in past Super Bowls and become hits during the regular season.
“The first touchdown scorer has always been a good one,” he said. “Now it’s popular on a weekly basis too. That will write a ton.
“You can expand that out to score and win. Will Travis Kelce or Cooper Kupp get in the end zone and this team wins the game,” he added, regarding prolific scoring threats for the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Rams, respectively. “People love that one.
“Anytime scorer is another winner. So is the last scorer.”
So are new personnel. Tom Brady being out of the playoffs creates a fresh outlook this season.
“It became boring for the books with him in there so often,” Avello said. “But Kansas City is a team that has a lot to work with. You are always happy if the Chiefs get in. That team has so many offensive weapons. Tyreek Hill is about the fastest guy I have ever seen.
“With him, you can add the prop about whether he will break away and score on a long touchdown,” Avello said.
By the way, all it takes is one look back at Sunday night’s AFC Divisional Playoff game. Hill scored on a 64-yard game-tying, last-minute touchdown in Kansas City’s 42-36 victory over the Buffalo Bills. Most of that yardage came after the catch.
“And then you have different options like tackles, assists and the kicking props,” Avello added.
Bettors did the safety dance
A prop with substantially high impact involves one of the quirks of the game: a safety. The two-pointer not only has a monumental impact on Super Bowl box pools, but it once delivered a blindside hit to sportsbooks.
When the Denver Broncos played the Seattle Seahawks at Met Life Stadium in 2014, the first scrimmage play resulted in a safety. First score and anytime safety tickets had to be paid out, and they were expensive. The Wynn sportsbook in Las Vegas was in a six-figure hole it had to (and did) dig out of.
That one play, in New Jersey of all places, permanently changed how the safety prop is priced. And how the public and sharp bettors clash over it.
“When I was at the Wynn, I’d put props up and those sharp bettors would line up for that,” Avello recalled. “They loved to bet it all, and safeties was a big one for them.
He said the sharps know the public is going to wager on the “yes” there will be safety. So this means the “wide guys” will lay the “no.”
“They figure the price is low because of the public betting and they go the other way.”
Horse betting and the Super Bowl
Avello, who has an affinity for horse racing, liked to combine football with the sport of kings, pre-Draft Kings.
“It was always enjoyable to do some of the crazy ones,” he said. “I liked to put one up about the total yards of the game being more or less than the winner’s mutuel in the eighth race at Santa Anita.
“Let’s say you have a 2-1 or an 8-5 favorite win. In that case, the win bet maybe pays $6.60. That would mean the yardage total would be 660 for the game, by both teams. In this example, the over was probably going to win.
“If a medium-priced horse or a longshot wins at Santa Anita, that bet is definitely an under.”
Hockey is another excellent crossover. It appeared last year as the total goals in a particular game versus the number of touchdowns in the Super Bowl.
There are three 12:30 p.m. games the book will choose between. One of them involves the New Jersey Devils hosting the Pittsburgh Penguins. That’s a candidate to be selected for this prop.
Another can involve an NBA player’s point total versus the total points in the game.
Hint: The books don’t get fooled
Regardless of how fun, or zany, some bets look, the books do an excellent job with their homework.
Two years ago, a buddy and I discovered this by playing a few props on Kansas City versus the San Francisco 49ers.
One prop was the number of players who would carry the ball. We figured eight. The over-under at DraftKings was 9.5. We jumped on the under and won because the total was nine, but we sweated it out. One of the ball carriers was Travis Kelce.
A tight end in the backfield? Yes, they projected it and three ball carriers only toted it once.
The sack total on the game was 4.5. We took the over. It was five.
Would the game be tied after 0-0? We said yes and it was.
Total field goals over-under 3.5 We went over. It finished at three
We were happy to win three of the four bets but realized they were so close we could have gone 0-4.
AP Photo/Julio Cortez