How to bet on the Super Bowl
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A beginner's guide to Super Bowl betting
The New England Patriots take on the Los Angeles Rams for the NFL title on Sunday. The game should be exciting, and it might be even better if you have a few bucks on it. So here's an explainer on the different ways to bet on the big game with friends — everything from simple wagers to a contest that will spice up your Super Bowl party. No bookie required.
The point spread
There are tons of ways to gamble on a football game — one reason the sport is so popular. The simplest is to pick a team. Most times, one is considered better than the other. That's why they invented the point spread. It's the great equalizer. For Sunday's game, the Patriots are favoured by 2.5 points over the Rams. So if you bet on the Patriots, they have to win by three or more in order for you to collect. If you bet on the Rams, you collect if they win by any margin or they lose by two points or less. So if you like the Rams on Sunday, and a Patriots backer wants to bet you, make sure he gives you the 2.5 points. It's only fair.
If you don't want to use the point spread, here's another way to give the underdog bettor a fair shake. On a moneyline bet, all that counts is which team wins. The margin of victory doesn't matter. But there's a bigger payout on the underdog. The Rams' moneyline is listed at +120. That means if you bet $100 on them, you get $120 profit if they win. So, say that same Patriots fan wants to bet you $10 on Sunday's game but he doesn't like the point spread. Tell him you'll give him $10 if the Patriots win, but he owes you $12 if the Rams pull off the upset.
It's also called the over/under. The line for the Patriots-Rams game is 56.5. So you're betting whether the combined points scored by both teams will be over or under that number. People generally prefer the over because it's more fun to cheer for a high-scoring game.
We talked about these in last Friday's newsletter. Props is short for proposition bets. Bookmakers offer hundreds of them for the Super Bowl. Some are essentially 50/50 propositions — like, will Tom Brady finish with over or under 295.5 yards passing? Or, who will score the longest touchdown, New England or L.A.? If you want to challenge a friend on these, grab a list (here's a decent one) and bet on some you have opposite opinions on.
Other props offer long odds. These are fun to play because you can bet a little to win a lot — like a lottery ticket. But the big payouts make them not great for betting among friends — you don't want someone stuck with the tab if one hits. However, if you have access to an online betting account or a casino that takes sports bets, you can wager on something like Rams quarterback Jared Goff to score the first touchdown at +5500 odds (a $5 bet there pays $275). Don't expect to win these. But if you bet a small amount and treat it as entertainment, it's not the worst way to spend a few bucks.
Every good Super Bowl party needs one of these. It gives everyone different things to cheer for throughout the game, even if it's a blowout. Plus the excitement of a big pot.
You can design your own prop sheet or grab one off the internet (here's the link again). Make sure it's one printed page filled with various either/or propositions (example: Will the longest successful field goal be over or under 47.5 yards). Casual fans will appreciate it if you include non-football stuff like the coin toss (heads or tails), the length in seconds of the national anthem (over or under 105.5 — have a stopwatch ready) or whether Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine will wear a hat for the halftime show. Have everyone throw in 10 or 20 bucks (20 is easier because it's the only denomination everyone seems to have). At the end of the game, whoever got the most questions right wins all the money.
Last piece of advice
And the most important. Gambling is only fun when it's for fun. Keep the stakes low. If you're not comfortable with them, don't bet. The Super Bowl is usually a good time whether you've got money on it or not.
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