Seasoned bettors will know that, nowadays, most of the wagering action for the Super Bowl comes via the so-called ‘proposition’ (prop) bets.
by Tyrone Grant – Wannamakeabet Staff Writer
According to Vegas bookmaker extraordinaire, Jay Kornegay, prop bets comprise about 60% of the betting handle for the Big Game. While for many, the bets are simply a fun way for would-be viewers to stay interested in the game-within-the-game (as well as another way for bookies to separate people from their money), some props do provide value for more serious bettors.
Of the more than 400 prop bets the above-mentioned Kornegay helped produce leading up to Super Bowl LII, Business Insider’s Tyler Lauletta identified his ’27 best lines and prop bets’, as well as the reasons he felt they warranted close attention.
As I scrolled down the post, one of Lauletta’s picks jumped out at me early in the piece: ‘alternate’ lines.
Alternate lines are, essentially, ways for a bettor to take a more specific position on the outcome of a game, and thus be offered fairer odds which more accurately reflect his/her opinions.
In the lead-in to Super Bowl Sunday, the Eagles – who opened as 6 point underdogs – have been hammered at the windows by a public who clearly like the team’s chances against the storied Patriots. As of this writing, the line is Pats minus 4.5 at most bookmakers.
Let us now focus on the Alternate lines for the game.
Alternate line : Philly for the Win
Online sportsbook, Bovada, has provided tempting odds of +275 ($100 to win $275) for an Eagles upset of 4 points or more, +400 for an upset of at least a touchdown, and +500 if the Birds win by morethan a touchdown.
From a ‘value play’ perspective, few of the above lines seem to offer much value. With the lowest, seemingly ‘most likely’ odds of +275, Vegas is challenging the confident Philly bettor to be fairly accurate in exactly how much the Eagles should win by; the bookies are not giving away value (which is, interestingly, part of their job description).
If anything, an interesting ‘wiseguy’ take on the ‘Philly to Win’ alternate lines could suggest that the +275 for a scoreline of, say, 24-20 by the Eagles is way too high for team many think will lose by less than 4 to begin with.
As with all prop bets, the alternate lines are drummed-up to provide yet another way to separate action-hungry bettors from their money. This is why there is no alt-line option for the Eagles at -2.5, the safest upset possibility, which allows for bettors to cash on a narrow Birds victory by a field goal: it is too likely.
No, Vegas is challenging alternate line players who like the Eagles to take a more risky position of the sort one could only justify by having handicapped the game from a vastly different criteria than most people. For such bettors, who foresee a clear-cut Eagles win of a touchdown or more, bookmakers are offering a healthy payday, and daring them to chase after it.
We’ll see if that juicy +275 pays out.
Alternate Line: Philly to Lose (but by less than two 8-point scores)
Vegas has offered ‘hedge’ odds of -190 for those who think the Eagles will lose by less than 8, -280 for a loss of less than 11, and -500 for a loss of less 15 points.
Lines like this remind me of why I’ve always favored betting the money line, especially when backing underdogs: I think it’s foolish to try and play ‘weatherman’ in predicting margins of loss for a team if one is almost certain they will lose. In my opinion, this entire slate of bets offers zero value outside of the cheapest -190/ -7.5 option. If a bettor strongly feels the Eagles cannot win this game, then they should also feel that the team is capable of losing by any amount. Bettors backing the eagles as -4.5 dogs should not hedge from this angle; this is sucker bait.
Alternate Line : Pats the clear winners
Now this is a juicy betting option.
A simple Wikipedia search will reveal the curious that all of New England’s previous SB victories were won by margins of less than a touchdown, the largest margin being their 6 point overtime win against the Falcons last year.
In that sense , it becomes clear why the spread has hammered down from the opening line 6 points : bettors are jumping all over that “less than a touchdown” angle, and they’re doing so heavily.
Vegas has shown its respect for this fact with its alternate lines. The Pats are underdogs to win by more than a touchdown, with bookies offering +155 for a win by more than 8, +220 for more an 11-point-plus win, and + 350 for a margin more than 15.
I think that the +155 is a good ( not great) play for those who think the favored Pats are a lock to win. If one can reasonably foresee a 10-point win, this is one of the best outright result lines by which to seek value.
The +220 for more or less a two touchdown margin is nowhere near the value play, given the past margins of Patriot championship victories being far below that.
Similarly, the paltry +350 for a sixteen-plus point win (and all lines above it) are laughable.
Take the +155, and bet the farm.
Alternate Line: Pats to Disappoint
Much like the “Philly- to-lose-by-x” betting option , the alt lines for a Pats loss are, in my opinion, sucker bets.
Bovada is currently asking bettors to lay -350 for a Pats loss of less than 4, -600 for loss of less than 7, and -800 for a loss of less than 8.
The outrageous outlays Vegas wants for a potential letdown from the Pats offer absolutely no value straight up as wagers. The intriguing thing , then, could be that they seem to suggest the fact that a Pats letdown is unlikely.
The cheapest line – Pats to lose by less 4 – at -350 (odds conversion says such a indicates about 78% chance happening) is basically saying that if the Pats do lose, it’ll almost certainly be close contest; Philly is highly unlikely to control the game.
It doesn’t make sense to even consider betting these alternate line options. If the unthinkable happens – an Eagles blowout , etc – and blows up all expectations, then any bettor who didn’t foresee that outcome simply takes their lumps and on.
The lines seem to be saying, however, that the Pats ain’t gonna lose, though.
The Plays : alt. line – Pats by 8 points or more at +155, plus a small saver bet on Philly to win by 4 at +275.