During the hustle and bustle of Super Bowl Sunday, it’s tough not to get caught up in the bettors-versus-books mentality. But remember, sportsbooks are people too.
While they may be all business for the biggest betting day of the year, oddsmakers and sportsbooks enjoy the Big Game just like you and me. And to prove it, we talked with sports betting types in Nevada and online about their best Super Bowl memories as books, bettors or as fans.
John Avello, executive director of race and sports at the Wynn Las Vegas
Avello, a New York native and big New York Giants fan, recalls the Giants’ 20-19 win over the Buffalo Bills in Super Bowl XXV – the infamous “wide right” game. Avello was working at Bally’s Las Vegas at the time, watching as Bills kicker Scott Norwood lined up a 47-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining to win the game.
“When that kick took place I was standing on my desk and when it went wide right I just jumped off my desk in jubilance,” laughs Avello.
Peter Korner, founder of the Nevada-based odds service The Sports Club
“I’m a Bills fan, there are no good stories. Wide right has been dogging me for years.”
Aron Black, sportsbook trader with UK sportsbook Bet365.com
Black recalls his time on the other side of the screen, as a bettor, searching for futures value for Super Bowl XL in December 2005. The Pittsburgh Steelers had watched plenty of starters go down with injuries, which had dropped their futures price. But with those guys on the mend, Black was hoping to find value in the Gold and Black. Pittsburgh would go on to eventually defeat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in Super Bowl XL.
“A book that I shall not name had the courage, or lack of foresight, to hang 33-1 on them,” recalls Black. “So I had as much as I could and, to this day, going back about 22 years of betting, it is my biggest win for any Super Bowl ticket I’ve ever had.”
Jay Kornegay, sportsbook director of the LVH Superbook in Las Vegas
Kornegay, a flag-waving Denver Broncos fan, recalls Super Bowl XXXIII when his Broncos topped the Atlanta Falcons 34-19. Kornegay had posted the prop “Will Bubby Brister (Broncos backup QB) have a rushing attempt?”, specifically citing that a kneel down counts as a rushing attempt. With Denver up big in the final seconds, QB John Elway was pulled from the game for his swan song and Brister killed the clock by taking a knee.
“’Yes’ was the winner and I was accused by a guest that I knew coach (Mike) Shannahan and called him to put in Brister on the hot line,” says Kornegay. “He was kicking and screaming at me at the counter and wouldn’t calm down. Everyone was witnessing this. The accusations continued so I had to call security to get him to be removed.”
"It was a great, unforgettable moment in prop history."
Bryan Jones, spokesman/business development BetDSI.com
One of the most memorable Super Bowl teams ever stands out for BetDSI.com’s liaison. The Super Bowl XX champion Chicago Bears and their “Super Bowl Shuffle” music video featured a colorful cast of characters that captured the national audience, defeating the New England Patriots 46-10.
“There was just so much of a Hollywood feel to it all that made it fun to watch for the entertainment value,” says Jones. “I think as far as a competitive game goes, it may be the worst game in Super Bowl history. But with all of the characters involved I think most people forgot who they were even playing that day and just enjoyed the show.”
Jeff Stoneback, sportsbook manager MGM Mirage in Las Vegas
Stoneback recalls one drunken tourist coming up to the counter with Super Bowl XLIII just about to kick off. The patron asked Stoneback for a good long-shot wager to which he scanned the props and pointed out “Steelers to score exactly 27 points” at 100-1. Pittsburgh went on to defeat the Arizona Cardinals 27-23.
“He put $20 down and ended up winning $2,000,” says Stoneback. “After the game he was pretty happy. He came over and pointed me out. ‘That’s the guy who won me $2,000!’ he was yelling.”
Got any great Super Bowl stories as a fan or bettor? Share them in the comment box below.