Over the years, I’ve heard a few gamblers say they don’t bet on the Super Bowl.
But, similar to reported sightings of the Loch Ness Monster or UFOs, I’ve never actually witnessed this happen.
The idea of being a sports bettor and passing on the Super Bowl just isn’t right. It’s like working as a mechanic but taking the bus home – something’s wrong with this picture.
I’m not advocating betting on the Big Game – the term NFL executives would prefer us gambling types use in place of Super Bowl – for large dough if you don’t have a strong lean, like you might on your other top plays.
That doesn’t mean you should miss the party. Why would you want to? This is the one time of year when novice bettors from all corners get to experience what we go through on a regular basis. There’s nothing quite like watching the sweat drip down the Chicago accountant’s brow as he grips over that $20 bet as if his next meal depends on it.
You get the sense that this is how international soccer fans must feel when they see Americans get fired up about their sport once every four years. The fact that they are now discovering what we’ve known all along doesn’t mean you should hold it against them and skip the fun.
Even if their membership in our club is temporary, we might as well be gracious hosts and join the celebration. There’s no better way to do that than to step up to the window, make a few wagers and sweat out your bets right alongside them.
I’ve found the Super Bowl makes me walk that fine line between betting for pure pleasure and for profit, but I’ve also found that it’s possible for these ideas to co-exist.
Some people will tell you that losing money isn’t their form of entertainment, but I figure that’s why they probably don’t do it that often in the first place.
I will say I find it difficult to find real “value” in handicapping the over/under time of the national anthem, but that doesn’t take away from my enjoyment of throwing $20 on it. (After Christina Aguilera’s disaster last year, I’m wondering if there will be a prop on whether the singer gets the lyrics correct.)
However, the Super Bowl usually is prime for plucking exploitable props and, like any other moneymaking opportunity, I try not to let it pass me by.
I’ve incorporated a system by which I’ll allocate a certain amount of my bankroll for toss-up, for-fun props while allotting more for the serious bets. Typically, I’ll bet about $500 combined on my strongest plays and $150-$200 on for entertainment-purposes-only wagers.
Occasionally, a great record with the exotics will offset a mediocre run with my serious bets, but usually – and hopefully – it’s the other way around.
I don’t always make a big play on the side or total, but a wager on one or the other usually is in the mix. I think it’s a source of pride for every handicapper to say he got the Super Bowl correct, and my competitive spirit usually gets the best of me in this regard.
But I try to make sure this wager is commensurate with my confidence level. Last year, I lost a small wager on the Pittsburgh Steelers +3 against the Green Bay Packers. But I overcame this by winning my two biggest prop wagers, one on the first player to score having a jersey number higher than 34.5 and the other on no scoring for the first 7:30.
However, two years ago, I made one of my biggest Super Bowl plays ever on the New Orleans Saints +5.5 against the Indianapolis Colts. I was happy to the ring the bell with that one because I lost almost all my props, and came out even for the day.
Even so, I try not to sweat the net won-loss result on the Super Bowl too much. I mean, I’ve got every other day of the year to pour over details of each bet and keep a watchful eye on my bankroll.
The Super Bowl only comes around once every 12 months – I say, join your tourist counterpart and have a little fun with it. But don’t forget to also try and get the best of it.
Josh Nagel is a Reno, Nev.-based writer who covers sports betting and poker, while also trying to squeeze a profit from both pursuits. Find more of his work at www.joshnagel.com and follow him on Twitter @JoshNagel1. You also can find him at this Friday’s Covers Super Bowl Party in Las Vegas.