The Super Bowl wasn’t exactly a stellar game for fans to watch or for the book, but Super Sunday was an overall success for us anyways. We set records for handle, number of wagers, deposits and sign-ups. In fact we had more sign-ups per hour on Sunday than we had in our first month of operation way back when. Behold the power of the Internet!
Baskets were very good to us and the handle was much higher than normal. Sacramento’s loss as an 8-point favorite in Toronto put a lot of sweetheart teasers into the loss column and caused more than a few players to have lost their big game wager before the Super Bowl even kicked off. We also saw a lot of action on the Rockets (-3 at Chicago) and on Texas Tech (-5 vs. Oklahoma State). Both lost outright and we were already in good standing.
Our goal on the big game was the same as it is every year – to break even. There is no sense in playing aggressively when there are no more big football games to help win back any losses. We had the two teams even on paper but had to handicap for public perception and the slight home field advantage for the Raiders (shorter trip, same time zone, more of their fans, etc.). We have seen a lot of Raiders action down the stretch (with the exception of the even hotter NY Jets games) and the public was definitely against the Buccaneers last week so after combining all those factors we opened at -4. Early action was on the Raiders but after watching the trends at other offshore books and in Vegas we ticked down to -4 (-105). We stayed there all week and were fairly balanced but after the dismissal of Raider’s center Barret Robbins there was a definite change in public perception and the Tampa money started to come. We moved down to -3.5 and then -3.5 (-105) and got the Raider’s money back we needed. At kickoff we were all even on the spread with just slightly more action on the Raiders.
The total was much easier where we bounced between 44 and 44u15 and ended up with extremely balanced action. There was marginally more wagered on the spread (for those keeping track).
The only number that hurt us was the moneyline. We opened at -180/+160, which is low for -4, but we expected dog money there. It was bet all week down to -155/+135. Raiders action at that number brought it back to -160, where we closed with moderate exposure on Tampa Bay (although much lower than where we stood on either New England in the Super Bowl last year or Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl earlier this month).
Needless to say, a Raider’s win would have been good for the House but because of the large amount of vig collected on the spread and total, we came out only slightly in the loss column for the game on single wagers. Parlays were good as we saw a general correlation with Raiders/Over or Buccaneers/Under being common plays. The mixed result gave us a very solid 15% hold on parlays. Teasers were also very strong with both the spread and total landing WELL outside teaser range. Hard to believe that a 30-point teaser on the Raiders and Under still would have lost both legs! As usually happens when the score is that far off the mark, we held almost 50% on teasers.
First half wagering was profitable as there was Oakland spread betting, no moneyline and slightly more on the Under. Halftime wagering was slightly profitable on very strong handle as Oakland bettors chased their losses by laying 4 in droves. They did OK with heavy action on the Over though.
Quarter betting was moderate in handle but very profitable as the Raiders failed to win a single quarter!
Props were very profitable and handle was incredible. We had more on the coin toss then we had on all the Saturday night NHL games combined! I think that stat alone shows just how big the Super Bowl really is. For the record, heavy action was on Heads, the Raiders to win and the Raiders to receive so we had profited nicely before the game even started. We did face some big losses on props though. Had the first score been a Safety or if the game had gone to Overtime, there would have been a couple of players buying new cars with cash today!
The most incredible stat for me though was that our handle for the day was in excess of 75% of players’ balances. Literally thousands of players had their entire balance at stake. It was the end of a good football season and a great month for the House. Let me recap quickly the rest of the playoff games here.
Wildcard weekend got off to a bad start as bettors jumped on the Jets bandwagon and rode them to a 41-0 win. The saving grace for us was the total finishing just Under (it had been bet from 41 to 42 with most of the Over action at 41.5 and 42). The second game got revenge for the books as the Packers straight up loss to the Falcons caught everybody by surprise. Another Under made it a winning day overall.
The Sunday Wildcard games were two of the very best in recent memory. Both home favorites, the Steelers (36-33) and the 49ers (39-38), came back to win despite being down 24-7 and 38-17 respectively. The high scores were good for bettors but there were a lot of angry bettors who had wagers on the dogs on the moneyline. Spread action was split with bettors taking Cleveland and the points but losing with the 49ers. All in all, the day was effectively a wash for the book but a great one for sports fans.
The second weekend of the playoffs was not nearly as exciting. All four home favorites won outright and only 1 game was decided by less than 14 points. Bettors lost on the Titans -5 and the Steelers +180 but won with Over 44 in the Titans’ 34-31 OT win. Bettors came back and got a win on the Eagles -8, but lost with Atlanta +270 and the Over 38 in the Eagles 20-6 win. In total, Saturday’s action was good for the book, but the big day was just around the corner. Bettors were very evenly split on the Buccaneers/49ers game so that result didn’t really matter (Bucs 31-6) but were in extremely heavy on the Jets (spread and moneyline) and the Over 48. As a result, the Raiders’ convincing 30-10 win was one of the biggest paydays of the entire season for sportsbooks.
The Conference Championship games were also good for the book. Players were in heavy on the Eagles and soaked up the Titans on the moneyline so the Buccaneers’ upset and Raiders’ win/cover were both good results. The Eagles’ loss was another of the biggest paydays for the House this season. Players did have success with the totals as both games went over the number.
All in all, the playoffs were good for us. The best games to watch were early weeks, the best results were in the middle weeks and so the Super Bowl was more than a little anti-climatic. It is a good thing book-managers and sports fans alike have come to expect that from the big game.
Thanks for reading this past football season and I’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a column on basketball and a look at whether there are any key numbers there.
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Rob Gillespie is President of Bodog Sportsbook & Casino