Super Bowl LII Betting Lessons

Jason Lake

Tuesday, January 23, 2018 1:31 PM UTC

Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018 1:31 PM UTC

There’s a right way and a wrong way to do things – betting on the Super Bowl included. Here’s what you need to know before putting any money down on the Feb. 4 Big Game between the Eagles and Patriots.

When it comes to sports betting, there’s the Super Bowl, and there’s everything else. There isn’t any one single game that draws as much action in North America as the Big Game. Last year, Super Bowl LI brought in nearly $140 million in handle at Nevada sportsbooks, and something close to $5 billion across the United States. No doubt we’ll see more big numbers for Super Bowl LII on Sunday, Feb. 4 (6:30 p.m. ET, NBC) when the defending champion New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles in Minneapolis.

Want a piece of this action? Before you open your wallet and/or purse, make sure you understand what happens “behind the scenes” when you make your NFL picks. There’s a lot more to it that just the Patriots and the Eagles; in fact, you can make a reasonably sharp Super Bowl bet without knowing the first thing about football.

In the Marketplace

The most important thing to realize about betting on the Super Bowl is this: It’s not you against the bookie. Your competition is all the other people betting on the Big Game. Think of it in terms of a marketplace; you are “buying” one team or the other at whatever price they’re at on the NFL odds board. The Patriots opened at –6 for Super Bowl LII; most of the early money has been on the Eagles, so for now the price on New England has shifted to –5 to make them a more desirable commodity.

Why would the books do this? Generally speaking, they want to balance the amount of money bet on both sides. That way, whoever covers the Super Bowl spread, the books can pay off the winning bettors with the money wagered by the losing bettors and keep the vigorish for themselves. The vigorish is the commission you pay the books to process your financial transaction. The odds board at press time has New England priced at –5 (–110) at BetOnline; that means you’re betting $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10, or whatever amount you like between the minimum and maximum bets allowed. By keeping the action balanced, the books will lock in 4.55 percent in vigorish (paying back $210 for every $220 in handle), and they won’t have to worry about running out of money when it’s time to pay the winners.

Love and/or Money

Once you’re able to wrap your head around this concept – and not everyone can, or even wants to – the next step is to decide what it is you want out of your Super Bowl bet. Is it for entertainment? Are you just interested in the money? Chances are you fall somewhere on the continuum between the two, but most of the people betting on Super Bowl LII are there for a good time. They’ll bet a few dollars here and there on whichever team they happen to like.


All that public money goes into the marketplace “blind” without taking the relative merits of the two teams into consideration. Since there are so many casual fans betting on the Super Bowl, it’s almost always the right choice to bet on whichever team the public doesn’t like. That will probably be the Eagles, with Nick Foles as their quarterback. The early money has been on Philadelphia, but early money is usually “sharp” money; something like 98 percent of the handle for the Big Game will be wagered on Super Bowl weekend. We can anticipate most of the late action will be on Tom Brady and the five-time champions from New England. Don’t be surprised if that money comes in and the Eagles move back to +6 or even higher before kickoff.

The better price you get, the more likely you’ll cash in, so keep an eye on the expanded consensus reports at SBR between now and Super Bowl LII to see who’s betting how much on which team. Knowledge is power; use it wisely when you’re making your Super Bowl picks – or just bet a small amount on your favorite team and let the chips fall where they may.

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