I couldn’t wait to turn 21 (approximately 100 years ago). It was going to be a game-changer. Being able to go to any bar whenever I wanted? Come on. The best.
And so when I — and my friends — started turning 21, we would hit the bars! And close them down! And drink our faces off! And do it again the next day! And not be able to hear each other talk! And look at girls, but not talk to them! Fun!
And you know what we stopped doing? Hanging out in dorm rooms, or in backyards, in smaller groups, laughing it up, breaking into impromptu games of Zonk (it involved five dice and a bong), ordering Domino’s, drinking a few beers, and actually having fun.
Ain’t that just life, though? You think the thing you don’t have is more fun than the thing you do have, and when you eventually get the thing you don’t have you end up being a little — or a lot — wistful for the thing you used to have. Or, as Jerry Garcia put it (those Zonk memories are flooding back ), “the grass ain’t greener, the wine ain’t sweeter, on either side of the hill.”
Yeah. Well, this is pretty much the way I feel about the Super Bowl these days. Sure, I’m going to watch it. Yes, I’m going to bet on it. Of course I’m going to build some DraftKings Showdown lineups. But overall? Thanks to the surfeit of options I just laid out — none of which existed 10 years ago — the Super Bowl just feels like another day on the sporting calendar.
Back in the day, it was the best day of sports betting for the general public. We’d enter a bunch of box pools, maybe make a side wager with a friend, and … that was it. And it was enough.
Today? Sure, there’s a million options, but really, there’s a million options every day. I poured more energy into placing a two-leg NBA parlay Monday (Jordan Poole over 3.5 turnovers and Jaden Ivey over 4.5 assists, #humblebrag) than I have on the Super Bowl so far. That can wait until Saturday, maybe even Sunday morning. Between now and then, I have a ton of NBA action, I’ll dabble in some NCAA, the Waste Management Phoenix Open is loaded, there’s an MMA card, and I’ll probably wake up one morning to discover myself building some EPL lineups.
Some do, some don’t
“I think for the average sports fan, the average sports bettor, sure, it’s still big,” noted sports bettor Gadoon “Spanky” Kryollos told me. “You feel like you have to bet the Super Bowl. It’s an Americana thing. But once you start getting some type of clue about sports betting, then you realize, ‘You know what, what am I doing messing around with this when I can get some low-hanging fruit from the bookmakers?’ On a Saturday there’s 120 college basketball games and they can’t be right on all 120, but I guarantee you they’re as right as they can be on that one football game.”
In short: To some sports bettors, the Super Bowl is … just another day on the sports betting calendar.
Rufus Peabody had a bit of a similar take on a recent episode of the Gamble On podcast, where he said, “I was actually thinking about skipping the Super Bowl this year. Yes, we’re getting seven figures down, but the amount we’re betting on the Super Bowl relative to just a regular week isn’t that crazy, and it would make up less than 2 percent of our yearly volume, and it’s a one-off where I’m putting a lot of effort on something that isn’t going to compound.”
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For Spanky, it’s even less of a consideration.
“I’ll bet some things here and there, but for the week, what we bet on the Super Bowl? It will probably be a hundredth of a percent of what we bet for the year,” he said. “Completely insignificant. It’s nothing.”
To be fair, not all pros have “turned 21” on the Super Bowl. In fact, Capt. Jack Andrews is firmly on the other side.
“There’s so much ancillary betting that happens with props now that Super Bowl Sunday feels like drinking from a fire hose,” Andrews said. “If it was just one game it probably would run the risk of not holding our attention. However, it’s 500-plus games all centered around the same outcome. When you mix in cross-sport props keyed to NBA and NHL contests that day, it really turns into an all-day spectacular of betting.”
To be fair, Andrews ain’t wrong. The prop menu for the game is exhaustive. And exhausting. And while someone like Andrews probably has an algorithm for figuring out if it’s +EV to bet on Kadarius Toney being the first to rush for 20 yards at +9000 or if 2.5 is the right over/under for the total number of extra points by Jake Elliott, I can tell you that I don’t. Sure, I’ll fire off a few props for fun, but for profit? There’s a PGA Showdown slate to figure out.
“I don’t know if the Super Bowl will ever get old,” said Jay Kornegay, the executive vice president of race and sportsbook operations at Las Vegas’ Westgate SuperBook. “This will be my 35th Super Bowl being in the sports gaming business, and I see no signs of this slowing down. It’s a great mixture of excitement.
“The ‘sharps’ see opportunities due to the volatility of props and how recreational play can create perceived value for those educated players. The general public always treat it like it’s Christmas. I’m not sure if it’s the wagering — the game, props, squares, office pools, etc. — or another opportunity to ‘celebrate.’ It’s probably a little of both.”
Man, after hearing that, I’m starting to feel a little bah-humbuggy. Maybe — well, definitely — I’m in the minority on this one. The Super Bowl is practically the High Holy Day on the American secular calendar. Far be it from me to ruin it for everyone else.
But honestly, from a gambling perspective, I’m kind of over it. It really is just another day. I don’t need the fire hose Sunday when I’ve got a steady stream every other day of the year.
I guess when it comes down to it, I just miss the innocence of spending $20 on a few boxes and another $20 on a friendly wager. Legalized sports betting — while super duper fun for the other 364 days of the year, make no mistake — has somehow taken some of the fun out of the Super Bowl. At least for me.
But while I’m here … anyone have any good XFL takes? Starting to think DraftKings is going to offer some pretty big DFS contests next week.