As the Super Bowl approaches, our e-mail inbox is receiving a steady stream of messages on the wagering aspects of the game. It seems as though some people actually bet on the Super Bowl! In fact, some folks inside the gaming industry estimate the financial number for all Super Bowl wagering - meaning Las Vegas, the Internet, street bookies, office pools - is as high as $10 billion. That's with a "B."
Recently, we received an e-mail from Bodog, the fairly well-known online gambling site, listing some of its 500 "prop bets" for the Super Bowl. Prop bets are wagers that allow you to bet on things that happen within the game, say, whether the New York Giants will have more field goals or turnovers, or which player will score the first touchdown.
But Bodog's prop bets go well beyond the similar wagers offered in Las Vegas. In fact, Vegas casinos are not permitted to offer a few types that you'll see online, such as events that can be controlled (see the Joe Buck wager below).
I asked the Bodog folks about the quirky prop bets, and Richard Gardner, Bodog's sports book manager, responded in an e-mail: "We have a group of sports enthusiasts from a variety of departments within the company who basically take the 'water cooler' chat into a room every week to brainstorm and discuss what's in the news and sports tabloids. All of them are all borderline obsessed with sports and pretty much talk about it 24-7; it's no wonder we come up with so many creative props. On occasion we actually have competitions as to who can come up with the most unique ideas to keep the ideas coming."
Here are a few that captured my attention.
Sibling rivalry: Who will have the most passing yardage, Eli Manning in this year's Super Bowl or brother Peyton in last year's? Peyton had 247 passing yards last year. In either case, you have to lay 11 1/2 -to-10 odds (meaning you have to wager 11.50 coconut shells to win 10 coconut shells or 115 shells to win 100).
Superman vs. Bizarro Superman: Here's another historical proposition. Tom Brady in this year's Super Bowl vs. Tom Brady in the Super Bowl four years ago against the Carolina Panthers. Brady threw three touchdown passes against the Panthers in 2004. Whether you pick the younger or older Brady, you have to lay 6-to-5, or 120 to win 100. It gets more complicated if you want to bet today's Brady against the real young Brady in the Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams, where he threw just one touchdown pass. In that case, if you want the current-day Brady, you start out with minus-two touchdown passes and lay the 120 to win 100.
Cops vs. Mischief-makers: Will an NFL player get arrested in Phoenix during Super Bowl week (no mention of whether he has to be from a participating team or whether only felonies count)? It's a yes or no bet, minus-120 either way.
Old arrogant but dapper coach vs. young arrogant and grungy coach: Will Don Shula be on the field to shake Bill Belichick's hand after the game? Yes, plus-150; no, minus-200.
Joe Buck vs. your last nerve: This is my favorite. How many times will announcer Joe Buck say Peyton (not Eli) Manning's name during the broadcast? The over-under is 5 1/2 and it's minus-125 for the over and minus-115 for the under.
Odds might change by the time you read this.