Adam Thompson, senior handicapper and analyst for bookies.com, chatted with PressBox about betting on the Super Bowl, from popular prop bets to myths and more.
This has been edited for clarity and content.
PressBox: Why is the Super Bowl such a popular event for bettors?
Adam Thompson: The first thing is, of course, everybody watches. It’s not just gambling people. It’s not just football people. It’s football people, and their families are also watching it. The more that sports betting becomes more legitimate in a lot of places, it’s just going to make more people throw down an easy $20 on a bet here or there.
As far as the Super Bowl goes, there are so many ways to bet the Super Bowl. There are hundreds and hundreds of ways that this game incorporates it that other games don’t, from the coin toss to all the exotic plays. You can find something that interests you even if you’re not that interested in the game, and if you are interested in the game, then the sky is the limit. So I think it’s become popular for anybody that wagers and other people who may not [usually] get into it.
One of the other reasons is it’s the No. 1 day for sportsbooks to add new customers. So the sign-on bonuses, and even some for existing customers, are just completely outrageous. Last year I added a couple of online accounts of my own because you would find, “Put $100 into an account, get $500 back, risk-free bet on your first play,” just outrageous things like that. There’s a lot of incentive for new people to give it a try that sportsbooks put out there.
PB: What are some of the most popular prop bets for people before and during the Super Bowl?
AT: The No. 1 [prop bet] is the Super Bowl MVP. That one’s pretty cut and dried. It’s from a winning team, more often than not, almost all the time. It’s very tangible. Anybody can follow that bet, so I think that’s a big one. Other than that, every player that’s going to play almost — or at least have a big role on offense — is going to have an over/under for yards.
There are touchdown props. Those are big ones. Touchdown is sort of like Super Bowl MVP. It’s very obvious to follow. If your guy scores, you win. You don’t have to be constantly looking at a live box score online to see what’s going on. So I think those are probably the most popular ones, and then there’s of course the exotic kinds of bets — the coin toss is always a popular one. You have a 50 percent chance, so how hard could it be to pick a winner or loser for that one? Those are some of the most popular ones, for sure.
PB: For Marylanders who may just be getting involved in sports betting and aren’t planning to wager a lot of money, what kind of fun bets would you recommend come Super Bowl time?
AT: I think 99 percent of people who lay sports bets down do it just for the fun of it, right? You’re not trying to pay your house mortgage on it. Hopefully it’s basically because you’re going to watch the game anyway and it’s just more interesting when you have [skin in it]. As far as I go, I love player props.
The ones I like especially are over/under on yards, so is Lamar Jackson going to pass for 225 yards, over or under? Based on the line that sportsbooks employ, receiving yards, rushing yards, those are my favorites because those are things you can do research on. That’s kind of my job — look at the trends, look at the matchups, those are the things you can actually look at and make informed decisions on. Those are my favorites.
Touchdown props, exotic props, there’s some chance involved in those. They get to the 1-yard line and punch it in with which running back? Or do they look for their tight end inside the 10-yard line but not the 20-yard line? There’s just a lot more chance involved in touchdown props and exotic props, so I love the over/unders for player props, those are my favorites.
PB: What are some of the biggest myths about Super Bowl betting that you have encountered?
AT: The No. 1 thing is there are a lot of sports betting skeptics out there. People do lose money and it can be an addiction, but you can win. You never want to bet more than what you can afford to lose, obviously, but you can win at this. I had 21 prop bets that I did for bookies.com last year, and I think I finished +673 on $100 bets, so people who did all of my bets won $673, basically. So it’s possible. You don’t have to be great at math to do it, you just need to do your research or find somebody that you trust and kind of tail them.
I think that’s one of the big things is not everybody loses. Sportsbooks make a lot of money, but people can, too — at least a dinner for four or something. That’s one of the big ones. There’s a lot of props out there. Some are a lot better than others, but I think it’s mostly about just having fun. … Just enjoy yourself. Don’t bet the farm. Don’t have high expectations for paying your kid’s college tuition or anything like that. Just have fun with it, and the Super Bowl is a great place to start.
PB: Is there a sweet spot for when to lay down a futures bet on the outright winner of the Super Bowl?
AT: I think between Weeks 4 and 6 has been a good time. You have all offseason to do it, but injury-wise a lot of stupid things happen in the first four weeks, and you find out [about] teams that may have added some key pieces or lost some key pieces. Sometimes within about four weeks or so, you kind of know which teams are playing better as a team, which ones just aren’t really figuring it out or are kind of struggling to get there, so I really like that time. [Around Week 13] isn’t a bad time. There’s 14 playoff spots. There’s about 18 teams vying for those playoff spots, so you can really eliminate a lot of teams. You can kind of look at the schedule and see which ones might have an easier road to a playoff spot, and once you’re in the playoffs, then you’re in the playoffs. I think early on, Weeks 4 to 6, is a nice sweet spot.
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