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Pondering 'over' a potpourri of Super Bowl proposition bets

31 January 2008

Like any legitimate American-blooded sports fan, I have every intention of not only watching this Sunday's Super Bowl, but placing a wager on it as well. And like both Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin, I took advantage of every hour of the extra week of preparation to do my homework.

So, after much analysis, debate and contemplation, I have come up with what I think is a "sure thing" for Sunday. I'm betting the "over."

No, not "over" the posted total of 54 points, but "over" as in it will take Jordin Sparks "over" 1 minute and 42 seconds to sing the national anthem.

You see, my research during the last 13 days didn't involve breaking down rushing yards per attempt or pass defenses. It didn't entail looking up trends that tell me the Patriots are 40-19-3 against the spread in their last 62 games on grass and that the Giants are 11-3 ATS the last three seasons when playing with revenge.

No, my time was spent watching video of a girl, whom I admittedly never heard of before deciding to write this story, sing the national anthem. I also broke down past National Anthem renditions to formulate some historical trends of my own and the evidence is overwhelming.

Jordin Sparks to go "over" 1:42 is a "stone-cold lock," as they say in the business.

As you can see, wagering on the Super Bowl has changed dramatically over the years. There's a whole lot more to throw your hard-earned cash on than simply who will win the game. Proposition bets, or "props" for short, are all the rage with some sportsbooks offering more than 300 of these exotic choices.

Overall, $10 billion is expected to be bet on Sunday's game. In Nevada alone, there is good reason to believe that this year's game will break the Super Bowl record of $94.5 million that was wagered on Super Bowl XL two years ago. And a significant portion of that money will be wagered on events that have absolutely nothing to do with the two football teams that will take the field at the University of Phoenix Stadium.

"In recent years props have become a staple in Super Bowl wagering as they have become almost as popular as the game itself," says Brett Hanson, a bookmaker at Bodog who added that he expects props to account for as much as 30 percent of his sportsbook's action on Sunday. "It's surprising how many serious football bettors will take a break from the spreads and total to put a few dollars down on these sports entertainment props. These types of prop wagers provide an additional element to hardcore sports fans and entice recreational bettors as well."

Sure, there are plenty of prop bets that have something to do with the game itself. You can bet on who will score the first touchdown (Randy Moss is the favorite at 4-to-1) or how many pass attempts Eli Manning will make (the over/under is 34 ½). There are over/unders on the total number of points each field goal kicker will score (New England's Stephen Gostkowski's total is 8 ½ and New York's Lawrence Tynes' is 6 ½). And you can bet whether or not Plaxico Burress will score a touchdown (a guess of yes brings you $140 for every $100 wagered if he finds the end zone) or if Tom Brady will rush for more or less than 2 ½ yards. There are even odds on whether or not the coin toss will be heads or tails.

But it's the other prop bets that really bring out the craftiness of the men who make the odds. For starters, football isn't the only sport involved in Super Bowl wagers. At sportsbook.com, golf fans can bet who will have more: Randy Moss receptions or Tiger Woods birdies during fourth-round play of the Dubai Desert Classic, which is being played in the desert some 8,300 miles from Phoenix.

CaribSports.com is offering wagers on whether Ben Watson's reception total will be more or less than the goals scored in the Fulham/Aston soccer game. There's also odds on who will have more: total points by the Patriots and Giants or total points in the Scotland and France rugby match, with the football teams a 13 ½ underdog.

As for the bets that have nothing to do with the game itself, there are plenty of choices. Bodog has posted an over/under on how many times FOX announcer Joe Buck will mention Peyton (no, not Eli) Manning's name with a total of 5 ½. Bodog also has odds on which Super Bowl commercial will have a higher rating on USA Today's annual Ad meter (Budweiser is the huge favorite at 1-to-2) or if Don Shula will be on the field to shake Belichick's hand after the game (No is the favorite at -400).

My favorite prop bet this year, however, comes to us from the folks at Bet US, who took the cleverness meter to a new level. You'll have to pay close attention at the end of the game to see if you won this wager or not, but Bet US is offering odds on the color of the liquid that the winning head coach is doused with. Orange is the favorite at 2-to-1, followed by transparent, yellow and red (3-to-1), green (5-to-1), blue (10-to-1) and, the big underdog, purple (16-to-1). Bet US also has wagers available on what song Tom Petty will open with at the start of his halftime performance (I Won't Back Down and Free Fallin' are the favorites at 3-to-1) and whether or not Britney Spears will streak the field (100-to-1) or bring her kids the game (50-to-1).

By the way, when I tried to get some "inside info" on the over/under for the temperature at kickoff (65 ½ degrees) I was turned down by two Phoenix-area "weather babes" – April Warnecke and Sarah Walters – who both very politely told me that their "bosses" didn't want them getting involved with this story.

Anyway, let's get back to my national anthem pick. As mentioned before, Jordin Sparks could have served me my coffee at Starbucks last week and I wouldn't have known that she was the next great American Idol. In fact, I had to Google her to make sure her first name wasn't being misspelled (I was thinking it might be "Jordan," as in "Michael"). But after looking into things a little more closely (with, of course, making a profit my motivation) I am convinced Ms. Sparks is going to make her appearance at Sunday's game last well more than a measly one minute and 42 seconds.

Thanks to the magic of YouTube, I was able to analyze past Super Bowls, and found that an anthem of closer to two minutes is not out of the norm. Excluding Billy Joel's less-than-inspiring performance at last year's game (he did it in 1:30 and, judging by his demeanor, I'm guessing he was on a flight back home before the game kicked off), we have seen the striking Faith Hill sing for two minutes at Super Bowl XXXIV, the just-as-dazzling Beyonce tip the stopwatch at 2:08 in 2002 and Mariah Carey, along with the Boston Pops, hit 1:56 at Super Bowl XXXVI. One of the longest (and worst, for that matter) renditions I was forced to witness came in 1994 when Natalie Cole and her vast chorus of background singers pushed the anthem to 2:38.

And what about, Whitney Houston in 1991, who put forth, perhaps, the most famous performance of a national anthem? Whitney brought tears to nearly everyone watching and she did so in1:57.

As for Ms. Knight, the video tape clearly shows that (please excuse me while I put my Paula Abdul mask on) this girl is a born performer. I watched a couple of her performances on YouTube and she certainly gets into her act.

I took into account that Jordin, who is from Arizona and is the daughter of former NY Giants defensive back Philippi Sparks, does have a history of singing relatively short renditions of the anthem. But after watching her rousing performance at the 2006 home opener of the Arizona Cardinals, in which she was clocked at 1:40, I'm convinced she's going much longer on Sunday.

Because, let's face it. If she can get amped up for a Cardinals game in early September, what's she going to do with the whole world watching her on the biggest stage in sports, in front of more than 70,000 people? That's right, she's going to stretch those "banner waves" and "home of the frees." She won't be able to contain herself. We're looking at a record-long performance. In fact, I'm banking on it.

And, if not? Well, I'll just have to hope that the Patriots training staff is feeling a little funky on Sunday and uses purple Gatorade on the sideline.

Hey, at 16-to-1, I couldn't resist.

Pondering 'over' a potpourri of Super Bowl proposition bets is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
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Best of Gary Trask
Gary Trask

Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT
Gary Trask
Gary serves as Casino City's managing editor and has more than 20 years experience as a writer and editor.

A member of the inaugural Poker Hall of Fame Media Committee, Gary enjoys playing poker and blackjack, but spends most of his time sitting in the comfy confines of the sportsbook when in Las Vegas.

The Boston native is also a former PR pro in the golf-casino-resort industry and a fanatical golfer, allowing his two favorite hobbies - gambling and golf - to collide quite naturally.

Contact Gary at gary@casinocity.com and follow him on Twitter at @CasinoCityGT.

Gary Trask Websites:

twitter.com/#!/casinocityGT