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February 22, 2019

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Pro sports bettors fired large on these five Super Bowl prop wagers

Strong early positions include bets on Darrelle Revis, Steven Hauschka

Super Bowl Teams Pre-Game

Seattle Seahawks’ Steven Hauschka warms up with Jon Ryan (9) before the NFL Super Bowl XLVIII football game against the Denver Broncos Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Super Bowl 49

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The Super Bowl proposition wagers at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook were akin to high-end bait Thursday night.

Superbook Manager Ed Salmons dumped a shipload of betting options on next Sunday’s game between the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots into an ocean full of sharks. The sharks, in this case, were a school of the world’s best sports bettors circling the tote board and waiting to chow.

“The people that are betting these things, I would classify as the sharpest of the sharp,” Salmons said. “They are interested in getting the most money down that they can on what they think. This is their night to do it.”

The reveal of the Superbook’s prop menu for the big game is one of the most important moments on the sports betting calendar each year. Salmons along with colleagues Jeff Sherman and Randy Blum, and under the guidance of Superbook Executive Director Jay Kornegay, begin compiling their 20-plus pages of wagers on the Monday before conference championship weekend.

The group refines the props over the next 10 days before opening with a betting limit of $2,000. Bettors line up with fortunes and pounce where they find value.

“Through the years, you know these guys as far as, ‘These two or three are in this group, and one or two are in this group,’” Salmons explained. “You’ve got to understand that because all of these guys are good but some of them are really good.”

The feast turns into a tactical tussle that lasted three-and-a-half hours this year before volume started to die down. Gamblers are allowed to place two limit bets at a time, and then sent to the back of the line.

Salmons must then determine how much to shift the odds. If he makes a mistake by either not changing the price enough or altering the line too much, the house could develop undesirable liability.

“You’ve got to make moves accordingly and understand what the initial sides were and the things that they liked,” Salmons explained. “We’re basically paying a price to get their information is what it amounts to.”

What were the initial sides they liked? Salmons shared five of the most popular early prop bets:

Will the first kickoff by Seattle’s Steven Hauschka result in a touchback: Yes

The Seahawks fell right in the middle of the NFL with 51.5 percent of their kickoffs resulting in touchbacks during the regular season. But the sharps felt it wasn’t anywhere close to a 50/50 proposition in their first boot of the Super Bowl.

Salmons opened both sides near minus-110 (risking $1.10 to win $1) before adjusting to minus-165 on the “yes” with plus-145 (risking $1 to win $1.45) coming back on the “no”.

Total number of kickoff returns by both teams: Under 6

Kick-return props were apparently all the rage. The big money is counting on New England’s Stephen Gostkowski to have as strong a performance as the similarly forenamed Hauschka with both assisted by their coverage units.

“I took one bet under 6 and immediately went to 5.5,” Salmons said. “Then I took four more bets at under 5.5, so they’re really strong on that.”

The current price is plus-200 on “over” 5.5 kickoff returns and minus-240 on the “under”.

Will New England cornerback Darrelle Revis intercept a pass: No

The man once unanimously regarded as the best in the league broke a 10-week interception drought against the Colts last week. Even though Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson committed four interceptions in his team’s win over Green Bay, the wiseguys aren’t counting on Revis snagging his fourth of the year.

The “no” is up to minus-550 after opening at minus-420. “Yes” now pays plus-425.

Total receiving yards by Patriots tight end Michael Hoomanawanui: Under 6.5

Salmons recounted at least three bets coming in against the backup tight end. He moved the line in a hurry.

After opening the “under” at minus-110, it now rests at minus-200. The “over” pays out plus-175.

First reception by Rob Gronkowski: Over 9.5 yards

Every year there’s a player or two that the sharp bettors load up to go over or under on his first catch. Every year it drives Salmons crazy.

“Those are always tricky,” he said. “The first reception thing is hard to make. A guy’s first reception seems so hit and miss.”

The Superbook won’t necessarily root against all of those sides come next Sunday. There’s still a lot of betting to be done, and in an event as monumental as the Super Bowl, the action from professional bettors accounts for a small fraction of the total handle.

Many of the sharks have vacated the waters for now, but minnows are on their way.

“We’ll have a little bit of a lull until next weekend, starting Thursday and Friday when the public comes in,” Salmons said. “That’s when the type of money we’re looking for comes in.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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