In the United States, the Super Bowl might as well be a de facto gambling holiday. According to the American Gaming Association almost US$4 billion will be gambled on this Sunday’s game between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
If you want more proof of how big this event is, check out the wagering hype in the media. At some point this week, almost every major media outlet ran an article covering the variety of prop bets surrounding the game. Here are a couple of examples.
But there is a problem for Americans that want to get in on the fun. Sports wagering is only legal in four out of the fifty U.S. states. To get around this, many bettors turn to the internet and sites like Bovada and Sportsbook.ag. But there are risks here as well. Depositing and withdrawing funds must be done via Western Union, Moneygram, or with a credit card, leaving an obvious trail of gambling activity. Not to mention a tedious wait if they end up winning their wager. Withdrawals are usually processed via a mailed check and (on Bovada) users only get one free withdrawal per month. If you want to take out more, it’ll cost you US$50 a check.
To big time gamblers, these issues might not be a big deal. But for the average person looking to make the game more interesting by putting a little money on one side or the other, the hoops to jump through seem rather extensive.
For those seeking another way, Bitcoin is an appealing option. In the past two years online Bitcoin-only sportsbooks such as NitrogenSports.eu and CasinoBitco.in have been established to offer gamblers the same wagers as the big online books, but without the bank transfers and withdrawal limits. Compared to the old ways of online betting, these books are a revolution. Deposits are near instant and there are no limits or fees on withdrawals. If you’re looking for a way to bet on the Super Bowl and have access to bitcoin, these sites are far-and-away your best alternative.
If you’re a first time bettor looking to place a wager, having a reliable site is only half the battle. It’s also important to understand the system that sportsbooks use for grading wagers. Here’s a sample line from Nitrogen:
New England Patriots v. Seattle Seahawks: Seattle Seahawks -2 2.056(+106)
What does this jumble of numbers mean? If you choose to bet on this line you will be betting that the Seattle Seahawks will beat the New England Patriots by more than two points (-2). If they do not, you will lose your coin. If they win by only two points (say, a score of 21-19) you will neither lose nor win, and simply be refunded your bet. This result is called a “push.”
And if they win by two points? Based on what are called the “decimal” odds (2.056) you would win your original bet multiplied by 2.056. So, if you bet 100 units (units can represent anything, dollars, bitcoins, etc.) you would receive 205.6 units in return. These winnings include your original bet, so the total profit on the wager would be 105.6 units.
As for the last number in the line (+106), this is just another way of saying the same thing as the decimal odds and is known as the “moneyline” odds. They can be represented as positive or negative numbers. In the case of a positive number like the one in the example, it represents how much profit will be made off of a 100 unit bet (106 units). In the case of a negative number like -120, it would represent how many units you would need to bet (120) to make back 100.
Two more key things to know. Beyond simple point spread bets, other types of bets you should recognize are ML bets and Point Total bets. ML’s are simple and only mean that you are wagering that the bet description will happen (see the Marshawn Lynch write-up below for an example). Finally, Point Total wagers concern the total points scored in the game. Right now Vegas has the Super Bowl over/under at 47.
You’re now ready to make some wagers. Here are my best bets for Sunday’s game:
New England Patriots v. Seattle Seahawks: Seattle Seahawks -2 2.056 (+106)
The football public seems to have a short memory. Despite crushing arguably the best offense in NFL history by a score of 43-8 only a year ago, the majority of bettors have no faith in Seattle. So far about 73% of bets have been placed on New England.
Don’t follow the majority on this one. Seattle’s defense may very well be the greatest of all time and, while the Patriots have a great offense, it’s nowhere near as good as Denver’s was last year. And we already know how that worked out.
Russell Wilson Super Bowl MVP: ML 3.50 (+250)
Quarterbacks of the winning team have the best chance at winning the Most Valuable Player trophy that is handed out at the end of each Super Bowl. Not hard to understand considering they handle the ball more than anyone else on the field. But there’s more to this bet than that. Wilson is a special kind of football player.
Some analysts believe that he’s been carried to his second Super Bowl in three years by the Seahawks’ defense, but if you take the time to watch his games, Russell knows how to perform well when it matters most. Look at his last game for example. Against Green Bay in the NFC Championship game Wilson threw four interceptions before leading his team to three consecutive touchdowns and a Super Bowl berth in one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history. When the pressure is on, Wilson performs his bet. And there’s no greater pressure than what he will see this Sunday.
Marshawn Lynch will grab his crotch after scoring a TD in the game: ML 8.00 (+700)
Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has made a tradition of completing epic touchdown runs with an artful grab-of-the-crotch. Unfortunately, the NFL has deemed this practice to be “vulgar” and is now threatening to fine Mr. Lynch over US$50,000 and give the Seahawks a 15-yard penalty if he attempts the gesture during Sunday’s game. This is all part of an ongoing saga between Marshawn and the league. If you’ve paid any attention to news about the game this week, you’ve undoubtedly seen the stories about his issues conducting press conferences.
It’s obvious Marshawn has little regard for the league’s conduct policy, and that is why I feel safe taking the chance on this high-odds bet. He’s also a key part of a Seattle offense that loves to let him run the ball to seal the game. Take the chance on this bet and root for Marshawn to break off a run toward the end of the game against New England’s 18th-ranked run defense.
First player to intercept a pass - Vince Wilfork: ML 34.00 (+3300)
Is it likely that New England’s top defensive lineman will make the Super Bowl’s first interception? Nope. But that’s what makes this line fun. If he does, you could turn .1 BTC to 3.4. Quite the come-up.
Despite weighing in at 325 lbs., Wilfork is a self described “well conditioned athlete.” Being able to catch a batted ball at the line of scrimmage is easily within his ability. And, besides, who doesn’t want to root for this guy?
If you’re looking for a fun way to add some personal interest to the game on Sunday, Bitcoin and the sportsbooks linked in the first part of this article offer an outstanding option. Thanks to the innovations of cryptocurrency, even if you don’t live by a casino you can now take part in America’s unofficial gambling holiday.
Of course, if you choose to wager, please remember to play responsibly. As a bitcoiner, I’m sure you’re familiar with the term “don’t invest more than you can afford to lose.” The same rule applies here.
Enjoy the game, have fun, and best of luck!
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