• July 29, 2014

Allan Mandell On Sports Picking the Super Bowl winner is easy

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Posted: Sunday, February 2, 2014 4:30 am

The easiest thing in the world is telling you who will be the winner of this year’s Super Bowl.

Better than that, I’ll give you the winner of the next 10 Super Bowls.

The bookies.

The bookies of America. Be it that guy who meets you at the liquor store and writes down your wagers on dissolvable paper in case of a police raid or the owners of those magnificent hotels in Las Vegas — and other fabulous hotels throughout America — where legal sports gambling is permitted.

They are the bookmakers of America and they will win today. And they will win on Super Bowl Sunday next year, and the year after, etc.

Because it is well documented that more Americans wager on the Super Bowl than any other sporting event.

And the bookies, ultimately, don’t lose.

Two weeks back, only a few short hours after Richard Sherman deflected Colin Kaepernick’s attempted pass to Michael Crabtree in the end zone at Seattle, one Vegas hotel posted its Super Bowl line: Denver minus 1 point.

The other hotels and the street bookies of America followed along with that line.

By the next day, that line had moved to Denver minus 2½ points.

This means two things.

First, the fundamentals: If you want to place a wager on Denver and Denver wins by three points or more, you win, you’d collect. If Denver wins by one point or two, say 21-19, your bet on Denver will have been a loser and you’d pay. That’s because you’re giving the 2½ points.

Conversely, if you wager on Seattle and the Seahawks lose by two points or less, you’re giddy. You’re so happy you’re hoping the Seahawks carry Pete Carroll off the field because, while his team has lost the game itself, by keeping things so close, you’ve won your wager.

Secondly, that line moved from 1 point to 2½ points because the American betting public jumped on Denver early. But for 13 straight days, that line hasn’t moved.

And that makes the American bookie, and those large casinos, very happy.

Because to make a wager, be it legal or illegal, you must pay the 10 percent vigorish, also referred to as the vig. The easiest example of this is if you bet $10 and lose, you pay $11, not $10.

That this 2½ point line has been so stable means half of America is betting on Denver minus those 2½ points; the other half is on Seattle plus those 2½ points.

The bookies and those hotels, with equal money wagered, can’t lose.

If a casino in Vegas takes in wagers of $1 million on Denver and $1 million on Seattle, it will take its 10 percent vigorish, in this case $100,000, and cheerfully serve its gambling customers all the free cans of Budweiser they can toss into their bellies.

Oh, the casinos will cry poverty.

It’s almost a rite of passage that on the Monday following Super Bowl Sunday, the gaming director at Caesars Palace in Vegas will issue a news release: “We just got hammered on this Super Bowl. It cost us a bundle.”

The Flamingo Hilton’s PR team will try and top that: “We got crushed!”

And so on.

But they don’t lose. They can’t. Not in the short run and most certainly not in the long run.

If you lost your Super Bowl wager, the casino is happy. They got your cash.

And if you gambled on the big game and happened to win your bet? The casinos aren’t chipper, but they’re not panicked. You gambled, you felt their cash.

By design, it’s a long, long walk from the cashier’s desk to the exits of any of those hotels. Maybe you’ll stop at their blackjack tables and blow some of your winnings. Or maybe you won’t even put your winnings from that Super Bowl bet into your pocket before leaving the betting parlor. You’ll just look up at the board, see some intriguing NBA contest and plunk down another wager.

Bottom line: The bookies don’t lose.

Therefore, do you feel like wagering on the Super Bowl today? Nobody needs a lecture from a sports writer but how about listening to a suggestion.

Bet $1 with a friend. OK, maybe $5 or $10. Perhaps wager a lunch or a dinner. The key is keeping the amount bet within your means.

You don’t have to pay vigorish when you wager with a friend.

And, no, the police won’t raid your home because you wagered $5 with a buddy.

Keep it fun. If you win, rub it in, trash-talk. And if you lose? Well, if you kept your wager to within your means, be that $5 or $1 or $10 or perhaps a tad more, you can take that loss with a shrug.

On Monday, my closest friend was in Vegas. He called and asked “Whattaya think? Who do ya like?”

I personally like the Seahawks plus the 2½ points. But I didn’t ask him to wager anything for me. Nothing. Here’s why.

You ever been to Vegas? If not, have you seen photos of some of those grand, exalted, fancy hotels? Do you know how they all got built?

They did not get built because too many gamblers kept winning.

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