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Gaming Guru

Matt Youmans
 

Vegas has plenty of props for Super Bowl

29 January 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Only in the Super Bowl can a golfer (Phil Mickelson), a hockey star (Sidney Crosby) and a socialite/TV personality (Kim Kardashian) figure into the outcome of a wager. This is a football game unlike any other.

The betting public has already picked a side. The Indianapolis Colts are 5 1/2-point favorites over the New Orleans Saints on Feb. 7 in Miami, and Las Vegas sports books are getting flooded with cash on the Colts.

The books and contrarians will pull for Drew Brees and the Saints to slay the NFL's Goliath quarterback, Peyton Manning.

"A lot of people who are going to bet this game, all they know is Peyton Manning," Las Vegas Hilton sports book director Jay Kornegay said.

But it's not all about Manning or Brees. The performance of Thomas Morstead also matters. Morstead is the Saints' punter, and he's the subject of at least three Hilton proposition wagers.

In the Super Bowl, every play is significant, and that's because the explosion of prop betting has transformed the game into a carnival. On Super Sundays now, the only things missing from sports books are bearded ladies, dancing bears and juggling midgets.

I believe the Colts will win the game, and don't be surprised if the score sneaks under the total of 56 1/2. But sports bettors like a variety of options. There's much more to debate than the side and total.

The Hilton posts more props than any book. After Kornegay and his staff of oddsmakers made a few late additions, I counted 335 props -- give or take a few, because I lost concentration.

"We basically just make these up until we get tired," said Kornegay, who's in charge of approving prop disclaimers and ensuring all gray areas are eliminated. "The props really make the event. It has become such a popular part of Super Bowl weekend. We've never had a prop with zero bets. Not even close to it."

A prop on Brees' total completions counts as one, but it includes 42 wagers -- odds are offered on his completions at every number from zero (100-1 odds) to 41 or more (30-1).

The Hilton, which gets about 50 percent of its Super Bowl handle on props, will make its prop book available this afternoon. It's fun reading for recreational bettors. For professional gamblers, props are serious business. The books will post a few weak numbers that the pros can scalp and try to middle and turn the winnings into a month's income.

It's important to do prop shopping because of varying numbers. The pros will be burning a trail around town to hit spots such as the M Resort, MGM Mirage, Gold Coast, Golden Nugget, Palace Station, Plaza, Bally's, Binion's, Sahara, Stratosphere, Treasure Island, Wynn and the Hilton.

For example, there is a prop on whether the Saints' Reggie Bush will score a touchdown. On Thursday, you could bet "Yes" for plus-210 at M Resort, but the price was plus-150 at the Hilton.

This Super Bowl, with two high-powered offenses and several star players, shapes up as one of the best for prop bets.

"When people bet these things, they bet 'Yes' and they bet 'Over,' because everybody comes in and they want to see things happen," Kornegay said. "The high total indicates a lot of things are going to happen in this game. It makes us a little nervous.

"We kind of want the game to be uneventful. We would do really well if the Colts win 3-0."

In the mid-1990s, props were a Super Bowl afterthought in Las Vegas, where most books posted about 25 of them. But back then, cell phones weren't popular yet.

A guy from the celebrity Web site TMZ.com called the Hilton and suggested a Kim Kardashian-related prop. So Kornegay posted one with her boyfriend, Bush, against her brother-in-law, Lamar Odom of the Los Angeles Lakers. It's Bush's total rushing yards in the Super Bowl against Odom's total points, rebounds and assists in the Lakers game.

Mickelson is involved in a prop, but another prominent golfer is missing. "We don't have any Tiger Woods props up," Kornegay said. "We couldn't use him this year."

Here's an idea: Who will score more on Feb. 7? Manning (total touchdown passes) in the Super Bowl or Woods at the sex rehab clinic? Manning might be the underdog in that bet.