by Micah Roberts
Las Vegas Review-Journal
The end of a long NFL season is prime time for value shoppers at Las Vegas sports books. Some of the year's best betting opportunities can be found by sifting through the hundreds of Super Bowl propositions offered by the books.
The Indianapolis Colts are favored by 5 points over the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and soon we'll find out if Colts quarterback Peyton Manning wins his second championship. But another game has already kicked off for many bettors who are just as serious about winning.
The props bets have been on the board for about 10 days, and the key is finding the edge, because the books are more vulnerable than ever at this time of the year.
There is no true comparison to any other sport in the value offered this week.
A normal Saturday college basketball menu is comparable only because there are so many games. With more than 100 games on one day, and only two days to update ratings for more than 200 teams, there are always bound to be five or six faulty lines. But usually it takes one of the sharp betting groups to ferret out the mistakes.
The telling sign that a sports book is aware of its exposure is the betting limits placed on the general public. The most solid lines are offered with the highest limits -- such as the standard NFL line, the most sound line in the world. The areas that are open to more severe liability -- meaning the books don't always win -- are always kept at minimal limits.
The lowest per-game limits offered by most books are totals, such as college football and basketball, which are generally offered at a range of $500 to $1,000. Totals are statistically the lowest hold percentage most books have in their category analysis breakdown.
The Super Bowl will generate thousands of dollars more on each side of a proposition bet than any college total, but the limit for each prop stays in the same range because the books are in a vulnerable situation by extending the betting menu to such extremes.
So why would a bookmaker, whose mandate is to limit risk and liability and protect company funds, offer so many options that could offer the house less than maximum protection?
Basically, it's all about image, respectability and publicity of a property brand name or theme.
The last thing a Las Vegas sports book wants is a reputation for having the poorest selection of Super Bowl props in the city. This is a book's time to shine and show there is no need to go anywhere else -- everything you want is right here.
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