This is what happens when the amateurs get their way.
The house wins -- and big.
Jay Kornegay, who runs the SuperBook at the LVH Casino in Las Vegas, tried to tell the world early on about the Super Bowl. Moments after Seattle won the NFC championship, he made the Seahawks two-point favorites against Denver for Super Bowl XLVIII.
The wagering public would have none of it. The bettors crushed the betting cages, and in less than an hour, the point spread had flipped in an unprecedented way.
"It seemed like they were saying, 'I get [Broncos quarterback] Peyton Manning and the points?' " said handicapper RJ Bell, who runs pregame.com.
The avalanche of wagering sentiment on Denver, which started at the LVH Casino and spread throughout Vegas quickly, made the Broncos 2.5-point favorites -- a 4.5-point flip -- and that's the way it stood until kickoff.
Of course, we know how that worked out. The Seahawks' 43-8 win was a bonanza for Nevada's sports books, which pocketed an all-time high $19.67 million of a record $119.4 million wagered, according to the Nevada Gaming Control Board.
"We don't like to gloat," Kornegay said about having made Seattle the favorite, even though the public cast a different vote with its money. "In fairness, it was a very early line. In the first 24, 48 hours, you can have movement. But, yes, we did feel Seattle was the better team -- but certainly not 35 points better."
Interestingly, the play that started the Seattle landslide was a bookie's nightmare and a bettor's delight. When the first snap of the game flew over Manning's right shoulder for a safety, it was a prop bet jackpot for some bettors. Any safety during the game was a 5.5-1 wager at the LVH and as much as 8-1 elsewhere. But as the first score of the game, that safety was 60-1.
It was the third straight Super Bowl during which a safety occurred, and the public has gotten into the habit of betting that prop. Kornegay still talks about the Ravens' taking a safety for the last score during their Super Bowl win against San Francisco a year ago.
During Super Bowl XLVIII, the two-point conversion that Manning threw to wide receiver Wes Welker also was good for prop bettors. It was worth in the range of 4-1 to 5-1.
But after that, nearly 70 percent of the point-spread betting slips were on the Broncos. And surprisingly, the public even favored the total-points less than at 47.5 points. The Seahawks' fourth-quarter touchdown made the over.
"Having both the underdog and the over win was the best case for us," Kornegay said, "and having that kind of combination is unusual. But we'll take it."
This year's $19.67 million win for Nevada's sports books was more than the previous three Super Bowls combined, and improved the house's record against the public during the last 24 years for NFL championship games to 22-2.
For bettors who were counting on the record-setting Broncos offense to put individual players on the high side of individual over-unders, there was largely disappointment. Manning fell short on his prop bet over-under passing yardage of 286.5 yards. He had 280, despite 49 attempts. For that matter, so did Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson, whose over-under passing number was 211. Wilson ended up with 206.
Two of the few players to beat their yardage over-under targets were Denver wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, with 118, and Welker, with 84.
"You know, if we made the same line and the bettors had moved that line up a point rather than down and the game had the same result," Kornegay said, "I would have guys coming in and tell me that because I made it too low, I was wrong."
|SUPER BOWL WAGING IN NEVADA (2005-14)|
|Year||Wagers||Win/(Loss)||Win %||Game Results|
|2014||$119,400,822||$19,673,960||16.5||Seattle 43, Denver 8|
|2013||$98,936,798||$7,206,460||7.3||Baltimore 34, San Francisco 31|
|2012||$93,899,840||$5,064,470||5.4||N.Y. Giants 21, New England 17|
|2011||$87,491,098||$ 724,176||0.8||Green Bay 31, Pittsburgh 25|
|2010||$82,726,367||$ 6,857,101||8.3||New Orleans 31, Indianapolis 17|
|2009||$81,514,748||$6,678,044||8.2||Pittsburgh 27, Arizona 23|
|2008||$92,055,833||($2,573,103)||-2.8||N.Y. Giants 17, New England 14|
|2007||$93,067,358||$12,930,175||13.9||Indianapolis 29, Chicago 17|
|2006||$94,534,372||$8,828,431||9.3||Pittsburgh 21, Seattle 10|
|2005||$90,759,236||$15,430,138||17.0||New England 24, Philadelphia 21|
Source: Nevada Gaming Control Board
Looking ahead to the 2014 season, Seattle is the early favorite to repeat as the Super Bowl champion at 7-1. Denver and San Francisco are 8-1 to win Super Bowl XLIX.
Folks looking to hitch their wagons to the Ravens' star can get 40-1 odds, the same as for Washington, St. Louis and a few others. The Houston Texans, who finished an NFL-worst 2-14 in 2013, are also 40-1.
The longest shots to win the Super Bowl are Oakland and Jacksonville, at 200-1.
Maryland Live! Casino announced that its first major poker tournament series would be held March 10-24. The Maryland Live! Poker Classic will offer nine events with a combined $1 million guaranteed prize pool.
The main event, March 21-24, will be a no-limit hold'em tournament with a $3,500 buy-in and a $400,000 guaranteed prize pool. The next-largest tournament will be the opener, March 10-13, a no-limit hold'em event with a $550 buy-in and a $225,000 guarantee.
Maryland Live! will begin taking registrations for the tournament series Feb. 15 on the poker room's second floor.