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Super Bowl 53 Betting for Beginners – What Types of Wager Can You Make?

| January 24, 2019 12:00 am PDT
Super Bowl Betting Options for Beginners

The Super Bowl is much more than just a football game.

Yes, it is a championship game to decide the best team in football – but this is a huge event that attracts everyone’s attention, including those who don’t even like football.

The Super Bowl also gets a lot of people interested in betting on the game that might not normally place sports wagers.

With the game almost upon us, all the US sportsbooks and other bookmakers around the world are updating their prices for the big day.

But what kind of bets can be wagered on the Super Bowl?

Here is a quick guide to the most popular betting markets – and the pros and cons of each one.

Point Spread

This is the classic and traditional way to bet on football.

In all games, there will be a favorite and an underdog, but with the point spread, the bookmakers even things up a little.

For example, there would be no way that you would want to bet on the Browns in most of the games in the last few seasons if it was a straight “who wins” bet. But if they are given some points to start with, then that might make a difference (although that is still a big might).

The good thing about the spread is that your chosen team doesn’t even have to win the game for you to win the bet. They just have to “cover” the point spread.

If your wager is on the Bills at +3.5, and they lose to the Seahawks 17-14, then you still win. Once you’ve added on the 3.5 points on the spread, the Bills have “won” the match from a betting perspective.

Please excuse my use of the Bills in relation to the Super Bowl. I should probably have used a more realistic example, but it’s done now.

It works the other way with favorites. They have points taken OFF them on the spread and have to win by more than that number of points for a wager on them to be successful. So a team with -4 spread, for example, would need to win by 5 points or more.

The whole idea of the point spread is to encourage bettors to make more selections for both teams in even the most one-sided of games.

For lovers of football, the point spread bet might go against the whole idea of sports – that there is a winner and a loser. In sporting terms, it might seem strange to not only give one team a head start, but also to then win even when they don’t.

But, of course, the point spread doesn’t affect the REAL result of games. We’re just talking about betting here, where the point spread can make all the difference.


Moneyline betting is more popular in other sports – and especially in Europe – where the scoring is lower. But when it comes to the Super Bowl, it’s also a good football wager to consider.

In the moneyline scenario, the favorite has the shorter odds due to being the most likely to win. The incentive to bet on the underdog is longer odds that will return a bigger payout.

Unlike the point spread, the simplicity of just betting on who is going to win the game is attractive to many, and this seems appropriate for such a big event like the Super Bowl.

Another advantage of a moneyline bet is that there is a chance of winning a big amount of money compared to the size of the wager. Unless the two teams are particularly well matched, the odds could well be quite far apart.

For example, the Vikings might have +400 odds to win the game. That means that a $100 bet on Minnesota would get you $400. Looking at the recent history of Super Bowls, the underdog has performed pretty well, so a moneyline bet could be the way to go.

The flip side of this is that favorites are favorites for a reason – they tend to win most of their games. Betting on the moneyline favorite means that you will not get much back in winning returns unless you are wagering high stakes to begin with.

This type of bet depends on what kind of risk you want to take to win big money. But the Giants were around +2000 to win Super Bowl XLVI and duly got the victory. Anyone going with New York on the moneyline back then would have been very happy indeed.

Totals – Over/Under

If you don’t want to trouble yourself with who is actually going to win the Super Bowl – with or without a handicap – then a totals bet might be the wager for you.

Bookmakers will predict a total number of points to be scored in the game, and you just have to bet on whether there will be more or fewer (“over” or “under”).

This is a great wager for anyone new to football or just betting in general. All you really need to know is how many points a team gets for a touchdown or a field goal and roughly how many of them are scored in a game. You can then work out whether the total sounds too high or too low.

As with the point spread, the prices are usually around -110 for both over and under, so there’s not much incentive to go for one side over the other. But this wager is probably only second to the point spread in popularity, and the simplicity is likely to be a major attraction.

If the game ends with exactly the same number of points as the bookmaker predicted, it’s called a “push,” and you just get your stake back. That’s why you will sometimes see a total of 43.5, for example, to avoid the push. Even the most incredible Super Bowl will never finish with that number of points!

Prop Bets

Sometimes unfairly dismissed as novelty wagers, prop bets are increasingly becoming where the professionals look to make their money – and the Super Bowl has more of these types of wagers than any other game.

Prop bets are essentially wagering on anything that doesn’t really affect the outcome of the game itself. Some of these will be ones that a football fan can take a considered guess at – such as who will be the Super Bowl 53 MVP?

More often than not, the winning quarterback takes the MVP award, so if you think you know who will win the big game, then you are halfway there.

Outside of these more reasonable props, the Super Bowl is the king of ridiculous prop bets, from who will win the coin toss to – my personal favorite – the number of seconds it will take to sing the national anthem.

The best thing about that last prop bet is the levels of analysis carried out concerning the singing style of the chosen performer to inform the wager.

The main problem with prop bets is that you are basically relying on sheer luck with most of them. If they are not a 50/50 decision – such as who will win the coin toss – they are often bets that have a large selection of possible outcomes, like with who will score the game’s first touchdown.

But prop bets are supposed to be fun, and it only seems right that an event with as much razzmatazz as the Super Bowl has more than its fair share of silly bets as well.

Final Words on Super Bowl Betting

The Super Bowl is the most watched sports event in the US and is also shown around the world to millions of NFL fans.

The number of bets made on this single game of football is frankly astounding. The Nevada bookmakers will expect to take around $150 million, but that is just a fraction of the total wagered both legally and illegally.

Having a bet on the big game is a great way to get involved in the festivities, whether it’s a well-researched and considered wager on the points spread or just a throwaway prop bet predicting whether Maroon 5 will experience a “wardrobe malfunction.”

Hopefully now you will have enough information to make your wagers. Enjoy the game!

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Dan Roberts

Dan Roberts is an experienced freelance writer specialising in sports and sports betting. He is particularly knowledgeable about world soccer, but also writes about football, basketball and cricket.

As a fan of Nottingham Forest, New York Knicks, Minnesota Vikings and New York Mets, Dan has not had much to celebrate recently.

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