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When the Kansas City Chiefs opened as short favorites over the San Francisco 49ers, it was a signal to bettors that the betting line won't offer much to exploit. Sure enough, the line hasn't moved much - which wasn't the case a year ago - and sharp bettors haven't pounced on the total yet.
With so much information available on how to bet the Super Bowl, it can be hard to sift through the noise. And, truthfully, few know exactly which bets to make. On a game like this, it's never easy.
However, there are ways to improve your general betting strategy to bet more like a pro. Here are three key tips to remember before wagering on the big game:
Any bettor knows that picking the right side isn't the only part of winning bets. Betting at the right time is also critical.
The spread for this year's Super Bowl has moved incrementally at some books and not at all at others, but that doesn't mean it'll remain static. Public bettors will likely bet heavy on the Chiefs (-1.5) because they love favorites, and quarterback Patrick Mahomes is like catnip for the casual crowd.
If you like the 49ers, it's worth waiting to see how high the line goes before backing the underdog, and it wouldn't be surprising to see sharps do that this year. Even if the line stays under the key number of 3, the moneyline will be more in your favor if you like San Francisco. Conversely, if you feel strongly about the Chiefs, don't wait until just before kickoff to place a bet you've been considering all week. Bet now before the line moves against your interests.
That approach applies even more with the total, which opened at 52.5 at some books before a flood of over money pushed it to 54 or even 54.5. If you're eyeing the over, it was best to jump early before losing two full points of value. And for under bettors, it's worth the wait to grab the best number you can.
Following sharp action can be one of the more profitable ways to bet football, but that edge is mostly lost leading up to the big game.
Because almost every football bettor is playing the Super Bowl - and often in higher volume - it can be hard for a casual fan to differentiate a sharp play from a whale play. Many bettors far exceed their bankroll for the biggest game of the year, but that doesn't mean their bet is any wiser.
Also, given the stakes of the game, few bettors (if any) are going to possess inside information that isn't available to the public - which isn't always true for, say, a Jaguars game in October. Books will generally post some of their most efficient lines of the year for such a widely bet game too, so you're unlikely to trick the book by hammering a faulty number.
Because books can rake in millions from casual Super Bowl bettors, many aren't fielding big bets from sharps anyway. Instead, house players - casual bettors who occasionally bet big - are often the ones laying the eye-popping totals you see shared on social media.
Sharp bettors haven't taken a strong position on the game yet, so they aren't providing a lot to read from. If you see big money being bet on either side, don't immediately assume you can glean valuable information.
Bettors often fall for the easiest bets, which are the ones books hope they'll make.
That's especially true in the props market, which can feature massive fields with no clear answer. Many public bettors will simply go for the obvious choice, even at short odds. Books know this, and the favorite is rarely worth the price.
For example, take the Super Bowl MVP award, which is one of the most-bet props on the board. Just pick the quarterback on the team you think will win, right? But three of the last six years, that QB didn't take the award. Always offense? Nope, as two of the MVPs during that time were linebackers. Books know how bettors think, as evidenced by Mahomes getting even odds to win this year's award.
The first touchdown scorer is also a popular but difficult prop to hit. Last year, nobody scored a touchdown until there were seven minutes left in the contest. Three years earlier, defensive tackle Malik Jackson recovered a fumble in the end zone in the first quarter. Do you really want to take 5-1 odds on someone to score first when you don't even know which team will receive the opening kickoff?
Raheem Mostert could still be the first to break the plane, and Mahomes could be named MVP. But think twice before settling for the easy choice, especially when paying an unsavory price.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.