Kaepernick adds spice to Super prop bets

Not even the guys who brainstorm the proposition bets count them all. The total seems to grow each year, and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is driving up the total this year.

Kaepernick, the NFL's new sensation, is becoming as popular with bettors as Justin Bieber is with teenage girls and a few misguided males.

"We're up to about 20 props on Kaepernick, and they keep asking for more," said Jimmy Vaccaro, director of operations for William Hill sports books. "I can't think of another player who has attracted so much attention."

Ray Lewis likes to draw attention to himself by singing and dancing, but predicting a linebacker's total number of tackles is not that exciting.

The 49ers are 3½-point favorites over the Baltimore Ravens on Feb. 3 in New Orleans, yet in Las Vegas, just over a week before the Super Bowl, the props are what matter most.

And the prop betting feeding frenzy officially kicked off Thursday night, when the LVH boards lit up with hundreds of them. The sharpest bettors were there waiting, almost in the same way college kids camp outside an arena the night before a big basketball game. But no tents were spotted near the book.

"A lot of people get excited about these props," LVH sports book director Jay Kornegay said, "and they continue to be a bigger part of the Super Bowl every year."

Last year, I counted around 350 props at the LVH, where Kornegay said prop wagering will account for about 50 percent of his book's handle on the game. The limits are $2,000, but $10 bettors are welcome, too.

William Hill's books will raise the curtain on a long list of props at around noon today, but Vaccaro didn't count the total.

"Three hundred and climbing," Vaccaro said. "It gets crazier. Where does it end? I don't know. But if it attracts money, it's well worth it."

Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill's sports book director, took the Kaepernick craze to another level with a far-fetched prop: Will Kaepernick total 100 yards rushing and 300 yards passing? The "Yes" side of the bet pays 10-1 odds.

Kaepernick accounted for 444 total yards (263 passing, 181 rushing) in the 49ers' 45-31 victory over Green Bay in the NFC divisional round. But the Packers took a clueless approach to defending him, and the Lewis-led Ravens won't be pushovers.

"There are three types of props," said professional bettor Steve Fezzik, a handicapper for Pregame.com and a two-time LVH SuperContest winner. "There are the no-brainer props, and there's almost never an advantage playing those."

Betting on the 49ers to cover in the second quarter or picking the team to get flagged for the first penalty qualify as no-brainer props.

It might be smart to wager on this prop: Will either team score in the first 6½ minutes of the game? Fezzik recommends "No" at minus-110.

"You probably want to bet on nothing to happen in the first six minutes because the teams are too conservative," he said.

As for the second type of prop, Fezzik said, "There are the individual props, and those are my favorites."

Look to bet Kaepernick over his total for rushing yards (49½) or bet Ravens running back Ray Rice under his total for rushing yards (66½).

The mobile Kaepernick presents a unique challenge for a Baltimore defense that beat Tom Brady and Peyton Manning the past two weeks. Bernard Pierce has taken away about a third of Rice's usual number of carries since mid-December - but the number the LVH opened on Rice was considerably lower than what Fezzik hoped to see.

"If there's a prop on his rushing yards in the 80s, I think it's too high against that San Francisco defense. It's going to be really hard for Rice to top that," Fezzik said. "The third type of prop is the needle-in-the-haystack prop, and the books love those."

Will there be a safety? Will there be overtime? The safety prop cashed last year - and it also was the first score of the game - and the books did not love that. The overtime prop never has cashed, making it truly a needle in a haystack.

There also are cross-sport props involving NBA players (Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, among others), a soccer star (Lionel Messi) and one pitting golfer Bubba Watson against Kaepernick.

"You've got so many people recommending plays who have no idea what a prop bet is. If you're not used to betting them, you don't know where the value is," said Fezzik, who attacks props as serious business.

For others, the countless prop bets simply provide entertainment value.

Contact sports betting columnist Matt Youmans at myoumans@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2907. He co-hosts "The Las Vegas Sportsline" weekdays at 2 p.m. on ESPN Radio (1100 AM, 98.9 FM). Follow him on Twitter: @mattyoumans247.