Low-scoring Super Bowls are usually great for sportsbooks. But Las Vegas bookmakers had to sweat out several 500-1 long shot props Sunday in the Patriots’ 13-3 win over the Rams that produced the fewest combined points in Super Bowl history.
“We want the game to be lower scoring, but we don’t want the game to be historically low,” Westgate sportsbook manager Ed Salmons said.
One index prop that always gives the books a huge liability is for either team to finish with two points, which pays 10,000-1 odds.
In a game that featured 14 punts (after only one in last year’s Super Bowl), including multiple ones that landed inside the 10, books feared a safety by the Rams.
“There were so many punts from midfield that went inside the 5,” Salmons said. “We were thinking if the Rams get a safety and the game ends 3-2, people always bet that (10,000-1) prop.”
The books and the rest of us were spared a 3-2 final when Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yard field goal to tie it 3-3 late in the third quarter.
But that left open the prospect that no touchdown would be scored, an index prop that pays 500-1 on the player to score the first touchdown and 100-1 on the player to score the last touchdown.
“We were staring that down in the fourth quarter when it looked like 6-3 could win,” Salmons said.
Rob Gronkowski caught a 29-yard pass from Tom Brady in what resulted in the biggest roar of the day at Las Vegas books and Sony Michel scored on a 2-yard touchdown run on the next play to put the Patriots up 10-3 with seven minutes left.
The index prop for total points scored in the game paid 500-1 for between eight and 14 points at the Westgate and Station Casinos. The odds were 100-1 for zero to 14 at South Point.
“That would’ve cost us well into six figures,” South Point sportsbook director Chris Andrews said. “We were sweating that one pretty good.”
Jared Goff threw an interception at the New England 4 with 4:17 left. But the Patriots made it 13-3 on Stephen Gostkowski’s 41-yard field goal with 1:12 to go.
Three points, six figures
After dodging a couple long shots, the books took a hit on the final score for the Rams. The MGM paid 150-1 on three points, but the South Point opened that number at 500-1.
L.A. went for a 48-yard field goal with five seconds left, but Zuerlein missed it wide left.
“We were rooting for that late field goal,” Andrews said. “That cost us six figures. That was a very bad result, but somehow we overcame it.
“We didn’t make much on the game itself, but we did pick up some on the props.”
Books win small
Most books reported small wins on the game overall. The betting public won on the Patriots, who covered as 2½-point favorites. But it lost on the total, which was one of the highest in Super Bowl history, hitting 59 at one point but closing at a consensus 56.
Sharp bettors were all over the under in the matchup of two of the NFL’s highest-scoring teams.
“I thought it would be a high-scoring game and a lot of the public did, but the wiseguys obviously did not,” Andrews said. “That’s sports. You think you have this stuff figured out and you just don’t. Crazy stuff happens.”
Three $1 million-plus bets
Heavy action on the game showed up at Las Vegas books between Thursday and kickoff, with the MGM taking a $2 million money-line wager on the Rams and a $1 million-plus straight bet on the Patriots (-2½).
William Hill took a $580,000 straight bet on the Patriots on Sunday and Caesars took a $500,000-plus straight wager on New England amid a bevy of six-figure bets across the city.
Bettor X loses
William Hill also took a $1.5 million money-line bet on the Rams from the same bettor who beat Las Vegas out of an estimated $10 million on the 2017 World Series and roughly $10 million more on the Eagles over the Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
The mystery bettor — known as Bettor X — reportedly had at least $3.8 million on the Rams as his hot streak came to an end.
“Neither team played great on offense but the master, Bill Belichick, made it awfully tough for Jared Goff,” Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito said. “He looked really out of sync all game.”
The city’s books and parties were packed but didn’t have many chances to cheer in a game that featured only one TD a year after the Eagles and Patriots combined for nine TDs and only one punt in Super Bowl LII.
“I bet Drew Brees and company were at home thinking they could’ve put on a much better show,” MGM Resorts sportsbook director Jay Rood said.
Here’s a sampling of some results from the more than 1,000 ways to wager on Super Bowl LIII at Las Vegas sportsbooks.
Final score for Rams
Three points paid 150-1 at MGM Resorts sports book.
Will there be a score in the first 5½ minutes?
No was a minus 150 favorite and improved to 9-0 in New England’s Super Bowls with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.
Second half/overtime more points than first half?
Will game be tied after 0-0?
Both of these props cashed when Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yard field goal in the third quarter to tie it 3-3 after the second lowest-scoring first half in Super Bowl history.
Julian Edelman receptions (6½), receiving yards (81½)
The Patriots receiver went over those numbers in the first half, when he had seven catches for 93 yards. He finished with 10 receptions for 141 yards en route to Super Bowl MVP honors, which paid 30-1.
Rob Gronkowski receptions (3½), receiving yards (56½)
The New England tight end had six catches for 87 yards to go over both numbers.
Player to score first touchdown
Player to score last touchdown
Sony Michel cashed both those tickets as the 7-1 favorite on both props when he scored the only touchdown of the game. That helped the books avoid paying 500-1 odds on no touchdown scored.
Will there be at least one scoreless quarter?
Yes paid plus 475 at William Hill sportsbook, where 708 tickets cashed on that prop.