LAS VEGAS — As he returned to the back of the line Thursday night to keep poking at the Westgate SuperBook’s magnificent Super Bowl 57 proposition wagers, Steve Fezzik grinned.
The professional bettor had scored, he believed, by betting Over 288.5, for the maximum $2,000 at -110, on passing yardage for Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes against Philadelphia on Feb. 12 in Arizona.
That was about 10 or 15 minutes past 7 p.m. in Las Vegas, when SuperBook officials flashed their Super Bowl props on their massive tote board and handed the 36-page packet to those salivating to view them.
By 7:42, that prop’s yardage had moved to 292. By 7:56, it had eked to 292.5. Many others were on Fezzik’s wavelength, believing Mahomes will have a stupendous game, and Fezzik had secured the best of it.
For just a few moments, he reveled to me about nabbing such a solid number. Then it was back to the sheets to excavate.
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Super Bowl Props See Unreal Growth
What William “Refrigerator” Perry started in Super Bowl XX has blossomed — or exploded, to be more precise — into an industry of its own.
The mammoth Chicago Bears lineman scored on a short run in New Orleans, piling onto a blowout triumph over the New England Patriots and creating the first seed of Super Bowl proposition wagers.
The crest of that wave keeps growing annually, and SuperBook executive vice president Jay Kornegay helped fuel it with creative new additions every year at the Imperial Palace. Regulars dubbed it Props Palace.
Kornegay landed at the SuperBook in 2004, and his team continues to pump out the props. This year, nearly 500 have more than 1,000 betting options, and the SuperBook is now in seven states.
Not so long ago, he said, those props represented about five to 10 percent of the property’s Super Bowl handle.
“To think they now represent about 70 percent of our handle is at times hard to believe,” Kornegay said. “Long journey, but it’s work by the entire team that made it possible.”
Kornegay lieutenants Ed Salmons (who came with Kornegay from the IP) and Jeff Sherman head the roster of SuperBook talent that produces the Super Bowl sheets.
Obtaining the physical product still retains a special quality that can’t be matched by merely perusing figures on a computer.
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No Cheese Here
By 6:30, a few people began gathering by the SuperBook prop counter. Ten minutes later, there were five or six in line. One had a backpack, likely not containing schoolwork.
Some sat, in clumps of two or three, in nearby seats. UCLA was punking Washington at Pauley Pavilion on a huge screen, the Clippers were winning in Milwaukee on another one. Few, though, were watching hoops.
By 6:50, there were nine people in a makeshift line, and two more held backpacks. By 6:58, 22 had formed a bona fide line. One sat on the ground, typing at a laptop computer.
Another joined the end of the line and said, “Is this the government cheese line?”
A tick before 7, the packets were doled out. I scanned for 10145, or Over on 2.5 different players to attempt a pass. Its price was +130. I got distracted.
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Two guys from Florida were happy. I asked why.
One had risked $2,000 that no 2-point play would be attempted, at -110. The other had wagered the same amount Under 22.5 for Chiefs’ total first downs, at the same -110.
Neither wanted their name used.
Others tried separating their tickets from cash, while juggling folders or sheets and pens or pencils.
‘No’ on Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts having a rushing touchdown, said another bettor who requested anonymity, for $2,000 at -110.
Over 6.5 receptions for Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, another gambler said, for $2,000 at -140.
A youngster, compared to those around him, with a messy beard glanced at his tickets to pick out his favorite: Over total field-goal yardage of 102.5 at -110.
“For just $1,000,” he said. No, he added, he’d rather not have his name used.
He looked at a sidekick and said, “You get what you wanted?”
The man had put $2,000 on ‘Yes’ for Kansas City to get a first-half rushing touchdown at +195.
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More Super Bowl Prop Bets by the Pro
Fezzik returned to the back of the line, as patrons were allowed to make two bets, tops; then to the back of the queue.
The maximum wager allowed was $2,000, on favorites, with a return max of the same amount on underdog bets.
He had also gotten the max down on Mahomes to have more gross passing yards in the second half than the first, at -130.
“I think they’ll start slow,” Fezzik said, “then let it all out in the second half.”
He was also glad to get $2,000 down on Under 13.5 total receiving yards for Philly receiver Quez Watkins, at -110.
Watkins was targeted once last week against San Francisco, which he didn’t catch. He didn’t play in the Divisional round versus the Giants. In his final five games of the regular season, he caught 11 passes for 58 yards, an 11.6-yard average.
Finally, Fezzik risked the same amount on Under 3.5 field goals made by both teams, at -160.
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A Writer Takes His Props Shots
At 8 p.m., fewer than a dozen people were in line. I searched for numbers on Eagles tailbacks Miles Sanders and Kenneth Gainwell, whom I believe will set the ground-attack tone in a Philly victory.
(Plus, the Eagles’ injury issues pale in comparison to Kansas City’s.)
In two playoff games, Gainwell has run for 160 yards, an average of 80. The SuperBook set his Super Bowl total at 20.5, -110 both ways. That Over might be the single best SuperBook prop wager.
Sanders has dashed for 132 playoff yards, an average of 66. His Super Bowl total was 59.5, -110 both ways. By 8 p.m., that had been nudged to 60.5, and Gainwell’s had been oddly sliced to 18.5.
Too many figures. I went back to 10145, my main and sole intention when I strolled through those SuperBook doors.
Over 2.5 players throwing a pass. Mahomes has a sore right wheel, and Hurts —who threw for a season-low 121 yards in Philly’s NFC title victory over San Francisco — has a right wing that probably isn’t 100 percent.
So outside of any trickery, not uncommon for the Super Bowl stage, could either quarterback sit out for relief, even for just a few snaps, by Gardner Minshew II (for the Eagles) or Chad Henne (for the Chiefs)?
I say, Yes. By the time I glanced back at its odds, it had been pumped to +140. I sauntered down to the far left windows, exclusively for the low-rollers, and purchased my ticket to the carnival.
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