Propositions spice up the betting menu

January 29, 2002 9:29 AM
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To enhance Super Bowl betting action, sports books offer a myriad of bets beyond picking the winner and point total. For many players, these proposition bets pique more interest than the outcome itself.

While most sports books offer some prop bets, the Imperial Palace has become famous for its smorgasbord of props (more than 130 at last count!), which range from predicting the coin toss, to which team will score first, to the total punts and field goals ”” well, you get the picture.

“We’re always looking for props that our patrons and guests find interesting,” said Jay Kornegay, IP director of race and sports. “Naturally, we want them to be popular enough to attract betting action.”

Kornegay said the IP didn’t invent the prop bet, but developed it into a betting art over the past decade.

“It’s all done by committee, which involves our entire staff and several bottles of Tylenol,” said Kornegay, who added that he and his staff worked until 3:00 in the morning formulating prop bets following the Rams’ win over Philadelphia on Sunday.

The challenge of creating innovative prop bets took off about 10 years ago, when the San Francisco 49ers were a prohibitive favorite over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV.

“The only thing in question was the final score (55-10),” Kornegay said. “We had to come up with side bets that would make watching the game interesting.”

As the popularity of prop bets has grown over the years, so have the number and scope of prop bets.

For instance, for this year’s Super Bowl you can also bet totals on Kurt Warner’s passing yards (over/under 295½ yards), Marshall Faulk’s rushing (over/under 105½ yards) and receiving yards, Antowain Smith’s rushing yards (over/under 48½ yards), and the Patriots’ quarterback’s passing yardage (over/under 224½ yards).

You can also bet whether there will be a safety, whether a team will score three straight times, or whether either team will score in the last two minutes of the half.

Other more innovative prop bets are the “hybrid” bets that cross over into other sports. For instance, you can bet whether Kurt Warner’s pass incompletions will exceed the total number of goals scored in the NHL All-Star Game.

Or you can bet whether Isaac Bruce’s receiving yards will be greater than Tiger Woods’ fourth round score in the National Pro Am tourney at Pebble Beach. If that’s not bizarre enough, you can bet whether the Rams will have more punts than personal fouls by Elton Brand of the L.A. Clippers!

As off-the-wall as some of the prop bets sound, they don’t seem to deter bettors. About half the money wagered at the IP on the Super Bowl is prop bets. Most sports books report about 10-20 percent of their handle is on props.