How oddsmakers come up with Super Bowl XLIX props bets

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Editor’s note: Quotes from previously published material. Stats, odds and info updated for Super Bowl XLIX.

The oddsmakers’ handicapping process usually entails a complicated algorithm, a hard breakdown of the teams’ current situation, and predicting the betting market’s every move.

Googling Frozen star Idina Menzel and watching countless YouTube videos of previous Super Bowl “Star-Spangled Banner” renditions is a break from the norm.
 
“We listened to Christina Aguilera do the national anthem 10 times. The first was when she was 11 years old,” an online oddsmaker told Covers before Aguilera gave her controversial take on the national anthem at Super Bowl XLV. “Then we came up with a time, an average (for the over/under). We came up with 1 minute, 50 seconds.”

That’s a sample of the logic that goes into creating proposition bets, often called props. Most online books have more than 300 prop bets available for Super Bowl XLIX. Many of them are standard issue, much more related to the game, such as “who will score the first touchdown?” or “who will win the MVP award?”.
 
Some of them stretch beyond the football field and into other sports. For instance, last year you could make a prop bet on whether Oklahoma City Thunder star Kevin Durant would have more points versus Washington that Saturday than Denver Broncos QB Peyton Manning had pass attempts versus Seattle Sunday. Even with oddsmakers tossing in an extra 7.5 points (-115), KD’s 26-point effort against the Wizards fell short of Manning’s 49 pass attempts in the Super Bowl blowout loss to the Seahawks.

One of the annual Super Bowl prop favorites: What color will the Gatorade be that gets dumped on the winning coach’s head?
 
“It gets a ton of bets – people love that one,” said one online oddsmaker, noting yellow and water/clear are usually the favorites. “But we get bets on all colors. You still have a chance to win a bet on the Gatorade shower, even if the team you bet on lost.”
 
Meanwhile, in Las Vegas, Jay Kornegay and his crew at the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook have also crafted hundreds of prop bets for Super Sunday. Due to Nevada gaming regulations, sportsbooks can’t offer props on things such as the National Anthem or Gatorade colors. They can only offer options on game-related statistics.
 
Still, Kornegay is renowned for coming up with boatloads of intriguing props, and this year is no exception. He was busy last week printing out and disbursing thousands of the 25-page packets.
 
“We’ve got three gigantic copiers in the back room. They haven’t started smoking yet, but they will,” he told Covers.
 
Kornegay prides himself on providing props for as many players as possible.
 
“Whether they’re starting or a backup, we have at least a couple props on (almost) every player,” he said. “We’ve expanded in that area to give bettors a few more choices.”
 
The more novel options, on the other hand, are generally just for water-cooler chatter.
 
“The most discussion is on the cross-over sport props, but those don’t get the most attention from bettors,” Kornegay said.
 
“You look at the ones that are just generic props, like the player to score the first touchdown. That will be one of our top five, probably in our top three,” Kornegay said. “Despite all the creativity, it almost always comes back to the basics.”

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