It was 6:59 p.m. Thursday when the betting boards in the Westgate lit up with hundreds of Super Bowl propositions. The first two limit bets were plays on Tom Brady.
When the book closed for business three hours later, the wagering handle soared over the total Jay Kornegay had anticipated.
“I didn’t expect this,” Kornegay, vice president of the Westgate sports book, said of a handle topping $400,000 on the opening night for prop betting.
66 pages of Super Bowl props from books across Las Vegas
The Westgate opened two windows — instead of one as in past years — specifically for prop wagering and about 30 bettors were lined up at any point throughout the first two hours. The limit was set at $2,000 per wager. There were several well-known Las Vegas pros in that line, but there also were Average Joes who would not be classified as razor sharp.
“All of the guys waiting in line are not betting $2,000 a pop. Some are betting $50,” Kornegay said.
The New England Patriots are 2½-point favorites over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl 53, but the line was a boring footnote on this night, more than a week before the Feb. 3 kickoff. The props, which Kornegay said account for around 55 percent of the Westgate’s handle on the game, are a major part of the biggest betting event of the year.
The first limit bets were on Brady going over 25½ completions and over 282½ passing yards. (A year ago, in the Patriots’ 41-33 loss to Philadelphia, Brady completed 28 of 48 passes for 505 yards.)
“There were some sharp guys making anti-Rams bets, which I thought was interesting,” Westgate sports book director John Murray said.
Those bets, at these opening prices, included:
* Total number of different Rams to have a rushing attempt: Under 5 (-110)
* Total number of different Rams to have a pass reception: Under 6½ (plus-120)
* Total number of different Rams to score: Under 3½ (plus-170)
* Will Jared Goff throw a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter? No (-120)
Also, Rams running back Todd Gurley opened at 68½ total rushing yards and his prop number was immediately bet to 60½. Gurley, who has been slowed by a knee injury, got only 10 yards on four carries in the NFC championship, while C.J. Anderson had 16 carries for 44 yards.
“I think the hardest props to make were on Anderson and Gurley,” Murray said.
Professional bettor Rufus Peabody showed off the type of meticulous preparation that Bill Belichick would admire. Peabody carried a homemade book of props with his own numbers and was set to fire on differences he had with the Westgate lines.
“A lot of people make their own numbers and compare,” Kornegay said.
A lot of bettors also compare the Westgate numbers with what is posted at other books such as MGM Resorts, South Point and William Hill. For the pros, there is a science to prop betting.
Kornegay, Murray and the Westgate oddsmaking team have made props an expanding art form that captures attention from the national media. One of the most frequent questions: How many props are posted?
“It depends on how you define props,” Murray said.
The Westgate posted 442 two-way props. That’s one answer.
But an index prop — Player to be named MVP, for example — counts as one prop but offers 25 different betting options. So, index props included, there are more than 1,000 betting options.