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What To Know About Betting the Super Bowl Coin Toss

January 29, 2021 12:16 AM

We have a loaded betting menu today with 35-plus college basketball games, 10 NBA games and 1 NHL game. For an updated breakdown of Friday's betting action, be sure to tune in to the VSiN Market Insights Podcast with Josh Appelbaum. It will be posted at noon ET. I'll also be joining the Lombardi Line with Michael Lombardi and Patrick Meagher at 1:45 p.m. ET to offer a market update.

Yesterday marked a "Christmas Day" of sorts for many recreational and professional bettors. We're talking about "Propapalooza" of course; the day when sportsbooks unveil their countless Super Bowl prop bet offerings to the betting public. The options are seemingly limitless and have grown in popularity with each passing year. In fact, the handle on Super Bowl prop bets has started to exceed the handle on the actual game in recent years.

Prop bets range from Super Bowl MVP and first touchdown scorer to "will there be a safety?" and "will the game go to overtime?" For all of the props, limits are typically set at $2,000 per bet and no parlays are allowed.

For the betting public, props are seen as "fun" bets which spice up the game and provide an added rooting interest outside of which team will win the game (or cover the spread). Everyone wants to get in on the action for the big game. Year in and year out, one of the most popular Super Bowl props is betting on the coin toss.

On the surface, the coin toss, known as a "novelty prop," seems harmless and fun. After all, there are only two options: it has to be either heads or tails. This means you have a 50/50 chance and if you get it right, you win your bet and have some extra cash in your pocket before the game even starts. But here's the catch: it's not exactly a 50/50 shot because sportsbooks force you to pay the juice on both sides of the bet. For example, most books will juice both heads and tails at -105 each. Why is this important? Because -105 odds translates to an implied probability of 51.2%. This means you would expect to win this bet slightly more than half the time over the long run. But in reality you will only win a coin flip 50% of the time. In order words, you are paying a higher price than the coin flip is worth and you are not getting any positive expected value (+ EV) long term. Simply put, the juice isn't worth the squeeze.

This is why sportsbooks love the coin toss prop. Theoretically, no matter the outcome, they rake in the juice on both sides and are guaranteed a profit (unless the action is lopsided and the popular side hits). For this season, the odds are stacked against the coin-flip bettor, which is why your best bet is to probably just lay off.

It's interesting to note that in the past 54 Super Bowls, the coin flip has landed on tails 29 times and heads 25 times. The mantra of "tails never fails" is once again the popular bet this year. At BetMGM, 51.9% of the tickets 52.8% of the handle is on tails.

If you enjoy going down conspiracy theory rabbit holes, earlier this week I received a direct message on Twitter that stated the following:

"My friend who is an engineer has told me for YEARS that a coin flip is closer to 53/47 for tails because the weight of the coin is NOT even. Especially if it's a commemorative coin like for the Super Bowl. The side that is heavier is always heads, therefore a tails bet is more than 50% likely to hit."

It could be completely bogus. Or maybe it has some merit. But whether you believe it or not, here's one thing we can all agree on when it comes to the coin toss: if you're going to bet it, make sure you shop around. Regardless of which side you prefer, make sure you find the lowest juice possible so you can maximize your payout.

For example, the South Point is offering both heads and tails at -102. This would save you 3-cents on either side compared to your standard -105 price.

The more you know.

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