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Las Vegas bookmakers opened betting odds on the Super Bowl with New England Patriots favored by 3 ½ points.  Bettors immediately grabbed the New York Giants +3 ½ points in sufficient numbers to force the bookmakers to lower the Super Bowl betting line to attract action on New England.

Bookmakers don’t want to gamble.  They want to get an even amount bet on each side of the game.  When the betting is split equally, the winners pay the losers and the bookmaker collects his 4.5% commission no matter which side is victorious.  When betting is heavily weighted to one side, the bookmakers adjust their line to discourage betting on the previously popular side, and to attract bets on the less popular side.

The 2012 Super Bowl line has now moved down from New England –3 ½  to New England –3 in some places, and New England –2 ½ in others.  A final result in which the favorite in the NFL wins by exactly 3 points is the most frequent result in football, occurring in about 1 of every 10 NFL games. 

The strategy of many professional bettors is to bet the Giants +3 ½ points and then bet the Patriots at –2 ½.  If New England wins by exactly 3 points, the bettors will collect on both bets for a $200 win.  If anything else happens, one bet will pay the other and the bettor will only lose the $9 on every $200 that he must pay the bookmaker.  The professional can expect to win 22-1 once in every 10 games.  That’s a great way to make a living if you can find enough such bets.  

If you want to take advantage of the situation, and you missed the +3 ½ early on the Giants, you may get another chance just before the game.  The public tends to bet on game day, and they tend to bet the favorite.  Assuming the public follows their usual pattern, the bookmakers may need to move their line back up to 3 or 3 ½ as game time approaches. 

The strategy is to bet the Patriots –2.5 now and the Giants +3 or +3 ½ later.   At the Giants +3, if the game ends on 3, the Giants bet will tie, and the New England bet will win $100 for a risk of $9.  At the Giants +3 ½ the bettor will win both sides and collect $200 as already discussed.   

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