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View Full Version : Super Bowl wagering has made for some hilarious stories


mesaSteeler
01-30-2011, 07:45 PM
Super Bowl wagering has made for some hilarious stories
Published: Sunday, January 30, 2011, 5:34 AM Updated: Sunday, January 30, 2011, 10:14 AM
Peter Finney, Times-Picayune By Peter Finney, Times-Picayune
http://www.nola.com/superbowl/index.ssf/2011/01/super_bowl_wagering_has_made_f.html

Respected for his assessment of Morning Lines, one could detect a smile in the voice of Lem Banker coming out of Las Vegas.

Ben Roethlisberger was said to give the Pittsburgh Steelers the edge because he's already quarterbacked two Super Bowl winners.

"I like Pittsburgh and the points,'' said the astute handicapper. "In fact, I like the Steelers to win straight up. You're welcome to do the same.''

So next Sunday's Pittsburgh-Green Bay game is on, Super Bowl XLV, the biggest one-day sports betting event in Las Vegas.

It kicked off when the sportsbook at the Las Vegas Hilton made the Packers an early two-point favorite and quickly moved the line to 2 points as money showed on Green Bay.

Meanwhile, the Las Vegas Sports Consultants, a firm providing betting lines to most casinos in Vegas, made the Packers a 1 1/2-point favorite as a way to encourage action on both teams. And some in the firm felt that was too high.

From one side, Ben Roethlisberger was said to give Pittsburgh the edge because he's already quarterbacked two Super Bowl winners.

From the other, it was said Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers is going to spread out the Steelers' defense, and that's not how they like to play defense.

Why does Banker favor the Steelers?

"I think the quarterbacks are dead even," he said. "I like Pittsburgh because of their running backs. I remember what the great Jim Brown once said, that the mark of a great running back comes down to one thing, the ability to break tackles. The Steelers have more than a slight edge in that department. Especially with that guy (Rashard) Mendenhall.''

This will be the first Super Bowl since 1982 (San Francisco beat Cincinnati as a one-point favorite) when the betting line was less than a field goal.

Underdogs have won with the points in the past three Super Bowls, winning two of the three outright.

When the Saints beat the Colts 31-17 last year as a five-point underdog, the betting handle in Nevada was $82.7 million, and sportsbooks came away with a profit of $6.8 million.

The guess is, when it comes to Super Bowls, some $7 billion will be bet illegally worldwide.

Banker said it's a time when "football handicapping nuts get nuttier.''

"There was this guy who got so much into it during Super Bowl week,'' he said, "it was like his wife didn't exist. Well, to get his attention, his wife goes out and has a negligee made of AstroTurf, if you can picture that. She puts it on and waits for his reaction. 'Nice try, honey,' the husband says. Then he's right back to handicapping.''

Before there was a Super Bowl, Banker recalled the famous 1958 championship game between the Baltimore Colts and New York Giants in Yankee Stadium.

"There was this friend of mine, a Giants fanatic named Harvey,'' he said. "They still call it the greatest game ever. It came at a time Harvey owed his bookmaker a bundle. The Colts and Johnny Unitas were a 3-point favorite. Harvey shopped around until he got the Giants and four. When he did, he bet with both hands.''

It turns out, Harvey couldn't make it to Yankee Stadium that day. He was at the cemetery, at the funeral of his uncle Nicholas, holding a transistor radio to his ear.

"When the game went into overtime,'' said Banker, "Harvey felt four points was a lock. He felt, if the Colts were going to win, they'd win by a field goal. Unitas drives the Colts down the field, inside the 5, and Harvey is waiting for a field goal. He's still waiting. Just as they were lowering his uncle into the ground, Unitas is handing the ball to Alan Ameche. Ameche scores. The Colts win by six. At which point, Harvey breaks the graveyard silence with a loud scream. 'Oh, no,' he shouts. His uncle's wife turns to Harvey and says: 'Harvey, I didn't know you and Nicholas were that close.'"

Banker feels his friend would have avoided a family embarrassment had he made the right decision.

"Harvey should have gone to Yankee Stadium and had someone tape the funeral,'' he said. "Uncle Nicholas would have understood.''