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Coldplay Causes Headaches for Books

Coldplay Super Bowl

Super Bowl 50 was a success for the sportsbooks by most accounts. There was big handle and at least a small profit for the House.

But there was one prop that went, um, slightly out of tune.

“Coldplay’s first song was a bit of a mess,” said Dave Mason, the point man at BetOnline. “Was kind of unclear whether Yellow or Viva La Vida was technically the first song.”

Sound silly? I had to re-watch the video three times on YouTube to make out what lead singer Chris Martin had sung in his first couple of lines. And I still wasn’t totally sure which song should win.

Here, check out the vid for yourself: Super Bowl Halftime show video.

Martin sings the first line of “Yellow” twice in the opening: “Look at the stars, look how they shine for you” in a melody that isn’t perfectly in tune with the CD version. And then the band jumps right into Viva La Vida in a way that’s rather seamless.

So I don’t know. The answer to the “first song” prop isn’t quite as black and white as you’d think it oughta be. It’s more, well, Yellow.

“After reviewing the tapes a few times, we decided to take that one on the chin and pay out both sides as winners,” said Mason.

Both songs opened in the 4-1 range at several books and it’s one of the more talked about wagers in the pre-Super Bowl hype storm.

Pinnacle Sports told me some of their users had a little difficulty with this prop also. In the end, they went with ‘Yellow’ and it was their wording that helped them.

Pinnacle asked their users: “Will Coldplay open the Halftime show with Yellow?”

‘Yes’ paid 2.810 and ‘No’ paid 1.446.

When you put it that way, technically Coldplay did open with Yellow even though the group abandoned it faster than Cam Newton can split from a post Super Bowl interview.

Ultimately, it’s the way a sportsbook words its prop bets that can save its bacon. Which is why the national anthem over/under prop didn’t cause the amount of controversy it could have this year. After the Christina Aguilera debacle of 2011, books are more precise with the way they set the time prop on the Star Bangled Banner.

That year, the pop sensation missed some lyrics and the number ended up going under when it might have gone over if she’d sung it properly. Since then, most books choose their words with more precision on the anthem prop.

Super Bowl 50 offered a difference in the odds that we haven’t seen before. You could have picked up the over or under on Lady Gaga’s version at anywhere between 2 mins and 13 seconds to 2 mins and 20 seconds.

But Lady Gaga sang the word “brave” twice at the end of the Star-Spangled Banner, which would have easily timed her over.

“Anthem, we had a rule that clearly stated until “brave” is said for the first time so we graded under 2:20 with a time of 2:09,” said Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager with Bovada.

Other books like BetOnline graded the Anthem ‘over’.

“National Anthem wasn’t an issue for us due to our wording,” said Mason. “We worded it ‘until the end of the last note’. So although GaGa went out of the box and said ‘brave’ twice, we were safe from controversy due to our fine print wording.”

I have a feeling we’ll also see more fine print wording next year for the first song on the halftime show.

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