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Early Super Bowl 52 Bettors Are Chasing The Numbers In Las Vegas

Christian Pina (@christianpina) shook off the cobwebs early Monday morning after a night of WWE Royal Rumble betting with a group of buddies at a local Las Vegas bar. The alarm clock sounded early but he had a big day of work ahead of him. 

Pina was out the door before 7 a.m. and cruised off to his office, a smorgasbord of sportsbooks dotted all across town. And by the time he arrived back home after 4 p.m., he had visited the South Point, Red Rock, Westgate, Golden Nugget, Fiesta Rancho and a couple of others.

“Chasing lines and chasing numbers. Gotta go where the numbers take you,” says Pina. 

To NFL fans, the Monday before the Super Bowl is called “Opening Night.” But to those who make their living off the odds posted in Nevada casinos, this is typically the day when the full list of Super Bowl props are released around town. 

That means opportunity. 

He and other local pros aren’t just looking for prices they like or picks they’re fond of on the hundreds of prop bets available. They’re looking to influence the market. They want to start driving prices up on numbers they think the public will pile on later, then they’ll wait and come back on pumped-up offerings on the other side. 

“This week it’s all locals and pros, old-timers and pros. It’s a lot of dummy money,” says Pina.   

He’s been doing this for a couple of years since he moved to Las Vegas from the Boston area and it’s all part of the diligence that goes with the territory. He’s part of the scene of locals now who go number-hunting at times like these. It’s an assortment of souls ranging from the eager millennial crowd like Pina, who are looking to earn at doing something they love, to the grizzled faces that have been grinding it out here since Pina flipped on his first WrestleMania.   

The first 10 days or so after the NFL conference championships brings these guys out. The few days leading up to Super Bowl is like America got tipped on its side and most of the sports bettors from across the country shake out into Las Vegas in a tsunami that washes up in this desert betting mecca.  

This year, though, something else came flooding in early: Philadelphia Eagles money. 

“I’m just flabbergasted,” says Patrick Everson (@Covers_Vegas) about the waves of Philly love pouring across the counters. Everson is a longtime Las Vegas journalist who travels the books daily covering the Las Vegas sports betting scene for Covers.com. He’s seen a few of these games. 

“It feels like more people got engaged earlier on this game than (in past Super Bowls).” 

“It’s just crazy. And it’s everywhere,” says Everson. “The guys got hit for a million (on Philadelphia).” 

Everson heard from a few sportsbook employees around town this week who think this year’s Super Bowl handle (the total money taken in) will surpass last year’s record-setting number of $138.4 million. The early Eagles money has driven Philadelphia from +6.5 where it opened all the way down to +4 at some spots. 

That comes as a bit of a surprise to Pina. And Everson. And me. Maybe even more so with the moneyline. 

Everson said an MGM property saw a “2-plus million-dollar” bet on the Eagles. The South Point got slammed on Thursday, CG Technologies on Friday. 

It seems it’s not a matter of “if” but “who’s next” when it comes to getting pounded by Eagles cash to win this game straight up. 

“It’s just crazy. And it’s everywhere,” says Everson. “The guys got hit for a million (on Philadelphia).” 

With the line now down to as low as -170, I have to think we’ll see Patriots money start to come back as the kickoff gets closer. I mean, this is getting silly.

“I think it’s the sharper play here when you look at the return on investment. Some of these lines have moved 50, 60 cents,” says Everson. 

The moneyline opened at -220 or more at some shops and with it plummeting all the way down to -170, Pina points out that’s more reflective of a spread that’s closer to a field goal than one that opened at nearly a touchdown. 

“I’m happy to get a 50 percent ROI for four hours taking Belichick and Brady,” he says. 

We’ll see if the masses bite on the five-time Super Bowl champs once they descend on Sin City this weekend. That’s typically when things really start to get interesting. And if you are planning on going to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl, I’ve got some local advice for you. 

“Place your bets early. I once stood in line for two hours at the Westgate,” offers Kelly Stewart, who’s been living and betting in Las Vegas for years (@kellyinvegas). 

It’s good advice that I’ve seen so many people ignore, only to end up in lineups that last as long as it takes to play a Super Bowl half. Las Vegas really is a crazy scene like no other around Super Bowl time. 

How crazy? 

“I was hosting a party during the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl a few years ago,” says Stewart. “It was at a bar right on Las Vegas Boulevard. After the infamous Pete Carroll pass play, a 20-plus person fight broke out and poured into the street.” 

I was on the wrong side of that wager and in Las Vegas for that Super Bowl so I remember it vividly. There was crimson-faced anger, unbridled euphoria and literal tear-shed around the hotels after that one. A lot of tear-shed, actually.  

But I’d definitely recommend you hit up a hotel’s viewing event or party somewhere if you are going to Las Vegas this weekend. It may seem like a costly entry fee but they usually include food and booze and in the end it will probably cost you the same or less and will be more enjoyable. 

“Do not watch it at a sportsbook unless you plan ahead,” says Pina. “Otherwise you’re just going to end up walking around the whole time and you won’t get a seat. Just spend the money.” 

Somehow that never seems to be a problem in Las Vegas.

Follow me on Twitter @JonnyOddsShark