One of the more unique offerings during the busy Super Bowl prop season is the cross-sport prop. It allows the bettor to use their knowledge of another sport and tie it into the big game. Since the other major sports are wise enough not to schedule a game that conflicts with America’s most-watched sporting event, it also extends your betting experience to be an all-day or all-weekend affair. You can have a sweat on a Saturday night prop that is matched against something in the Super Bowl the next day.
Many sharp bettors avoid cross-sport Super Bowl props because they appear to be twice the work. My business partner, Rufus, has gone on record that he avoids cross-sport Super Bowl props. Maybe that’s enough incentive for you to go looking in a market that Rufus hasn’t influenced. I’m going to cover some basic strategies that could trim down the effort and help you gain an edge in these often overlooked prop markets.
Finding The Cross-Sport Super Bowl Props
Your first hurdle to overcome is to find these bets. Typically they are some of the last props to be released and they typically hang out toward the end of the prop packet. Most bettors exhaust their bankroll or their mental capacity by the time they make it to the cross-sport props section.
If you’re checking out the props available at the venerable Superbook, you’ll find cross-sport props begin on page 19. Here’s the Superbook props packet if you haven’t already seen it.
Cross-sport props are also typically unique. They’re only offered at a single sportsbook brand. Once you find them, it’s a good idea to attempt to organize them. I try to jot them down in a spreadsheet. Column A is one side of the prop, Column B is the other side. Column C is the sportsbook.
Identifying Your Approach In Cross-Sport Super Bowl Props
First, the easiest way to attack cross-sport Super Bowl props is to see if they pass the sniff test. Go ahead and spend 15 seconds reading each prop and checking for errant lines. There’s a lot of surface area that the bookmaker has to cover and mistakes can be made. It’s up to you whether you want to risk playing a line you know to be bad. Sometimes that can kill an account. Other times it’s a bet best played anonymously.
Man vs. Team
One of the best methods for finding value in cross-sport Super Bowl props is to identify which ones create a man vs. team scenario. For instance:
Points scored by Lebron James -3.5 -110 vs.
Total points scored by the Eagles +3.5 -110
Legendary prop bettor, Frank B, turned me onto this approach. The theory here is that when there’s just one man on one side of a prop there is far more fragility to the outcome. The player could get injured, the player could have a bad game, the player could get in foul trouble, etc. However, on the other side, the entire team has far less fragility. The entire team won’t get injured or be on the bench for some other reason.
In situations like this, you look to find value in betting Under on the Man, and Over on the Team. This doesn’t mean you can automatically blindly bet the Team to win all these matchups, but it gives you a good disposition to take when analyzing the matchup. Of course, there are also plenty of Man vs. Man and Team vs. Team matchups that can occur in cross-sport props. This method wouldn’t work as well then.
Identifying Poisson Props
In his landmark book, Sharp Sports Betting, Stanford Wong had a chapter on “Poisson props.” These are props where a Poisson distribution can be applied to a prop to determine the probability of an outcome occurring. Bettors have used Poisson distributions to attack props for decades since Wong’s book came out.
A prop is ideal for a Poisson analysis if it increments by one and doesn’t occur in bunches. For instance, field goals made by a team or pass completions by a quarterback. Similarly, in cross-sport Super Bowl props we can look for situations where both sides of the wager can have a Poisson distribution applied to them and see how they compare to each other. This is technically a Skellam distribution and if you’re queasy with Excel, you probably want to Google to find a calculator to do this for you. Personally, I still rely on a calculator spreadsheet Wong gave out on his site in 2001. Sometimes being a virtual packrat pays off.
Here’s an example of a wager where you could compare two Poisson distributions. 76ers 3-point field goals made in their game against Brooklyn vs. Jalen Hurts completions in the Super Bowl. In a simple analysis you could take the season 3PM/G number for the 76ers and compare it to a sharp projection for completions for Hurts.
76ers 12.8 3PM/G Hurts 21.2 Completions
Doing a two variable analysis results in Hurts -7.5 being a 55.9% probability. Of course, there’s likely more projection tweaking that could be done. Also don’t forget to factor in the fragility of choosing a single man in a matchup versus an entire team. I’ll make Wong’s simple spreadsheet available as a pinned message in the #props channel of the Unabated Discord.
Building A Middle Or Hedge With Cross-Sport Super Bowl Props
The last possible way I’ll explore in attacking cross-sport props is to target situations where you leave yourself room to complicate your position. As I mentioned earlier, the sports world reveres the Super Bowl. They don’t dare schedule games against it. In fact, other leagues have a diminished schedule on Super Bowl Sunday. As a result, most cross-sport props are against games that take place on Saturday of Super Bowl weekend.
This allows you plenty of time to complicate your wager after you know the end result of half of it. I chose my words carefully. I’m not a fan of hedging for hedging’s sake. Often when you hedge you are pairing a positive-EV wager with a negative one. You complicate your wager unnecessarily. However, that also doesn’t mean it isn’t sometimes a good approach. Rufus discussed optimal hedging for us last year.
Since the NFL side of the cross-sport Super Bowl prop often exists elsewhere on the prop betting board you can choose to shoot for a middle or hedge your position. You may even want to lock in a negative-EV outcome and take a loss if you’re looking particularly bad. At least you have that option frequently when the two sides of the wagers are decided hours apart.
Using a tool like the Unabated Player Props Simulator could be a big help in determining the value of a middle attempt or the probability you face when trying to hedge out your bet. If you play cross-sport props on this game, keep it in mind.
Cross-sport Super Bowl props offer a lot of hidden value and flexibility. Put the time in to at least eyeball them and see if they pass a sniff test. Then decide if you want to take a deeper dive. You can look for Man vs. Team matchups, or look to apply a Poisson distribution. Either way, you always have the option to re-evaluate your position before the Super Bowl kicks off.
If you want to watch more discussion about cross-sport Super Bowl props, be sure to check out this livestream where we sat down with prop bettor extraordinaire, Frank B.
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