Weirdest Super Bowl betting phenomenon: The popularity of the coin toss bet

Frank Schwab
·3-min read

For two weeks, serious and even semi-serious bettors will pore over stats, trends and history to find some edges for Super Bowl bets.

At least there’s not much handicapping involved in one of the most popular bets: the coin toss.

There have been 268 NFL games played this season, including playoffs, and you likely haven’t paid attention to the coin toss in any of them. Most NFL broadcasts begin with one team lining up for the kickoff. The announcer usually informs viewers who won the toss and if they chose to receive or defer. No big deal.

But then the Super Bowl comes around, and the coin toss is an event. And bettors being bettors, they want to get action on it.

Which side are bettors taking for Super Bowl coin toss?

The Super Bowl coin toss props are already up at BetMGM. Heads and tails have the same odds, at -105. Go figure.

Even though it’s by definition a 50-50 proposition and there’s no real edge to be had, bettors typically favor the same side every year.

“The coin toss is a very popular Super Bowl prop bet,” BetMGM sports trader Darren Darby said. “Customers love early action and the coin toss gives them a chance to win before the game even starts. Tails is often the most popular side of this prop, as the old saying goes, ‘tails never fails.’”

It’s no surprise then that tails is the leader in the early betting for Super Bowl LV. BetMGM said 51.9% of bets and 52.8% of the money is on tails for the coin toss. Tails has come up 29 times in the Super Bowl coin toss, with 25 times for heads.

Bettors can also bet on if heads or tails will be the call by the assigned captain (77.8% of bets are on heads) and if the team that wins will defer or receive. Coin toss prop bets have been approved at BetMGM books in Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and West Virginia while regulators in Colorado, Iowa and Virginia have not approved them.

The strangest betting pattern on the coin toss so far is that 59.9% of the money on which team will win the coin toss is on the Kansas City Chiefs. Bettors must have a hunch that the Chiefs are the luckier team than the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Referee John Parry and players watch the coin toss before Super Bowl LIII. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Referee John Parry and players watch the coin toss before Super Bowl LIII. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

The history of odd Super Bowl props

Super Bowl props take over sports betting talk for two weeks. With just one game and two weeks to talk about it, bettors need more action than just the point spread.

That’s how props came to be. When the Chicago Bears played the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX 35 years ago, a blowout was expected. William “The Refrigerator” Perry was a sensation, so to get a little extra action on the game, books posted odds on whether Perry would score a touchdown. He did, and a craze started.

There are already several props at BetMGM, on individual players’ yardage total, who will win Super Bowl MVP and who will score the first touchdown for each team. There will be several more added, including some that you’d never see on any other NFL game.

The Super Bowl is different in the betting world. You’ll know that when everyone is huddled around the TV, sweating the result of a coin being flipped.

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