The long wait for Super Bowl 2021 is nearly over. We are now just two days away from kickoff. On Thursday, we saw the largest wager placed on the game, with Houston furniture store owner Jim McIngvale risking $3.46 million on the Bucs spread. “Mattress Mack,” best known for wagering $11 million on the 2019 Astros-Nationals World Series to help fund a store promotion, must know the importance of key numbers as he paid -127 vigorish to ensure that he got Tampa Bay plus “the hook” (+3.5). He would profit $2.72 million if the Bucs were to cover.
In a statement, McIngvale explained his decision by saying the following: “Tampa Bay is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball and led by the greatest football player of all time in Tom Brady, so I’m betting big on the Bucs who have overcome tough matchups throughout the postseason.”
McIngvale’s decision to pay the extra juice in order to get the hook is important. We all know that 3 is the most important key number in football. So if the Bucs end up losing by 3, which is the most common margin of victory, you want to be able to cash with the extra half point. However, the Bucs +3.5 is no longer available across the market as we’ve seen the line fall down to 3. Most books are juicing the Chiefs -3 up to -115 but seem unwilling to actually move to 3.5. So what does this mean? If you like the Bucs you might as well wait and see if it goes to 3.5 between now and kickoff. If it doesn’t, you could do what McIngvale did and buy the extra half point in order to get the hook.
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Buying points is age-old debate among sports bettors. Recreational bettors love buying points because they feel safer and more secure knowing they are getting a better number and, therefore, have a greater shot at covering. However, buying points is typically frowned upon by experienced bettors. If you are constantly buying points, it means you are paying expensive prices that will eat away at your winnings.
Buying an extra half point may save you every once in a while, but over the long haul it won’t make as big of a difference as you think. One of the only scenarios where buying points can really be “worth it” is around key numbers, like in this case by taking the Bucs up to +3.5. In this situation, it’s also much more palatable due to the current juice price. The Chiefs are -3 (-115) at most books with the Bucs + 3 (-105). So buying an extra half point when you’re starting at -105 (or even + 100 at some shops) makes it a little easier. If the Bucs were even + 3 (-110), buying that extra half point could take you to -135 juice or more. At that point, it becomes highly unattractive. If you can buy the extra half point and keep it under -130 (or ideally -120 or less), that’s an easier pill to swallow.