2023 Super Bowl Coin Toss Odds: Is There a Bet on Heads or Tails?
Getty Images: Pictured: Commemorative coin from Super Bowl I.
- Is there an edge on the Super Bowl coin toss? Anthony Dabbundo did a deep dive.
- Books are offering similar odds, but some are at +100 as a true coin flip. (See what I did there?)
- Dabbundo breaks down Super Bowl coin toss odds and whether there's a bet to make.
Update: It was tails.
In the true spirit of American sports betting degeneracy, the coin toss is one of the most popular bets at U.S. sportsbooks ahead of Super Bowl 57 between the Eagles and Chiefs.
There’s nothing bettors love more than the instant thrill and early event action. It’s why “No Runs First Inning,” “First Touchdown Scorer” and “First Basket Scorer” props have become such favorites at legal sportsbooks in baseball, football and basketball.
The beauty of the Super Bowl coin toss market is there’s no handicapping edge. No model to project. No past history — that’s relevant — to sift through. My colleague Darren Rovell wrote the history of how betting the coin flip came to be. But on Sunday, it’s a simple proposition and the most bare bones form of gambling usually only found on roulette tables.
Let’s be honest though —the main reason everyone bets the coin flip is you don’t have to wait until the game even starts to know if you’re a winner or a loser. You don’t need a stopwatch on your phone open to figure out how long Chris Stapleton holds the final note on the word “brave” for the anthem. No waiting around until halftime to figure out Rihanna’s first song or nervously sweating the color of the gatorade the winning team dumps on their head coach.
The coin toss can truly set the tone for a long night of novelty props, in-game props and straight moneyline bets. Start 1-0, you may never lose again. At 0-1, it could be a long evening at the Super Bowl watch party.
If you’re going to bet the coin toss because the thousands of other prop bets aren’t enough for you, there are smart ways to do it. Here are some things to know about betting the Super Bowl coin toss.
The public thinks tails will not fail
You’d expect there to be true two-way action on the coin toss so the sportsbooks could collect thousands of -EV bets and take their annual coin toss profit, but that is not the case as of now. BetMGM stated tails is one of the most popular bets they’ve received of the thousands of offered bets.
This is kinda funny from @BetMGM re: Super Bowl prop bets. While the game's coin toss is literally a 50-50 proposition, 56% of tickets and 59% of the money is on tails. I can only assume this is because tails never fails. pic.twitter.com/lNfZEgbXdk
— Geoff Zochodne (@GeoffZochodne) January 31, 2023
There may be one reason tails is getting a bit more of the action …
Is the coin really 50-50?
There have been some theories that claim the coin used for the Super Bowl isn’t truly 50-50. People claim that the coin is a commemorative coin, thus the heavier side will be the heads side. Physically, that would mean tails is actually more likely to be the side landed on. These conspiracy theorists have claimed that the true odds for the coin is closer to 53% for tails.
The Athletic actually did a test case on this last year ahead of the Super Bowl and bought three of the exact replica coins and flipped them 1,751 times. They had 882 tails, which was 50.4% of the time. The sample isn’t large enough to draw any meaningful conclusions and any statistician would tell you 50.4% is well within the reasonable realm of sampling variance.
If you’re willing to bet into this conspiracy theory that the weight of the coin is off, be my guest. Given the sample size is only one coin flip per year, there’s a 50% chance you’ll be able to parade around your Super Bowl watch party as the genius who beat a coin flip market.
Shop Around for the Best Line
One of the more common terms you’ll hear in sports betting is the term vig, also known as juice. The term is short for vigorish, which is the price the book takes off the top of most sports bets.
Most commonly, you’ll see -110 in American odds. That implies a win probability of 52.38%. When we talk about the term “value” in sports betting, we’re discussing expected value. In order to bet something at -110, you have to think your wager will win more than 52.38% of the time for it to be +EV, or positive expected value.
Different books have graciously lowered the vig for the coin toss bets.
You want to pay the least vig possible, given we know the true odds for the coin toss is +100.
bet365 and DraftKings is offering +100 and that makes your bet a true coin flip with no house edge on either side. That’s the best way to play, if you absolutely must have action on it.
But there’s no shame in a little -EV gambling. Betting at any of the above listed sportsbooks is actually a better bet mathematically than going to a casino and placing your money on red or black at the roulette table. In fact, a normal roulette table takes a larger vig than even the -110 markets.
So when your friend asks why you’re betting on the coin toss, now you can turn the tables on them and explain the bet you made is actually less bad than their last trip to the roulette tables.
There Are More Markets Than Just Heads & Tails
We know the Chiefs will have the decision as the visiting team to choose heads or tails. You can bet whether the Chiefs or Eagles will win the toss at all of these same sportsbooks at the same odds mentioned above on both sides. You’re able to bet whether the team that wins the toss will receive the ball first or defer to the second half.
Another option is to open up a parlay on whether the team that wins the toss will also win the Super Bowl. Kansas City is +300 at DraftKings to win the toss and the Super Bowl, while the Eagles sit at +250 to do both. The Eagles deferred every coin toss they won this year, while the Chiefs deferred on eight of their 10 coin toss wins.
Be careful though, because while there may be no vig in the DraftKings market at +100 on the toss itself, introducing the parlay element does add to the house edge on these bets.
You’ll read about how heads has won four of the last five coin flips. That’s true. But it’s false that tails is ‘due.’
You may even see a stat that the winner of the coin toss has lost eight consecutive Super Bowls. That is also true.
Winning the coin toss usually gives you second-half possession and the chance of the double score, but this also doesn’t matter.
Patrick Mahomes, Jalen Hurts and these two elite teams may be playing for a championship on Sunday. But for a fleeting moment in American sports history, all eyes and ears must first go to the man of the moment — head referee Carl Cheffers.
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