AP Senior Sports Writer
POSTED: 2:32 p.m. HST, Jan 20, 2014
LAS VEGAS >> Oddsmakers had trouble picking the favorite in what figures to be one of the most evenly matched -- and heavily bet -- Super Bowls ever.
Bettors knew who they wanted, though, putting early money on Denver and making the Broncos a slight favorite to beat the Seattle Seahawks in most of this city's legal betting parlors.
Denver was favored by 1 point at several books in the early betting, while others had the Broncos as high as a 3-point pick. The move to the Broncos came after some books had initially made the Seahawks as much as a 2-point pick in the game.
"We're just trying to figure out what the market will be and get a feel of where money will go," said Jay Kornegay, who runs the LVH sports book and initially had the Seahawks favored. "At this point it doesn't take a lot to move the line."
At the South Point sports book, Jimmy Vaccaro was on the phone talking about where he thought the line was going to go when a bettor came to the window and put $25,000 on the Broncos. That moved the game from pick 'em to the Broncos being favored by 1 point, as the odds were adjusted to take in the bet.
"Take your best shot," Vaccaro said. "It's an intriguing matchup with no clear cut favorite."
Time was just running out in Seattle's win over the San Francisco 49ers when the first odds for the Super Bowl were posted at most books. Bettors quickly reacted by putting most of the early money on the Broncos in an initial burst of enthusiasm for a game so even that some think it will break the record of $98.9 million bet in Nevada's legal sports books last year.
"It's incredible already, they're lined up betting this game like it started a half hour from now," Vaccaro said. "If we don't do $100 million on this game I'd be really puzzled."
Kornegay said he made the Seahawks a 2-point favorite in his opening line because the Seahawks have a slightly higher power rating than the Broncos and a defense that might be the key in a game played outdoors in what could be cold temperatures.
"With the game being in New York and the early forecast for below normal temperatures that favors a defensive team," he said. "It also favors a running team and that's certainly an advantage to the Seahawks."
Bettors, though, liked Peyton Manning and his chances of winning another Super Bowl, and they didn't wait long to bet the Broncos. Sports books adjust the line to try to balance money on each team, and the LVH went from posting Seattle as a 2-point favorite to Denver being favored by 1 point in less than an hour.
Most big bettors -- the so-called "sharps" who can move a line all by themselves -- wait until much closer to the game before placing their bets.
"It's all small stuff now," Vaccaro said. "The smart guys are not going to grab either side right now until they see how this shakes out."