Top Prop/Novelty Bets of 2013

The Royal Baby Frenzy

birth-of-royal-baby-sparks-betting-frenzyIf you could describe the hysteria surrounding the birth of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s child, it was like a promotional maelstrom like no other. It figures that with anything related to England’s Royal Famly, people will be interested. but the level of attention surrounding the child was unlike any other, culminating in massive betting on the baby’s gender before the royal couple made the announcement.

Odds were even on both sides because the likelihood of the Duchess giving birth to anything other than a boy or girl was remote. So when the announcement was made that Wills and Kate were having a boy, mass exultation soon followed.

And just as the hysteria was leveling off quite a bit, sports books found a new prop bet to offer to the public, one that generated even more attention from people all over the world.

George of Cambridge

prince-william-dutchess-of-cambridgeWhen it was already determined that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were having a boy, prop bets on the lad’s name went into overdrive. A bunch of names were thrown into the pile, ranging from favorites George (3/1), James (5/1), Alexander (9/1), and Louis (12/1). Even long odds like Philip (20/1), Edward (25/1), Francis (28/1), and David (33/1).

Eventually, the royal couple announced that they chose George as the first name, resulting in sizable wins for sports books all over the world.

The New Pope

paddy-power-go-papal-pottyPope Benedict XVI’s unexpected resignation back in March threw the Catholic Church upside down. It also sent sports books into a tizzy with prop bets on who was going to be the next leader of Catholics all over the world. Despite not knowing pretty much all of the candidates to be the next pope, bettors still flocked to shops (and online) to wager on a name. Favorites included cardinals Marc Ouellet (7/2), Francis Arinze (4/1), Peter Turkson (4/1), and Leonardo Sandri (7/1).

In the end, though, it was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina who was chosen the next pope and those who backed him early cashed in handsomely on those initial 40/1 odds.

SuperBowl Tizzy

superbowl-xlviiEvery year, you can bet that sports books will have a field day taking in Super Bowl prop bets. Back in February, it was no different when the Baltimore Ravens faced the San Francisco 49ers. The game itself had numerous subplots, generating a cavalcade of prop bets that bettors put a lot of money on. Among the more popular ones included Ray Lewis’ mention of God/Lord in post game interviews (Over/Under 3), the duration of the post-game handshake between brothers Jim and John Harbaugh, the respective coaches of the Niners and the Ravens (Over/Under 7.5 seconds), and whether Alicia Keys was going to be booed during her rendition of the National Anthem (‘Yes’ was the only option at 6/1).

As we all know by now, the game lived up to the hype and had its own share of dramatic episodes, including the blackout, Beyonce’s TV-burning halftime performance, and the game itself, won by the Ravens on a last play goal-line stand that denied San Francisco one of the most extraordinary comebacks in recent SuperBowl history.

Nobel Peace Prize for Literature

murakami-nobel-prizeBack in September, we ran a story on the apparent surge in popularity of high-brow bets in the UK, something that manifested itself with the enormous interest surrounding the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature. Japanese writer Haruki Murakami was the odds-on favorite to snag the award, ahead of luminaries like American author Joyce Carol Oates (6/1), Hungarian writer Peter Nadas (7/1), South Korean poet Ko Un (10/1), and Canadian writer Alice Munro (12/1).

Just like the papal prop bets, a longshot took the honors, with Canada’s Munro upsetting the favorites on her way to winning one of the most prestigious individual awards in the world, and more importantly, helping her backers cash in on those juicy 12/1 odds.