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Patriots coin toss history has bettors wagering heavily on heads

The Patriots have been regularly calling heads for some time now, and the betting public will take every edge they can find.

AFC Championship - New England Patriots v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Super Bowl 53 between the Patriots and Rams kicks off in a little over 48 hours, and gambling on prop bets is picking up momentum. People will bet on the action that will take place from kickoff to the final whistle, and prop bets are one reason the game is the most heavily bet event of the year. We’ll see plenty of prop bets on in-game action, but the Super Bowl brings with it numerous off-beat prop bets to keep you entertained.

One of the most popular prop bets each year is the coin toss. A coin toss is generally viewed as a 50/50 proposition, and that might be why people decide to bet on it. It’s hard to get anything close to 50/50 odds in gambling, so why not take your best bet there? There is actually some strategy to be found from a mathematical analysis of coin tosses, but for purposes of the Super Bowl, it’s effectively 50/50.

With the game just around the corner, heads is currently getting the heaviest action across sportsbooks. At BetOnline and Bovada, 57 percent of money wagered is on heads. At BetDSI, 68 percent is on heads. At William Hill, heads has the third most number of bets placed (tails is eighth).

Why all the heads wagering? Sports bettors are regularly looking for an edge, and they think they have spotted one for Sunday’s game. The Patriots are the road team (AFC is road team in odd years, NFC in even years), and thus get to call heads or tails. For the Patriots, that means we can expect them to take heads.

This is not a 100 percent guarantee, but special teams captain Matthew Slater regularly picks heads when he has the call before a game (or overtime). He made that call at the start of overtime in Super Bowl 51 and again at the start of overtime in the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago. The Patriots won the coin toss and the game in both instances.

Slater has discussed this proclivity, and he said it came from watching his father, Hall of Fame offensive tackle Jackie Slater, regularly call heads during his time with the Rams. Matt asked him why and his dad said, “You know, God’s the head of my life, so I call heads.” That’s stuck with Matt and so he calls heads.

People are likely betting heads because they have a good sense of which side the Patriots will pick, and they are betting more on the Patriots winning than anything. However, statistically, the Patriots choosing heads or tails should have no impact on the outcome of the coin toss. Whether the Patriots choose heads or tails does not change the fact that it is a 50/50 proposition. But gamblers perceive any information as an edge, even if it really isn’t.

The coin toss came up heads last year, but prior to that there were some sizable runs for each side of the coin. The pre-game coin toss came up tails for Super Bowls 48-51, and heads for Super Bowls 43-47. You might think that means heads will go on a run, but don’t let any of this fool you into thinking the odds are anything other than 50/50. It is similar to people telling themselves red or black will turn up on the roulette wheel because of a recent run for that color.

Your best strategy for deciding on which side of the coin to bet on for Super Bowl 53? Flip a coin.