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Sports Book Fails To Adjust Odds For Super Bowl Coin Flip

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

A coin toss is a 50-50 proposition, unless you're talking about the New England Patriots.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

We should explain. When it comes to the Super Bowl, you can bet on just about anything - who'll win, how many points will both teams score.

MCEVERS: But you could also throw money on silly stuff, like how long will the national anthem last? What color Gatorade will get dumped on the winning coach after the game ends?

SIEGEL: And, yes, the coin toss that decides who gets the ball first. You can bet, not only on who will win the toss, but which side of the coin the team will call.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CARL CHEFFERS: New England is the visiting team. Captain, what is your choice?

MATTHEW SLATER: Heads.

CHEFFERS: They have chosen have heads. President Bush, would you please toss the coin?

MCEVERS: As you just heard last night, the Patriots called heads.

SIEGEL: Now, the Patriots like calling heads. In fact, they have called heads at all of their coin tosses in the last two years.

MCEVERS: Sportsbooks know these things and most adjusted their odds accordingly before the Super Bowl. But one sportsbook didn't know about the Patriots' heads habit.

SIEGEL: Bookmaker.eu, based in Costa Rica, posted even odds on the Patriots coin toss for about 48 hours last week. That was more than enough time for professional gamblers to notice and to bet heavily on heads.

MCEVERS: Scott Cooley is a representative for Bookmaker. He says they took the bet off the board as soon as they realized what was going on. They eventually reposted it at more favorable odds, but the damage was done. All that was left was to wait for the inevitable.

SCOTT COOLEY: We were sitting around watching the coin toss hoping they might divert from the norm and call tails, but, alas, it did not happen.

MCEVERS: Cooley says the mistake cost Bookmaker somewhere in the low five figures, but they're taking it all in stride.

COOLEY: We're odd makers. That's our business. But we're human. We make mistakes. And, you know, when there's people to capitalize on it, you just take your lumps and go.

SIEGEL: The Pats are already favorites to make it to next year's Super Bowl. And if that happens, our advice is to bet heads.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HEADS YOU WIN - TAILS I LOSE")

THE BEACH BOYS: (Singing) I'll load my dice and stack the deck and fix the odds again. So if you want to flip to see who's right, I know I'll win. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.