LAS VEGAS - Call it the game within the game that is within The Game, and Jay Kornegay is the lead official.
More precisely, Kornegay, sports book director at the Imperial Palace, is the "King of Props." Most of this risk-taker's paradise may be consumed by whether the favored Ravens will cover a narrow point spread against the New York Giants in tonight's Super Bowl XXXV. But Kornegay has other issues, known as proposition bets - such as whether the Philadelphia 76ers' Allen Iverson will have more points, assists and rebounds today against the Indiana Pacers than Giants running back Tiki Barber will have receiving yards.
"You put together the lines on every other Sunday night game with the serious or professional player in mind," said Kornegay, a mainstay at the Imperial Palace since 1988. "But the Super Bowl is about the fan or casual player. That's who we try to appeal to with the props."
There are the meat-and-potato offerings: The Ravens remain "solid" three-point favorites, according to Kornegay, and wagers are written on whether more or less than a total 32 1/2 points will be scored. But for those who like their action more sweet than starchy, there's the chance of celebrating or cursing the outcome of every snap, every penalty, even the coin toss. (The Giants are favored to receive the opening kickoff.)
Kornegay estimates 60 percent of the Imperial Palace's Super Bowl handle is derived from its 139 proposition bets. No other Vegas casino offers nearly as many or derives half its action from them.
Propositions are offered on which team (and player) will score first and score last; which player will score the game's first and last points; whether there will be a score in the game's first 6 1/2 minutes or the final two minutes of the first half; total number of punts (12 1/2 is the over-under at the Imperial Palace); the longest touchdown of the game (over-under: 32 1/2 yards).
Action can be had not only on the Giants and Ravens, but also on Tiger Woods vs. the Giants' rushing offense, North Carolina State basketball vs. Giants wide receiver Amani Toomer and whether Woods' score on the 18th hole in today's Phoenix Open final round will exceed the reception total of Giants wide-out Ike Hilliard.
Anyone believing today's defensive struggle will instead become a blowout can make a bundle betting a "split line" - otherwise known as adjusting the point spread.
Think the Ravens will roll? Correctly lay 7 1/2 points and earn $180 for every $100 wagered. Or go the other way by betting $450 to win $100 that the Ravens won't lose by more than 7 1/2 .
Bettors can wager $115 to win $100 on whether Trent Dilfer will complete more or fewer than 10 passes, an enticing "under" given that Dilfer hasn't completed more than 10 attempts in any of the Ravens' three playoff wins.
Will there be overtime? It has never happened in the Super Bowl, but anyone with a strong stomach can put up $800 to win $100 it won't happen again.
Support for the Ravens has bumped them from one-point favorites, while the public's belief in a low-scoring game has dropped the over-under from 34. Sure, the Ravens' defense of the ages has surrendered only one postseason touchdown and the Giants are coming off their 41-0 obliteration of the high-octane Minnesota Vikings, but MOTO players (Masters of the Obvious) should know that every Super Bowl since IX has offered at least 36 points.
The Imperial Palace has set an over-under of 1 1/2 yards for the game's shortest touchdown. Though those taking the "over" must wager $125 to win $100, 1-yard touchdowns have occurred in the past seven and 10 of the past 11 Festivi Maximi.
Should the Ravens score 16 points, as they did in their AFC championship win against the Oakland Raiders, winning bets will be paid at 20-1 odds at The Mirage and 15-1 at Imperial Palace. Think the Ravens will win the ultimate defensive struggle? Imperial Palace is offering 1,000-1 odds on two safeties being the sum of their offense. Of course, one can also get 300-1 odds on the Orioles winning the World Series. They are the longest odds on the board.
Why limit playing an angle to just the Super Bowl when completions covering several time zones and separate sports are available?
Even before kickoff, those packed inside the Mirage Sports Book will be screaming. For example: There's the Hack-a-Shaq bet. Which will be more - Dilfer's completion total against the Giants or Shaquille O'Neal's missed free throws today against the New York Knicks? Patrons must obtain action by the 11:30 a.m. tip.
For those from across the pond, Imperial Palace is offering action on whether the Ravens' touchdown total is more than the number of goals scored by the world's most famous football team, Manchester United, in its soccer match that began today at 3:30 a.m. Pacific time.
"It's something fun for fans and good for us," Kornegay said. "With many of the other places, if they get beat on the [point spread], they've had a bad day. It's a lot tougher to get beat on 139 bets than just one."