Week 4 of the pro football season was a tale of two sets of start times for the Las Vegas sports books as they experienced the highs and lows of posted results to an extreme fashion.
For the 10 a.m. (PDT) start times, one game after another fell the sports books way with fantastic finishes for them while bettors took several bad beats within a 15 minute window.
However, the bettors struck back with a vengeance in the 1 p.m. (PDT) start times with four of the games going their way, and it’s not coincidental that all those sides were the favorites. Everything the bettors lost early on, they got gift wrapped with additional cash given back as the three, four, five and six team parlays came cashing in.
Even though most of the early decisions had wiped out the public games, there were a couple lingering that helped produce five and six team parlay payouts coupled with the late games. The few games the public did win early were the Saints and Redskins.
One sports book director said the Saints’ 23-10 decision as 8½-point favorites was one of the worst of the season for his book as the public and sharps both loved the side.
Exotic wagers, such as teasers and parlays, proved to be the back breaker for the sports books. If every game was dealt as a straight bet, the sports books may have came out of the day with a slight win at -110 odds on each side. However, when sports books collectively pay out 20-1 and 40-1 parlays from the public, they have no way to balance the house and protect at those odds.
"It seemed like everyone had a five or six team parlay cash today," said Las Vegas Hilton executive director Jay Kornegay. "It was almost to the point that when someone came to the window cashing only a four-teamer, I was like, thank you for not having more teams tacked on."
The only realistic hope for sports books on the day was with luck, such as Cam Newton’s back-door touchdown pass with .04 remaining in the fourth-quarter at Chicago. The Bears were bet all week by small and large money pushing the game up to -7 by kickoff and everyone looked to be easy street until Newton’s pass, which took a 34-23 game to 34-29, crossing the point-spread making the unpopular Panthers side the winner for betting purposes.
The Eagles 23-3 lead over the 49ers as 10-point favorites looked to be an another easy win for the public, but the 49ers chipped away at the lead and found themselves winning 24-23. The Bengals 23-20 over public favorite Buffalo also hurt quite a few, but the perfect storm was brewing for the small money action in the afternoon.
"Our liability on the day wasn’t just from Sunday, "said Kornegay. "We had all kinds of carryover risk from the late college games on Saturday that everyone won with. Even the baseball games have been very profitable for the public as their teams (the favorites) have been covering on the run-line and the games have been going over the total.
"There are a lot of bettors who like to throw cross-sports into their parlays just because the games are on television," Kornegay continued. " So the late Sunday pro football games hurt us, but they had a lot of momentum built in from the previous day coming into Sunday."
The majority four-team parlay from the late games had the Giants, Packers, Chargers and Patriots paying out 11-1 odds. The Seahawks scoring a late touchdown in the fourth-quarter took the Falcons away from a cover, despite being up 27-7 at one point, or else it would have a been five-teamers for everyone and magnified the losses even more.
Despite the popular public combinations coming in late, some sports books still had a chance to show a small profit on the day if the Jets were able to cover against the Ravens in the Sunday night game.
The win-loss statement from the day also varies depending on what part of the city the sports book is in. Books closer to the Strip that have mostly tourists or sharp bettors playing there, with the bulk of the action coming Friday night through Sunday, didn’t see the type of liability the local shops had.
Sports books on the edges of neighborhoods with a steady clientele of local bettors Monday through Sunday – those who play the parlay religiously – fared much worse with the late games than those on the Strip.
Sunday’s scorecard had the favorites going 8-7 ATS with five of the underdogs winning outright on the money-line. Because of those straight-up wins, the books were able to build a base of win helped by the most popular teaser team, the Eagles, killing quite a few single-handedly.
But in the end, it still wasn’t enough to derail the parlay train from the small money. The Ravens and the OVER capped a day off that most sports books would soon forget.
4 Weeks of Observations
You can’t help but be happy for Jim Harbaugh and what he’s done for the 49ers (3-1).
Not only was it a great move to keep his team in the eastern time zone for two back-to-back east coast road games, but every game he’s won thus far have been the type Mike Singletary would have somehow lost.
Harbaugh has changed the culture of that locker room for the better and winning cures all. Look for more great things to come from this squad that is now believing.
Matt Hasselbeck has transformed the Tennessee Titans (3-1) into a winner. He looks almost better than the QB who led Seattle to the Super Bowl.
Hasselbeck is finally healthy and has the confidence in his coaches to hand him the reins of the offense and run the system through him despite having one of the elite running backs in the league.
We may be thinking that their surprise win over the Ravens was more a matter of Baltimore being in a let-down situation, but it looks to be more about the Titans revamped defense and positive attitude in the locker room which begins with the leadership of Hasselbeck.
This week the Titans travel to Pittsburgh for another test within the division.
While the Titans locker room is loose, the Steelers have had their swagger stalled by the lack of a running game and their defense apparent struggles with stopping the run.
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