Books benefit from underdog wins

Two-thirds of the Sunday favorites in Week 9 NFL action fell into the trash can as underdogs barked their way to an 8-4 ATS day with five of them winning outright. The public loves betting the favorites so when only four of them cover on a Sunday, it’s usually good news for the sportsbooks.

“A great Sunday for the books with the Bills (+3 vs Seahawks) being a key morning helper and the Panthers (+10 at Kansas City) helping to knock out parlays and teasers,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick. “The Dolphins (+6 at Arizona) and Cowboys (+14 vs. Steelers) were good in the afternoon, but the Raiders (-1 at Chargers) were bad and made worse in parlays with the over (52.5) and the Cardinals game going over (48.5).”

McCormick said they needed the under in the Saints-Buccaneers late game to ensure a great day, and it happened. Marc Nelson at the Reno Atlantis said they were also having a solid day with the Bills and Dolphins being the best decisions, but if the Bucs and over could give back all the winnings and break-even for the day, and neither happened.

The Saints (+3) would roll to a 31-0 halftime lead at Tampa and win 38-3, paying out a city-best +155 on the money line at the South Point while staying under 51 total points.

William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich said they lost with the Raiders and Titans (-6 vs. Bears), but did well with the Bills and Chiefs decision. However, the overs (7-4-1 on Sunday) weren’t good for them.

For BetMGM, Sunday worked out well overall.

“Very good day, the Ravens (+1 at Indianapolis) were the worst,” said BetMGM’s VP Jason Scott. “Pittsburgh not covering was our best, Seattle losing was great and the Dolphins were also good.”

Scott said the win this week wasn’t as good as last week which was their season-best “but very strong.”

Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay had the same experience as most books with a few added wrinkles.

“The NFL was solid with two games standing out on the opposite end of the spectrum with the Bills being by far our biggest winner and the Ravens being by far the biggest loser,” Kornegay said.

The SuperBook had an unexpected loss that took away from its NFL winnings on Sunday.

“Chase Elliott didn’t do us any favors winning the (NASCAR) Cup race today and winning the Cup (Championship),” he said of Elliott’s Season Finale 500 win at Phoenix. “We took a hit on him and it took part of our winnings away. We had a guy bet Elliott (large) a few times to win the race (9-2) and also to win the Cup a while ago.”

The SuperBook opened Elliott at 12-1 odds to win the championship and was listed at the same price in August. All four Championship 4 drivers, led by Elliott, finished in the top-4 at Phoenix on Sunday. It’s the seventh straight season the Cup Champion closed it out with a season finale win.

Nice money line parlay

A bold William Hill bettor at the Venetian had a strong hunch and put down $4,000 on a seven-legged college football and NFL parlay (Liberty +500, Maryland +1200, Appalachian State -1100, Oklahoma -15000, Iowa State -600, Ohio State -15000, Steelers -1000) and hit the first six. All the person needed was the Steelers to win outright on Sunday against the Cowboys to win $438,000.

You can imagine how this bettor may have felt when the Cowboys took a 13-0 lead and a 13-9 lead to the half with Ben Roethlisberger limping to the locker before the final ticks of the second-quarter expired. I have no idea what the bettor did as far as hedging, and neither did Bogdanovich, but more on the possibilities in a moment.

First, I’d like to commend this person for taking huge underdogs like Liberty (at Virginia Tech -17) and Maryland (at Penn State -27.5) to win outright on the road against proud programs. Both underdogs had shown signs of being able to compete with big-time college teams, but this person said forget the points, I’m betting them to win, no points. The two-teamer alone for $4,000 would have paid $308,000.

But this person went further and said they needed some gravy so they threw five massive favorites in the mix to sweeten the payday. After the first six legs hit, what would do you do with the seventh leg to ensure you make money regardless of who wins?

Do you hedge half the winnings, taking +14.5 with the Cowboys and just be happy with a $200,000-plus profit either way if they lose while also having the possibility of winning both bets? Or do you bet less of an amount with the Cowboys to win outright at a city-best of +700 at the South Point while still hoping for the Steelers to win? Or do you surrender and post the ticket up for purchase at Prop-Swap to the highest bidder? Or do you do nothing and let it ride (stupid)?

The correct answer after-the-fact was hedging with the Cowboys taking the points and winning both bets as the Steelers came back to win 24-19, aided of course, by five fourth-quarter Cowboys penalties accepted by the Steelers, who are now 8-0 for the first time in franchise history.

The 2-6 Cowboys got their first cover of the season moving to 1-8 ATS, the last team to finally cover a spread this season. And fourth-string QB Garrett Gilbert looked better than either QB Dallas has thrown out there since starter Dak Prescott was lost for the season with an injury in Week 5. They’ve lost all four since then. 

South Point in giving mood

The South Point sportsbook has been offering the best NFL underdog money lines in Nevada routinely in 2020 and after I noticed they had four of the five outright winners’ best prices on Sunday, I asked director Chris Andrews if it was just coincidence or by design and he said it was by design. So, when looking to bet one of those ‘dogs at the best price or a parlay or round-robin, you know where to go.

Just for good mention, one of the prettiest money-line splits I’ve ever seen in Las Vegas on a large-spread game was at Circa Sports on the Steelers at -820/+620. All the fat and yuk juice cut out of the traditional handbook money line chart.

NBA 2020-21 SWT up

The SuperBook posted NBA season win totals Saturday for next season which is scheduled to start in late December with a rule that at least 69 games must be played and that forfeitures are deemed a non-played game. Booking in a pandemic is tough and rules have to be thought out long and hard.

The Bucks opened with the highest total at 49.5 wins just because of playing in the weaker Eastern Conference while the Celtics and Lakers both opened at 46.5 wins. The lowest total with 22.5 wins were the Knicks, Cavaliers, and Hornets. 

Masters in November

The 2020 Masters was supposed to be at its usual spot in April, but the coronavirus pandemic has caused a delay to the middle of November. The SuperBook refunded all bets after the date change and since reposting the odds they’ve seen their biggest risk come on a fan favorite and it isn’t Tiger Woods.

“Our biggest liability so far is Phil Mickelson who we currently have at 125-1 odds,” SuperBook VP of risk Jeff Sherman said. “Of the legitimate contenders to win our top risk is Bryson DeChambleau (8-1), Rory McIlroy (12-1) and Xander Schauffele (14-1).”

Sherman said their highest ticket counts have those same three golfers with Tony Finau (35-1) having the second most and Justin Thomas (14-1) having the fifth-most. 

So where’s Tiger at?

“We’re still a small loser with Tiger,” Sherman said, “but we’re not getting the usual type of action on him so I’ve had to keep bumping his odds up. We started at 16-1 with him and he’s up to 40-1 now.”

Sherman also said there is a bit of a difference from how Augusta National will play in November compared to its usual April date.

“The temperatures will be about the same but there will be more Bermuda grass which will make a difference chipping around the greens,“ Sherman said. “I think it will also favor the long hitters.”

Sherman also shared some golfers he has wagers on, although the prices he got at other sportsbooks are long gone. He has DeChambeau, Schauffele, and Patrick Cantalay (37-1), and also suggested that Jon Rahm (12-1) may benefit from the Bermuda grass.

College futures enlightened

One loss from the major college football teams always opens up a piece of the College Football Playoff equation and a big one happened Saturday when then No. 4 Notre Dame upended then No. 2 Clemson (-5.5) at a rather crowded Notre Dame Stadium.

Apparently, Touchdown Jesus blessed the coronavirus away for a few hours and the home crowd was instrumental in the Irish’s 47-40 overtime win. However, the ripple effect in the odds department to win the title wasn’t as much as one would think. 

Clemson only dropped down to 9-2 at the SuperBook while Notre Dame only moved up to 16-1. Ohio State and Alabama are now both co-favorites at 3-2. Florida has the SEC East dialed in and are now 16-1 after the 44-28 win against Georgia in the world’s smallest cocktail party in Jacksonville since 1932, the year before the rivalry began annually playing in northern Florida