Books eek out enough money for a ‘ham sandwich’

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Same story, different week, and it’s been that way for seven of the last eight weeks at Las Vegas sportsbooks where the public has been having their way by correctly picking the right NFL teams against-the-spread. Happy Holidays!

A couple sportsbooks managed to show a small profit in Week 14 NFL action, while most broke even or were a small loser. But one thing every book was united with was they needed the Giants to cover Sunday night against the Cowboys.

“We’re up a little on the day, but the late game risk will give a lot back,” said MGM Resorts race and sports VP Jay Rood prior to kickoff.

“If we lose with the Dallas game, we’ll make a ham sandwich on the day.”

Rood used a classic old school bookmaking term, “ham sandwich,” referencing a small win for the day, most often used famously by Jerry “Shoes” Zimny. It means the book will basically make enough cash to buy a ham sandwich.

Lately the books have barely been getting a jam sandwich (two pieces of bread jammed together, no meat, no jelly, nothing in between).

Chris Andrews took it one step lower with an old school term by saying his South Point sportsbook “will make a peanut” with a Giants cover. One peanut, wow! Now that’s a tiny win.

John Avello at the Wynn Las Vegas book said, “We can probably eek out a win (with the Giants) or get buried (with Dallas covering).”

After sweating out each and every score of the first 13 Sunday games, a span of six-and-a-half hours, once again all that stress of trying to break a lengthy losing streak was for naught and came down to another late game deciding the fate of their entire day.

The entire city got their wish with the Giants covering (+4) and the total staying Under (46.5) in a 10-7 outright win, but most book bosses were feeling greedy, hoping for the ultimate decision with Dallas winning by 1-to-3 points to knock out the Giants money-line payouts of +170.

“We were kind of hoping for our best scenario, like we’re usually in with the Super Bowl where we want the favorite to win, but not cover,” said Westgate SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay.

It was a small window of opportunity for the books that didn’t happen, but what they did get was the Cowboys to finally lose after 11 straight wins following a Week 1 loss to the same Giants. It was the third straight game the Cowboys accelerated rating did not cover the spread after covering nine straight.

The result now gives bettors something extra to think about in the final three weeks of the regular season rather than simply taking Dallas on almost every parlay played in the city. Sharps have been cashing the last three weeks by betting against the Cowboys inflated numbers, but just like the books they’re having trouble cashing on a few other teams.

The winless Browns failed to cover for the seventh straight week in a 23-10 home loss to the Bengals. The books opened high with Cincinnati -6 and sharps took the 2.5-points of perceived value, again, and pushed the number all the way down to -4.5 by kickoff. However, the public didn’t care what the number was, they just wanted whoever was playing against the Browns and they were correct again.

Betting against bad teams has been the public’s winning strategy weekly and the books keep inflating numbers against them, but not enough. However, one of the bad teams showed up in Week 14 to help avoid a total disaster.

The Bears (+7) got a cover at Detroit in a 20-17 loss – helping the books, but they got no help elsewhere. The 49ers again looked awful in a 23-17 overtime loss to the Jets, after jumping out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead. 

With Bryce Petty starting at QB for the Jets, 49ers money came strong from the sharps, pushing them from -1 to -3.

The team that is beginning to fall to low rating depths similar to the Browns is the Rams with Jared Goff starting at QB. Sharp money bet the Rams from +7 all the way down to +4.5. Instead, the Falcons struck quick and often in a 42-14 win, sending the Rams to their fourth consecutive loss and non-cover.

The Falcons were the most one-sided bet game at William Hill with 89 percent of the tickets written.

Overall, favorites went 8-6 ATS on the day with five underdogs winning outright. 

The UNDER went 9-5, and surprisingly, two of the cold weather games at Pittsburgh and Green Bay managed to barely be two of the OVERS.

It’s back to the drawing board for the books in an attempt to end one of the worst NFL stretches in Las Vegas history, and right out of the gate they get to hold their breath with the Rams at Seattle on Thursday night where the high number in town is -14 at the Stratosphere, which offers about 3 points of value.

The Rams beat the Seahawks, 9-3 in Week 2 but the public will still lay whatever number is posted with Seattle.

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