Books have worst college football Saturday of season

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When the sports books opened for business on Sunday morning, there was a nauseous feeling in the gut of every sports book director in town. 

Not only was the misery still stinging from the previous three weeks of losing, but they had just experienced their worst college football Saturday of the season with the favorites going 29-12-1 against-the-spread.

In addition to the spillover risk from Saturday, they also had leftovers from Thanksgiving that saw the public go 4-1-1 between the sides and totals. They knew the type of jeopardy they were facing if a few of the Sunday favorites came in because they had just seen the same thing happen recently in Week 9 when most books experienced their worst day ever.

The big liability monster they would have to slay was the Denver Broncos, 10 ½-point favorite at Kansas City. If they could get that game in, it would wipe out many of those five and six-team parlays that were waiting to burst from the holiday weekend, one where everyone seemed to have the Patriots, Notre Dame and Ohio State.

The Broncos were even more prominently featured than any of the weekend favorites, and why not. They had scored 30 points or more in five consecutive games and the Chiefs had averaged just over 10 a game in their last six.

But just as the betting gods had felt sorrow for the bettors after weeks of getting pummeled before the Week 9 explosion, they also started to feel sympathy for the books plight that had sent them to the worst November ever.

In addition to getting the Chiefs to cover in a 17-9 loss, the seas parted for the books wiping out several other key favorites such as Steelers and Titans. It was first time all season that the Jags, Browns and Chiefs have covered on the same weekend – all teams bettors love to bet against, and it helped the books to small winning day.

“It was the best Sunday we’ve had in the last eight weeks,” said LVH Super Book vice-president Jay Kornegay. “It’s always going to be a good day when the Broncos don’t cover and the Browns do.”

The degree of the win wasn’t as great as the first five weeks, but it did stop the November bleeding.

“We got killed on Saturday,” said MGM Resorts vice-president of race and sports Jay Rood. “Sunday was a little better, but not enough to erase the Saturday losses.”

One of the games that had a lot risk early in the morning because of all the leftover live parlays spilling over into Sunday was the Bengals favored by 7½-points over the Raiders, another one of those teams bettors like to bet against. 

Even though the Bengals won 34-10, the parlay risk had already started to be eliminated as the other key teams weren’t covering, and actually turned out to be a positive result for some.

“We did quite well with the Bengals winning big because we had some sharp action on the Raiders making us close the Bengals at -7½ (from -8),” Rood said.

Rood also mentioned that in addition to the Chiefs covering, the Dolphins winning was also a good decision at his chain of sports books.

“We had a great mix of favorites and underdogs covering which shifted things to our favor,” said Kornegay, “and the Packers losing outright and staying UNDER was the best scenario for us in the late game.”

Favorites went 6-5-1 against-the-spread on the day, but the one favorite the public picked against the most was the Giants (-3), who hadn’t won a game in November. They also sided heavy with the OVER 50½ in that game. For the final 19 minutes of action, the Giants 38-10 score didn’t change, making UNDER the winning side.

At one point in the fourth-quarter the Giants had a first-and-goal from the Packers 3. When it got to fourth down, the Giants didn’t kick the field goal, which would have sent the game OVER for most. Then they failed on a pass attempt from the 1.

Despite the winning day, it didn’t do much to eliminate the overall losses on the November ledgers, where low estimated losses from Week 9 were placed around $10 million. It will be about a month before the Nevada Gaming Control Board releases the true overall losses across the state for the month.

When Rood was asked if this was his worst November ever since running a book, he said, “It’s the worst month ever, period, not just November, more than when we lost the Super Bowl a few years ago, more than any bad baseball month. It stands alone by itself.”

The good news for the books is this weekend begins December on the calendar and a fresh start. The better news for bettors is they still have the books on the ropes during this current cycle. 

The books may have won this round, but we’ll see who can provide the knockout blow in the final five weeks of the year.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Contact Micah at [email protected].

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