College Baseball? In April? You bet!

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Nevada sportsbooks offer odds and spreads on every college basketball and college football game, but none on college baseball games until the Super Regionals or the College World Series comes around. Or at least that was the case until two weeks ago when the Caesars Palace sportsbook team started posting feature games between top-ranked teams on Friday nights.

“We’re always trying to do something a little different to create some more business,” said Caesars oddsmaker Matt Lindeman. “I presented the idea to Jeff (Davis, book director) to post some futures earlier than usual and also try to see if there’s any interest to be a few key individual games on Friday night’s when most teams are using their top starters.”

Another innovation Caesars brought to its chain of strip properties six weeks ago was offering odds to win the College World Series which begins June 15. Those futures would usually go up the week of the College World Series at most books just because that’s the way it’s always been.

Why did it take so long for someone to come out early? First of all, it takes a lot of work. None of the consultant services followed it closely enough to offer lines to the books in April, nor did any of the book directors feel comfortable enough with the information, or lack of it, to post a number and possibly get picked off on a bad line by a bettor that’s smarter on the subject.

Another reason books haven’t posted college baseball odds this early is because there might not be a market out there due to lack of publicity on the games until the super regionals, unlike college basketball and football where almost all the games are televised. The casual bettor likes to see their action play out on television. 

“The first Friday we offered the individual games, we only took a couple of bets so if we don’t see interest on it soon, I’m sure Jeff is not going to want to do it anymore,” Lindeman said.

Lindeman said they didn’t see to much interest on this past Friday’s games, either, but I’m hoping they give it a chance to find a betting audience by getting more exposure. Who knew you could bet college baseball this early?

The part I really like about the college baseball odds is Lindeman doing all the research on the teams and being confident enough in his work to offer it to the public. Come and get it, windows are open.

“Last season I had a model I built for pricing the College World Series, so I just kind of applied that into creating the odds to win and daily lines,” he said.

Caesars has limits on the Friday games at $1,000. But because there are no other competing college baseball numbers to go off of, people who call themselves sharp can’t feast on anything because they can’t identify an off number in college baseball. A limit bet on their college baseball lines hasn’t happened yet.

The odds to win the College Baseball World Series has been receiving much more action than the Friday games. Caesars listed 57 teams to win and a field bet.

“Vanderbilt was the preseason No. 1 and they haven’t done as well as expected but we still keep getting bets on them at 6-1,” Lindeman said. “They have the most tickets written among all the teams, and next are most of the SEC teams.”

Vanderbilt has climbed back to No. 5 after dropping in the ranking when losing a key early April series to SEC East leader Georgia who is ranked No. 4 and offered at 12-1 odds to win it all. The SEC has six of the top-13 ranked teams in the nation, but the Pac-12 has the top-3 ranked teams.

No. 1 UCLA (12-1) has an incredible pitching staff sporting a 2.57 ERA and No. 2 Oregon State (6-1), last season’s national champion, is right behind them with 2.77 ERA. But it’s No. 3 Stanford (15-1) in first-place of the Pac-12 at 13-2 in conference play and 27-6 overall.

Another Pac-12 team playing well is No. 15 Arizona State (20-1) at 30-8. Once an elite baseball program with five national championships that produced stars like Barry Bonds, Reggie Jackson, and Rollie Fingers, the Sun Devils have been a mediocre program in the past few years.

Surprisingly, it’s not Vanderbilt or any of the Pac-12 teams that Caesars has the most risk on so far.

“Our biggest risk is from a $300 bet on Illinois at 200-to-1,” Lindeman said.

Illinois is currently 60-to-1, but after a hot start, they’ve lost nine of their last 17 games and currently sit seventh in the Big Ten. The only ranked Big Ten team is No. 23 Indiana who leads the nation with 55 home runs. The Hoosiers are currently 100-to-1 to win it all.

I’ll be eagerly watching Lindeman’s weekly adjustment on the futures and also trying to find an edge on their Friday baseball lines, but he’s posting very good numbers weighted heavily on team ratings, starting pitcher and home field.

There isn’t much an edge to be found and when I learned who taught him how to make a model for good numbers, it’s easy to understand. He learned his bookmaking and oddsmaking chops at CG Technology from one of the best in the state, veteran bookmaker Tony DiTommaso, who he called “my mentor.”

Simbal joins Station

Jason Simbal, who formerly worked as vice president of Risk Management at CG Tech, has joined Station Casinos as its Director of Race and Sports Analytics.

“I am thrilled to have Jason Simbal join a great Station Casinos R&S Book management team,” said Art Manteris, Station’s VP of Race and Sports. “He is a very talented young Sportsbook executive that brings a fresh perspective and the tools necessary to help us continue on our path towards providing industry best practices and services.”

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