The Las Vegas sports books closed out the final weekend of the month a with a strong Saturday and a good Sunday, to at least make up a little bit for the disaster two weeks ago when the bettors had their way for the first time this season.
The strategy that worked two weeks ago for the public was what did them in as both the college and pros continue to be filled with parity.
The three biggest games of the day all went the sports books way with key high ranked favorites losing outright. Notre Dame knocked off then No. 8 Oklahoma 30-13 as a 12-point underdog, Georgia took care of No. 2 Florida 17-9 as 6-point dogs, and Washington handled No. 7 Oregon State 20-17 as a 4-point dog. In all three cases, each team had their National title hopes crashed.
For bettors, those three favorites killed a large portion of lingering parlays that were basically the root of the entire day. Florida was the popular choice in the afternoon, Oklahoma in the evening and Oregon State in the late evening.
The Washington upset was pivotal because it was the final game of the day posted. Just about everything live from the day had funneled into that game with the majority of outstanding wagers waiting to hit having the Beavers.
The books had five games they knew were going make or break their day. They needed help from the Rams, Jaguars, Browns, Panthers and Cowboys. Losing three out of the five would set the stage for a losing day. Four of out five would make it close to last week and losing all five would be disaster status. The books won three of those games, but didn’t get any favors from the Cowboys.
The Cowboys-Giants game was the biggest handled game of the day and terribly one-sided with Giants action. Dallas had opened as a 1-point favorite last Sunday and by kickoff, the Giants were 3-point favorites. Every sports book in town went through a roller-coaster of emotions. When the Giants jumped out to a 23-0 lead with Tony Romo hitting every target but his own receivers, there was a lot of crash, boom, bangs in the back rooms where the bookmakers watch the games from.
Then the good Tony Romo came around and took a 24-23 lead in the third quarter. Even when the Giants took back the lead, 26-24 in the fourth, it still was a good result for the house because the bulk of the action during the week on the Giants had laid 2½-points. The back rooms were quiet, at least for a while.
When the Giants kicked a field goal late in the game to make it 29-24, a collective cheer came from the crowds of every sports book in the city. The noise was so loud, no one could hear the banging and cuss words from the back room.
The Cowboys teased with a possible late cover, but everyone knew it was over and decided. In the end, between the Giants covering, the game going over and the Raiders winning, the books had given back half of what they had won in the early games.
Moment of truth
The day ultimately came down to the late game between the Saints and Broncos where it didn’t matter much who won or covered, but whether or not the game would go OVER 55 total points. Bettors were sure that Peyton Manning and Drew Brees would come close to shattering that number by halftime, but Brees was a no show in a 34-14 loss.
The game stayed UNDER and the books rode off into the night with a winning day.
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].