Before Saturday’s WBO Welterweight Title bout at the MGM Grand, the last time we saw thousands of Manny Pacquiao supporters visiting Las Vegas was in December of 2012. They left all their cash at the sports books when Juan Manuel Marquez knocked Pacquiao out in the sixth round.
But on Saturday, they got a lot of that cash back and gave the sports books around town a beating with Pacquiao’s 12 round decision over Timothy Bradley.
On a normal fight, the public always sides with the underdog and the risk becomes so massive the books have to drop the number during the week leading up to the fight with hopes of attracting favorite money at a lower price. This is why sharp money usually always waits till the last possible moment to take the favorite.
But the large action flowing at the MGM properties during the week was all on Pacquiao, which drove the price from -250 all the way to -320 within an hour of the fight. The Pacquiao supporters couldn’t wait to bet their man, and they didn’t care what the price was.
They could have simply gone to another book on the Strip and saved themselves about 40 cents on the number. But they didn’t, and drove the price on the favorite like rarely seen.
Of course, when the number got high enough on Bradley, who was the champion, sharp money couldn’t resist and there was some buy back, but not enough to get MGM books out of the Pacquiao hole.
“We ended up being a small loser to the fight,” said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. “We got helped out that the fight was a decision, and won with the pick the round props, but not enough to eliminate the Pacquiao risk on winning.”
MGM books closed at -280 because of that buy back. Even with the loss, the MGM books can still consider themselves a winner because of all those winnings spent elsewhere at their casinos, a figure that often gets overlooked when looking at the ledgers. Best of all for the MGM and every other casino on the Strip, Las Vegas was the winner. No place can put on a show like Las Vegas, and it’s made to look so easy.
UNLV baseball: If you haven’t been to the campus of UNLV for a baseball game, you better get over there and check this version of the Hustlin’ Rebels.
UNLV is one of the better teams in the country at 25-11 and are in line to host a regional, which will determine who goes to Omaha for the College World Series. UNLV Manager Tim Chambers, who coached Bryce Harper at CCSN to a JUCO National Championship in 2010, has built UNLV into a national power in four years.
There are only seven games remaining at home, one of which is a big date at home against perennial power Arizona State on May 13. They play at ASU on Tuesday. There are 15 players on the team who are locals, one of whom is 3B T.J. White, who hits third in the lineup, and is the son of famous Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White.
Brew Crew: The fastest moving team on the odds board around Las Vegas sports books has been the Milwaukee Brewers who went into Monday’s game against the Cardinals on a nine-game win streak.
Last week at the LVH Super Book, the Brewers were 50-to-1 to win the World Series. After sweeping the Pirates over the weekend, they have been dropped all the way down to 20-1. MGM books moved the Brewers from 30-to-1, down to 25-1.
Milwaukee’s nine game run started at Boston two weekends ago, where they put a damper on the Red Sox opening series where they had all kinds of ceremonies in place for the 2013 World Championship. After sweeping Boston, they swept Philly where Ryan Braun hit three homers in one of the games, and then dusted off 2013 playoff participant Pittsburgh.
They’ve done it with hitting, fielding and especially pitching. They lead the majors in ERA (1.80) with five quality starters, and the bullpen has been lights out with an MLB best 0.82 ERA, allowing only three earned runs in 33 innings.
Everything is coming together, and although it’s early, they do have the look of being a team that could make the playoffs. They certainly look better than the Reds and Pirates, both of whom made it to the wild card game from the NL Central last season.
NASCAR: The Sprint Cup series is off this week and will race at Richmond next Saturday night, so we can talk a little about Cup futures where the LVH has Jimmie Johnson as the 5-to-2 favorite to win his seventh Championship.
Kevin Harvick’s first career win at Darlington last week was his second win of the season, the only driver to have multiple wins. Because of the new Chase format that gives drivers a boost for winning, the point system is basically meaningless and Harvick is the perfect example of why.
Harvick sits 22nd in points and his teammate Kurt Busch is 26th, but because of their wins, they are virtually locked in to the Chase. Both of those cars have been fast in just about every practice session looking like the cars to beat on race days, but they’ve had more failures than success.
It’s like they are swinging for the fences with their set-ups, knowing the have a lot of wiggle room and that if the extreme set-up doesn’t work, no big deal. They don’t have any consequences. It’s all about wins and they have 16 more races to figure out the perfect set-up by the time the Chase starts.
Harvick is currently 7-to-1 to win the title and Busch is 20-to-1. Meanwhile, drivers like Johnson and Matt Kenseth have still yet to win, which is surprising because they combined to win 13 races last season.
Editor’s note: LVH released the US Open golf odds late Monday with Rory McIlroy the favorite at 10-1. Masters ratings were the lowest on CBS in 10 years. And the handle at LVH was down 5 percent from a year ago. Call it the Tiger effect. By the way, Tiger is 15-1 at the Open.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].