NL Central is jam-packed with contenders

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The Westgate SuperBook still has odds posted to win each of the six MLB divisions, and while five of the races appear to be runaways, the NL Central is jam-packed with contenders who can make a run.

The last place Cincinnati Reds (41-45) are only 4.5 games back from the first-place Chicago Cubs (47-43). No other division has that close of a distance from first to second-place with the AL Central being the tightest with the Minnesota Twins (56-33) being 5.5 ahead of the Cleveland Indians (50-38).

Both Ohio teams offer some decent value based on a few of their metrics, most of which begins with pitching. The Reds have third-lowest ERA at 3.77 while the Indians are fifth at 3.94. But when breaking down bullpens, which have been the key to advancing in the playoffs, it’s the Indians at No. 1 with a 3.45 ERA and the Reds’ ‘pen is No. 6 with a .235 batting average against.

In the case of the Indians, they’re 4-1 to win the AL Central with the Twins as large 1-6 favorites. The Indians came into the All-Star break on a four-game win streak and have won 19 of their last 26 games while the Twins are 9-11 in their last 20. The Indians had a rough start to the season offensively with so many key injuries, but they’re hitting well lately. They look like a playoff team and when their rotation is healthy it’s one of the best in the game. They opened 10-1 to win the World Series and are now 20-1 at the break.

The Reds opened 100-1 to win the World Series and are now 60-1 and 14-1 to win the division. With the Cubs having pitching issues and the Milwaukee Brewers having scoring problems, why not the Reds to be the feel-good story of 2019?

They’ve held their own in division play at 18-21. But what stands out as the most promising aspect to O.K. any future wager on the Reds besides solid pitching has been the fact they’ve been involved in an MLB-leading 30 one-run games going 14-16. That poor luck is bound to turn around.

Since the beginning of the season, the Reds and Tampa Bay Rays have had the most rapidly adjusted upward team rating in baseball.

Circa Sports gets it

After only a few days of being open in June, I had already come to the conclusion that Circa Sports at The D and Golden Gate offers one of the fairest batch of odds of any book in Nevada.

But then I saw their NBA futures and it was next level stuff for the state. 

Instead of using an index page with 30 options like everyone in Nevada has been doing forever, they’re using 30 two-way match-up options instead so they can post each team with a Yes or No title option. They’ve got the Clippers Yes at +300 and the Clippers No at -405 and they have the Bucks Yes at +385 and No at -550.

By posting both options, the bettors can always keep the book honest with numbers by being able to bet the other side. The way Nevada books have done futures forever is set their desired theoretic hold percentage and start loading odds for all the teams while balancing prices out to meet the desired hold.

But some books would start out with egregious holds of 45 to 60 percent and most of the time when they lowered hot teams they failed to raise the odds of other teams to balance the theoretic hold. They would make the hold percentage higher with each adjustment.

At Circa, if they tried chopping while not raising others equally, they can get called out on it with bettors betting No on the chopped side. I love that!

Circa Sports director Matt Metcalf says they have to figure out their overall futures theoretic hold through a spreadsheet, and not the system because each team is set up like one two-way prop. He says their desired hold on NBA futures is at 20 percent, which is by far the lowest in the state meaning it’s the best value offered to bettors.

It’s not surprising that Metcalf has done this since he used to be part of the SuperBook crew that has always strived for a 25 percent hold on futures, which was the best in the state. Circa Sports goal is to write as much futures action as possible and be happy with a large write of like $1 million and small actual hold percentage of 10 percent or more.

They’ve got some interesting booking philosophies and Metcalf’s job is made a lot easier by having a boss like Derek Stevens who understands sports betting. Most book directors in Las Vegas have to constantly explain win and losses to bean counters and GMs who simply don’t understand that area of their casino.

Metcalf also has former SuperBook manager Chris Bennett by his side helping with all the math and power ratings.

Circa Sports has had their mobile phone wagering app available since they opened and are doing equal action with it and over-the-counter wagers. The phone side is going to continue to grow and it’s a way to tap into the local markets virtually controlled by Station Casinos, Boyd Gaming and William Hill. To get an account, which I highly recommend if caring about betting into the best numbers, just make a visit to downtown and make the initial deposit. Also, expect some creative things during football season with reduced juice.

And speaking of football season, they’ve got a huge overlay happening with a football contest guaranteeing $1.5 million. There is a $1,000 entry fee which requires five NFL picks a week against the spread. The contest is also broken down into four quarters with each of the four best records getting $50,000 each. If they get more than 1,500 entries, all additional fees will be thrown into the pot. 

Best of all, there’s no rake. It’s a marketing expense. Or maybe best of all, you can play the contest on the phone app.

Keep up the great work, guys. Circa Sports is making a huge impression in the sports betting world and it’s not just Nevada, but also laying out a model for all the other states to follow.

NBA ROY odds open

The SuperBook opened odds Sunday to win the 2019-20 NBA Rookie of the Year for what I believe is only the second time it has ever been offered in Nevada — both by the SuperBook.

Up until a couple of years ago, Nevada sportsbooks were not allowed to offer odds on voted upon end-of-season awards for any sport but allowed it as a means to be more competitive with other markets that were offering odds on awards.

The Pelicans’ No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson opened up as the 2-to-3 favorite in part because he’s going to be a popular bet with name recognition, but also because he figures to have the best opportunity among all rookies to dominate and be the team leader with Anthony Davis being traded.

The Grizzlies’ Ja Morant is the second choice at 4-1 and the Knicks’ R.J. Barrett is next at 5-1. Barrett, like Williamson, figures to get plenty of opportunities to put up a great nightly stat line.

The SuperBook posted 30 rookies, which includes Michael Porter Jr (100-1) who was drafted last season by the Nuggets but didn’t play in 2018-19. If looking to bet a rookie not on the list, the SuperBook will gladly add to it upon request.

One such player they may get asked to post soon is the Suns undrafted free agent Jalen Lecque who made a smashing debut Sunday in the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. The 6-foot-4 guard only played 15 minutes, but looked like he belonged in the NBA and was extremely polished on both sides of the ball for a 19-year old.

With so many rookies on display in the Summer League, the timing for this prop couldn’t have been better. 

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