Week 17 of the NFL is always consistent for oddsmakers and bookmakers. It stinks.
They hate it because it’s uncomfortable knowing you can get beat quickly in the rapidly changing information game. There’s not a lot of sleep between setting up several Google emails searches on key players while also keeping a keen eye on twitter feeds of beat writers of teams expected to rest.
The oddsmaker has to account for all possibilities of key personnel sitting in meaningless games and then put up a proper number for bettors to choose a side. The bookmaker has to babysit the numbers during the week and then react with an adjustment.
What is Todd Gurley worth? Or how about Ezekiel Elliott? Will Aaron Rodgers play despite the Packers going nowhere? Those are just a few of the topics sports books will be reviewing this week.
“We’re probably going to put most of the games up in circles while not knowing exactly who is going sit, and we may leave a few games off the board when we initially open,” said MGM Resorts sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback. “Week 17 is the week where we have to move the numbers quicker and be extra alert.”
In many ways because of the low limits and rapid line moves, it’s almost like NFL preseason action.
Meanwhile, the wise guys are licking their chops. It’s not necessarily because they get information quicker, which they do in most cases, or that they have a great opinion on what a players value is to the number, but it’s more about them waiting for mistakes. They wait for the bookmaker to fall asleep at the wheel in the information game. And it doesn’t take much. The phones and counters get flooded with wagers on these circle games and the sharps will take whatever the limit is.
“Only a $2,000 limit? Sure, I’ll bet it,” a wise-guy will say. “I’ll take it again at whatever you move it to.”
The bookmaker usually replies with “you’ve got enough, hit the road.”
Textbook bookmaking says if you move a number three consecutive times one way on a side, you should take the game down and find out what is happening. Then regroup with all the answers why the sharps were salivating over it and eventually re-post an adjusted number. This happens often in preseason and Week 17.
The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook posted its Week 17 numbers at 5:30 p.m. PT on Sunday night and initially left five games off the board. One of the games they posted was the Giants as 7-point home favorites Cowboys. It looks odd with the NFC East champs getting so many, but the Cowboys clinched the division Sunday and have nothing to play for, so why take a chance with starters Dak Prescott or Ezekiel Elliott getting hurt. Why risk any of the starters? Sit them all.
If it’s announced that Cooper Rush is starting at QB for the Cowboys and Rod Smith is starting at RB the spread will rise dramatically in the Giants’ favor, who have shown some life down the stretch. The Cowboys are the No. 4 seed with a home game in the wild card round while this is the 5-10 Giants’ Super Bowl.
The advice here is to be careful and think somewhat like a wise-guy. Teams that have to win to advance don’t always win. Sometimes the pressure is too great. And at some point, the spread may exceed the wise-guy threshold and value suddenly appears late on the team everyone is betting against. Would you take the Cowboys with backups starting getting +11?
Books push for week
There were mixed results around Las Vegas sports books with the Seahawks’ 38-31 home win against the Chiefs (-1) being the final nail in the coffin to a losing day for some. But at least one book showed a nice win with the Seahawks which made the underdogs 8-5 against-the-spread, one of only two ‘dogs to win outright on Sunday.
“We’ll have a nice decision tonight,” Stoneback just before kickoff. “We had a bettor take the Chiefs for $200,000 so I can now root for the Seahawks from both ends as a fan and for the house.”
Sharp money took the Seahawks dropping the Chiefs went from -2.5 to -1 by kickoff. The public was also on the 54 total points Over. The Seahawks were also the top SuperContest selection of Week 16 with 884 contestants on their side.
But the wins and losses were on the day were less than usual during the NFL season because of the time of year.
“Very small winner, light action,” said Stoneback. “It’s always slow the week after the rodeo and week before Christmas. I walked in (Mirage) at 8 a.m. and there were literally only three people in the book.”
With the public not contributing as much, the MGM books were playing heads up mostly with the sharps to determine their Sunday results.
“Yeah, basically,” Stoneback said, “but with the action the public did have they didn’t have a great day. Our day came down to one big $150,000 teaser that we won because of the Giants. The rest of the day was just a push. The Giants and Steelers games were good for us and we were the largest losers with the Vikings and Eagles. We got middled in the Eagles game.”
in the ‘Burgh
On NFL game days, The Rivers Casino sports book in Pittsburgh has been using 14-cent splits on their NFL games after operating the standard 20-cent split during the week.
It’s ingenious and I believe it to be the wave of future to gain attention in a hugely competitive market. Why would you bet anywhere else?
The Rivers has a model that more places, especially in Las Vegas, should pay attention to and consider adapting themselves.