Super Bowl line moves fast

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We’ve got one dandy of a Super Bowl set for us in two weeks at University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona with a matchup of each conference’s No. 1 seeded and rated teams – Seattle and New England.

Hopefully, the actual game turns out to be as thrilling as the opening line movement on Sunday night in Las Vegas when the Westgate SuperBook and MGM books opened Seattle a 2.5-point favorite just as the Patriots-Colts championship game was nearing the end of the third quarter.

One after another, every Las Vegas sports book started posting their numbers, so I called a few guys to see what they were thinking with their offering in what will be their largest handled game of the year.

“I like Seahawks -3 better,” said Golden Nugget sports book director Tony Miller, “but with -2’s being out there and -1.5 at the Mirage, I opened -2.5 just to be at the highest number. The (odds) screen is jumping right now. I’m looking at a few books down to -1, so I’m moving to -2 and I’ll still be high. We haven’t taken any big action on the game yet, just a bunch of guys putting some small parlays on it before they head out of town.”

Five minutes later, Miller took a bet large enough (not a limit wager) to drop even further down to -1 and put him in line with most of the other books, but the number around town would drop even further.

“We opened -2.5, but I knew it was the wrong side and I just kept dropping it down little by little even though we didn’t get much action on it,” said MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood. “The more I was thinking about it, the more I thought New England should be favored and the bulk of the action we took on it – about $10,000 – has been on the Patriots -1.”

Because this is such a big game, the sports books want to get to right number as soon as possible and then let the masses decide where the number should go with cash wagered.

The opening numbers all the books threw out was just to get a feel for the market while watching what everyone else was doing. This is the one game on the year where wiseguy money is respected the least and the public rules.

The MGM books used wiseguy action to get them in line with everyone else at pick ’em.

“We took a large six-figure bet on the Patriots -1 last night,” MGM sports book hub manager Jeff Stoneback said Monday morning, “but a wiseguy took Seattle +1, so we’re at pick now.”

The line movement from Sunday night resembles what we saw last year when the Seahawks opened as 2-point favorites, quickly went to pick‘em and then Denver -1.5 by Monday morning.

The similarity doesn’t end there because of what happened in the championship games where Denver handled the Patriots easily and the Seahawks had to hold off the 49ers until the last second. What the public witnesses last always seems to cloud their opinions, or at least during the first week.

Last year’s Super Bowl set Nevada record for handle ($119 mill) and win ($19.6 mill) and most of that came from massive Denver support.

Everyone seeming to root for good-guy Peyton Manning, but William Hill’s top bookmaker Nick Bogdanovich has another theory on last year’s record and says it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the books come close again this year.

“I think it was more about the economy being good; when times have been rough in town, the Super Bowl handle reflects it and we were kind of the upswing last year and it’s continued this season as well.”

However, Bogdanovich does see some possible downfall this year, and not just because of Manning not participating.

“The absence of a money-line on the game is never good because it’s just another betting option that bettors like where the big game trend has a portion taking the underdog plus-money or laying points with the favorite. This year’s props are also going to be difficult to make.

“I mean you never know who Belichick is going to use as his running-back, so how do you make a good number on them. And Seattle is a nightmare to make props for because Russell Wilson doesn’t put up consistent numbers, nor do his receivers,” he said.

Most power ratings have Seattle 3 points better than New England, but that’s the trick with the Super Bowl where the books have to use some other tactics to massage the number and get a feel for what the public is telling them rather than using their same opening line process they’ve been doing for the past 20 weeks.

“I thought it was a pick ’em game from the start,” said Bogdanovich. “It’s a hell of a matchup. We saw the Patriots roll and the Seahawks struggle, but then again last week we saw the Patriots struggle to a garbage Baltimore team.”

John Avello over the Wynn Las Vegas opened Seattle -2.5, moved to -1 and currently has the best deal in town by offering each side at reduced -105 juice.

If no other book joins Avello, he should be able to capture the majority of large straight bet action across the city.

The reduced juice is something that the South Point’s Michael Gaughan has typically offered during the Super Bowl over the years. There’s no word yet on whether the South Point will join Wynn, but we hope they do.

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].

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