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Las Vegas sports books fared very well over the weekend with both college football and pro action giving them a great start to the month of December in their final dash to close 2011 out strong.

What the books saw Saturday and Sunday is how things were supposed to be all season and the way they wound up most of the 2010 season.

“Everything fell into place for us Sunday,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne. “Most of our straight bets and the games we had parlay jeopardy on, the type that has been beating us most of the season, vanished as popular parlay combinations didn’t come in.”

On Saturday, with far fewer games in the rotation than usual, it was almost the same story as bettors couldn’t gain any traction with any two or three team parlays.

“Considering we lost our biggest decision of the day with Oklahoma State, I’d say we did very well Saturday,” said Las Vegas Hilton Super Book executive director Jay Kornegay. “We won the majority of the decisions with a big game like Michigan State-Wisconsin falling perfect for us with the favorite winning the game but not covering.”

All season long it’s been the other way around where the public has been right with all the little breaks going their way. Whether it was a massive run on the nationally televised feature games or just sticking with the heavily favored ranked teams regardless of who they played, the college football season has collectively been one of the worst ever.

Matters are compounded even more when considering the book’s bread and butter, pro football, has been equally unkind. The public teams have simply been very good and lucky. At the same time it’s just happened to go on a run that started well before football season, which has made most sports books see a 3-to-4% decrease in win from the previous year.

That’s a chunky figure when most sports books only hold 5-to-9% of all handle on the year.

2010 was one of the best years ever for the sports books as they nearly swept every Sunday

day of the season with the pro teams keeping the public guessing all season.

However, the cycle massively turned and 2011 immediately brought the public dividends for their 2010 losses by crushing the city with the popular 13-to-5 parlay combination in the Super Bowl having the Packers and the OVER.

After trying to regroup for much of the first quarter and doing so with March Madness, baseball started out being very kind for the first two months. It was an oddity because baseball is always the worst hold of any of the sports, but hey, things cycle around and it was the books’ turn.

Come July and August, baseball then turned the bettors’ way and books were routinely getting hammered by the same four-team parlays at true odds on a nightly basis.

Pro football was supposed to be the savior for the third and fourth quarter, but it didn’t happen. The public stayed hot and was also taking hot to new heights with college football. Then the Cardinals won the World Series in October giving most sports books a big loss in their baseball futures, something that is generally held at a 20% hold percentage and considered an expected win annually.

So when the sports books swept a weekend where the favorites went 11-10-1 against-the-spread in college and 7-8 in the pros, it came as somewhat of a surprise. Those are the type of cover figures we’ve been seeing all season. For the pros, it couldn’t be more even this season with a 93-92-5 mark.

Numbers like that should suggest a winning day for the house, but it hasn’t because it’s been the good teams doing most of damage at certain junctures.

For instance, on Sunday the two most popular betting teams didn’t cover. The Packers (-7) won 38-35 at the Giants and the Patriots (-21) won 31-24 against the Colts. When you throw in a few of the second tier public favorites like the Falcons (-2) losing 17-10 at Houston and the Bears (-7) losing 10-3 at home the Chiefs, that was enough of a crushing blow on the public’s parlays to withstand any of their other games.

The Steelers (-7), Ravens (-7) and Broncos (+1½) were all public teams that won and covered, but they didn’t have enough support to make a dent in the sports books cashier cage.

“We had all kinds of parlay risk on the Broncos as the public is fast becoming believers in Tim Tebow,” said Kornegay. “But as we started posting all the scores of the other early games, that risk figure kept dropping with Denver and it ultimately became a decent decision for us.”

The Broncos’ 35-32 comeback win at Minnesota was the final game posted among the early games Sunday.

Once the late games kicked off, the books had to be shocked to see so little risk on all the four remaining games. And then they got a gift with the Giants playing Green Bay tough and Arizona (+4½) upsetting the Cowboys.

Even though the 49ers (-14) were one-sided in tickets count at a 7-to-2 ratio against the Rams, it meant little in the grand scheme because of no other successful links to that games.

The cherry on top of the sundae came when the high scoring Saints stayed under the total (54) in their 31-17 win over the Lions. The win and cover made the Saints a perfect 6-0 ATS at home this season. While there were plenty of people betting the Saints, the straight bets were far outnumbered by the parlays that were tied mostly to the over.

The sports books would have liked to seen the tide turn a little earlier and not after the college football regular season was over. They know better anyone that the cycle comes back around. Some spurts longer and with better results than others, but it does always come back and last weekend might be the start of one.

Super Bowl Futures

The Hilton dropped the Packers down to 3-2 to win the Super Bowl with the next closest team being the Patriots steady at 9-2. After that, it’s the Ravens who have moved up the chart at 7-1 followed by the Saints and 49ers at 8-1. The Steelers are 9-1 while the Texans and Cowboys remain the same as last week at 15-1.

The big movers were the Broncos going from 50 down to 30-1 on the basis of taking over the lead of the AFC West. Should Denver get into a race for a wild card spot, they hold the tie-breaking edge over the Jets (25-1) and Bengals (60-1) on the basis of wins over them.


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