Vegas Sports Books take a licking

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There’s no delicate way to put this, Sir, we got pummeled.

That was a likely line many sports book directors had to tell their bosses both Saturday and Sunday nights after bettors across the state had all the stars aligned perfectly for them making it the perfect storm.

On normal weekends where the sports book usually wins, the sports book director will get a call from either the general manager, CFO, COO, president or owner of a casino; sometimes it’s a combination of all five. They’ll call to see how much was won on the day because they know the sports book’s fluctuating win/loss figure, a number that is virtually impossible to forecast, can be the major difference between making fourth quarter budget or falling short.

On this weekend most sports book directors didn’t wait for the call, they made the call directly to be the bearer of bad news.

It was a gravy train that started where small public money lit the fuse on Thursday night with the Oregon Ducks covering 24 points and continued through the powder keg of dynamite Sunday night with the Packers covering 6 on the road at Atlanta. In between those two games was a run on favorites that even the hottest hand on the craps table had to admire.

It wasn’t just that the favorites went 32-20 against-the-spread in college football over the weekend, or the pro’s went 7-5, it was WHO the favorites were. Eleven of the top 12 college teams played with 10 covering. The only failure was No. 11 Texas because the opponent was No. 3 Oklahoma, who pounded the Longhorns 55-17.

Most of the small money players like to play teams they know, or like, rather than betting the number or value. It makes it more fun to root for teams that are consistently reliable as well as being able to watch them on TV. The top ranked teams always have the most action on them and the favorite is usually the side that is weighted the most.

It’s very rare to see all the top favorites come in, which is why college football is usually a very consistent win source for the books year after year with not as much fluctuation as the pros. The point spread is supposed to even the tables for the book and bettor, but last weekend it was completely one-sided.

Boise State (-21) covered Friday night carrying over two and three-team parlays into Saturday where Clemson (-20) got a fourth-quarter touchdown to cover at Boston College 36-14 and then No. 1 LSU (-14) punished Florida 41-11. Oklahoma State (-29) rolled, as did everyone’s favorite “favorite” Stanford who have yet to be beaten against-the-spread. Arkansas (-10) rolled and Michigan (-7.5) scored 28 unanswered second-half points to cover against Northwestern.

If there was one saving grace that helped the sports books Saturday, it was No. 13 Georgia Tech who had covered their previous five games with each of their totals also going OVER. They failed to make it happen this time. Tech won 21-16, failing to cover the 15-points against Maryland and going UNDER the total for the first time.

There was another small bit of good news as well. All season long the sports books have been getting killed on the late national TV games with the favorites. Las Vegas Hilton Super Book executive director Jay Kornegay said last week they have gone 1-12 in the isolated night games coming into this week. On Saturday, there was only one big game to contend with, the struggling Ohio State Buckeyes playing at Nebraska (-11).

Everyone was down on Ohio State’s offense making the Huskers one of the more popular plays of the week with small money on parlays. Sharp money didn’t have an opinion on the game, although there was some Buckeyes money when +11½ showed up. Ohio State jumped out to a 20-6 half-time lead easing some sports book directors a little who were already numb from results of the early games. Beating down Nebraska would just make the final losses less.

But then that public tidal wave started again and Nebraska rode the wave to outscore Ohio State 28-7 in the second half making it 34-27, much to the delight of sports book crowds everywhere. Had Nebraska scored one more touchdown, it would have been one of the largest scores for the public on one college football Saturday ever with all the parlays multiplying.

After a few heart pounding final minutes of the game for both the bettors and sports books, the game ended 34-27 with the Buckeyes getting the money.

Now the stage is set for Sunday where each of the pro football games have an extraordinary amount of parlay risk tagged to them from the previous day ready to explode. It was almost an exact repeat of the previous Sunday where the books got hammered. The days started out well with popular teams like the Eagles, Giants and Saints not covering, but the final wave of action in the afternoon games destroyed just about every sports book.

Two late field goals by the Chargers and Patriots gave those two favorites the cover. In the case of the Patriots, the field goal also sent the game OVER the total of 50, which ignited even more parlays. With San Francisco smoking the Buccaneers and that total going OVER, it made the favorite to OVER combo – the most popular public play weekly – 6-0 in the afternoon games, a situation no book could overcome no matter how much sharp large money action they got on the other side.

The small money in masses at multiplied parlay odds will always be the most formidable opponent to the sports books, especially on weekends like last week. Most of the sharp money’s best days are when the sports book has a great day beating the public.

The Packers seemed like an extremely high road favorite (-6) at Atlanta, but the public didn’t care what the spread was. In their minds, Aaron Rodgers can’t be stopped no matter how good Atlanta has been at home with Matt Ryan and they were correct as the Packers overcame a 14-0 deficit to win 25-14. The win capped off all kinds of fireworks with several big parlays culminating.

Those parlays that are still alive are resting on the Lions Monday night.

Congratulations to the bettors out there who did the damage this week; well done!

If there is any silver lining in the loss for the sports books, it’s that a lot of that money will be back for action this week with double and triple the bankroll most of the bettors generally wager with. This should produce at least a 10% to 15% increase in same week handle from last year.

It’s funny how seasons change, because last year the small player couldn’t catch a break until week 10 and here we are heading into Week 6 with the players having two unbelievable weekends. It just goes to show that everything cycles around in betting sports no matter how sharp or good a number is.

 

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