To book or
not to book

Saber’s counterpoint

Mar 1, 2005 8:12 AM

During the Super Bowl you can go into any sports book and find sheets of proposition bets for the big game, but at the bottom of the list there will be a disclaimer — no parlays on the props.

Most players shrug it off, make several straight bets on the props and go about their business. But, as always, there are those that complain and want to know why the books are chicken. Why are they so afraid to take a parlay? The answer is plain and simple — losing!

In the last 10 to 15 years, there have been huge changes in most sports books as major properties have several books under the same umbrella. The job for the director or manager is to protect the money of the company that he works for.

Getting back to the props. There are a lot of prop bets that are related to one another and it can create a big liability for the book. For instance, in baseball books don’t allow parlaying the run line of a game with the "over/under" of the same game.

Most wise guys would love to lay -1½ runs and the "over" in that same game. The logic being that if it is a high scoring game, the winner will usually win by more than a run. With the +1½, the wise guy would like to parlay the "under" with the logic that if it’s a low scoring game the chances of a one run game will greatly increase.

The sports book business has changed in leaps and bounds since my first years at the Stardust back in the ’80s. In those days there were no 6A forms to fill out. sheets to log players’ bets. There were no daily meetings, no 6 a.m. meetings. Your job — putting up the lines, taking bets, moving the lines and hoping for the best.

When I first came on as sports book manager at the "Dust," there were no computers. Tickets were all hand-written. The manager was always at the counter with a clipboard logging bets. In those days you knew who the wise guys were and could adjust the point spreads accordingly. If you knew someone was a square you would just take the bet and move on.

You could take a $10 or $20 wager on the run line parlay without flinching. Today, with computers this bet would have to be approved by a supervisor, who would come from the back room to punch in his or her code so the writer could print the ticket. I only had one book to deal with and that responsibility was far less than today when a book manager has between five and 12 books under his or her responsibility. There would be no way to keep track of who was parlaying what and that could lead to losses.

The big guns upstairs just don’t take too kindly to losses. The bottom line is protection. With the big corporations running the show, you must protect the interests of the company. They are the ones that sign your check. The bettors could care less about that — they just want to crush the bookie. That’s all fine and well, but not in Vegas.

Maybe that works in New York with the friendly neighborhood bookie who drives around in a caddy, runs his own business and only answers to himself. But it doesn’t wash in Vegas. And, by the way, does the neighborhood guy give you comps, free meals, free booze, rooms and a beautiful atmosphere to relax in with most of the games shown live on TV? This all costs the books big money.

So, when you see that disclaimer about no parlays on the props, just have a free beer, make a couple of bets and enjoy it all. It’s just so meaningless, it’s a joke. We have it all here in Vegas, so take advantage, enjoy life and quit complaining.