SB in ’95: It doesn’t
get any sweeter

Jan 30, 2007 1:33 AM

Well, this is the week. The big game.

In the past, it was called the Super Bowl with the Race and Sport Books across Vegas throwing huge parties. Most would have several — one for anybody wanting to go. Usually the price was set at $10 bucks. There would also be a high class one for the book’s best players.

Some parties still exist, but they are now called Big Game or some other stupid thing. Otherwise, the NFL Gestapo will fine you if they catch anyone infringing on their exclusive right to the Super Bowl. If it weren’t for Vegas and all the football bettors, we would be watching SB XLI on ESPN 2 without dumb commercials and outrageous half time shows.

As for me, the NFL can stuff it! Take the criminals and market them in China.

The most memorial Super Bowl I was involved in was 1995 when booking bets in Las Vegas on the San Diego-San Francisco game. What a sweet year, that ’95!

The 49ers opened -16½ that Sunday night at the Stardust, then was bet up to 17. The total was something like 52. I was working at the Excalibur assisting Sir Sid Diamond at the time. On Monday morning we had our usual pow wow in Sid’s office. As memory serves, it was Sir Sid, me, Eric St Clair, who now runs the Rampart/Cannery and Tony Gallenback. Tony eventually ended up in Australia booking USA sports and later some high level management suits, who had no idea.

The first words out of Sir Sid’s mouth was how high we needed to make this game in order to take a big lead with the 49ers and over. We started at 17½, 52½ as two conservative numbers that wouldn’t get us into much trouble. After about 20 minutes we ended up agreeing on 49ers -20 and 54.

As we walked out of the office, the Sports Book floor was wall-to-wall with big time bettors, who knew we were a little nuts and figured our number would differ from the rest of the city. In those days, you could still have an opinion and put up different lines. As time passed and big corporations took over, this practice has become supervisors calling over players and asking if something could be done for them.

We opened the sports lottery with four windows and the big bettors were going absolutely nuts. They just could not get their chips out of their pockets fast enough to take the +20 with the Chargers and go under 54. There were guys toward the back of the line yelling that we should save a little them.

Once the front of the line was done and the back went, the number stayed the same. The bettors couldn’t believe it. Most ran out of funds and were calling around to located more cash. Eventually no one had a dime left. They all just stood there waiting to see if Sir Sid would adjust the line.

With a sneaky look on his face, Sid makes the game -20½ and the total 55. I walk to the board, move the line and the bettors all start yelling that we moved the line the wrong way. Nobody made another bet except for one little old lady, who had $10 and says her son in Pennsylvania wanted to parlay 49ers and over. The writer prints the ticket, the only winner in that first hour of wagering. The little old lady is happy as a lark and says her son will be proud.

Well this is not the end of the story. The money just kept rolling in on the Chargers for some reason on the money line. You could get 10/1 in the early going, but it dropped to around 5/1 at game time. We were so overloaded on the money line that if the Chargers would have won outright, the house was going to lose over $1 million.

Sir Sid needed to let the suits know we could lose a bundle. They panicked and told him he needed to get rid of some $200K. This is part of the story that very few people know about.

Sid had to contact Jimmy Vaccaro, then in charge of the Mirage Sports Book. Vaccaro agreed to take the $200K that our suits couldn’t stomach. Sir Sid was out of his mind and I think this was the incident that led to him move on.

Bottom line: The 49ers romped 49-26 and it could have been much worse. The entire win throughout the State of NV was around $800K. We won more than that just by ourselves. One super wacky week we’ll never forget. I had a ticket on the 49ers and followed the little old lady to the bank.

Well this Super Bowl doesn’t come anywhere near that one, but it looks to be a very interesting game. I really thought the line would stay at the Colts -7 but it keeps going back and forth from -6½ to -7. The 48½ total has stayed pretty firm, but I see it moving higher.

Donny Bader at the Palace Station gave me his best three bets. Bader wagered two props. First, that the Colts would get the first penalty. Second, that the Benson/Jones running tandem for Chicago would go over 72½ total yards. Bader also bet big for Indy on the money line and I totally agree.

My take: I saw a low of -230, but I think by waiting and shopping around the price could fall to -210 on Saturday. So far, I’m betting under 24½ points in the first half. I see both teams a little conservative early, not wanting to make a mistake. I do like the final score to be over 48 ½.

Enjoy the picture of me with hair, about 20 pounds lighter. I think that sweater vest and tie are still in my wardrobe. Good luck with the Big Game. If you are lucky to be invited to one of the parties, have a good time. I’m waiting for an invite. I guess my action isn’t high enough. Maybe there’s enough points to win a buffet.