Sports books: 'worst day ever' in NFL betting

Oct 27, 2009 4:04 PM
NFL Notebook by Micah Roberts |

Players cash with favorites

Nevada sports bettors got a major stimulus package on Sunday, and the giving party to the program was the sports books. If you didn’t win betting pro football last week, it’s likely you didn’t bet.

Sunday was the toughest of all seven weeks this season for Nevada sports books and quite possibly – after all the figures are in – will rank as one of the worst ever.

All the big favorites covered, all the big public games covered, and every lucky break, bounce, tip, and calls went the players’ way.

"No doubt, it was the worst day ever for the books," Jay Kornegay, Las Vegas Hilton’s sports director, told the Review-Journal newspaper.

When the favorites go 9-1-1 in the first 11 games, it’s never a good equation for the books because the public always bets the favorites. In the only two games that didn’t cover, no one cared as the Bills and Texan games were two of the least bet games of the week, both in wagers and ticket counts.

No matter what side they had in the Texans 3-point win, straight bets were returned, and parlays were just reduced because of the tie, which in most cases can be worse because it keeps every parlay bet on that game alive going into the others. A push on a day like Sunday would have gladly been traded for any decision on the game just to cut the larger picture risk.

The straights bets aren’t what hurt the books Sunday. A book can make up the difference of losing a couple of straight bets from the -110 juice and volume from all other wagers on all typical Sunday. What a book can’t make up are the parlays when every side goes the public’s way.

When the masses hit payouts of 6 to 1, 11 to 1, 20 to 1, 40 to 1, and higher, the book can’t make it up over the course of a day, and in Sunday’s case, maybe an entire month.

During the week there wasn’t that many line movements on the sides, but the one that the "sharps" and public both agreed on was the Steelers. Generally when the sharps do well, so do the books and the public loses.

The Steelers were bet from an opener of -4 to -6. The course of the game seemed to indicate the Vikings may be able to stay close or pull off an upset as it was 13-10 Steelers heading into the fourth quarter, but then that’s when the crazy stuff happened.

After the Steelers returned a fumble for a touchdown that looked to be the cover, sports book crowds roared as the Steelers were back up by 10. Before the bettors could stop high-fiving each other with approval, Percy Harvin ran the ensuing kickoff back for TD.

Just as the public was beginning to rip up their morning game 5-teamers, Brett Favre threw an interception and the Steelers took it 77-yards for a TD, bumping the final margin to 10, much to delight of everyone, except those behind the counter.

That 10-point winning margin by the Steelers was the second lowest of the early Sunday games. Of those 1 games, only one game was won by less than 10 points and that was the push, which helped no one.

There were only two games that were double-digit favorites and they were covering before half-time. All the dregs of the NFL resurfaced again a week after believing that maybe the tide had turned. The leaders of the pack were the Raiders, Buccaneers, Browns, Chiefs and Rams, all of whom didn’t cover, again, and were bet against as a group.

As crazy as the Steelers game ended, nothing compares to what happened in the Saints-Dolphins game. The 6-point underdog Dolphins jumped out to a 24-3 lead and there was a sigh of relief from some of the books after getting pounded in the six early games. The biggest risk of the day for the books, after the early results were posted, was the Saints – a favorite wager of the public who had gone 5-0 ATS betting on the Saints this season.

Following half-time, the Saints systematically broke down a tired, weak Dolphins team in the second half, outscoring them 36-10. The books would have even settled for a push at one juncture, getting at least some luck when the Saints missed an extra point and ultimately kept the game as a possible push with the Saints ahead by 6. Early game pushes like the Texans game are no good, but at that juncture of the day it’s much better paying off a parlay of 20 to 1 rather than 40 to 1.

With 1:53 remaining in the game, the final nail in the coffin was hammered into the sports books’ day when the Saints intercepted a Dolphins pass for a touchdown, making the score 46-34. There was a tense moment at the end when Miami had a chance to get the back-door cover, but the final drive stalled at the Saints 5-yard line.

With the Saints posting up another 40-something on the board, it was the fourth time in the six games they have covered that they have scored that many. Is there any wonder why the public has this team included in every one of their betting options?

At the end of the day, there was some relief when the late game had the 7-point favored Giants losing outright to the Cardinals, giving the G-men their second straight loss.

Another bonus to the overall bottom line, was the books posting the futures of Baseball’s American League winners. The Yankees’ win helped the Strip properties much more than the local properties because of the overall tourist traffic throughout the year. When one of the favorites wins on futures, it’s always a good hold for the books.

Next week there are six teams favored by more than a touchdown with the high being the Raiders getting 16 at San Diego. If there were ever a time to make a case for the dogs, there is surely to be value with several of them in the extreme over-reaction to the lines we see.

Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Micah Roberts

Watch every Tuesday for a brand new NFL Notebook article.