Bettors came strong to the windows in NFL Week 1 betting

Sep 10, 2019 7:28 AM

Baseball has been killing Nevada sportsbooks for the last month and the bean counters in the casinos have been vocal about the losses and how to curb the trend.

But book directors had a savior coming up in the first week of the NFL season where the action is fast and furious and the greed of multiple-legged public parlays would surely generate some numbers in the black.

As expected, the bettors came strong to the windows just like they always do in Week 1 of the NFL season after a long summer. But the problem for the house was that they were correct in most of their choices, including four of the most popular parlay teams with the Ravens, Chiefs, Rams, and Cowboys. They all covered and they all went over the total which makes for an awesome 8-team parlay (150-1 payout) if anyone rolled that strong, and some did.

And then the popular Patriots closed out Sunday night’s action with a 33-3 win against the lifeless Steelers.

It was a hard jam for any bookmaker to get out of but the saving grace was some wiseguy play on most of those losing teams the public played parlays with and also a couple of upsets that included a last-second back door against the largest number of the week, an overhyped team getting beat outright at home, and a rookie QB coming to life in the fourth quarter to go on an 18-0 run to help eventually get the cover with a tie.

The difference across the state was what type of action they were taking. William Hill sportsbooks take tons of public parlay action and they’re probably the most influential book in the states, at least in volume. But the public beat them up on Sunday and also on Monday night with Saints money-line and Over, a 30-28 win over the Texans (+7) and with so much risk attached to the final game with Oakland winning, 24-16, it didn’t really matter at that point.

I asked my buddy Marc Nelson, the sportsbook director up north at the Atlantis Reno what his best scenario was Monday night with the two games and he sarcastically said in a way only he can.

“If both games get canceled,” was his response as a reference to what kind of public destruction happened up there Sunday with carryover parlay risk. It doesn’t help that the popular Northern California teams, the 49ers, and Raiders, both won and covered as well from all the normal weekend visitors betting.  

But all wasn’t gloom, especially from the bet shops that get more sharp action than public parlays. Circa sportsbook downtown considered the weekend results “fair” but said they haven’t got the heavy public play yet. By the way, you need to get the app whether you think you’re part of the herd betting the same games or if thinking you’re sharp. Either way, it’s a win-win. Go get it!

The Westgate SuperBook has a unique mix of the public and sharps, but still have an average bet per wager higher than most local off-the-Strip books. 

“We had a solid Saturday and Sunday and were a small loser Monday,” said SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. “We’ll take that every weekend.”

Station Casinos likely takes the second-most parlay action in the state behind William Hill, but corporate book director Jason McCormick said they got out of the weekend O.K., which was a major surprise to me.

“We were a small winner on the Monday night games,” McCormick said. “It was a solid opening weekend for us with Saturday’s college results leading the way.”

Jeff Stoneback at MGM Resorts got their gift wish on Monday with the Texans and Raiders covering, but their whales change the entire complexion of what they need with $50,000 and $100,000 plays on the first half and second halves of games. The 8-team public parlay compilation doesn’t really hit the worry monitor like it would at the local chains.

Usually, when favorites go 7-8-1 against-the-spread in NFL it’s a monster weekend for the house because the public love to bet the favorites. But in Week 1 they bet the favorites they liked the most and cashed most of them with the exception of the Eagles (-10), Browns (-5.5) and Lions (-3 EV). 

Perhaps the most exciting game on Sunday was watching Kliff Kingsbury’s offense in Arizona finally wake up from the dead through three quarters and mount an amazing charge with No. 1 overall draft pick QB Kyler Murray to send the game into overtime and get a 27-27 tie. It’s not a win, but it’s also not a loss and if you watched the Cardinals in the preseason and the first three-quarters Sunday, you’d have to say it was a win or at least a cover and also a savior to the books Sunday. The Lions went from pick ‘em to -3 based on the poor preseason play and the total also moved down three points to 46 due to expectations of confusion with a rookie coach and rookie QB.   

And speaking the Cardinals, it should be noted that Week 1 to Week 2 is the biggest overreaction to a team’s rating. Don’t believe entirely what you saw last. The Ravens looked amazing with Lamar Jackson throwing 5 TDs in a 59-10 blowout against the Dolphins, but this is the NFL. Mutiny or not, the Dolphins players don’t want to look bad on film much longer or future employment.

The Ravens are not that good and the Dolphins, despite trading key players and other key players wanting to be trading, are not that bad. And if you think so, you can get as many as 19 points (at Caesars Palace) for Sunday’s game against the Patriots. 

Don’t put too much into the Browns’ loss, or the Steelers’ loss, either. The spread catches up with every team, so roll into Week 2 of the NFL season with a mind not clouded too much about what happened in Week 1.

WHAT’S IN A GT VIP ACCOUNT? Amazing content, analysis, stats, and a digital paper for only 21 cents a day.