In the older days of Las Vegas there used to be frenzied betting action on Sunday nights at the Stardust when they opened their football numbers for the next week of games.
Every major bettor in the city would stand in line, make their plays and then go to the back of the line and wait to make some more. The bank of pay phones in the back of the book would be jammed with callers relaying all over the country what the opening lines were.
This was in the days before the Internet. With the exception of the Wynn sports book’s weekly college football numbers, the opening football numbers from Las Vegas don’t have the same type of luster and excitement they once did.
Off-shore sports books generally set the pace and take the early lumps of setting a virgin number.
But if anyone wants to get a glimpse of the past they can do so this Friday at the Golden Nugget. They’ll be posting their college football games of the year for the fourth straight year and doing so with no numbers in the world to compare with.
The betting lines will be long with some of the sharpest bettors in the world who will try and get the best of an early number set this far in advance.
The sports book won’t be loaded with only big bettors, either. Just like the old Stardust, because of all the action, the Nugget will be filled with anyone and everyone who has an opinion on college football just to see where the action takes the betting line.
"It’s just a crazy betting scene," said Golden Nugget Sports Director Tony Miller, "We’re going to have several lines that trail out through the casino doors. Others will be sitting and standing around thumbing through their college football annuals looking for any edge on the numbers.
This gives bettors their first real glimpse into the 2011 football season, one that could be without pro football for a few weeks. What it really does, though, is give many of us a bit of nostalgia, a glimpse into the past of how Las Vegas used to be.
For Miller and his staff to offer these numbers before everyone else is a testament of hard work and confidence in their numbers. The trend over the last decade with most Vegas books is to not have the first line out, let off-shore take the sharp early action, and then settle on a consensus number.
So why would Miller do something so against the grain in Las Vegas?
"This generates great publicity for the Golden Nugget brand," said Miller. "We get thousands of people into our property just because of it and I get calls from all over the country regarding the games. It keeps our name out there in an otherwise dead time of the year regarding something everyone loves. Of course, we expect to win and we generate a tremendous amount of handle, which in turns creates that opportunity for us to win."
Last season didn’t go the Nugget’s way in the win department as the early players got the best of the early numbers, but the house did very well in their first two seasons. The system in which they set the numbers is about as old school as it gets, just like the days of the Stardust.
"We use a consensus number between myself, supervisor Aaron Kessler and (former Las Vegas Sports Consultants college football expert) Tony Sinisi," Miller said. "We’ve been analyzing every angle for every team separately for the last three months; things like players lost and returning starters, schedules, who the team plays before and after certain games.
"All these things go into our own personal database, which gives us our own rating for each team. Then we put those numbers together and make a consensus line, which is what the opening number will be," Miller added.
Miller will offer 100 of the best games of the college football season, which are most of the top-25 teams and games from the major conferences. Each game will have a $1,000 limit and a bettor will be able to make three bets then have to go to the end of the line if they‘d like to make more.
The real sharp players will already have their own numbers figured out and when they get their first look at the sheet on Friday at noon, they will have to find the biggest discrepancies from their numbers to the Nugget’s and bet the three accordingly before going to the back of the line.
Because the early numbers are at a premium, some bettors may be inclined to collude with each other in team efforts, but that kind of activity won’t be tolerated.
The whole process with a fast and furious pace of transactions in June makes the overall vibe a can’t miss extravaganza for everyone to witness.
Brian Blessing from Fox Sports Radio will even be there doing his Sports Book radio show live from 2-3 p.m., giving up to the minute updates on the games with the largest moves.
If you never got to see J.J. Walker holding court in the back of the Stardust or Wall Street-type of action in a sports book, you’ll want to be at the Golden Nugget this Friday.