It’s the middle of June in the sweltering heat of a Las Vegas summer. With most bettors’ wagering menu already full with the NBA Finals and 10 weeks of baseball data just about everyone with a bankroll is thinking college football.
The Golden Nugget released spreads on 111 games over 15 weeks from the upcoming season that sports book director Tony Miller and his staff thought were the most attractive. The Nugget highlighted the most anticipated games everyone wants to see, like the Nov. 3 SEC clash with Alabama getting 2 at LSU.
There are plenty of rivalry games such as Colorado -6 against Colorado State on Sept. 2. That’s the beauty of what Miller and the GN tapped into six years ago when first offering the Games of the Year and became the starting point to where the market would actually go when other books eventually first offer the matchups.
“We wanted something that would make us stand out a bit and appeal to a broad audience of both out-of-town visitors, locals, sharp money, and small money,” Miller said, “The initial response was overwhelming and it has continued to grow each ensuing year.”
For Miller to put his neck out there for every wise guy in the city to take a chop at could be seen as dangerous, but he has held his own quite well showing a profit in four of the five previous years. It’s one-on-one, bettor vs. bookmaker. No odds screen to help the bettor know what is a good or bad number, but there are no other competing numbers.
The process on Monday began with dozens of bettors lining up to get their first whack at the virgin numbers. Bettors were allowed to bet three games at $1,000 each per visit and then they had to go to the back of the line. This process went on at a frenzied pace for an hour until every ounce of perceived value was drained.
The biggest movers came on Ohio State with two of their games changing the most. The Golden Nugget assistant manager Aaron Kessler said this was the first year they haven’t seen massive moves on a few select teams. The early action was spread out across the menu.
“We didn’t have any games move more than twice one way within the first hour of action,” said Kessler, who took more than 100 limit wagers in that first hour.
According to sharp money, Urban Meyer is going to make a much bigger impact than expected as Ohio State comes off a losing season. Michigan State was a 4½-point home favorite for the Sept. 29 game and Buckeyes money has pushed the game to -2½.
Michigan may have finally beaten Ohio State last season, but the bettors are saying it’s back to the usual this year when they meet Nov. 24 in Columbus. The Wolverines opened -3 and it’s now a pick’em.
A sign of how good Ohio State might be was taken even further when wagers were taken on the same Michigan squad at +12 against Alabama on the opening week at Cowboys Stadium pushing the game down to -10.
Even though the wagers are for only $1,000 now when $5,000 will be offered the week of the game, the early action shows the thought process of what the sharpest college football minds in town are thinking on certain teams.
Many of the lines will be vastly different by the time the games actually kick off and an assist will be given to each one of the bettors who showed their cards at the Golden Nugget in June for helping set the market.