Anatomy of an initial college football line opener

Sep 3, 2013 3:00 AM opened the first college football lines in the world on May 17. BOL has earned attention recently by posting the first odds in the world for many sporting events. Posting World Openers requires courage; there is no market to consider, no other numbers for comparison.

 A sports book posting a World Opener is naked against the entire sports betting world.

BOL mitigates this risk by accepting the relatively low limit of $500 per bet. Such limits are more than enough for the average bettor, but not enough to interest most professionals. Readers may be thinking: Why wouldn’t the pros bet the $500 – it’s better than nothing? That’s true, but the typical pro would rather not alert the market (through their bets) to which games offer value till they can bet more. With the professionals sitting on the sidelines, the BOL line moves are driven by recreational bettors.

Next, the first lines in Las Vegas, and second line in the world, were opened by the Golden Nugget on June 7. $1000 limits - enough to interest the grinders. Notorious value-hunter Bryan Leonard bet 21 Golden Nugget games for the max last season, getting the best of the closing line two-thirds of the time, with more than a few games moving in his favor by 10+ points!

Throughout July, other sports books began offering lines, but even multiple low-limit outs are not enough to interest the big professionals. They are waiting for the big bet books to open. On Aug, 4, opened CFB lines – with a $10,000 posted limit on CFB sides. The next day, LVH opened with $5,000 limits here in Vegas. One limit bet at each of these big boys equals 30 times the limit available with the BOL openers!

A surprising percentage of the first big bet book to open will post a number far different than the “market” created by the low limit outs. Consider what this means: a) an out like Bookmaker pretty much disregards what the low-limit sports books are doing; b) because they can’t bet enough, the best professional bettors do not bet into and thus do not correct the mistakes of the low-limit sports books.

A majority of readers are betting less than $500 a game – meaning that these early low limit openers not being “corrected” by the sharpest big bettors presents an opportunity to bet soft numbers. 

Sports odds are an unmatched predictor of the future – but it’s vital to understand that odds which include only low-limit books are significantly less predictive due do the lesser expertise of both the oddsmakers and the bettors betting into the market. Understanding the different meanings of different numbers is vital to reading sports betting market movements.

Johnny Avello at Wynn plans continuing opening the first CFB numbers in the world at 3 pm PT on Sundays, taking $1,000 per game. Avello deserves massive credit for giving the town of Vegas the distinction of originating the college football line. As sharp as Avello is, some of his openers will move up to a touchdown, offering great value to those getting down first.

 Adapting what Jon Voight told Bobby De Niro in the movie Heat: the bettor needs to be right about one game; the bookie posting world openers needs to be right about every game.

RJ Bell is the founder of - and co-host of FIRST PREVIEW, heard Monday through Friday at 10 am on ESPN 1100/98.9 FM. Follow on twitter: @RJinVegas. Discussion of this article continues at Contact RJ at [email protected]

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