The LVH Superbook is most assuredly a “wiseguy friendly” establishment, consistently ranked along with the Cantor sports books as the best in town.
Jay Kornegay and his staff are industry leaders – the betting boards at LVH are loaded with a bevy of wagering opportunities that many books in town don’t offer; particularly around Super Bowl time.
Kornegay doesn’t ratchet up the juice either, offering 10 cent lines during baseball season and 20 for his win totals on both NFL and college football. On their future book, the LVH is willing to adjust in both directions. For example, within the past week, the LVH adjusted their “odds to win the division” for the 2012 NFL season on 10 of the 32 teams.
Five of those teams are now more expensive to buy – less of a return on investment since last week. But five are now cheaper to buy, offering better value than a week ago. Many books in town simply adjust odds down from their openers in response to the bets they’ve received. LVH is one willing to adjust upwards in an effort to attract more handle.
LVH took center stage in the betting world this past Sunday, releasing lines for 100 upcoming College Football Games of the Year. It was the first book to post numbers on college games since the Golden Nugget more than a month ago. But frankly, not many “wiseguys” showed up and the action can only be described as quiet.
LVH showed confidence in their numbers, not moving the spread off any single $1,000 limit bet. During the first three hours following Sunday’s openers, only five point spreads moved at all. Why so quiet? I have a few theories, but no hard facts.
First, many professional bettors have their focus pointed elsewhere, as I described in last week’s column about the World Series of Poker. Las Vegas in July can be a miserable place – if you can afford to get out of town and have the time to do it, you’ll probably schedule some sort of vacation. There simply aren’t as many sharp bettors trolling for good numbers right now compared to what we’ll see in two months.
The second theory correlates strongly with wiseguy betting strategies. Sharp bettors spend half their lives looking for line variance; shopping for an extra half point here, an extra point there. At this stage of the summer, there aren’t many betting options for college football games – the Nugget and LVH are the only two books that have posted numbers.
There were some dramatic differences between the openers at the two sports books, but the days of seven point middles are a thing of the past.
LVH didn’t post a single college football point spread that was more than four points off the current Nugget number. And most of the LVH numbers were within a point or two of the current Nugget numbers, not enough of a variance to attract bettors looking to lock in middles six weeks before the opening kickoff.
It’ll likely take a third book or a fourth book to post before bettors really start to fire away.
The third theory has to do with bankroll management. The 2011 college football season was not a banner year for wiseguy bettors, to put it mildly. The books beat the sharps early and often last year, leaving some with depleted bankrolls and others grasping for new strategies for the upcoming campaign.
As a result, there is less wiseguy money around to bet into these virgin numbers this year, and more tentativeness when it comes to firing out limit bets in July, where the books will hold the cash for months until the game is actually played.
OK, time to talk about the actual numbers for the upcoming college football campaign. There were some significant variances between the Nugget’s openers last month and the LVH openers on Sunday. Many of those variances were “Phil Steele related” – clearly, the LVH paid attention to Steele’s opinions in his highly influential 2012 College Football Preview magazine.
Here are a few examples. Steele is very high on Florida State, ranking them No.1 in his preseason Top 40 poll. For the Seminoles Sept. 22 game at home against Clemson, the Nugget hung Florida State as an 8-point favorite and watched bettors drive the number all the way up to -11. At the LVH on Sunday, that same game opened with Florida State at -15.
Steele is also very high on USC, while calling for Syracuse to challenge Temple for last place in the Big East this year. The Nugget opened the Sept. 8 USC-Syracuse matchup at the Meadowlands with the Trojans as 2-point favorites. That number was bet up to USC -22½. At the Hilton last Sunday, USC was -25½.
West Virginia was another team the two books clearly had differing opinions. The Nugget gave the Mountaineers some respect, installing them as only 4½ point underdogs in their Big 12 road opener at Texas on Oct. 6. Bettors subsequently drove that number up to -6½ at the Nugget. When the Hilton opened on Sunday, West Virginia was +8.
It was a similar story for the West Virginia- TCU game on Nov. 3. The Nugget gave the Mountaineers ample respect, installing them as 7- point home favorites against the Horned Frogs. Bettors pushed that number down to -6. When LVH opened last Sunday, West Virginia was -3½.
The Oklahoma-West Virginia game Nov. 17 had a similar point spread discrepancy. The Nugget opened the Mountaineers +4 home underdogs, but the Hilton installed Dana Holgorsen’s team at +7.
The LVH and the Nugget didn’t post numbers on all the same games. The Nugget hung numbers on 111 games; the LVH hung 100 numbers, but by my unofficial count the two books had only 64 in common. This left sharp bettors with relatively few of the middling opportunities that they covet.
While much of this article has focused on the Game of the Year point spreads, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss another set of numbers that the LVH just released – college football season wins.
There are 35 teams are on the LVH betting board, including our own UNLV Rebels, lined at Over /Under 3 wins for their upcoming 13 game campaign.
LVH opened Louisville O/U 8, LSU 10 and Mississippi State 7. As of last Sunday, you had to lay -175 to bet the Bulldogs over that seven win number.
It’s worth noting that a half win in college football can be worth more than the standard 50 cents = ½ win formula widely used for NFL Season Win bettors.
These relatively minor discrepancies are significant. For many college teams, the actual “Are they likely to win or lose the game” question is not in doubt for more than half of their schedule – even for middling teams.
That’s why we saw initial “feeding frenzies” on the few teams that offered real variance between the Las Vegas numbers and the numbers from the offshore world.
(Teddy has been a successful professional sports bettor here in Las Vegas since 1998. Follow him on Twitter @teddy_covers)