Congratulations Las Vegas bettors. You are doing the unheard of on a consistent basis. You are beating the sportsbooks – three out of five weeks (applause).
It really is a big deal, just because it doesn’t happen like that so easy. Maybe three or four wins in an entire NFL season, but not three of the first five. Wow!
On Sunday, it was the afternoon three-teamer that tells the sad tale of the books’ plight.
Three-team parlays payout 6-to-1 odds off the board in Las Vegas and almost everyone in town had a winning three-team combination in the afternoon games with the favorites of Arizona, New England and Denver covering.
“You just have to win one of those late games and things would be okay. Just one,” said the Stratosphere’s Hugh Citron.
All three of those favorites would cover the number and it set the books up with a huge risk figure heading into Sunday night’s football game with the Giants as 7-point favorites over the 49ers. No one wanted the 49ers. Huge parlays were waiting to cash if the Giants beat down the traveling 49ers like everyone else had this season. Two San Francisco road games this season… average score: 12-45.
“We’re looking at nearly a seven figure loss on the day if the Giants cover with the OVER mixed in with the Rangers and OVER in baseball,” said MGM Resorts VP of race and sports Jay Rood as the football game was kicking off.
Following the Giants’ 30-27 win (no cover) plus the Blue Jays 5-1 win in the ALDS, Rood and the rest of the sportsbook directors around town could take a deep breath of relief having just dodged a bullet. It still turned out to be a loss on the day, but it wasn’t the disaster it could have been.
Things could have been much worse as the perfect storm was brewing with the public riding several popular teams. Three squads – Green Bay, Atlanta, Cincinnati – came into Week 5 with perfect 4-0 ATS marks. Only the Packers would cover on the day among the three, but the timing of the late games and only three teams to choose from had everyone on the same parlay. The books could not escape 6-to-1 payout odds no matter how much wise guy money they might get on the other side.
The public had a no-brainer three-teamer in the afternoon. “Let’s see… Three games kicking off after 1 p.m., huh? Hmm, Arizona should kill the Lions. The Cowboys have no shot against the Pats and Denver has beat the tar out of Oakland seven straight games. Yes, I’ll have a three team parlay for $20, please.”
That type of betting sequence was happening all over Las Vegas from 12:30 to 1:05 p.m. on Sunday and for the third time in five weeks it was enough to beat the books. That’s crazy stuff. The books don’t lose in football consistently, but going 2-3 against the public is pretty big stuff. The casino bean counters are now getting snarkier with their comments in weekly executive meetings.
I guess the comeback comment would be “at least I didn’t lose $1 million.”
Sunday’s storm was brewing early and it took lots of help to get there. Just because a popular team didn’t cover doesn’t mean they didn’t hurt the book.
“Baltimore not covering was an early dagger because all the sharp money was on Cleveland,” said Rood. “And then all the teasers and favorite money-line parlays were riding with Atlanta. We were still barely up for the day in the morning, but the three-teamer in the afternoon did us in.”
In the ultimate salute to Art Modell (guess which gesture), the Browns rolled into Baltimore (-6.5) and won 33-30 in overtime. The Falcons needed overtime to beat the Redskins, 25-19, but failed to cover the 7-point spread. The public was on both favorites, which helped the books with parlays and limited the exposure later in the day.
“The Bears winning cut off a lot of teasers and money-line,” said Citron, “but Packers covering hurt us in the morning.”
The Packers move to 5-0 ATS with its 24-10 win over the Rams while the Bears had a dramatic comeback for the second consecutive week in an 18-17 win at Kansas City.
Things could have been much worse for the books on Sunday, but each were bailed out with the 49ers playing its first inspired road game and getting the cover. Now it’s back to the drawing board with the books trying to get back to .500 on the year against the public. Keep at it bettors! You got the books on the ropes. Don’t let them off the hook.
Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Twitter: @MicahRoberts7 Email: [email protected].