Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Nevada Sports Books Do Well In First Week of College Football
Football fans jam Las Vegas sports shops
by Micah Roberts
The first weekend of college football hit the sports books like a tidal wave. After going through the serene, day-to-day calm of the sports betting world since March Madness, the first day of football can somewhat be overwhelming, but yet at the same time, more exhilarating and validation to reasons why some chose to work in the profession.
"There was so much excitement in the room with every seat and booth filled," said South Point’s Director of Sports Book Operations Bert Osborne. "They had so many great finishes throughout all points of the day with so many different start times."
There is nothing like a football weekend in the sports book. While much of the rest of the casino is winding down from busy graveyard action, the book sprouts to life with an energy that is unmatched with cheers and yells in unison making the entire casino take notice to what’s going on.
The books did pretty well on Saturday based on how some of the games turned out that had heavy action. It was a nice flow of games that started early with good decisions that saw favored Penn State Ohio State, and Minnesota win but did not cover the spread.
Penn State was a 30-point favorite and was up 31-0 at half-time which had to make all the bettors think, "This is too easy!" But the Akron Zips scored a TD in the second half, while Paterno and the gang took it easy and chose not to run it up; in fact they didn‘t run it anywhere as they didn‘t score making the final score 31-7.
Those were heavy public games early on and when a book can get the day started in the right direction with a few early positive decisions eliminating those legs of parlays, it makes the risk much less going into the afternoon games, which is a whole new wave of games which bettors try to get back to even and maybe even chase a few for that purpose.
"One of our biggest decisions of the day that went our way was the Illinois-Missouri game," Osborne said. "We had a good mix on straight bets, but the parlay action was unbelievably one-sided for that game in laying Illinois. I know a lot of publications and pre-season magazines were all down on Missouri and touted Illinois as one the better plays of the day and the public followed suit with the same opinion."
Illinois opened up a 5½ point favorite and was bet up to 7. The slight movement in the line, Osborne explained, is the perfect example of standard bookmaking in which the book moves only on the straight bets and let the parlays fall as they may. You can only book a game for what is going to happen as a consequence of that particular decision. If it’s the final game of the day and the risk is huge, moving slightly to eliminate known risk is proper, but not for a 12:30 game with dozens of decisions remaining.
In the later games, it was a mix of player and book wins splitting which generally means the house wins when factoring in all the parlay action. The public was on Oklahoma, who lost straight up as a 22-point favorite to BYU. They also were on Alabama who cashed for them vs. Virginia Tech and closed as a 7-point favorite.
Finally to close out the day with the late games, which are always the biggest risk games because of all the parlays waiting to hit on either side, the books split again winning with Washington covering against favored LSU, but losing with Cal’s beat down of Maryland.
In many instances, those late games are four way losses for the books with the sides and totals because of all the day’s built up parlay risk culminating into that final game.
The battle for Los Angeles may have just gotten a little more interesting by the impressive debut of two freshman QB’s – Matt Barkley of USC and Kevin Prince of UCLA. Bruins Head Coach Rick Neuheisel had thrown down the gauntlet in regards to getting UCLA back to being the best team in Los Angeles.
USC Head Coach Pete Carroll hasn’t even acknowledged it or responded to it as if having the hammer vs. nail rivalry mentality. Does the nail think there’s a rivalry with the hammer?
UCLA won by 19 over San Diego State Saturday and two question marks coming into the season were answered. The offensive line is vastly improved and will be able to run the ball along with protecting the QB. Prince came in and controlled the game with confidence not seen by many freshmen, let alone a UCLA QB for the last few years.
USC’s Matt Barkley did the same in their pummeling of San Jose State and looked like a seasoned veteran rather than the first USC freshman to start an opener.
This may not be the year for UCLA to take down USC, but it looks like it’s going to be pretty fun watching these two freshmen for the next four years, if they stay that long.
The Big Game of the Week, and game of the year for Columbus, Ohio, takes place this week between USC and Ohio State. The two teams couldn’t come in from more opposite directions. USC looks sharp in all facets, at least after the first quarter, despite losing almost their entire team to the NFL last season and showcased RB Joe McKnight and freshman QB Matt Barkley.
Ohio State needed a last minute 2-pt conversion returned for TD by the defense to secure a win against Navy. More importantly, their new offense led by QB Terrell Pryor didn’t look that sharp against an undersized Navy defense. It’s possible they were looking ahead to the game this week.
The Las Vegas Hilton opened the game a few months ago with USC a 3½ point favorite and it was bet down to 3. The line for this week’s game is USC -6 points, based on what happened last week.
There appears to be good value on the Buckeyes this week with the over inflated line. As sharp as the freshman looked against San Jose St., the reality is that USC punted in their first five drives of the game. Ohio State struggled late, but it was still a game that was 31-14 before all the Navy trickery.
Had it been the other way around with USC struggling and Ohio State romping last week, the over confidence of the winning side may have been too much for the big game. The wake-up call by Navy may have the Buckeyes a little more alert this week based on last week’s events.