Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Sports Books Get Hit Harder than Ever in Week 7 Pro Football Action

By Micah Roberts

Nevada Sports bettors got a major stimulus package on Sunday, and the giving party to the program was the sportsbooks. If you didn’t win betting pro football last week, it’s likely you didn’t bet.

Sunday was the toughest of all seven weeks this season for Nevada Sports Books and quite possibly -- after all the figures are in -- will rank as one of the worst ever. All the big favorites covered, all the big public games covered, and every lucky break, bounce, tip, and calls went to the bettor.

When the favorites go 8-2-1 in the first 11 games, it’s never a good equation for the books because the public always bets the favorites. In the only three games that didn’t cover, no one cared as the Bills and Texans games were two of the least bet games of the week, both in wagers and ticket counts. Plus, the Bears closed as one-point road favorites but a lot of books had the Bengals listed at pick 'em just before kickoff.

No matter what side they had in the Texans (-3) 23-20 win over the 49ers, straight bets were returned, and parlays were just reduced because of the tie, which in most cases can be worse because it keeps every parlay bet on that game alive going into the others. A push on a day like Sunday would have gladly been traded for any decision on the game just to cut the larger picture risk.

The straights bets aren’t what hurt the books Sunday. A book can make up the difference of losing a couple straight bets from -110 juice and volume from all other wagers on all typical Sunday What a book can’t make up is the parlays when every side goes the public way. When the betting masses hit payouts of 6/1, 11/1, 20/1, 40/1, and higher, the book can’t make it up over the course of a day, and in Sunday’s case, maybe an entire month.

During the week there weren’t that many line movements on the sides, but the one that the Sharps and Public both agreed on was the Steelers. Generally when the Sharps do well, so do the books and the Public lose.

The Steelers were bet from an opener of -4 to -6. The course of the game seemed to indicate the Vikings may be able to stay close or pull off an upset as it was 13-10 Steelers heading into the fourth quarter, but then that’s when the crazy stuff happened.

After the Steelers returned a fumble for a TD that looked to be the cover, crowds at the sportsbooks roared as the Steelers were back up by 10. Before the bettors could stop high-fiving each other with approval, the Vikings’ Percy Harvin ran the ensuing kickoff back for TD.

Just as the public was beginning to rip up their morning game 5-teamers, Brett Favre was intercepted and the Steelers took it 77 yards for a TD, bumping the final margin to 10 much to delight of everyone, except those behind the counter.

That 10-point (27-17) winning margin by the Steelers was the second lowest of the early Sunday games. Of those 11 games, only one game was won by less than 10 points and that was the aforementioned Houston push, which helped no one.

There were only two games that were double-digit favorites and they were covering before half-time. All the dreggs of the NFL resurfaced again a week after believing that maybe the tide had turned. The leaders of the pack were the Raiders, Buccaneers, Browns, Chiefs, and Rams, all of whom didn’t cover, again, and were bet against as a group.

As crazy as the Steelers game ended, nothing compares to what happened in the Saints-Dolphins game. The six-point underdog Dolphins jumped out a 24-3 lead and there was a sigh of relief from some of the books after getting pounded in the six early games. The biggest risk of the day for the books, after the early results were posted, was the Saints -- a favorite wager of the public who had gone 5-0 against the spread this season.

Following half-time, the Saints systematically broke down a tired, weak Dolphins team in the second half outscoring them 36-10. The books would have even settled for a push at one juncture, getting at least some luck when the Saints missed an extra point and ultimately kept the game as a possible push with the Saints ahead by 6. Early game pushes like the Texans game are no good, but at that juncture of the day it’s much better paying off a parlay of 20/1 than 40/1.

With 1:53 remaining in the game, the final nail in the coffin was hammered into the sportsbooks day when the Saints intercepted a Dolphins pass for a touchdown making the score 46-34. There was a tense moment at the end when Miami had a chance to get the back-door cover, but the final drive stalled at the Saints 5-yard line.

With the Saints posting up another 40-something on the board, it was the fourth time in the six games they have covered and scored that many points. Is there any wonder why the public has this team included in every one their betting options?

At the end of the day, there was some relief when the late game had the 7-point favored Giants losing (17-24) outright to the Cardinals giving the G-men their second straight loss.

Another bonus to the overall bottom line, which could mask the severity of the day, was the books posting the futures of pro baseball’s American League winners. The N.Y. Yankees win helped the strip properties much more than the local properties because of the overall tourist traffic throughout the year. When one of the favorites wins on futures, it’s always a good hold for the books.

Next week there are six games favored over a touchdown with the high being the Raiders getting 16 at San Diego. After this week, if there was ever a time to attempt to make a case for the dogs, there is surely to be value with several of them in the extreme over-reaction to the lines we see.

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