Saturday, November 27, 2010

Las Vegas Betting Moves: Thanksgiving Weekend Always Bad For The Sports Books

By Micah Roberts

We’ve got some fantastic matchups this week in the NFL that will play a huge factor in the fate of several teams playoff chances. In a matter of three hours into Sunday‘s games, both the Giants and Redskins could be tied at 6-5 behind the Eagles in the NFC East, while Green Bay’s performance in Atlanta could determine where they play their postseason games. Even though the Bears have looked weak, they have the same record as the Eagles with a defense that feels confident in stopping Michael Vick.

As crazy as it sounds, the loser of the Chargers-Colts game could be in jeopardy of not making the playoffs while the Chiefs-Seahawks game is one of three involving all first place teams.

Because of the occurrences from Thanksgiving Day -- where the sportsbooks got beat up with the public sides going 5-2 -- there is sure to be some extended value Sunday if looking to play a few underdogs in the late games. The four-day weekend is always one of the least anticipated of the year for the sportsbooks just because of the continual mounting risk. Yes, they love the action, it’s busier than ever, and love the possibility that maybe the four days will net a major profit from that action, but it rarely turns out that way.

With the Thursday games counting as loss, the books now roll into Friday’s college action where they have to sweat out Ohio, who everyone is on which moved from the opener of -3 ½ to -5, against Kent State as they look to clinch their birth into the MAC Championship game. Along the same lines, small money also has Northern Illinois, bumping them up from 23-point favorites to -24 against Eastern Michigan.

As the day goes on, the sportsbooks will have little issues with Alabama as 4-point favorites over Auburn because that is the most balanced game of the day. The only small risk from that game is if Auburn wins outright which pays +155 on the money line.

The danger zone is Friday night where the two-team parlay of Oregon and Boise State will be crippling as the final posted games of the day. Should both the teams cover, the public will enjoy the second consecutive day of Thanksgiving with the book’s doing the giving. Each of their opponents is ranked and should give a good game of, or at least that’s what the books hope. Oregon opened as 18 ½-point favorites to Arizona and is up to -19 ½ while Boise State is -14 at Nevada. There were a few Sharp bets early in the week on Nevada at +14 pushing the game to 13 ½, but the public money dwarfed those plays and the line is currently at -14 again.

The books hopes will rest with Saturday’s full schedule of games to knock out some of the extended parlay risk that is alive from Thursday and Friday. Although there are a lot of key matchups from a historical sense, there aren’t many games, or sides, that the public absolutely loves.

The largest moves of the week came on Marshall laying 8-points all the way up to -10 against Tulane because of Tulane’s quarterback issues. Duke got some support as a 10-point home underdog against North Carolina where the game currently rests at +8. Idaho also got some play this week for their game at Fresno State. Idaho was getting 12-points and has been dropped to +10 ½. Kansas State is on the added board this week playing at North Texas as a 16-point favorite, a game that has dropped to -14.

After three days of action, the books are likely to be 2-1 with a small win on Saturday, but the monster liability is still lingering from Thursday. The majority of football bettors -- the small player who bets parlays -- stick to pro football exclusively. Despite the notion that Saturday may have wiped out much of the risk from the previous few days, there will be huge payouts in store for Sunday.

A traditional Thanksgiving bet from the small bettor is to bet all the favorites together with a couple of totals, then downsize it to some three-teamers and then bet one or two games linked to Sunday’s game. Unlike a normal Sunday, when they post early games that are usually linked with just each other, these games will have a boost of high octane from leftovers. The early NFL games now become a powder keg ready to explode and if the favorite trend from the last two weeks continue, the wrong question to ask any bookmaker is how their Thanksgiving went.

When those first wave of six NFL games end, there will be value on the later games because of that risk and it gets even greater for the Sunday and Monday night games. A meaningless battle of 3-7 scrubs between the 49ers and Cardinals will ultimately decide the fate of the books overall weekend which will be either losing a little or losing a lot. Some books will ride it out and not give anything away by booking the game straight, but others will try and eliminate as much risk as they can by selling off great prices which is where your value comes in.

The biggest move of the week was the Vikings dropping from 3-point underdogs to +1 at Washington. The Jaguars saw some support getting +8 ½ at the Giants, some of it action from the bettors, but at least a half-point move on air as wide receiver Hakeem Nicks will be out leaving the Giants with two backup receivers to start.

The Browns have dropped from 11-point favorites to -10 because they’ll be starting Jake Delhomme at quarterback this week while the Panthers put Brian St. Pierre on the bench in favor of Jimmy Clausen behind center. It’s hard to support the Panthers, but Colt McCoy has been pretty efficient as the Browns leader while on their run. His mobility will be missed in this one.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving weekend; somehow, I already know you have.

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