Thursday, November 24, 2011

Several Contending Teams Finding Themselves with ? at QB

Jay Cutler being out is a major problem for Bears
While Aaron Rodgers is setting NFL records and leading the Packers to an undefeated season with Las Vegas sports books giving the option whether they do it or not, other teams are finding themselves in quarterback question-mark-land.

After the Packers (8/5), Patriots (9/2), 49ers (6/1), Steelers (10/1), Ravens (10/1), and Saints (12/1), we have a couple teams that were contenders for the Super Bowl that now have major questions at the quarterback position. The Texans (15/1) will be without Matt Schaub for the remainder of the season as will the Bears (30/1) as they make their journey without Jay Cutler.

On a lesser note, the Chiefs (1000/1) will have to try and win the AFC West without Matt Cassel as they sit two games behind the first-place Oakland Raiders (20/1) with their newly acquired Carson Palmer. They’re only two games out of first place in a division that looks to rival the weak NFC West of last season where an automatic playoff position could be reserved for a .500 team or worse.

Quarterbacks make the league and despite all the rules in place to protect them, we currently have two legitimate teams that were candidates to win the Super Bowl in jeopardy of not even making the playoffs now. The Bears immediate plans have Caleb Hanie making his first NFL start Sunday at Oakland while the Texans will rely on Matt Leinart at Jacksonville.

The Bears were looking at being a small favorite at Oakland, but when news of Cutler’s broken thumb came out, sports books overreacted with the number and made Oakland a 5-point favorite. Cutler is worth 3-points to the line, but to suggest he was worth 6-points was a bit ridiculous. Most Las Vegas sports books currently have the Raiders as 4 to 4 ½-point favorites which is still giving Cutler a little more credit than deserved.

The feeling with the Texans is that Leinart should be okay with the best offensive line in football to go along with Adrian Foster. Schaub has taken a back seat this season to Foster and the running game. Not having Andre Johnson to throw to for the last few weeks has made it unnecessary to throw like 2009, but even with Johnson in the lineup the Texans were still geared towards the run.

The Texans opened as 3-point favorites this week at Jacksonville and have been bet up to -3 ½ with most of that a testament to how the Jaguars have played under their rookie QB Blaine Gabbert. Basically, Gabbert appears lost in the NFL set.

Both the Bears and Texans may have found some relief with a proven NFL quarterback being tossed on waivers by Denver with Kyle Orton. The Chiefs immediately claimed him and hope that they can go into their AFC West division battle with someone other than Tyler Palko.

However, the Bears would seem like the perfect fit for Orton to keep their hopes alive for post-season play and a shot to take down the Packers. Caleb Hanie did well for the Bears -- making a game of the NFC Championship, but the organization has to realize that the future isn’t good with him which is why the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book raised the Super Bowl odds on Chicago from 15-to-1 to 30-to-1.

As for Orton’s old team, Denver, it’s hard what to make of their situation. What GM or VP makes negative remarks about their starting quarterback after he’s gone 4-1? John Elway still hasn’t given his endorsement to Tim Tebow. You could kind of tell by Elway’s polite golf clap after an exciting game winning touchdown by Tebow last Thursday against the Jets that Elway's is still in search of the Broncos QB of the future, maybe Matt Barkley.

The Chargers have been on a skid that has seen them lose five games in a row with their last win coming against the Broncos in week 5, a game where Tebow came in late to almost win and eventually sealed the fate of Orton. San Diego has been a steady 6 ½-point favorite all week, but Las Vegas oddsmaker Kenny White says Tebow presents a problem in making the odds.

“Good option quarterbacks always present a problem in making the line because there is such a large variable with them whether it’s college, or now the in pro’s with Tebow,” said White who co-stars in Discovery’s Velocity channel TV show ‘The Linemakers’. “Their running for yardage and ability to move the chains by themselves is something that we haven’t had to analyze much as much on the pro level but is proving to be one that has to be strongly considered in making a team rating for Denver,“

The team Denver and Tebow just beat, the Jets -- and most notably their head coach Rex Ryan, are doing all they can to ruin the confidence of their signal caller Mark Sanchez. Ryan had back-up Mark Brunnell taking first string snaps during practice this week as somewhat of a message that he’s not happy with his quarterback’s play.

All Sanchez has done since he’s been there is go to two straight AFC Championship games, but Ryan still thinks he has to send a message to his QB through the media. Maybe it’s because Ryan is a defensive coach, but he has a lot to learn about how to handle the leader of his club. The QB position -- the franchise of the organization -- should be treated delicately, yet Ryan feels the need to embarrass his through the media.

The Jets welcome a struggling Bills squad that got worse news than losing four out of their last five with RB Fred Jackson being lost for the season. The Jets went from 7 ½-point favorites to -9 following the news. It also doesn’t help the spread that new multi-millionaire Bills QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown 10 interceptions in his last five games.

While the Bears and Cowboys put claims in for Orton, it appears that he’s headed for Kansas City. Orton likely won’t play in this week’s home game against the Steelers, but you never know based on Tyler Palko’s performance Monday night against the Patriots. Palko didn’t look all that bad, but the parts he did looks bad in, it was apparent that he had never started an NFL game before.

The Steelers are 10 ½-point favorites for this one, almost the same line it was two years ago when the Chiefs had a huge 27-24 upset against the Steelers in week 11. We know the Chiefs have some fight in them based on their four game winning streak, but sandwiched outside of those win is the first three games and last three games that resonate the most with this line. Kansas City’s first three weeks saw them outscored 109-27 and the last three weeks it’s been 82-16 for the other teams.

The Cardinals-Rams game is off the board at most Vegas sports books because of Kevin Kolb’s uncertainty, but does it really matter? John Skelton has proven to be an efficient QB in going 2-1 this season. The difference between the two is maybe 1-point. The sports books that do have the line up have St. Louis a 3-point favorite.

Michael Vick didn’t practice Wednesday and the line based on him not playing is Patriots -3. Vince Young did very well in the Eagles win over the Giants last week despite throwing 3 picks. For some reason, there seemed to be an urgency with the Eagles, and although Young is not known for leadership, it seemed there was more than Vick has offered.

Matt Hasselbeck is expected to start for the Titans Sunday at home against the Buccaneers. However, the spread hasn’t reflected Hasselbeck’s status in Las Vegas. He‘s been the one reason Tennessee has maintained a decent rating in their games this season, yet the spread (-3 ½) respect him. The difference between him and Jake Locker is worth at least 3-points, but we’ve only seen a change of a half-point.

It’s a quarterback league and there is no better example than week 12 of the season to demonstrate how important they are to the spread and also future odds posted by the Hilton. A large portion of the teams are severely affected right now by their players taking the snaps.

Should Matt Flynn have to start for Green Bay due to another concussion by Rodgers at Detroit, sports books like Lucky’s in Las Vegas will have to do some major changes to their undefeated proposition that says the Packers will go unbeaten in the regular season (Yes +280/No -360).

Friday, October 7, 2011

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sports Books Do Well In Early Games With Titans

After beating the Steelers soundly last week, the entire betting population seemed to have action on the Ravens this week laying 5 ½-points at Tennessee. Most bettors had them tied up in parlays and teasers as the key game, so when the Titans won 23-13, the sports books had just hit the power ball on the day and scooped the majority of the chips.

Sharp money was on the Titans and kept the game below 6-points, although many sports books tried the number out briefly just because of all the mounting Ravens risk. Whenever the number popped up, it wasn’t long before the number was sniffed out by the smart money and bet.

Despite sharp money taking away some of the straight bet win on the game, the game immediately eliminated risk from the popular parlays with the Jets, Lions and Steelers.

The Steelers once again showed their mite as teams continue to have hangovers the week after playing them. In this instance, rather than being beat up, the Titans game was a total let down for them. There was no way to recreate the same intensity against a team like the Titans who everyone thought was done for.

Matt Hasselbeck kept the Ravens defense off balance all day throwing for 358 yards and a touchdown pass. Tennessee’s offense piled up 432 yards of offense to Baltimore’s 234. Joe Flacco was sacked three times and forced into throwing two interceptions by the Titans revamped defense.

Next up for the Titans is a visit from the Broncos while the Ravens travel to St. Louis.

Mayweather Saves Las Vegas Sports Books

The first two weeks of college football action had seen the public favorites negate what could have been winning days for Las Vegas sports books. Past history has shown that when there is an evenly mixed ratio of underdogs to favorites winning, the house does well. Even though the favorites went only 25-23, Saturday’s games followed the same trend of the previous two weeks with public teams like Wisconsin, Stanford, Oklahoma, USC and Miami piling up large parlay payouts that the books couldn’t counter with.

However, for at least one chain of books, they fared well on the day thanks to a little boxing match held at their property. The MGM Resorts properties were cringing with every college football final score they posted on Saturday night, but got good news with Floyd Mayweather’s controversial fourth-round knocked of Victor Ortiz at the MGM Grand.

Other sports books around town all fared well on the bout too, but a major chunk of the state’s action on the fight was taken within the MGM and their other properties like the Mirage, Mandalay Bay and Bellagio.

Mayweather had opened a large -900 favorite over Ortiz and the sports books couldn’t find anyone to lay it. From the time the line came out until the start of the first round, it was all Ortiz money, both small and large. Mayweather closed as a -500 favorite at the MGM and dipped to -475 at the South Point.

Usually in fights where there is a big favorite like this, the sharp money likes to wait until the last possible moment because they know the public will always be all over the underdog due to the high returns should they win; they like the bet a little to win a lot. When the Sharps feel the price is as low as it will go, then they come with the large bets.

Between the small money and large money both being on Ortiz, the day’s college football losses took a back seat to the big win.

The rest of the city didn’t have the fortune of having the match at their property like the MGM did, but still managed to ease the pain of the large college football losses at the end of the day.

The biggest blow was the three-team 6-to-1 parlay from the night games with USC (-16) beating Syracuse, Oklahoma (-3) winning at Florida State and Miami (-2 ½) dominating Ohio State. Those results were magnified even worse when Stanford came in with their impressive 37-10 win at Arizona.

Games that helped the sports books not lose as much began with Nebraska (-17) getting back doored by Washington to win 51-38. TCU (-29) had a rough start in their game against Louisiana-Monroe, eventually winning 38-17, but didn’t cover.

The big 40-20 UNLV win over Hawaii could have been a massive win for the sports books -- and it did kill all kinds of dangerous parlays, but Sharp money was all over the Rebels despite their horrendous efforts in their first two games. Hawaii dropped from a 20 ½-point favorite all the way to -17 by kickoff. The books avoided the public parlay wrath, but still eventually lost the game because of the overwhelming large money on straight bets with UNLV.

UNLV paid out as the biggest money-line underdog winner of the day at 7-to-1 odds. Of the 23 underdogs that covered on the day, 12 of them won outright. Tulane’s 49-10 surprising 49-10 win at UAB paid out at 7-to-2 odds and Wyoming’s 28-27 win at Bowling Green gave 3-to-1 odds. However, there weren’t too many bettors that could say they had the foresight that actually had tickets on those games.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

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Thursday, September 1, 2011

Kenny White's College Football Oddsmaker Poll - August 30, 2011


Rank Team Rating     AP Rank
1 Oklahoma 119.5         1
1 Alabama 119.5           2
3 Oregon 117.3             3
4 Florida State 116.2     6
5 Stanford 115.7            7
6 Boise State 114.8       5
6 Wisconsin 114.8        11
8 Oklahoma State 114.7 9
9 South Carolina 114.6 12
10 Texas A&M 112.8    8
11 LSU 112.7                4
11 Arkansas 112.7       15
13 Notre Dame 112.3  16
14 Southern Cal 112.2  25
15 Virginia Tech 111.9 13
16 Georgia 111.5         19
17 Missouri 111.4         21
18 Texas Christian 111.1 14
18 Michigan State 111.1 17
20 Florida 110.9            22
21 Nebraska 110.8       10
22 Ohio State 110.4      18
23 Texas 110.3             26
24 Mississippi State 110.2 20
25 Arizona State 108.6   28
25 Brigham Young 108.6 33
27 Penn State 108.5      27
28 Michigan 108.2        38
29 North Carolina 108.1 NR
30 Miami 108.0            29
30 Auburn 108.0           23
30 West Virginia 108.0 24

Monday, August 1, 2011

Monday, July 25, 2011

Las Vegas Hilton Super Book 2011 College Football Season Wins


TEAM          WINS

ALABAMA        10      OVER -135   UNDER +115

OKLAHOMA       10      OVER -110   UNDER -110

BOISE ST      10.5     OVER -120   UNDER EVEN

LSU            9.5     OVER +140   UNDER -160

STANFORD        9      OVER +130   UNDER -150

SOUTH CAROLINA  9      OVER +120   UNDER -140

ARKANSAS       8.5     OVER -110   UNDER -110

TEXAS A&M      8.5     OVER -135   UNDER +115

GEORGIA        8.5     OVER -160   UNDER +140

OKLAHOMA ST    8.5     OVER -110   UNDER -110

NEBRASKA       9.5     OVER -140   UNDER +120

FLORIDA ST     9.5     OVER -130   UNDER +110

VIRGINIA TECH  10      OVER -160   UNDER +140

WISCONSIN      9.5     OVER -120   UNDER EVEN

ARIZONA ST      8      OVER -130   UNDER +110

WEST VIRGINIA  9.5     OVER +150   UNDER -170

FLORIDA        7.5     OVER +110   UNDER -130

USC            7.5     OVER -130   UNDER +110

NOTRE DAME     8.5     OVER -160   UNDER +140

TEXAS           8      OVER -130   UNDER +110

MISSISSIPPI ST 7.5     OVER +110   UNDER -130

MIAMI FL        8      OVER -120   UNDER EVEN

OREGON ST      6.5     OVER +110   UNDER -130

TCU             9      OVER -120   UNDER EVEN

BYU            8.5     OVER -150   UNDER +130

MISSOURI       7.5     OVER -150   UNDER +130


AUBURN          6      OVER -155   UNDER +135

TENNESSEE      6.5     OVER -120   UNDER EVEN

PENN ST        7.5     OVER -175   UNDER +155

NORTH CAROLINA  8      OVER -130   UNDER +110

MICHIGAN        7      OVER -125   UNDER +105

UTAH           7.5     OVER +130   UNDER -150

NEVADA          8      OVER +120   UNDER -140

UNLV           2.5     OVER -150   UNDER +130




Friday, June 10, 2011

Auburn Gets Picked On In Golden Nugget's College Football Games On the Year

By Micah Roberts

After the first few hours of action at the Las Vegas Golden Nugget Sports Book, director Tony Miller and his crew had already booked more action on their College Football Games of the Year than they did last season, and this was with close to 80 games less. Action opened just after noon on Friday and the bettors lined up to get all they could at the 100 or so games offered and picked on several teams in the fashion a lion does to a wounded gazelle in the Serengeti.

Wagers were limited to $1,000 per bet and only three bets could be made per window visit and then it was back to the end of the line. The bulk of the bettors had the same ideas on quite a few teams. They seemed to think higher than the Golden Nugget on teams like Notre Dame, LSU, Georgia and Tennessee. They also thought less of Auburn, Michigan and TCU than the Nugget did.

Below is a list of all the opening lines and what they moved to during a four hour betting period. You'll notice that all Auburn games seem to be the biggest move againsts of the day.

The Golden Nugget will have all these lines posted throughout the season until the week the games start.

List of Golden Nugget's College Football Games of the Year

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Say it ain't So, Papa Joe; Chevalier Passes

By Micah Roberts
Gaming Today

Papa Joe will be dearly missed
The sports world lost one of it’s all-stars Friday when sports talk radio host Armand Chevalier passed away at the age of 62. Chevalier, better known as Papa Joe, suffered a stroke in April that had paralyzed his right side. He was originally from Pittsburgh, but it was Las Vegas that he called home and established many lasting relationships.

His Sports Buffet radio show went national, but had a distinct Las Vegas flair to it as he invited callers to give them their picks for the week. His show was unlike any other where the callers were the show and he was the moderator. He despised the Yankees and Cowboys, yet did it a way that fans of those teams still loved him.

For over two decades Las Vegas sports fans were treated to this type of delicious radio. Callers became celebrities like “Bubba” with his lead pipe cinches or “Top Gun” from Florida who had his own intro music. They would give their picks and Papa Joe would grade them. It was next to impossible to get in on the show as the lines were always jammed.

I used to be a regular caller myself during the early 90’s and had a system of trying to get in that worked about half the time. Knowing that there was a five second broadcast delay, I would try to time when the on air call sounded like it was almost over and then make my call trying to beat the hundreds of others trying the same strategy to get on to the show with that open line.

His afternoon daily show was contagious and allowed for myself and thousands of others to vent frustrations with anything in sports with his “Bite Me Wednesday’s” edition. No matter how good or bad any of his caller's takes were, he would find the angle immediately and spin it in an instant to make it sound more interesting.

His show was a lot different from what we have on radio now where the hosts are the stars who rarely take phone calls, opting to talk about what they want to talk about. Papa Joe let the callers set the topics and let them be the stars, chiming in with his two cents in his own clever way usually with a good natured zing at the end of the conversation.

Papa Joe loved all his callers and wanted to meet them so he organized gatherings where all the callers could meet each other and Papa Joe himself. He had a weekly softball team that he invited listeners to show up where they got to see him pitch with his ‘79 striped Pirates box hat.

Chevalier also had a news letter that used to go out to thousands of listeners and in 1994, during the baseball strike, his presence in the sports world was never more acknowledged than a story ran by USA Today on the cover of their sports page. The photo on the cover had him draped with thousands of baseball cards from listeners supporting his grass roots effort of his protest of baseball for what would eventually be a lost season, something that not even world wars could do.

Current ESPN Las Vegas 1100am radio producer Clay Baker was one of those loyal fans who sent his baseball cards in while living in Lansing, Mich., but also had the privelidge of working with Papa Joe in Las Vegas from 2002 throgh 2008 as his producer.

"Rather than interview a player, Papa Joe was more interested in what the fans thought. On his show, the callers were priority," Baker said. "His fans were encouraged to roar and debate his topics, daily, and they never let him down. I'm grateful to have worked with Joe and his friendship was a blessing."

"Joe's first stint in Vegas was dealing dice and 21 at the Slots O'Fun, but working on the floor was short lived," said Baker, who then quotted Joe on the matter, 'After my first day, the Pit Boss told me: If you were ever hanged for being a craps dealer, it would be an injustice to the rope. Eventually, I was assigned to the 'Eye In The Sky' and that afforded me similar work at the Hilton and Four Queens.'

He was genuinely loved by everyone because he actually seemed to care about us. He was one of us. He would have a beer and discuss topics like regular guys do at a bar. It was that same type of comfortable approach that made him such a loved icon on air.

A few years later I ran into him while I was running a sports book and we had a good laugh about his early years on the radio and how I used to get in to the radio shows. When talking about the show and everyone in his radio world family, he glowed with the same pride he did when it was initially happening.

He had quite a few relationships with people all over town, but he especially was fascinated with the job of sports book directors, who he always called “Boss Bookies”. He was intrigued with how the operation worked; how and why numbers were moved along with what the “wise guys” were doing.

When talking about the wise guys on air, he would stretch out the pronunciation in a different hush-hush tone, “Wiiiizzze Guyyzz”, as if he was telling a secret and if it got out, someone might get whacked. I always chuckled every time the voice came out.

I was proud to have been invited as a regular guest on his shows and reflect fondly of my younger years trying to get on his shows as a caller, but I was more honored to have just been his friend.

Las Vegans, and everyone else who had the chance to know him, or hear him are going to miss him, but his legacy will not be forgotten. Not only did he have one of the most unique relationships with his callers, but he was also somewhat of a pioneer with syndicated sports radio shows. He set the pace and tempo of an industry that we know as common place today.

"Joe Chevalier fell in love with radio by chance and it changed the world forever," Baker said. "Joe eventually quits the casino business, does radio full time in Las Vegas, then took the nickname Papa, from the Bourbon street bar and soon he was a Vegas legend. Papa Joe never had to make a demo tape. Papa never typed up a resume for a radio gig, he was just the genuine article. The fans knew it and Papa Joe Chevalier became the first star of an industry that had no stars."

Very well said Clay Baker.

Thanks for all the memories Papa Joe, rest in peace!

Golden Nugget To Release College Football Games of the Year Friday

By Micah Roberts

In the older days of Las Vegas there used to be frenzied betting action on Sunday nights at the Stardust when they opened their football numbers for the next week of games. Every major bettor in the city would stand in line, make their plays and then go to back of the line and make some more. The bank of pay phones in the back of the book would be jammed with phones call made all over the country relaying what the opening lines were.

This was in the days before the internet. With the exception of the Wynn sports book’s weekly college football numbers, the opening football numbers from Las Vegas don’t have the same type of luster and excitement they once did. Off-shore sports books generally set the pace and take the early lumps of setting a virgin number.

But if anyone wants to get a glimpse of the past they can do so this Friday at The Golden Nugget. They’ll be posting their college football games of the year for the fourth straight year and doing so with no numbers in the world to compare with. The betting lines will be long with some of the sharpest bettors in the world who will try and get the best of an early number set this far in advance.

The sports book won’t be loaded with only big bettors, either. Just like the old Stardust, because of all the action, the Nugget will be filled with anyone and everyone who has an opinion on college football just to see where the action takes the betting line.

“It’s just a crazy betting scene,“ said Golden Nugget Sports Director Tony Miller, “We’re going to have several lines that trail out through the casino doors. Others will be sitting and standing around thumbing through their college football annuals looking for any edge on the numbers.”

This gives bettors their first real glimpse into the 2011 football season, one that could be without pro football for a few weeks. What it really does, though, is give many of us bit of nostalgia, a glimpse to the past of how Las Vegas used to be.

For Miller and his staff to offer these numbers before everyone else is a testament of hard work and confidence in their numbers. The trend over the last decade with most Vegas books is to not have the first line out, let off-shore take the sharp early action, and then settle on a consensus number. So why would Miller do something so against the grain in Las Vegas?

Golden Nugget to be packed on Friday
“This generates great publicity for the Golden Nugget brand,” said Miller. “We get thousands of people into our property just because of it and I get calls from all over the country regarding the games. It keeps our name out there in an otherwise dead time of the year regarding something that everyone loves. Of course, we expect to win and we generate a tremendous amount of handle which in turns creates that opportunity for us to win.”

Last season didn’t go the Nugget’s way in the win department as the early players got the best of the early numbers, but the house did very well in their first two seasons. The system in which they set the numbers is about as old school as it gets just like the days of the Stardust.

“We use a consensus number between myself, supervisor Aaron Kessler and (former LVSC college football expert) Tony Sinisi. We’ve been analyzing every angle for every team separately for the last three months; things like players lost and returning starters, schedules, who the team plays before and after certain games,” said Miller. “All these things go into our own personal data which gives us our own rating for each team, then we put those numbers together and make a consensus line which is what the opening number will be.”

Miller will offer 100 of the best games of the college football season which are most of the top-25 teams and games from the major conferences. Each game will have a $1,000 limit and a bettor will be able to make three bets and then have to go to the end of the line if they‘d like to make more.

The real sharp players will already have their own numbers figured out and when they get their first look at the sheet on Friday at noon, they will have to find the biggest discrepancies from their numbers to the Nugget’s and bet the three accordingly before going to the back of the line.

Because the early numbers are at a premium, some bettors may be inclined to collude with each other in team efforts, but that kind of activity won’t be tolerated.

The whole process with a fast and furious pace of transactions in June makes the overall vibe a can’t miss extravaganza for the everyone to witness. Brian Blessing from Fox Sports Radio will even be there doing his Sports Book radio show live from 2-3 pm giving up to the minute updates on the games that had the largest moves.

If you never got to see J.J. Walker holding court in the back of the Stardust or Wall Street type of action in a sports book, you’ll want to be at the Golden Nugget this Friday.

For those that can't make it because of being out of town, check back here on Friday. I'll have a list of the games along with the largest moves.

MLB Betting Notes From Las Vegas: Indians Sliding Quickly

By Micah Roberts

Home field not the advantage in Cleveland it was
The Cleveland Indians are fading and fading fast. There was no better example of how far they have slipped than by looking at their play over the weekend at Progressive field when the Rangers swept four games from them, the last two coming on shutouts. Granted the Texas Rangers are one of the best in baseball with Josh Hamilton back in the lineup, but we’re talking about an Indians squad that had the best home record in baseball by a large margin.

The Indians were 30-15 at one point and are now 33-24 with the red hot Tigers breathing down their neck only 2.5 games behind. The Tribe has now dropped nine of their last 12 games and have scored only 11 runs in those losses.

The losses seem to coincide with DH Travis Hafner going on the disabled list, but it goes much deeper than that. Carlos Santana and Shin-Soo Choo aren’t hitting as expected with only Asdrubal Cabrera coming with any consistency at the plate.

The starting pitching, which had been their strong point, has let them down over the last three weeks. Their ace, Justin Masterson, led the Indians to wins in his first six starts. But since May 6, they have lost five of Masterson’s last six starts.

Their immediate future doesn’t look too promising either. They start a three game set against the Twins on Monday and then play four at Yankee Stadium over the weekend. The Twins are coming off a four-game sweep at Kansas City while the first-place Yankees won six of their last seven on their west coast swing.

Baseball fans everywhere are hoping the fairy tale story doesn’t end this quick for the city of Cleveland. After watching Lebron James take a 2-1 lead in the NBA Finals, The Browns players being locked out, Jim Tressel stepping down and all the other anxieties surrounding their beloved Buckeyes, could the sports gods at least shine a little light on the Indians for the sake of their tortured fans?

Jimenez Back?
Ubaldo Jimenez takes the mound for the Rockies Tuesday night at San Diego fresh off his first win of the year last week at Dodger Stadium. The Rockies had gone 1-8 in his first nine starts with Jimenez taking the loss in five of them, yet the money-lines didn’t decrease too much on him throughout the drought. It was as if he got a free pass for all the bad starts with everyone setting the lines knowing he would eventually come around, and he did.

Perhaps it’s more about the Dodgers lineup and pitching at their park, but he was dominant in a 3-0 complete game shutout win and looked every bit as good as he was for the first half of last season. We may not get a full gauge on whether Jimenez is completely back until two weeks during inter-league play because he faces another weak lineup in San Diego’s park and then faces the Dodgers at home, both teams that he should be expected to shut down under the circumstances. The real test for may not be until Detroit visits Coors Field where he’s expected to start June 19.

Big Z Sounds Off
The Cubs have lost six in a row with the last two coming on walk off homers by Albert Pujols. Sunday’s starting pitcher, Carlos Zambrano (5-2), who left with a 2-1 lead after pitching seven innings questioned the pitch selection of closer Carlos Marmol in the ninth inning to Ryan Theriot who hit the game tying double to send the game into extra innings.

"The problem wasn't Pujols. The problem was (Theriot's) at-bat," Zambrano said. "We should have known better than this. We are playing like a Triple-A team. This is embarrassing. Embarrassing for the team and the owners. Embarrassing for the fans. Embarrassing, that's the word for this team. We should play better here. We stink. That's all I've got to say."

This was the second game in a row that Zambrano has allowed one run with his team winning only to see Marmol implode. Last Tuesday Marmol allowed the Astros to rally for six runs in the ninth during a 7-3 loss.

Over Zambrano’s last four starts he has been one of the more consistent starters in baseball, but has failed to go past the eighth in any of his starts all season. He didn’t actually call out Marmol’s name, but he described the situation so we all knew who he was talking about. He may have went about things the wrong way, but he has every right to be upset that his quality contributions to a team that has struggled have been wasted.

Young Starters
Zach Britton has struggled his last two starts
I have fallen out of love quickly with one of my favorite young pitchers. Zach Britton of Baltimore was the latest to be on my disowned list after two consecutive starts of giving up five runs or more. The biggest disappointment came May 29 when he lost at Oakland giving up six runs to that lineup. Prior to that, Britton was just rolling along like he’d been in the league for a few years, but it appears that all the scouts have converged on what his deal is and he hasn’t been able to adjust. It was a nice run, though. The Orioles won seven of his first 10 starts.

Josh Tomlin gave in quite bit his last start against Toronto giving up six runs, but the Indians won quite easily and gave him his seventh win of the year. It was Tomlin’s worst outing of the year. The Indians have won eight of his 11 starts this season as he heads into Monday’s game against the Twins. They need him to come up big now more than ever.

In Tomlin’s start against Toronto he faced Kyle Drabek who didn’t make it out of the first inning. Between three walks and four hits, the Indians pounded him for four runs. It was the first time this season that the walks finally caught up with Drabek who now has 45 walks to 43 K’s. The fact still remains that Toronto is 8-4 with him as the starter even though Drabek is 3-4.

Meanwhile, Michael Pineda keeps rolling along. After losing his first start of the season the Mariners have gone on to win seven of his last 10 starts and he’s 6-2 heading into Monday night’s start at Chicago. Unlike the other three rookie pitchers, Pineda has been dominating only allowing more than three runs in a game once. In seven of his starts he’s allowed one earned run or less making him not just a candidate for rookie of the year, but for the Cy Young as well.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

MLB Betting Notes From Las Vegas: Don't Count on D'Back's Magic to Continue

By Micah Roberts

Gibson has his club playing very well
With Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Marlins, the Arizona Diamondbacks are now 13-2 in their last 15 games and 15-3 in their last 18, which begs the question: Are they for real?

Over that three week stretch, Arizona has given us a little bit of everything to do with excellence in baseball from dominant pitching, offensive fire power to great managing in close games.

Manager Kirk Gibson has this young team molded with his own personality stamped all over it, but the type of run we just saw looks to be more about a young team overachieving rather than getting ready for post-season play.

When looking at all the teams they ran into during their run, it wasn’t exactly filled with baseball’s best, but more about catching mediocre teams on a slide. Mixed in with those 13 wins were three each against baseball’s worst, Houston and Minnesota. They won two thrillers against the Braves, caught the Rockies in another offensive slump and also took two from the less than fearsome Dodgers attack.

The strength of their pitching has been their bullpen led by an energized J.J. Putz who leads the National League with 16 saves. He has been lights out when given the lead with no blown saves giving the D’Backs all kinds of confidence in close games. They are 26-0 when leading going into the ninth inning.

Ian Kennedy (6-2) has been brilliant at times this season, but the rest of the rotation has been just kind of getting by. Even Daniel Hudson (6-5), who has been better than most expected this season, has been quite fortunate to win some of his games despite allowing quite a few runs.

While Putz and Kennedy have carried the staff, the Arizona bats have carried the rest of team all season. They currently lead the NL in home runs and it looks like Justin Upton is finally ready to live up to all the potential. But in today’s baseball, you have to have three great starters to compete for a playoff birth and Arizona doesn‘t have that yet.

In this new era of pitching dominating baseball, it will be hard for Arizona to keep up with all the teams that do have the work horses. When they start facing more competitive teams and winning two of three and three of four, then they’ll be a team heading into August that we can make a case for.

As great as 50-to-1 odds on them to win the World Series may sound, it may be better to pass. The only thing they do have going for them is playing in the NL West where the Dodgers and Padres look like they may be pushovers. The division will probably only have one playoff team and right now it looks like the Giants are the team to still beat and we know the Rockies will have one of their mile high runs coming closer to September.

Gas Can
Bobby Jenks was activated from the disabled list Tuesday which probably doesn’t make many Red Sox fans happy because the guy can throw fuel of the fire like maybe only Eric Gagne could in a Boston uniform. Before his one inning stint in garbage time Tuesday -- where he allowed two quick hits, Jenks had been getting tagged all April blowing two save chances and losing two others.

He is the poster board goat for what was wrong with Boston the first month of the season. His fastball is no longer fast, and what’s worse is that he knows it which causes him to throw balls nibbling at the plate, and missing, allowing more runners to get on base. I have a feeling that his stay in Boston won’t be for very long. Nothing can be more demoralizing to a team than a pitcher taking the mound when the players behind him know he won't get the batter out.

Brew Crew
The worst road team in the NL is so good at home that they are only 2.5 games out of first-place. After a seven game losing streak in early May, the Brewers have been playing some great ball. The combination of getting Zack Grienke (4-1) and Corey Hart (5 HR’s) healthy and playing well has been the main reason for the surge. Milwaukee is currently on a 16-5 run and look to have the makings of a team that could contend with anyone because of their staff. Between Grienke, Yovani Gallardo (7-2) and Shaun Marcum (6-2), this team could go far. While they’d love to have a better bullpen, John Axford and Cameron Loe have been a good tandem to close out games. The Brewers are 28-1 when going into the ninth while leading.

The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book has Milwaukee 20-to-1 to win the World Series which shows a great deal of respect for what they’re capable of doing.

Road Warrior
Kevin Correia has been at his best when away from PNC Park this season sporting a 6-1 record with a 2.35 ERA. Amazingly, he’s had a decision in all 11 starts heading into his Wednesday matchup at the Mets going 7-4 overall. His excellence mirrors what the Pirates have done all season on the road where they have one of the highest payout returns in baseball this season at +939.

Bullpen Change For the Better in KC
Aaron Crow takes over the Royals closer role
The Royals hope to shake things up for the better by naming rookie right-hander Aaron Crow their closer after Joakim Soria pitched himself out of the role. Monday’s blown save was the final nail in the coffin for Soria, once considered one of the baseball’s best closers. That gave the Royals nine blown saves in 18 attempts. It didn’t help Soria’s effort to remain the closer that Monday’s loss was Kansas City’s 13th in their last 16 games.

Jeff Francis got the Royals out of their funk Tuesday with a 7-3 win, his second win in his last three starts. The bats helped him out so there was no need for their new closer to make an appearance. This season Crow has been pretty dominant in a set-up role with a 1.33 ERA in 27 innings.

There could be some value in playing the Royals again just because the prices are still going to reflect their rough two week stretch. You know coming into any KC wager that they can hit. They’re currently in the top-10 MLB categories of runs scored (8th), batting average (7th), on base percentage (10th) and slugging percentage (10th). Now they have a closer who hasn’t had his confidence shattered and should be able to finish a few games off right out of the gate.

Best in the League?
Brandon League has been sensational for Seattle
We saw Brandon League go through a nightmarish stretch in the middle of May where he couldn’t close games out. After starting the season perfect with nine straight save conversions, he blew four straight chances taking the loss in each. Since May 18, League has once again been perfect converting his last six chances with not even a glimpse of a team scaring him.

He’s shutting teams down again and makes the Mariners very attractive in almost every game that four of their five starting pitchers take the hill. The exception is Doug Fister, but even that perception may soon change. Seattle has won two of the last three game the big 6’8” right-hander has started.

Tuesday night’s Mariners win was the perfect microcosm of their season thus far. They got great starting pitching from Erik Bedard, but couldn’t get anything going at the plate. However, the great starting pitching kept them within two runs. After some great middle-relief help from their bullpen to maintain the close deficit, Justin Smoak hit a three-run dinger off of Jeremy Guthrie in the bottom of the eighth, his only mistake of the night. Brandon League then took the mound for the ninth, struck out two batters, ball game over.

The Hilton isn’t as impressed by the Mariners as I am. They currently have Seattle 75-to-1 to win the World Series. It's a real long shot, but the pitching staff does have me intrigued.

Ravens Defense Strategy Wins In Baseball?
Who needs hitting when it’s being shown that a decent rotation and a premium stopper can win lots of games in a row and contend for a division title. Seems like the Giants have shown the rest of the small market teams how it’s done, with Seattle and Oakland both looking very similar to San Francisco’s 2010 model.

Teams don’t have to hit well to control games. It’s like the old Ravens defense that everyone tried emulate, but it was their bad offense that helped set the tempo of the games and allowed their strength to be maximized late in close games. It’s no surprise that both the Giants and Mariners, two of the worst hitting teams, have two of the best records in one-run games. It’s almost like that’s how they want it.

Toughest Teams to Go Yard Against
San Francisco’s pitching staff has been the toughest team to hit a home run off of this season allowing only 28 long balls which shouldn’t surprise many, because after all, they are the World Series Champions who relied on that type of stingy pitching to get their rings. But the next two lowest totals come from the American League where Oakland (30 HR’s allowed) and Seattle (33) have a case for being more impressive just because they come from a league with the designated hitter.

Best/Worst Money Teams
If betting every team in baseball all season long, your best earner would be the Indians at +1,704. They have scooped up so much AL money this season that only two other teams show a profit, the Mariners (+334) and Blue Jays (+202). The NL has seven teams with a positive cash flow with Florida (+900) and Arizona (+868) leading the way. The worst two teams to consistently bet on this season have been the Twins (-1,629) and Rockies (-1,374), two teams that have gotten my share of cash flushed this season.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Las Vegas Sports Book Notes: MLB Win Up and The Aftermath of No Kobe

By Micah Roberts

Baseball Been Very Good.....

Las Vegas Sports Books have done very well with baseball
These are supposed to be the dog days of baseball for the sports books, but so far, the books are loving baseball and having a great first few weeks of the season. The problem is that when the players lose at a higher rate, they lose the churn factory of volume which may cause some of the books to show lower handle despite the higher win.

If a regular bettors bankroll for the week is $100 and he loses it quickly, it doesn’t leave them much of a chance to create more action. Normal circumstances have the bettor being able to churn that $100 into $300 or $400 worth of action over the course of a week showing a small win or loss. With the way it’s going now, the books should expect to see some slight drops in volume.

Part of the reason is that there are no whipping boys any more. You can’t just pick on the Pirates or Royals on a daily basis, nor can you blindly hit a three-game parlay by just taking the Phillies, Yankees and Red Sox like in years past. The pitching is better, less runs are being scored and games are tighter than ever.

Heat Are Who We Thought They Were, Crown Them!

We’ve come full circle on the Miami Heat index from being the clear cut overwhelming choice to win the championship when LeBron James made his announcement, went through some turmoil that caused skepticism, and now they are back on top in public opinion.

When James made that announcement, the Heat were 5/2 favorites (Bet $100 to win $250) to win the title. When the Heat started playing the blame game and pointing fingers at the coach, it was around the same time the Lakers kicked into gear which vaulted Los Angeles to the favorite and sent the Heat to as high as 5/1.

Now, with the Lakers gone, the Heat are 7/4 (Bet $100 to win $175) to win the NBA championship, a price much lower than when the season started even though they were expected to be in this situation. Their play, dominating at times, has validated all the initial trust on the early short price to begin the season.

The Heat look prime to win it all
While most basketball fans will be rooting against the Heat, a group of professional bettors here in town can’t wait until they spray the champagne. When rumors were circulating where James might take his talents to, this group took advantage of the Miami odds around town that were still on the board at 25 and 20/1.

Not every book offered lines on the NBA futures until James decision was announced, but a handful did so immediately after the 2010 NBA Finals. So needless to say, there will be a few books that will be rooting for the Heat Index to go cold quickly.

Because the Lakers are now out, so is a large portion of NBA bettors. Books can expect a 10% drop off in action from the last three year average of NBA Finals action the Lakers were involved in. Should the Heat get knocked off before the Finals, that number could fall even lower. It’s not that the Heat has that many fans, but they keep people’s attention just to see what they’ll do next with many rooting against them. Let’s face it, the Mavericks, Grizzlies and Thunder aren’t the most popular teams in the league and one of them will be in the Finals.

Champions League

With no Euro or World Cup coming up because it’s an odd numbered year, our summer fix of soccer will end with the UEFA Champions League final of Manchester United and Barcelona. The Hilton posted odds on the match immediately following their semi-final matches last week with Barcelona being a huge minus-200 favorite (Bet $200 to win $100) to win outright over the mighty Reds Devils.

Although soccer doesn’t generate the volume of other major sports, the last Cup action in June and July of 2010 were pretty large and the few hundred thousand in handle, and 16% win, will be missed during those months when baseball is the main source of action. June and July are usually the toughest months a sports book has with forecasted win being more unpredictable than any other set of months.

Sports Betting Systems

Last week I speculated about the impact of William Hill taking over CBS (Computerized Bookmaking Systems), the company that services many Las Vegas race and race sports books betting systems. I got quite a few calls on the matter from many different points of view, which makes the subject all the more interesting and warrants more discussion. Next week, we’ll explore all the options that Nevada sports books and bars have available to them in addition to CBS.

I also wanted to clarify something I mentioned last week regarding company financial records for the sports books. Under GCB (Gaming Control Board) regulations, CBS currently has to call their client to get approval should they need to enter the sports book's system or it becomes a violation. The hub operation usually keeps a hand written log for these types of activities which is most common when there is a system issue, stoppage or regular programming needs to be updated.

I also regret that I forgot to mention horse racing handicapper Richard Eng in my Kentucky Derby piece last week who was doing a free seminar at Terrible‘s, after naming several others. The last thing I would want was for Eng to feel slighted in any way because he has been such true friend to me over the last decade. The man has done countless favors for me over the years with promotions and lent his time and name to those efforts.

He probably didn’t even read it, but I just wanted him, and everyone, to know that it was just a short mental lapse. Eng is one of the top horse racing handicappers in all the land.

Over the summer I’ll also have a few series of articles on the origins of some of the current sports book directors around town. It’s a small community of people that many would be surprised how closely linked they all are. We’ve all heard of the six degrees of Kevin Bacon or the branches of Bill Walsh and Bill Belichick‘s trees, soon you’ll read about the roots of the bookies, many of which began in Pittsburgh.

MLB Betting Notes

Guyer after hitting a home run
You have to love the story of the Rays prospect Brandon Guyer in the same sense that we loved the plight of Moonlight Graham in ’Field of Dreams’. Guyer, a 25-year-old outfielder, was called up from the minors last week after starting pitcher Jeff Niemann went on the disabled list because the Rays thought B.J. Upton might be suspended and wanted fill the possible hole.

Upton put in an appeal and wasn’t suspended, but the Rays inserted Guyer into the starting lineup for Friday’s game against the Orioles anyway. In his first major league at-bat, Guyer hit a home run and ended the night 1-for-3. Now that’s how you make a first impression. Guyer was one of the key players received in the Matt Garza trade with the Cubs. After a great first month at Durham where he was smoking the ball, he had to be thinking he was up ‘in the show’ to stay.

Guyer didn’t play Saturday, which wasn’t alarming because Joe Maddon constantly shuffles his lineups around utilizing his entire bench as starters. But on Sunday morning, before their game, Guyer was informed he was being sent back down to Durham because they needed a pitcher. Maddon said he’s sure Guyer will be back up and make an impact with the team, but you never know. At least his cup of coffee in the majors was of the bold and strong flavored variety.

Phenomenal Phillies
The Phillies may have had a set back when pitcher Roy Oswalt went on the DL last week, but don’t feel too sorry for the team tied for the best record in baseball. Oswalt’s replacement, Vince Worley, has fit right in and has dominated his two starts going 2-0 and allowing only one run.

The Phillies also have a couple of amazing trends going right now. They are 10-0 this season in day games and have gone 9-1 against lefties. They play two day games this weekend against the Braves, but won’t face any lefties against either the Marlins or Braves.

The Marlins are still nipping at the Phillies in the NL East, but unlike the Phillies, they don’t play at their best in day games. Florida’s win Sunday was only their third day win in eight games, making them a really dangerous night club going 17-8.

Definitely Not a Number One

Lee has lost his last three starts for Philly
Many thought Cliff Lee was crazy for not taking the big New York money, opting to take less and pitch in Philadelphia with all kinds of reasons given such as his wife didn’t like the city. But the real reason was him probably not wanting to be so visible in the brightest spotlight of such a big contract.

Lee has lost his last three starts, yet has remained out of the storylines because of how well the team is doing. He doesn’t have the weight of the team on him, letting Roy Halladay handle that department. Although Lee has pitched very well in those three losses, you have to believe the New York media wouldn’t have been so kind to Lee in the same situation which makes his move to Philly look like the smartest thing he could have done.


The run-line can be a nice way to pull some edge back to the player in the right spots, but certain teams should almost always be advised to stay away from. The Royals have played in 14 one-runs games this season, winning nine of them, while Reds lead the NL with 13 one-run games, only winning six of them. The best teams to be on or against on the run-line are the Orioles and Tigers who have each only been involved in five one-run games.

Power Outage

We’re seeing the lowest home run ratio in baseball since 1992 with pitchers quickly getting ahead in the count and showing no fear like we saw through an era that seems to have just passed us by in 2009. The last two seasons have seen batting averages and home runs decline while also seeing ERA's drop. This has become a pitchers game again and more emphasis than ever should be put on the pitchers and bullpens when it comes to handicapping the games.

Tigers Ready the Growl?

Penny has come on strong over his last four starts
After a sluggish start that carried through last week with a seven-game losing streak, the Detroit Tigers might be a team we can expect to start coming around. They’ve won five of their last six through Sunday and most of that can be attributed to good starting pitching.

Justin Verlander (3-3) has been getting all the headlines after throwing a no-hitter last week, but the real ace of the staff has been Max Scherzer (5-0), who just wins. The pitcher that has really made them tough to beat in a series now is veteran Brad Penny (3-3), who has been outstanding over his last four starts going 3-1 allowing two runs or less in the three wins.

If Rick Porcello (2-2) can stay .500 and give them innings and Phil Coke (1-5) can start showing some of that promise, Detroit should be able to make a good run at the Indians for the division quickly. The Tigers are currently 30/1 to win the World Series at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book.

The Bucs Don’t Stop Here
Calling a .500 record somewhat of accomplishment on May 8 may not be a big deal for most teams, but for Pittsburgh, they’ll take it. The Bucs haven’t had a winning record since 1992, the last of their three straight NL East titles, and also last year of Barry Bonds in the steel city. After winning their home series from the Astros on Sunday, the Pirates went to 17-17 and tied their season high with a two-game winning streak. It’s been six years since the Pirates have been .500 this late, and it’s only May.

If it weren’t for the Marlins (0-3 record against), Brewers (0-2) and Rockies (1-4), Pittsburgh would be starting a catch phrase, or cling to a song for this year’s version of the team. Even though two games in a row doesn’t sound like much, it’s when the Pirates win them that matters, like the front and back end of three-game series. The key to their success thus far has been terrific play on the road, winning four of five road series. Their win Sunday was their second home series conquest of the season.

This week the Pirates welcome the lackluster Dodgers for a four-game set before traveling to Milwaukee, who has dominated Pittsburgh. The Brewers are 48-17 against the Pirates since 2007, including the two-game sweep in April.

Those of you thinking that this could be the Pirates first World Series win since 1979, check out the 300/1 odds offered at the Las Vegas Hilton.


Peavy should make his first start Wednesday
Welcome back Jake Peavy! Wednesday looks to be the day 2007 Cy Young award winner Jake Peavy makes his return to the rotation for White Sox. He threw over 100 pitches in a rehab assignment last Thursday and had no pain. For some bettors, they may be happy to see Peavy back as well or at least for his first start.

Pitchers coming back from an injury can be a great spot to bet against them, as was the case last week with Zack Greinke. Some pitchers take it to the extreme when they come back like Ubaldo Jimenez has in losing all three of his starts since returning to the Rockies rotation. Jimenez pitched very well his last time out which may put a stop to that gravy train.

Others, like the Reds Johnny Ceuto, have come back strong. In Sunday’s 2-0 win at Wrigley Field, Cueto didn’t allow a run in six innings of work after struggling somewhat in four previous minor league rehab appearances.

Rangers OF Josh Hamilton is coming back in two weeks. He‘s been swinging the bat and is ahead of the timetable set. He went on the disabled list Apr. 13 and was then expected to come back in six to eight weeks. The Rangers were 9-1 when he went on DL and are 9-16 without him. Over that losing stretch, it hasn't helped that Nelson Cruz has also been banged up which forced the Rangers to put him on the 15-day DL on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Las Vegas Race and Sports Book Notes: Derby Week

Derby Day A Chance For Race Books To Shine

By Micah Roberts

Derby day is a huge event in Las Vegas Race Books
This weekend’s Kentucky Derby is more than just the biggest horse racing day of the year for Las Vegas race books, it’s a showcase event. Race books around town get show everyone how polished they are from guest service, cleanliness, video presentation and amenities offered. This is their chance; their one shot to win over a new crowd that rarely visits the book, but now does so because of tradition. Derby day in the book is almost like church where we see the two busiest days being Easter and Christmas.

“The Derby is the most well known horse racing event and attracts the average guy, where as the Breeders Cup attracts most from the horse racing community,” says Cantor Gaming’s Race and Sports Director Mike Colbert, “With the Derby you get both factions making it a huge event. My parents even bet the Derby every year and they won’t make a horse bet for the rest of the year, which is kind of what we get with the Derby most of the day.“

Race books around town know the people are going to come and some offer enticing little gifts to ensure a visit to their property. Jay Kornegay at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book will be giving away commemorative Kentucky Derby glasses with every $20 wager. Kornegay is also using the day to try and educate many of the first time bettors with hopes of making them regular bettors throughout the year.

“I like to use this opportunity, with having so many new faces attracted to horse racing for the day, to try and create more horse racing fans long term,” Kornegay explained. “Beyond just teaching them how to correctly place a wager for the Derby, I like to show them how much of an opportunity there is for getting a piece of the huge pools in all the races.

Derby day attracts them all
“Most bettors like to bet a little to win a lot, whether it’s a parlay in sports or hitting a big price in the horses. For a small amount in horse racing, you can really hit something large when playing some of the exotics. I want them to know what a pick-4 is, or how a trifecta works where they can experience some huge payouts and then, hopefully, endear them to horse racing on more days other than just the Derby.“

That kind of forward thinking by Kornegay is what is needed for not only every Nevada race book, but also for the entire Horse racing industry as the sport has kind of lost a generation to sports betting and poker. Pari-mutual handle in Nevada has been sliding the last five years, yet Derby day still holds its grip year-over-year with slight increases or flat numbers.

The art of handicapping a race is somewhat of a lost science, but hopefully all the wisdom from the likes of local handicapping legends like John Kelly, Pat McQuigan, Richie Saber, Ralph Sciroco and Dave Tuley can be extracted and bottled up for the current generation to tap into. The Palace Station and South Point are offering free handicapping seminars on Friday to not only help novices better understand horse racing, but also educate the regulars on what horse might be good plays to cash in on.

Most of the Las Vegas race books are pretty nice as is, but the angle of getting something for free is always a huge catch. Local bettors have come to expect some kind of gift for their wagers. This year the South Point is giving away food and drink vouchers with a $20 wager along with expanding their race book for the day.

The South Point already has one of the nicest race books in the city simply because it doesn’t have any conflict with those noisy sports bettors. It’s the only real stand alone race book in Las Vegas and has and old school type of feel of feel. It’s not old by any means, in fact it’s brand new, but it’s old in the sense of having that horse racing feel like so many of us know from midwest and east coast OTB parlors.

Lots of free stuff being given away 
Despite having a huge room with nine betting stations, South Point race book manager Mary Jungers is opening a brand new extension of her race book in the giant ball room upstairs just to accommodate the thousands expected to come through the door. She’ll have seven bet stations giving her a total of 16 windows that will all be open throughout the day.

Over at Station Casinos race books across the valley, bettors get the best of both worlds with free stuff, $20,000 up for grabs and watching the races in luxury. Stations has the biggest conglomerate of large race books in town with the best combined viewing experience. Have you seen those video walls? No matter where you are in the casino, you’ll be able to see the massive movie screen HD picture of the Derby.

If that’s not enticing enough, for a $20 wager, every Station book will be giving away free Derby t-shirts while supplies last. For a $2 wager, bettors also have the opportunity to get a piece the guaranteed $20,000 Twin-Quinella, a massive overlay that the Station books combine to pay for.

Bob Scucci’s chain of sports books for Coast Resorts will also be giving away official Derby t-shirts for a $20 wager while supplies last. His Orleans race book will be expanded for the day to the ball room to accommodate the crowd.

I don’t even know who I like to win, but I’ll keep a close eye on what our local experts like and try some of their strategies. What I do know is that I want some free stuff. I’ve got a collection of Derby glasses that need this years version, so a visit to the Hilton is a must. I’ll also re-gift the t-shirts I collect to family across the states who love that kind of stuff. It’s a total win-win for me and the results of the race aren’t even in yet.

How Many Race and Sports Books Will Stay With CBS?

T-3 terminal
Whenever the GCB approves William Hill to begin business in Nevada, there is likely going to be a chain reaction of changes that occur in regards to one of American Wagering’s subsidiary companies, CBS, which has agreements to operate and maintain several Nevada race and sports book betting systems.

CBS has lost quite a bit of business over the last six years after being the only show in Nevada since the early 1990’s when it was mandated by the GCB that all race and sports books have a computerized system. Vic Salerno was the brain child of the operation and pretty much saved the day for the sports books everywhere by having an approved system ready for everyone to use, of course, for a monthly fee.

As those fees for software and hardware upgrades became egregious over the years, some companies started to look for alternatives, either outside sources to get a system approved or having their in house I.T. departments get something going like Station Casinos did.

The problem now is that William Hill’s operation will essentially have access to all the data and information of every race and sports book that CBS services which covers almost half the state. Confidential information like category analysis, monthly and yearly win reports as well as a data base of player information.

There is a conflict of interest that most sports books won’t be able to swallow. When Cantor Gaming bought out Las Vegas Sports Consultants, it didn’t take long for LVSC to lose creditability within the industry because most of their clients stopped paying for the service due to Cantor’s other business of taking bets at their own sports books.

Sports Books may not feel too good about new service 
Even though LVSC still put out great lines as always, the perception was already cast. Just about every sports book chose to go with Pete Korner, an oddsmaker who just makes odds as his business for everyone equally.

The possibility for Salerno and his Leroy’s sports books to have already snooped through his competitors files existed, but Salerno’s relationship with everyone in town is golden. His reputation and integrity known by all has garnered the respect of everyone to know all the confidential files they had within the system was secure and safe.

Leroy’s sports books also weren’t considered aggressive competitors. Salerno took his little piece of the cake and never tried to bully anyone for a larger share of the market. He balanced the two businesses quite well and made them both a success without stepping on anyone‘s toes.

Many sports books specifically stayed with CBS and didn't look for alternatives just because of Salerno and the relationship they had with him.

No one really knows how William Hill‘s books will operate when they take over the Leroy’s and Cal-Neva books, but everyone knows they are well financed and it’s assumed by most that they will try to make a big splash. There is somewhat of a fear and with that fear, also comes distrust, something that was never a concern with Salerno.

My guess is that within two years most of the Nevada sports books that aren’t owned by William Hill will be operating a different system than CBS’. Some sports books have contracts that run for up to two to three years that technically binds them to CBS as their service provider, but because of the sale and William Hill’s other perceived intentions, that contract most likely will find a way to get terminated by the casino’s corporate legal teams.

Baseball Betting Notes
Angels have been very good on the road
We don’t think of home field being that much of an edge in baseball in the same manner which it is for basketball and football. For the Anaheim Angels -- I refuse to say Los Angeles -- they‘re sitting in first place with a losing record at home (6-7) while doing most of their damage on the road (10-5).

After starting the season losing three of four at Kansas City, they have gone on a road tear winning four of five at Tampa Bay on two separate visits, sweeping at Chicago, took two of three at Texas and now start a four game series at Boston.

The Boston series becomes critical for the Angels psyche because the Sox swept the Angels in Anaheim last weekend. In that series, Dan Haren took his first loss of the season, but Boston was able to avoid red hot Jared Weaver who would go on to shutout the A’s the very next day after Boston left town.

The flu-like symptoms that caused Weaver to be scratched from his Sunday start almost looks to be too convenient. Even though it’s only May, it’s not improbable to believe that Mike Scioscia wanted his best being represented on the mound to avoid what happened the last time the teams met. Because of past history between the teams facing each other often in the post season, these matchups do have some importance for the future.

The Rays also have a losing record at home (7-9) while winning regularly on the road (8-4). They have been on of my favorite teams to bet because they are sound in almost every category. Even their revamped bullpen, with no holdovers from 2010, has been as steady as one could expect from a brand new staff.

The Phillies have been good at home and away, but the other NL divisional leaders seem to like the road much better. The Cardinals have been less than stellar at Busch stadium (6-6) while pounding the ball on the road (10-6). Even though they have played four more games on the road, the Cardinals have hit 12 more home runs and have a slugging percentage .120 higher (.495 to .375). The Red Birds batting average is .52 points higher on the road.

Colorado has played the same amount of games home (7-6) and away (10-3), but their stats aren’t as telling like the Cardinals. We all think of the Rockies mashing the ball with Troy Tulowitzski and Carlos Gonzalez, but they’re the 23rd worst hitting team in baseball at a .239 clip. What has made them so good is consistent pitching, both from their starters and bullpen. Their team ERA is .47 points lower on the road and the bullpen has converted eight saves.

Indians Road Woes to Come?
Big road trip for Indians this week 
The Indians have been excellent at home (13-2) while going 6-6 on the road. Their only home losses came in their first two games of the year to the White Sox. Since then they have reeled off an amazing 13 straight home wins. The wins can be somewhat devalued because of who they did it all against, some of the worst teams in baseball during April. Teams like Baltimore, Minnesota, Kansas City and Detroit have been the teams Cleveland have swept over that run.

Two of those teams, the Royals and Twins, won their series when Cleveland got on the road. This week the Indians go west to face the two best pitching rotations in the AL, beginning Tuesday at Oakland and then Anaheim Friday.

Two of the best young pitchers in the game, Josh Tomlin (4-0) and Justin Masterson (5-0), will be ripe to bet against while on the road. Tomlin has to face Trevor Cahill (4-0) on Wednesday and Masterson goes up against Weaver (6-0) Saturday night. In two of their other games, the Indians also have to face Brett Anderson (2.95 ERA) and Dan Haren (1.23 ERA). Their only luck on the trip is that they don’t have to face Gio Gonzalez’ killer curve ball.

I would be very surprised if the Indians came back home next week with more than two wins making them a great team to bet against this week. It also wouldn’t be much of a shock if they came home empty handed, which may cause me to bet against Cleveland in every game.

For the second time in team history, the Florida Marlins hit five home runs in the same game from five different players on Sunday at Cincinnati. One of those players was Hanley Ramirez (.200 BA) who went deep for the first time this season. We don’t think of Ramirez as a home run hitter, but he has had a succession of good power years hitting 17, 29, 33, 24 and 21 coming into 2011. When thinking about how little of an impact he has made hitting out of the No. 3 hole and where the Marlins are -- nipping at the Phillies in the NL East -- it makes their accomplishments this year even a greater achievement.

The Twins put 1B Justin Morneau in the No. 3 hole Sunday and he responded with his first home run of the season. Unlike Ramirez, Morneau is a power hitter, but like Ramirez, Morneau is not hitting (.225 BA). It’s obvious that he still has lingering affects from a concussion that knocked him out of the 2010 season. Either that, or he is mysteriously experiencing a power outage like we have seen from quite a few players since the 2009 season. Hmmm, wonder what that could be.

Lots of expectations for Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford is still hitting an awful .168 for the season, but the new month began with his best day as a Red Sox player where he had the walk-off single against Seattle. For the month Crawford is now hitting. 500 and I would expect that moment Sunday to be the major turning point on his season. Boston has had several walk-off hits before, but they treated this one, because of Crawford’s slump, like they had just won the World Series. Look for Crawford to soon be elevated to the No. 2 hole and for him to start hitting like everyone knows he can. I would say .380 for month would be a very fair estimation.

As the new month dawns, I’m hopeful that my young pitchers don’t fail me. I’ll already be betting against Masterson and Tomlin this week, but my two other big winners this year have been Baltimore’s Zach Britton (5-1) and Toronto’s Kyle Drabek (2-1).

Britton got the win Sunday against the White Sox and is getting it done with just great pitching using his sinker to get easy outs. He hasn’t overwhelmed anyone yet, but it’s apparent that his team seems to play much better when he’s on the mound.

Drabek finally had the luck run out Saturday at Yankee stadium when he lasted only 2.1 innings giving up five runs in a 5-4 loss. His problem all season has been control, but he has been getting out trouble all year until Saturday when his four walks caught up with him. Because of the short outing, his ERA skyrocketed to 4.45. Nevertheless, cashing in five straight games with him to start the year was pretty nice and made up for my personal loss with him Saturday.

As for the near future for Drabek, he’ll face Phil Coke and the Tigers Friday night in Toronto. I like Drabek better at home, but I know because of the short outing Saturday that he could be gun-shy around the plate even more making him more apt to allowing runs. But the real dilemma is that Phil Coke is pitching who has been a great pitcher to bet against as his team has lost four the last five games he’s started. That might be a day-of decision depending on how the Tigers perform the next few games.