Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Las Vegas Sports Book Betting Notes; Packers favored to Win Super Bowl

By Micah Roberts

With the two number one seeds eliminated and only four teams left, the sentimental choice to win the Super Bowl now is the sixth seeded Green Bay Packers led by their rising star, Aaron Rodgers. Of course, fans from the other three teams would disagree, but fans of other teams who have been eliminated can’t help but root for the quarterback who has created his own niche on a team that was so long associated by Brett Favre.

It’s hard not to root for Rodgers just from the aspect of how tough of a situation he was put in three years ago when the whole Favre soap opera started. Rodgers didn’t say much and just played the game, while Favre’s true nature became apparent to all in his final year.

We’ve seen glimpses of greatness out of Rodgers in the past, but nothing like what we saw last week on the stage of the playoffs where he completed 31 of 36 passes for 336 yards and 3 touchdowns in Atlanta. At times, while he was dodging defenders in the pocket and feeling pressure with eyes in the back of his head, scrambling around, I thought I was watching Roger Staubach back there, another quarterback who wore number 12.

The Las Vegas sportsbooks don’t get caught up in sentiment, but rather cold hard facts when creating their lines, yet they too have been greatly swayed by the impressive Packers in their last two games. It was surprising enough when the Packers were a short 1-point underdog at the top seeded Falcons, but this week they are 3 ½-point favorites on the road at Chicago for the NFC Championship game.

The Packers have been placed as the 8-to-5 favorite (Bet $100 to win $160) to win the Super Bowl at the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book despite a higher seed such as the Steelers (2/1) still active. The Hilton’s Jeff Sherman believes the Packers would be a pick’em against the Steelers and minus-2 ½ against the Jets, but also said that the line would drastically change by what happens Sunday. Should one game produce a blow out while the other plays a tight one, it will be reflected greatly in the Super Bowl line.

Three’s the Magic Number
Value with the Number "3"
The only sportsbook in Las Vegas that doesn’t attach additional money to any of their key numbers is Bert Osborne’s South Point. Rather than move a game from minus-3 flat to minus-3 (-120) like most of the books do today, Osborne goes right to minus-3 ½ flat. This season, over 18% of all NFL games landed on “3,” but Osborne’s year-over-year analysis proves his strategy more profitable in the end. While most books deflected action last week on the Ravens-Steelers game because of the additional money attached to that line, Osborne kept hopping back and forth with limit bets at plus-3 ½ with the Ravens and minus-3 with Steelers. In the end, the overall action attracted because of the flat lines helped create a profitable weekend, better than most.

This week Osborne has a major dilemma as both games are hovering around “3”. Should one of the favored teams land on “3“, he‘ll get sided and refund several bets while paying out the winning side at plus-3 ½. Osborne is probably hoping that the games run up more to avoid the key number, but if they don’t, and you’re looking for value, the South Point and the books under their umbrella such as the Cannery, Palms and El Cortez are definitely places to shop.

Bettors Fare Well Last Week
You would think with half of the underdogs winning that the sportsbooks would have done very well, but that wasn’t the case. The local books were able to scrap out a small win, but just about everyone else fared poorly as both the Packers and Jets found plenty of supporters.

Auburn Line Correct?
Auburn’s 3-point win over Oregon in the BCS title game landed just how the bookmakers thought, right? The game opened Auburn minus-3 at most sportsbooks, but dropped considerably to a pick’em at most places by kickoff. Most all of the power ratings had the game as an initial pick’em which has the question begging to ask, where did the “3” come from? No one wants to be out of line in a big game like that, but it appears that there was some early manipulation on the number that set the market, and it wasn‘t necessarily by any book in Las Vegas either.

It’s not unusual to see instances of pre-seeding games by Sharp groups early at a few sports books with hopes of influencing the entire market. All it takes is a few limit plays by respected players at respected books early on to get the ball rolling and then everyone else falls in line. When the Sharp’s desired line is set, they can bet over 20 times the amount initially seeded later at all the other sportsbooks who follow suit.

The final move proved wrong, other than those who pushed with Oregon, but most of the books still lost money on the game. It wasn’t a result of the possible manipulation, but rather because of extended risk from over a month of taking bowl parlays with Auburn or Oregon being the final leg.

NASCAR is close
Tension is building with NASCAR fans because the wait for the 53rd running of the Daytona 500 is too far away. It’s only been two months since the last race was run, but it feels like an eternity. This week, fans and bettors can get a sneak preview to who will be fast in next month’s speed weeks as the Sprint Cup series will be having a three-day test session at Daytona.

During a recent Goodyear tire test, it was found that the new Daytona surface made the cars a little too fast, so they will be experimenting with an even smaller restrictor plate than last season for the testing. However, don’t expect too much to change from last year. Those who were good in the plate races, namely the Childress and Ganassi teams, will be good again this year.

Just about every sportsbook has their Daytona 500 odds up. While the Las Vegas Hilton Super Book leads the way with the lowest theoretic hold percentage in the city, it’s still a good idea to check all the books around town to find value on certain drivers that maybe the Hilton considered more of a favorite. Must stops for finding early value are all of the Mirage properties, Lucky’s and the M Resort and Spa.

College Basketball Notes

Colorado Buffs For Real
We talked a little bit last week about how well Colorado has been playing this year despite playing a weak non-conference schedule, but the strategy has paid off as they have started Big 12 conference play with a 3-0 record. An 89-76 home trouncing over No. 8 Missouri was eye opening, but it still is just one game where anything can happen. But winning at No. 20 Kansas State Wednesday and then beating a very good Oklahoma State team on Saturday should send major alerts to the college basketball world that the Buffs are indeed for real for the first time since Chauncey Billups was there. This week they have winnable, but yet, tough road games at Nebraska and Oklahoma. Then the real test will come as they welcome No.3 Kansas to Boulder January 25.

In their win over Oklahoma State, the Buffs didn’t get to dictate the fast pace they would have liked, but they still sent the game over 143 ½. Surprisingly, despite Colorado running fast and wild all season, the move was on the under for the game. From the beginning of the season, up until now, Colorado may be the most rapidly adjusted team in all power ratings. The value will eventually shift against them, but as of now, betting OVER with them still looks to be the way to for a while.

Little Sisters of the Poor?
We watched the bias of voting during football season as TCU and Boise State were disrespected because of their conference affiliation and after this weeks College Basketball polls came out, we saw it again with San Diego State as they remained No. 6 with Duke sliding into No. 5 after their loss to Florida State. With big wins over UNLV and at New Mexico, the Aztecs warranted much more consideration than given.

Star Player Under the Radar
Hofstra senior guard Charles Jenkins doesn’t get too much publicity on a national level, but those who have been betting basketball this year know who he is, or the results of his play, because he’s been cashing in for them all season. Jenkins has upgraded an already great career at Hoftsra with a masterful senior season improving in every area which has led his team to an 11-6 record. He’s averaging 23.5 points-per-game and has reduced turnovers while also increasing assists from his previous three seasons. In the process, Jenkins has led the Pride to a 5-1 Colonial conference record straight up and ATS.

Good Teams Not Covering
It’s been almost two weeks since the No. 1 ranked Ohio State Buckeyes have covered a spread. It’s not even as if they have played the Big 10’s best teams since conference play started either. Saturday, they won by only 3-points as a 19-point favorite to Penn State. The Buckeyes look ripe for the upset this week as they play at Illinois on Saturday.

On the same note, Georgetown was on a five-game skid ATS until covering against Rutgers Saturday at a short price thanks, in part, to their rating shrinking. Because of that lower rating, there may some value this week as they play at Seton Hall and a home date against St. John’s.

Despite being undefeated this season, Syracuse hasn't been able to live up to their lofty rating as they have covered only seven games this season among their 18 wins. However, they have their longest ATS win streak currently going on right now with two in a row after beating Cincinnati.

Marquette Streaking
One of the best bets over the last three weeks has been taking Marquette against anyone. They have covered six games in a row while going 3-3 straight up. This week they’ll face DePaul and then travel to Notre Dame.

Oregon’s New Court is…Different
The Oregon basketball team christened their new $227 million arena last week with a win over USC, but all everyone could talk about was the actual floor. The intent of the floor was to pay homage to the beautiful Pacific Northwest by surrounding the court with a forest of brown-and-tan fir trees. It’s also to symbolize the 1939 Oregon squad who the National Championship known as “The Tall Firs”.

However, comments have been flowing from fans who dislike the design sating that the design looks like a mushroom trip gone bad, or even worse, looks like actual throw-up. The glare to TV viewers may be the most distracting part. It’s just an unnatural projection of colors that probably wasn’t well thought out, but liked so much by Nike owner, and Oregon Alum, Phillip Knight, who built the place, that everyone just let it go. Beyond all that, no one can even see the mid-court line, which is kind of an important part of the game.

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