Friday, January 28, 2011

Las Vegas Sports Books Getting Equal Action for Super Bowl; One Big Wager on Packers

By Micah Roberts
VegasInsider.com

MGM Grand Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas
The Las Vegas sports books are buzzing with action a week to go before the Super Bowl, both from those making bets and the others just standing around looking at the board. Just about everyone who has checked in this week has made it a priority to stroll over to the book and see what the line is. Some of them make some bets while others just use it as a topic of conversation knowing they will bet later, probably closer to their departure.

The visitors who wait like to use the game as a topic of conversation wherever they go hoping to hear something, from anyone, during their stay that sways them one way or another. The locals in town are waiting for something to happen one way or another, but the only thing moving right now has been the total dropping from 46 to 44 ½ while the game itself still has the packers minus-2 ½.

Because of that wait game by many of the bettors, a few of the sports book Directors are questioning their initial thoughts that this Super Bowl could possibly surpass the all-time state record of $94.5 million in handle set in 2006 between the Steelers and Seahawks, a time when money was freely spent before settling in our current economic climate. The last two years under that climate has seen handle at $82.7 and $81.5 million.

According to reports, at least $1 million is already in the kitty early on as the MGM resorts properties took a large wager on the Packers at minus-2 ½, prompting only a .10 cents move to -2 ½ (-120). For MGM Resorts to have accepted a wager that large, it’s an indication that it came from a house player with a large line of credit, meaning that it wasn’t a Sharp who made the wager, but rather just a guy with lots of money who wants to make his Super Bowl experience a little more interesting.

That’s exactly what this game brings to Las Vegas. It’s not on the same level as the gentleman with the large wager, but what it does is bring everyone to the sports book -- who normally don’t wager -- to make a bet, while also making the casual bettor up his normal wager amount. It’s kind of like Christmas and Easter at church, which always brings out those with faith on least those two special days.

Aside from the wager, most sports books are reporting great two-way action thus far which has kept the spread at a stand still. Most of the Directors agree that they believe the late money will come on Pittsburgh, but are holding ground until it happens. The worst case scenario for the books would be if Packers money came in stronger and they were eventually forced to move to minus-3 making them vulnerable to get sided (paying on one side and refunding the other).

Money Line Value?
Public supported Broncos vs Packers
The Super Bowl underdog money-line never gives fair value, thanks in part to having some rough days at the hands of the Patriots vs. Rams, Giants vs. Patriots and Denver vs. Green Bay. Even though those Super Bowls had double digit spreads with giant money-lines, the sports books still have to book on the side of caution knowing that the majority of the public loves to get that plus-money backing the underdog.

On a normal 2-½-point spread during the regular season, the conversion chart shows that a game should be about -145/+125. The shade on this game is -130/+110 at most sports books which is a combination of both expecting more Steelers money to come in and knowing that a large portion of Pittsburgh bets will be on the money-line.

Very few bettors will touch the Packers money-line at this juncture even though the line is very fair to what the spread is. The casual bettor doesn’t want lay more to get less and would rather lay the points while the Sharp also feels they can wait it out for a better price, either because of extended action on underdog money or that the Steelers money actually does come in later.



The Sports Books Ultimate Wish
McNabb helped Vegas to a Big Day
Two of the most profitable Super Bowl wins for the house occurred when the favorite won but didn’t cover. The top all-time win for the State was in 2005 with the Patriots beating the Eagles that netted $15.4 million in win at a 17% hold. Despite Donavan McNabb throwing up late in the game, he managed to get the back-door cover late that killed all the bets on the Patriots as 7-point favorites.

The year prior, Carolina gave the Patriots all they could handle as 7-point underdogs, eventually losing 32-29, but covering. The win netted the State $12.4 million in win for a 15.3% hold.

Because this years spread is so low -- one of the lowest ever -- the ideal scenario happening again seems unlikely. However, the last time these two teams played, it was a 1-point Steelers win in a 37-36 shootout during week 15 last season.

Packers winning by 1-point this year would be the ultimate scenario for the Nevada sports books.



Total Dropping
Will the Packers scrap the run and let Rodgers air it out?
Maybe it’s because five of the last six Super Bowls have gone under the number or maybe it’s because this game features the first and third ranked defenses in the league, but I have hard time understanding why this game is being bet under with such conviction.

Yes, we’ve seen Aaron Rodgers look average in three games against the Bears and the Steelers figure to game plan their model similarly, but I can’t get that 2009 week 15 game out of my head where the two teams combined for 973 yards. The two teams exchanged blows throughout, with both teams alternating scores in each half.

The more I think about how good the Steelers top ranked run defense is, the more I think the Packers may scrap the run game a little bit and get the Steelers into a tempo they don’t like to play.

The time to prepare angle has worked in favor of defenses the last few Super Bowls and we just saw the National Championship game between two high powered collegiate teams be stifled due to weeks of defensive preparation, but I don’t see it here.

Propositions
The Super Bowl props are slowly coming out around the city as of Friday and there is a mad scramble by many to get their edge on middle opportunities before the sports books all settle at about the same number. The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book released their props Thursday night, but wait to offer a sheet until a day later just to avoid copy cats.

We’ll have a summary of some of the more creative bets in town early next week.

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