Friday, February 25, 2011

Phillies Powerful Rotation Has Prompted Vegas Sports Books To Offer Props

By Micah Roberts

Phils Fab Four has prompted Las Vegas Sports Books to offer props 
When Cliff Lee signed with the Philadelphia Phillies this off-season, the immediate reaction by most in the baseball world was that the Phillies would cruise through the National League East and valet park at the World Series.

On paper, the addition of Lee to an already impressive staff of reigning Cy Young award winner Roy Halladay, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt has swayed the public perception dramatically. In the process, the media have done their share to stir the pot by comparing the new rotation with the all-time greats in baseball history.

In Las Vegas, everyone has an opinion, but unlike other cities, you can actually put your money where your mouth is. The Las Vegas Hilton Super Book and Lucky’s sports books have offered a wide array of baseball propositions for the upcoming season that can have even the smartest of know-it-alls slow their talk when it comes to actually taking dollar bills out of their wallets.

Over at Lucky’s, they posted the season win totals for each team allowing bettors to bet over or under the number. Because of the media hype and public opinion, not to mention a pretty good ball club, the Phillies are listed with the highest total of 97.5 wins. Last season the Phillies went 97-65 and claimed the best record in baseball. Surely, with the addition of Lee, -- even with the departure of Jayson Werth -- Philadelphia can top that number, right?

When looking at the schedule, it’s easy to see why the Phillies season wins are so high even though they have won the NL East four straight years. When glancing at the bulk of their schedule against teams in their division, no where on Lucky’s list of teams is there a greater top-heavy disparity between the expected first-place team and second-place in any division. The Braves are the closest with 87 ½ wins, followed by the Marlins at 82 ½, Mets at 77 ½ and the Nationals at 72.

The Phillies also get the benefit of playing nine of their inter-league games against the worst competitive division, the AL West, with three games each against the Rangers, Mariners and Athletics.

The pitcher best in baseball!
The most interesting proposition of all came from the Hilton where they have put up a number on how many wins the “Philly Fab Four” rotation would win between them. In my discussion with Assistant Manager Jeff Sherman, I told him to wait before he told me the number so I could blindly guess. Off the top of my head, I just shot out 70 just because I had this vision of the 1971 Orioles with four studs each winning 20 or more games. Sherman said my guess was way too high.

I then go through the numbers of each pitcher and come up with 22 wins from Halladay, 15 by Oswalt, 14 for Lee and 13 for Hamels, giving my adjusted guess with some actual thought making my total 64 wins. I’m thinking I have to be right on the money with that one. Lee and Hamel’s total appear to be low from the public perception rationale, but Sherman informed me I was too high again.

“Try 59 ½ wins,” Sherman excitedly said as he stumped me multiple times on my guesses.

So we started to talk more about it -- analyzing the number a bit -- and he started off by saying that he has Halladay posted at 17 ½ wins which would then take me to their number if I agreed, which I still don't.

“The real equalizer to the prop is injuries which are sure to occur and none of those starting four have been immune to it over their careers, “ Sherman explained.

“If we just look at last year with 96 wins and combined both of Oswalt and Lee’s wins with their other clubs, you’re still only looking at 58 wins and that’s with Halladay having a career year.”

Even more logic can be gathered to support the Hilton’s proper number. For all the greatness we’ve seen out of Cliff Lee in the playoffs, let’s not forget that he has only won 26 wins combined in the last two regular seasons while playing for four different teams. Oswalt was a terrific acquisition for the stretch run last year going 7-1, but he still had 13 combined losses on the year and is now going into his 11th season.

Drysdale & Koufax: 49 wins in 1965
If looking at some of the greatest pitching staffs of all-time, like most recently the 1995 Braves, they had only 54 combined wins. Going back to the 1971 Orioles, they had a four man rotation and combined for 81 wins. Same goes for the rotation of the 1965 Dodgers who got 71 wins from their top four led by Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Claude Osteen each starting 40 or more games.

Last season Halladay was the workhorse with 33 starts while Lee made only 28 starts between Seattle and Texas.

“When we put the number up on Tuesday, we immediately got bet over the number, said Sherman. We moved the money a little bit, shading the over, but we’re still sitting at 59 ½.”

When looking at history and understanding the Hilton’s injury aspect a little more, I would have a tough time betting over 59 ½ wins. In today’s baseball world, high priced pitchers just don’t make starts with sore arms anymore. They did it all the time just two decades ago, but it’s too costly for the long term investment of the team, player and player-agent to allow it now.

Having said all that, I would have a tough time betting under 97 ½ wins and much of that precaution stems from their winning attitude year after year, along with their weak divisional foes who they’ll play the most. I’ll go with the Phillies to finish 99-63 on the year with the “Philly Fab Four” accumulating 57 wins between them. I'll also take Halladay to go 20-10 on the season just because I see his work ethic and dedictaion to both diet and fitness keeping him rolling through the season, stronger than most.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

College Basketball Betting Notes From Las Vegas: St. Johns is Back

The top four teams in the nation lost last week elevating Duke to the number one slot in what was a fantastic week of college basketball, maybe the best week of the entire season. In the process, it made things a little more jumbled for the NCAA selection committee with two weeks to go. A team like Alabama is making things interesting for itself by winning eight of its last nine - covering seven in a row -- but might still be on the outside looking in.
One of the most impressive resurgences on the year added another chapter over the weekend with St. John’s making the coaches poll at No. 25. The Red Storm’s win over then No. 4 Pitt, a team that had won 14 of its last 15 games in the tough Big East, sent a message to the basketball world that the Johnnies are indeed for real. They don’t have any quality road wins, but man, they can beat just about anyone at the Garden.
St. John’s is regarded as having the toughest schedule and have used those tough contests to take them to where it is now, which is a team no one will want to face in the tournament. The Johnnies have big conference wins against Georgetown, Notre Dame, Connecticut, West Virginia and Pitt and also are one of only two teams to have knocked off No. 1 ranked Duke.

From a betting stand point, the Red Storm has been hot as well. Since losing at UCLA three weeks ago, St. John’s has won and covered four straight games with three of those coming as underdogs and two of them on the road.
Leading the charge for Steve Lavin’s team has been senior guard Dwight Hardy, who has come up big in each of its impressive wins. He leads the team with 17.2 point per game, up seven points from his junior season. The kids have all bought into Lavin’s energetic coaching style and it’s all paying off. Look for St. John’s to keep the momentum going with a good showing in the Big East tournament, played in Madison Square Garden where it is 7-1 this year. I also think the Johnnies are going to make a run to the Sweet 16 in March.
DePaul Covering
St. John’s will start its week off Wednesday at home against a suddenly dangerous DePaul squad which ended its 12-game losing skid with a big road win at Providence. They followed that up with a 77-75 overtime home loss to Villanova, making it five straight covers for the Blue Demons.
The Team with perhaps the best of week was Purdue who are rolling along just fine without Robbie Hummel. They beat two top-10 teams last week with home wins against Wisconsin and Ohio State. E’Twaun Moore’s 38 points Sunday against the Buckeyes helped Purdue to their fourth straight cover while also coming with one game of Ohio State for the Big Ten regular season title. If they can win out for their remaining four games, they’ll have a No. 2 seed wrapped up. Three of their games are on the road with a big one at Michigna State who are fighting for their lives to avoid the NIT.
Wild Cats are Back
Just when we had Kansas State as a bubble team last week after losing to Colorado, it went off and beat No. 1 Kansas and then made quick work of Oklahoma in a 15-point win. After scoring only 12 points at Colorado, seven points below his season average, Jacob Pullen poured in a career-high 38 in the upset over Kansas and then had 27 against the Sooners. Pullen had vowed that he wouldn’t play in the NIT if that’s where they were headed, but now has finally done something about it on the court.
Kansas State can solidify its current status as a team destined for the Big Dance with a road win at Nebraska and a win at home against Missouri this week. The following week the Wildcats play at Texas and at home game against Iowa State. Those are three pretty tough games and Pullen will have to create some more magic to take at least two of them.
Cowboy Up
Oklahoma State has been in a meltdown mode that has made some bettors happy by betting against them. The Cowboys have gone 3-8 in their last 11 games straight up and are 1-7 ATS in their last eight, including two straight weeks of not covering.
Texas Tech has gone 1-4 in its last five games, but has covered the spread in its last four with three of those games having spreads of 13-points or higher. The Red Raiders play Colorado on Wednesday and then have a matchup with Oklahoma State on Saturday where they put their ATS streaks against each other.
No. 1 Seed at Stake Saturday
The game of the week has BYU playing at San Diego State where the Aztecs will try to avenge their 71-58 loss January 26 in Provo. The Aztecs haven’t lost since that game and should they win, and they will, it might wrap up a No. 1 seed for the NCAA’s. Despite not having the east coast support on their side when it comes to voting, as was no more evident last week when two teams who lost remained higher ranked, they still have the RPI numbers in their favor. They are currently No. 2 in the RPI’s, just below Kansas, and just above BYU. I’ll take San Diego State to win by eight points.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

College Basketball Notes: It's Do or Die Time For Bubble Teams

The last time Wisconsin beat a No. 1 ranked college basketball team was in 1962 against Ohio State. On Saturday they duplicated the feat, but took it one step further by giving the Buckeyes their first loss of the season. It’s almost a mirror image of what the football team did in Madison back in October when they beat Ohio State’s No. 1 ranked undefeated team on the gridiron.
The Wisconsin double-sting has the folks in Columbus in grumbling and refusing anything and everything to do with cheese, milk and Miller beer as a protest of sorts for their newly found dislike of what the state has to offer. However, it still doesn’t come close to comparing to what happened in 2007 when Florida beat down the Buckeyes in both football and basketball Championship games.
Wisconsin’s win pushes their record to 19-5 on the year and sets them up for bonus points in the NCAA seeding process. The win also is beneficial to UNLV and the Mountain West conference because of UNLV’s November win against the Badgers. Despite the MWC having the RPI’s fourth ranked conference, it looks as though only two teams are guaranteed to get in at this juncture with two others on the fence (UNLV and Colorado State) and another (New Mexico) needing to win out just to sit on the fence.


UNLV (No. 29 RPI) has a good resume, but their MWC play has been horrendous going 0-5 against the top three teams in the conference. With four extra spots filling the NCAA board, yes, UNLV should get in, but they had better win at least one of their games at Colorado State or New Mexico to ensure it. Should they lose both of those tough matchups, we might talking about the NIT here in Las Vegas come March.
As for the Buckeyes, it was a good loss. They don’t need that weight of being undefeated going down the stretch of conference play. They can now re-focus and set their sights on making the Final Four, a place I fully expect them to be.
Bubble Teams
We're at the time of the year now where teams control their own fate. They can either win a few big games and make the tournament or lose them and miss out. Michigan State, Kansas State, Gonzaga, Mississippi State, Baylor, Boston College, Tennessee, Memphis, and Virginia Tech are all needing a major push down the stretch, just as UNLV and Colorado State does.
ATS Streaks
St. Bonaventure is on a four-game cover streak which includes a big win against Duquesne as an 8 ½-point underdog and a two-point loss at Dayton as a 9-point dog. Another Atlantic-10 team who has been going in the opposite direction all season is Fordham, who has been ripe for the picking against almost every game. Despite covering 21-points in an 11-point loss to Temple, they are on a 13-game losing streak and have gone 2-11 ATS over that span.

Miami-Florida seems to play every ACC game close with nearly all their games being decided by 3 points or less; however, they are currently on a four-game non-cover skid. North Carolina has gone almost a month of covering getting the money seven games in a row. After a shaky start to the season, the Tar Heels have gone 11-2 SU in their last 13 games. Even though they have the much heralded Carolina blue on their chests and expectations are always high, they are playing well and could be a really dangerous team in the tournament.
N.C. State took care of their eight game non-cover streak by blasting Wake Forest Sunday just like everyone else does, but don’t let the one cover scare you into staying away from betting against them. Depaul still has their 12 game losing streak in tact, but they have covered their last three games.
Notre Dame is currently playing one of the best teams in the Big East having won seven in a row with a 6-1 record ATS. Pitt’s only loss in their last 14 games came at the hands of the Irish, but the Panthers are clearly the most polished team in the conference, and maybe even the nation. They have gone 3-0 ATS in their last three and 7-2 ATS in their last nine.
Who knows what to think about Syracuse. They are tough to bet on or against, The stats keep saying to bet against them, but you've got that stubborn thought of reason that keeps telling you they still are one of the better teams in the nation. The reality is that the Orange have been a great team to bet against all season. They are 3-6 ATS since their undefeated streak was snapped and on the season, they are 10-15 ATS. We all kind of knew Cincinnati was phony thanks to their padded schedule early and once conference play began, they were exposed. In their last four games, they are 0-4 ATS and have gone 2-8 ATS since January 9.
Michigan is likely NIT bound, but they’re making a major push to get on the bubble having won five of their last six games going 5-1 ATS.
Must Watch TV
The game of the week has the best from the WAC and the WCC facing each other as No. 24 Utah State plays at No. 23 Saint Mary’s Saturday night. Utah State lost at Idaho last Wednesday as a 9-point favorite and failed to cover in a win against Fresno State Saturday. Saint Mary’s is on a four-game winning streak and should be able to keep the streak going at home. Look for a nine-point win by the Gaels.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Nevada Sports Books Handle $87.5 Million, Win $724K In Super Bowl XLV

Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) -- Sports books in Nevada hung on to win just over $724,000 from Super Bowl bets despite heavy gambling on the Green Bay Packers and lots of scoring.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board said Tuesday that $87.5 million were wagered on the NFL's championship game in 183 sports books across the state.

Of those bets, casinos kept less than 1 percent.

Green Bay beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Sunday night. The Packers were a 2 1/2-point favorite in most Las Vegas casinos, giving their supporters a win with the six-point victory.

The combined 56 points scored helped bettors who gambled that the total would go over about 45 points.

Nevada casinos won $6.9 million on $82.7 million in Super Bowl bets last year.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Las Vegas Sports Books Get Crushed in Super Bowl; Packers To Over Did Them In

By Micah Roberts

After the Super Bowl score and all the propositions were posted, Las Vegas sports books collectively took a beating as the Packers and over the total of 45 came in. It was the only scenario where the books could lose and it happened. The only saving grace for some of the books was a large reserve with future bets cashing in and the ties-lose parlay card paying dividends. In most instances, the books did very well with either side winning on future odds to win the Super Bowl prior to the final results, but it still didn‘t deflect from the massive parlay handle on the day for the individual game.

Among all the terrible tales of the sports books day, a couple stood out with decent wins because of their strategy to attract Steelers money before anyone else.

The South Point had been giving the best line for both Packers and Steelers supporters leading up to kickoff by offering either minus-2 ½ flat, or plus-3 flat four days before kikcoff and used that action to offset the the winning two team parlays.

Coast Resorts also followed the South Point lead by getting all the Steelers action they could at -3 (EVEN) giving them a cushion for the big public parlay.

The M Resort and their chain of Cantor Gaming sports books reported a small win for the day, but after all was tabulated throughout the state, it was a substantial loser on the day.

The last time the state lost collectively for the Super Bowl was when the Giants beat the Patriots where the loss was $2.5 million. All the results aren’t in yet at this juncture, but the state does require state handle and win to be reported immediately with the overall results likely to come by Tuesday. Based on the sample reports, the loss from form the Giants upset in 2008 could be duplicated or passed.

Most sports books stayed steady at Packers - 2 ½ (-120) for the duration and all would have been well had the game stayed under. At most sports books, the parlay combo with Green Bay to the over was the only losing equation.

Coast Resorts and the South Point had each done a magnificent job in generating action with their attractive Steelers lines at +3. By Sunday, the three major off-shore sports books had all followed suit, but here in Las Vegas, everyone stayed relative calm with their lines. The Wynn started a move to -3 flat an hour before kickoff and Lucky’s went to -2 ½ (-130) while the M Resort was steady at - 2 ½ (-135).

The bottom line was that there wasn’t much large Steelers money to be had. Those who had wanted Pittsburgh +3 had gotten it with the South Point Thursday and Friday. When the weekend rolled around, the action was kind of stale, especially with the majority of the Las Vegas lines at a stalemate.

In the long run, every casino made money on the Super Bowl despite what accounting figures show for the day. You can bet that the majority of the money won by the betting public was returned elsewhere in the casino a couple times over. The party doesn’t stop with the Super Bowl, it’s just an excuse to get down and dirty -- gamble some more -- and forget about all the irritable things going on at home, where ever that may be.

Even though the sports books may have lost, let’s not forget about their contributions to the sagging numbers in table games coming into the weekend which were spiked due to the sudden wealth becoming of several gamblers. The same goes for food and beverage, and slots as well.

The sports book goal is to win money, of course, but it’s also such a small portion of the overall casino revenue. Their value to the overall floor of a casino is more about marketing than expected large contributions. While the sports book numbers for Sunday may look to be down, there should be an accounting wizard for each of the corporations that factor in the rise of other areas of the casino operations that should get transferred to the sports book department.

As you read this, the reality may have finally set in that football season is over. All the sports book Directors are sure to be on their way to a long and much deserved vacation as bettors turn their full attention to college basketball now.

Before we get too sentimental about how poorly the books did for the Super Bowl, let us not forget how they crushed everyone all season long with the bettors only getting the best of the books two times during the NFL’s 2010 regular season. The Packers freight train was coming and everyone liked them. When something like that occurs, no matter how a game is booked, the sports book will lose if the public is right. And there is no bigger stage than the Super Bowl for the public to show their talents.

There will be all kinds of should’ve, would’ve talk regarding the booking of the game, but the bottom line is that it was the small money that won with 13-to-5 parlay action and there wasn’t a spread out there that could have off-set the loss. There was only so much Steelers large money out there to be had and it went quickly to the South Point and then later with Coast Resorts. Had someone went to Packers -3 ½, we’d still be discussing the same topic with the same figures.

College Basketball Betting Notes From Las Vegas

By Micah Roberts

While most people around the country may not realize how good George Mason and Duquesne are, the betting world can quickly attest for their strength against the almighty spread. The nation has kind of been fixated on No. 3 Texas because they have been blowing teams out regularly in their last 13 games going 10-2-1 ATS, but lets give a little love to George Mason and Duquesne who are doing almost the exact same thing the Long Horns are, just on a smaller scale.

In Saturday’s 17-point win over Old Dominion as a 5-point favorite, George Mason got their 10th straight cover and ninth straight win. Just like Texas, they too have been destroying their opponents and have vaulted to the top of the Colonial conference and the ratings can‘t catch up with them.

This week the Patriots play a very weak Wilmington team before an interesting home matchup against James Madison, a team they beat by two 3 weeks ago on the road. The big game in the conference will take place February 15 when they travel to UVA for a battle between conference heavyweights.

All Duquesne has done this year is compile a 12-3 ATS record while going straight to the top of the Atlantaic-10 as co-leaders. Before losing to St. Bony’s on Saturday, the Dukes had won and covered eight games in a row and have high hopes of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1977.

The city of Pittsburgh may be sulking a bit with the Steelers loss, but the basketball team rising to their best play since the Norm Nixon era has the city kind of excited about their poor step-sisters of the Pitt Panthers basketball program like rarely seen. Despite their impressive 16-6 record, they likely will have to win their conference tournament as they are currently No. 78 in the RPI rankings.

This Sunday, Duquesne has perhaps their biggest home game since 1977 when they face Xavier who is tied atop the A-10 with them at 8-1. A win against a quality opponent like Xavier -- No. 25 RPI -- would go a long way in getting them a possible at-large bid. Hopefully, my backing of a Pittsburgh team this Sunday will have better results than I did with the city on Super Sunday.

A team that has no shot of going anywhere, but are consistently making money for bettors is Sacramento State. They have only won six games on the season, but they are playing inspired ball of late as they’ve won three of those six games in their last four, covering the spread in five straight. Over their last 12 games they have gone 10-2 ATS, but still only have those recent three wins to show for it. Up next is a trip up north to Big Sky leader Montana, a team they lost by 16 to last month as a 12-point underdog. Taking the double-digit points might be a good idea based on their recent turnaround.

Just a few weeks ago, despite the poor play, I had Michigan State as a team that would step it up and come up with big wins in conference play -- at least enough to make them a No. 8 or 9 seed in the Tournament, but their inconsistent play over the last four weeks says they are bound for the NIT. Losing to Iowa, Michigan and Penn State should not happen to a team coached as well as they are with all the talent they possess. As for Sparty bettors, they haven’t covered a spread in their last nine games. Their RPI rating has dropped to No. 50 and need a miracle fast. Beating Penn State this week and then upsetting Ohio State next week are absolute musts if they intend to make the NCAA’s.

I hate to put UNLV in any negative light because they hustle harder than most teams, but the results from the sports book show that the Rebels haven’t covered the spread in over two weeks. Their 0-5 ATS streak has a great possibility of being snapped this week as they play at TCU, the second worst team in the Mountain West.

Washington started last week as the No. 20 team in the country but then got beat up on their road trip south to face the Oregon squads, neither of whom had a winning record. Thursday night the Huskies fell straight up at Oregon State as a 13-point favorite. They followed that up two days later with a loss at Eugene as 8-point favorites. Washington has now gone four straight games without covering. They’ll try and get things back together Thursday with a road game at Cal who had won four in a row, including both Oregon teams, before losing to Arizona.

The Ducks, meanwhile, have covered five straight games -- winning four straight up -- and have done so as an underdog in each. Thursday night they‘ll play at UCLA once again as underdog. However, the spread will be quite light compared to two weeks ago due to their terrific play of late.

Sports Books in Cruise Control Heading to Super Bowl Kickoff

Sunday - 12:30 pm

Most of the Las Vegas Sports Books are in cruise control mode as they head for the home stretch of kickoff with a few exceptions. Bob Scucci of Coast Resorts and Bert Osborne over at the South Point are maneuvering to see if they can shake up any extra cash from bettors in the final moments offering the best lines in town.

It’s not to say it’s quiet by any means at the books, because it’s anything but. It’s just that all the long lines and the majority of people betting right now are doing so with small money. The people with large money have already had their best opportunities to get their optimum value and likely have done so.

Scucci had went back to Packers -2 ½ (-120) at 4:21 yesterday after getting enough Steelers action at +3 (-120) over a four hour period. At 11:03 this morning, Scucci jumped back in to get some more Pittsburgh action while Osborne dropped his line to -2 ½ flat after being at -3 for almost two whole days.

Osborne’s action came quickly on the Packers due to it being the most attractive line in the world. Everywhere else in the world, the Packers are at least -2 ½ (-120). It only took Osborne 20 minutes until he got to the desired threshold on the move and went back to -3 flat, which also is the best line in the world. 20 minutes later, Osborne went back to -2 ½ flat, a trend that is likely to continue until kickoff as he’s just letting the money dictate the moves.

The rest of the Las Vegas Sports Books appear to be content with where they are and likely will not make any move to generate more action. All of them will be in same boat with the worst case scenario being the Packers covering and the total going over 44 ½.

The South Point may be the only book in Las Vegas who will cheering for the Packers because of all the action they have taken at +3 flat, likely the bulk of the sharp money to be had on the Steelers in town.

Mike Colbert at the M Resort has created some unique action with his Packers -2 ½ (-132) line getting some Steelers support, but says he’s still needs the Steelers and really needs the total to stay under. Colbert also predicted today that the state record of $94.5 million in handle would be broken, something that most of the other sports books have disagreed with saying $88 million looked to be the number.

But you never know, between the business model that the M has and the manufacturing of business that Scucci and Osborne have been working for the last few days, it’s very possible that this game could eclipse the state record. Factor in all the other regular local bettors, two attractive teams with storied history and 300,000 people visiting for the game, it could happen.

That does it from Las Vegas; enjoy the game and good luck!

I’ll be back early tomorrow morning with a final analysis of what actually happened at all the sports books in town.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl XLV Betting Notes From Las Vegas: Coast Resorts Join South Point at -3

By Micah Roberts

Saturday - 12:50 pm
The "3" Train is coming through Las Vegas Sports Books
The South Point has remained steady at minus-3 flat on the Packers since 6:07 pm Friday after seven separate moves on the day hop-scotching from -2 ½ to -3. This is the longest stretch of time that has passed without a move since they started maneuvering on Thursday, which leads me to believe they have satisfied most of the sharp large money’s thirst for Steelers +3 flat.

Over at the M Resort, they moved from Packers -2 ½, -132 to -135 at 9:30 am as Green Bay money keeps coming in. Everyone else in town is staying put at -2 ½ (-120) and most are suggesting they don’t foresee any changes despite the South Point’s stance locally.

Bob Scucci, Race and Sports Director for the Coast Resorts, said things were a bit slow the last couple of days because many of his expected guests were delayed due to weather in the Midwest and Canada, but that the action has been steady since last night once they all arrived.

“We actually have more tickets on the Steelers, but the average wager on the Packers far outweighs what we have on the Steelers. We had taken several six-figure bets on the Packers early on.”

At the time of talking with Scucci, he didn’t foresee his chain of sports books needing to move to -3 if the current rate of action continued. “We’ve got a large enough handle on the Steelers money-line to offset a lot of the risk we have on the point spread money differential with the Packers. The ideal situation for us would be to have the Packers win by one or two points.”

Shortly after our conversation, however, something substantial occurred forcing Scucci to make a move becoming the second property to jump aboard the “3” train as his sports books moved to Packers -3 (EVEN).

Equal action coming on game now 
Scucci added that one of the more popular bets taken has been a two-team parlay with the OVER to either side. Should the game go UNDER, those parlay funds will also go a long way to deflect any loss that may be incurred should the Packers cover.

The Venetian/Palazzo Race and Sports Director Chuck Esposito is in the same boat as many others around town who don’t anticipate needing to go minus-3.

“Over the last couple days, with 24 hours to go, we’ve seen a lot more Steelers action come our way at +2 ½ (EVEN). During the first week, we saw about a 5-to-1 ratio in ticket counts taking the Packers and that figure has been reduced to about 3-to-1. The same goes for the total. We had a lot of players going with the UNDER early on, but have seen it shift towards the OVER.”

That’s kind of been the theme throughout Las Vegas, in particular the strip properties. Sports Books are seeing Steelers money more frequently now, but they’re still quite long on the other side from all the early action on the Packers.

So far we have only two books at -3, but by Sunday morning I would expect to see several more make the jump. Even if some make the move, it may be too late because of the large Steelers money already being spent at the South Point Thursday and Friday meaning that several sports book Directors will be waving Terrible Towels tomorrow. Stay tuned for the final update tomorrow.

Great Places To Watch The Super Bowl in Las Vegas
Here’s a quick look at some of the most fun places to watch the game at Sunday if you haven’t already made plans. The sports books are all going to be jammed. Several of them who have used their show rooms with giant screens all season for NFL games can use them for the Super Bowl per the NFL. Casino’s looking to use a show room with a giant screen exclusively for the Super Bowl are prohibited with threat of litigation from the NFL.

Lagasse' Stadium is a great place to watch big games
Places like the Hilton and South Point have been running weekly parties all season in their show rooms and provide and an excellent environment with their HD movie screen. The crowds are very large, but are contained well making it comfortable even for those who hate large crowds.

On a smaller scale, all of the 34 PT’s Taverns spread across town will be offering all you can eat stadium buffets for $15 will HD screens all over the place.

There aren’t many places better than Lagasse’s Stadium inside the Palazzo where Esposito runs a sports book out of. The double-decker palace of sports viewing has 109 flat screens spread throughout, including a monster video wall in front of where the stadium seating is.

Another amenity for players at both the Venetian and Palazzo is being able to play Cantor Gaming’s In-Running wagering with a hand held device. No waiting in lines; you can just sit there and wager on just about anything -- including casino games -- from the comfort of your luxurious seat on every play if desired.

I will be at the NASCAR CafĂ© at the Sahara with ESPN Radio’s Brian Blessing. For $60 you can eat and drink all you want beginning at 1 pm. Blessing will also be giving away hundreds of prizes all game that include UNLV tickets, concerts, movie premieres and commemorative t-shirts. Everyone in attendance will get something.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Super Bowl XLV: Friday's Betting Movement at Las Vegas Sports Books

By Micah Roberts

Friday - 3:30 pm
Packers-Steelers action heated at South Point
The South Point continues to bounce around from -2 ½ to -3 having done so four different times alone today. No one else in town is budging. So while everyone else is town essentially has a closed sign on their game - because large money doesn't want +2 ½ (EV) with the Steelers or -2 ½ (-120) with the Packers -- the South Point is raking in all the cash.

Critics of this tactic may say it’s irresponsible and reckless to play around with a “3” in the Super Bowl, but I got to hand it to their boss Bert Osborne over there for making business happen. He’s manufacturing business with the numbers people want. They like laying -2 ½ flat with Green Bay and taking +3 flat with Pittsburgh; no one is even trying to compete.

The only risk happens if the game does land “3” and then they’ll have to give the Pittsburgh money back while paying on all the Packers money. But that’s only one number. What about the Packers winning by the number 4 to infinity? If that happens and none of these books have Steelers money, their going to be left at the alter with no way of getting Steelers money, unless they go to +3 themselves, but who knows how much out there is left by then.

The public loves the Packers and they’ll bet whatever the number is even if it goes as high as -2 ½ (-135 or -140). The same goes for the public liking the Steelers, but the large money is being forced to bet all their action at the South Point right now on both sides at flat money. By kickoff, it’s possible that most of the large money that may have been spread around everywhere else in town has already been funneled through to the South Point.

Should the game land “3”, it’s only a push and they’ll lose on the Packers side just like everyone else. However, any other decision is going to make the South point hold very high because of the maneuvering and the extra money handled. The juice alone on the high handle, theorectically, makes them a winner.

It’s still only Friday, with more the half of the overall action still to come, but we’ll keep you all updated as it happens with more of “As the Vegas Sports Books Turn”.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

South Point Becomes First Las Vegas Sports Book To Hit "3" in Super Bowl XLV

By Micah Roberts

The South Point was the first Las Vegas sports book to blink in a staring contest with the Super Bowl line going from minus-2 ½ to -3 on Thursday afternoon. Every book in town has been steady at -2 ½ since the opening line came out with only the Golden Nugget opening at a higher number, but the steady stream of Packers money has been mounting making the risk quite substantial. The consensus feeling from most sports books has been that Steelers money will eventually show up.
By being the first in town since the Golden Nugget briefly had up a -3 ½  and -3, the South Point puts their feet in the water to test the market. No sports book really wants to go to the key number “3” because it’s the most hit upon margin of victory in the NFL. This season over 17% of all NFL games landed on “3”. Getting sided (losing one side and pushing with the other) in a Super Bowl would be a disaster because of the millions in handle. 
From a bettors standpoint, the smaller money is likely to jump in immediately because this is the number they have been waiting 10 days for. The larger money from a few groups might opt to wait and not show their hand so they can simultaneously get down at several other sports books around the city when they are eventually forced to go to -3.
What happens within the next few hours will be a key moment in the Super Bowl betting progress, because if the South Point is forced back down to -2 ½, then it shows everyone in the city that there is Steelers money ready to pounce on the key number and they'll eventually have to take 2 ½.
Should the line stay as is at the South Point through the night, we should see almost every sports book in the city at -3 by Friday morning. 
If the Steelers money still doesn't come, then you'll have quite a few Sports Book Directors wearing black and gold on Sunday.
Currently, there are no flat numbers available in Las Vegas with the exception of the South Point, a book that never attaches additional money to any game. Every other book is Packers -2 ½ (-115 or -120).
For those looking for the +3, South Point sports books are located at the Palms, Cannery and El Cortez. 
Should be fun to watch it all unfold!  

Thursday - 3:06 pm
It only took 50 minutes before the Pittsburgh money flooded every outlet of the South Point operation with enough money to push them back to -2 ½. This proves that there is Steelers money out just waiting to bet.
Steelers Money Came FAST!
What this does is show every sports book in the city that there is Steelers money really to be had, not just speculated. But now they know what it will take to get it and are they willing to the distance to get it. There no longer is a need to test the waters, because the results have been proven thanks to the South Point. The other books can only go so long by taking Packers money and at some juncture someone high up isn’t going to be happy with the type of liability that is about to occur if they don’t go to -3.
Once again, when a few other books do go to -3, they’ll all go for fear of not getting any of that Steelers money to balance things out. Who wants to be left out when it looks like only a few groups want the +3 right now. The small money and regular Joe’s who like the Steelers really don’t care what line they lay -- bettng it whenever -- and those are the type of people that control the Super Bowl.
I’ll update later as more unfolds on the other “Big Game” going on every Las Vegas sports book right now.     

Super Bowl XLV Betting Notes From Las Vegas; Good Strategy For Prop Betting

By Micah Roberts

Nice Party in Dallas for "The Big Game"
If you can’t be in Arlington for the actual Super Bowl, there is no better place to be than in Las Vegas. With a combination of all the party glitz New Years Eve offers mixed in with the passion of sports and Las Vegas’ favorite tradition, gambling, a trip to Vegas for the game is actually a little more entertaining -- and sometimes cheaper -- than being at the actual game.

While there are just over 100,000 people that have tickets for the game itself, Las Vegas opens it’s arms large for all with it’s sports books and parties all across town making the theme of the day louder and larger than any destination in the world. And even though the NFL won’t allow anyone in Las Vegas to actually use the trademarked term of “Super Bowl”, everyone just says “The Big Game” with a wink.

Sorry Dallas, everything is big in Texas, but with 300,000 people expected to be in town, the scoreboard shows Las Vegas as the real winner of being truly big for your event.

Strategizing Your Prop Plays
Upon coming to town, you have already got a preconceived notion of who you like. Depending on who that team is and how you figure the tempo to go, you have a great head start of what to play in your prop wagers.

Las Vegas Hilton Prop Sheet is 8 pages
Should you like the Steelers to win and shut down the Packers, obviously you play the Steelers to win -- either on the money-line or point spread -- and take a shot with the under. A parlay of the two may even be a good investment at a lower amount than your other bets.

You then have to analyze how you came to that conclusion. As you go on about the Steelers have the No. 1 total defense led by the league’s top run defense by a large margin, you come to the conclusion that the Packers won’t be able to run. Glancing through the sheets of prop pages, you find exactly the type of bet that coincides with your logic, the Packers James Starks under 50 ½ yards.

You then come to the conclusion that if the Packers can’t run, they’ll obviously have to throw which then takes you to betting over 34 ½ pass attempts by Aaron Rodgers, something Rodgers has done in three of the four losses he had while not getting hurt.

On the Pittsburgh side, you’re wondering about how they’ll get the win and you reflect back on the success they had over the year, in particular the games that the defense shined. Ben Roethlisberger’s passing yardage is hard to guage because it’s so extreme one way or another, but Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall seem to be consistent key figures in the Steelers success.

Wallace has made big plays all season with seven of his 10 touchdowns coming at least 33 yards out, therefore you start salivating at the chance to bet over 23 ½ yards on Wallace’s longest reception and the +140 on “Yes”, Wallace to score a touchdown. You also get a little greedy with the odds and take a smaller wager on Wallace to score in the first half at +320.

Super Bowl Props Galore on the Hilton Boards
Believing that the Steelers will win, and will do so with the game staying closer to the under, you start believing that Mendenhall’s time consuming carries in the AFC Championship game against the Jets will be duplicated. In that game, he carried the ball 27 times for 121 yards. For the Super Bowl against the Packers, Mendenhall only has to get over 79 yards to win the bet.

Regardless of what scenario unfolds for the game whether you like it high scoring, low scoring, Packers or Steelers, stay correlated with your thoughts rather than just betting random props. Even though betting the first player to score can be fun sometimes, you lose all the edge due to the large house hold on the index.

Any prop that has more than two options should not even be looked at because what you are looking for the most calculated way to keep some kind of an edge on the afternoon with your opinion being the driving force.

By correlating your bets, you have a much better chance to win big on the day if correct. Why do you think the sports books don‘t let people parlay the propositions? It‘s because if one thing happens, there is a greater likelihood that certain other things will happen which gives all the value to the player.

I should note that one sports book, the Las Vegas Hilton, has a list of props that aren’t correlated in any fashion that they do allow parlays on, but it‘s a very short list among their volumes of pages.

Handle Not Expected to Break State Record
All Indications from sports books across the state is that this years Super Bowl handle will not break the record of $94.5 million set in 2006, but could beat the last two seasons, neither of which passed the $83 million mark. MGM Resorts Race and Sports Book Director Jay Rood said he thought $88 million could be achievable.

Record handle not expected for Nevada books
Rood also believes that despite seeing larger action thus far on the Packers that his books likely won’t go to minus-3 stating that Steelers money should start coming in helping to balance out the action that has already been bet.

Bettors with large Packers money have most likely already bet for fear of not getting -2 ½ while the Steelers backers are all waiting for +3. Some of the traditional “Square” sports books off-shore have gone to +3 (Even or +105) on the game, but most of them rarely take large sharp action so it isn’t quite the same indicator that some of the Las Vegas books are. As soon as Stations, MGM Resorts and Wynn all start sliding back to 2 ½-flat, the flood gates should open with Pittsburgh money wanting to get at least +2 or higher.

About 35% of the overall Super Bowl action will occur on Friday and Saturday, with nearly 45% of all the action coming Sunday from 12:01 am to kickoff. Among that huge percentage, I would expect a large portion of it to be Steelers money who have been waiting for their optimum time to get value. That's just speculation on my behalf, because I've been wrong before, such as 2003 when the Raiders money never came.

Center of Attention
The last team we saw a team play in the Super Bowl without their starting center was in 2003 when the Raiders’ Barrett Robbins went missing on what we later found out was a drinking binge in Tijuana mixed in with psychological issues. Tampa Bay money flooded in simultaneously with news and the Raiders ended up losing 48-21.

Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey has been -- kind of -- ruled out of the Super Bowl and while the point-spread won’t be adjusted, you have to feel that the anchor of the offensive line has to be worth something. Between all the blocking schemes in their power running game, the loss of Pouncey is might affect the team more than we think.

My Favorite Prop
Blake & LeBron pts vs Super Bowl
The MGM resorts sports books have a great prop up asking who will have more, Lebron James and Blake Griffin’s points in their Sunday game against each other or the total points scored in the Super Bowl. James and Griffin are the -4 ½ favorite. Based on their season averages, the number is correct. However, based on their averages in the last 30 days, James and Griffin present great value because their combined average is eight points higher than their season average which gives the bettor an edge for this prop.

I like the game to over 44 ½, but there is too much value in betting with Griffin and James to pass up. I would fully expected both players to surpass their 30 day average as each will look to outshine the other.

Who Do I Think Will Win?
I’ve heard just about every angle for the game from a few sharps and lots of public opinion, and respect them all, but surprisingly, I haven’t wavered too much from my initial thoughts where I thought the game would be won by the Steelers 27-23. I still like the Steelers to win, but I’m thinking more points will be scored.

Not only is it hard for me to get the Steelers 37-36 win over the Packers game out of my head from 2009, but it’s also hard to forget just how good Rodgers is on fast tracks under the roof. Going all the way back to Packers loss at Arizona in the playoffs where he had to 423 yards, to this year where he threw for over 300 yards at Atlanta twice and in Minnesota where he threw for 301 yards, I just think he’ll be able to do his thing well, even against the Steelers top ranked defense.

As for the Steelers, I love how they bend, but they rarely break. All season long they have been battle tested, not to mention many in this group having won two Super Bowls. I think they’re expectations of winning and experience in being able to follow through in tough times will set them apart from Green Bay in a close, but very exciting game.

I’ve bet OVER 44 ½ as my top play, with the Steelers money-line at +125 and Steelers +2 ½ (+105) each for just a shade less.

Final Score: Steelers 31, Packers 27