Friday, October 5, 2012

Broncos-Patriots Most Bet Game of Week 5; Great two-way action

Sports Books will be busy all weekend with Broncos-Patriots action
By Micah Roberts
Sporting News

LAS VEGAS—When Cantor Gaming sports books in Las Vegas opened their early lines for each week of the 2012 NFL season back in May, the Week 5 matchup between the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots got plenty of attention from the betting public. Five months later, nothing has changed. It’s still one of the most eagerly anticipated games among bettors in this young season.

“The Broncos-Patriots game will be the most bet game of the week,” said Cantor Gaming sports book director Mike Colbert. “We’re seeing great two-way action on it so far, and it already has a larger amount written on it than what we usually see from big games at this stage for the big weekend push.”

Colbert astutely had the Patriots installed as 7-point favorites back in May, a number he re-posted when they opened betting on the game last Sunday night.

“We opened the game Patriots -7, took a few big Broncos bets at +7, and have been dealing -6.5 all week, which looks to be the right number. I don’t think we’ll see it move up or down. Both teams are public favorites, which should keep us pretty balanced right up until kickoff.”

The Linemakers: Free preview | Week 5 lines | Power Ratings | NFL news from Vegas

The excitement at the bet windows is attributed to Payton Manning and Tom Brady—who have set the gold standard over the last decade as to what an NFL quarterback should be—squaring off once again. Over their careers against each other, Brady has holds an 8-4 mark, including winning the first six against Manning. But Manning has had the most recent success, winning four of their past six meetings.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Why the Patriots will win Sunday at Baltimore

By Micah Roberts
Sporting News

LAS VEGAS -- There's not too much debate over what the most anticipated NFL game of Week 3 is. The New England Patriots visiting the Baltimore Ravens, a rematch of last season’s AFC Championship game, should attract a large national TV audience. But here in Las Vegas, Nielsen ratings don't determine what the most-bet game of the week will be. So to get confirmation, we asked veteran oddsmaker Bert Osborne, the sports book director at the South Point Hotel and Casino, what he sees as the game that will attract the most interest in town.

"Without a doubt, we will write the most action on the Ravens-Patriots game, hands down! It already is," said Osborne, who notes he has a slight edge on Ravens straight-bet action, but has more ticket counts (smaller money) on the Patriots.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Monday, June 11, 2012

Golden Nugget's 2012 College Football Games of the Year

Golden Nugget offered spreads on the best college football games of 2012 
By Micah Roberts

Here we are in the middle of June in the sweltering heat of a Las Vegas summer with most bettors’ wagering menu already full with the NBA Finals beginning, a baseball season with about 10 weeks of pitching data to go off of, but on Monday morning, just about everyone with a bettable bankroll had their thoughts turned to the fall with college football.

The Golden Nugget released spreads on 111 college football games for the upcoming season that sport book director Tony Miller and his staff thought were the most attractive. There are 15 weeks worth of action highlighted by the most anticipated games everyone wants to see like the Nov. 3 affair between Alabama and LSU. The Tigers are listed as two-point home favorites in the SEC showdown. The Nugget is also offering rivalry games that may only appeal to a few from a certain region like Colorado laying six points against Colorado State on Sept. 2 in Week 1.

That’s the beauty of what Miller and the Golden Nugget tapped into six years ago when they first offered the games of the year and became the starting point to where the market would actually go when other books eventually first offer the games.

“We wanted something that would make us stand out a bit and appeal to a broad audience of both out-of-town visitors, locals, sharp money, and small money,“ said Miller, “The initial response was overwhelming and it has continued to grow each ensuing year.”

For Miller to put his neck out there and allow every wise guy in the city to take a chop at early numbers could be seen as dangerous, but Miller has held his own quite well, showing a profit in four of the five previous years. It’s one on one, bettor vs. bookmaker, with no odds screen to help the bettor know what is a good or bad number, but there are no other competing numbers.

The process on Monday began with dozens of bettors lining up to get their first whack at the virgin numbers. Bettors were allowed to bet three games at $1,000 each per visit and then they had to go to the back of the line. This process went on at a frenzied pace for an hour until every ounce of perceived value was drained.

The biggest movers in the first wave of action came on Ohio State with two of its games moving the most, but Golden Nugget assistant manager Aaron Kessler said this was the first year they haven’t seen massive moves on a few select teams. The early action was spread out across the menu.

“We didn’t have any games move more than twice one way within the first hour of action,” said Kessler, who took more than 100 limit wagers in that first hour.

According to sharp money, Urban Meyer is going to make a much bigger impact with the Buckeyes than expected as Ohio State comes off a losing season. Michigan State was a 4 ½-point home favorite for its Sept. 29 meeting against OSU and Buckeyes money has pushed the game to -2 ½.

Michigan may have finally beaten Ohio State last season, but the bettors are saying its back to the usual this year when they meet in Columbus on Nov. 24. The Wolverines opened as 3-point road favorites and that game is now a pick’em.

A sign of how good Ohio State might be was taken even further when wagers were taken on the same Michigan squad at plus-12 against Alabama on the opening week at Cowboys Stadium pushing the game down to -10.

Even though the wagers are for only $1,000 now ($5,000 will be offered the week of the game), the action this week kind of shows the thought process of what the sharpest college football minds in town are thinking about on certain teams. Many of the lines will be vastly different by the time the games actually kick off and an assist will be given to each one of the bettors who showed their cards at the Golden Nugget in June for helping set the market.

Here’s a look at the opening numbers from all 111 games. Enjoy, and happy handicapping!

Week 1
Date Away Home
Friday, Aug. 31 Boise State Michigan State (-6 ½)
Saturday, Sept. 1 Marshall West Virginia (-20)
Saturday, Sept. 1 (Arlington, TX) Michigan Alabama (-12)
Saturday, Sept. 1 (Atlanta, GA) Auburn Clemson (-2 ½)
Saturday, Sept. 1 (Dublin, Ireland) Navy Notre Dame (-13 ½)
Sunday, Sept. 2 Kentucky Louisville (-11 ½)
Sunday, Sept. 2 (Denver, CO) Colorado (-6) Colorado State

Week 2
Date Away Home
Thursday, Sept. 6 Pittsburgh Cincinnati (-5)
Saturday, Sept. 8 Okla State (-9 ½) Arizona
Saturday, Sept. 8 Miami Kansas State (-7)
Saturday, Sept. 8 Iowa State Iowa (-5)
Saturday, Sept. 8 Washington LSU (-21)
Saturday, Sept. 8 Georgia (-3) Missouri
Saturday, Sept. 8 Florida Texas A&M (-1)
Saturday, Sept. 8 Nebraska (-6 ½) UCLA
Saturday, Sept. 8 (East Rutherford, NJ) USC (-21) Syracuse

Week 3
Date Away Home
Friday, Sept. 14 Washington State (-17 ½) UNLV
Saturday, Sept. 15 Alabama (-6 ½) Arkansas
Saturday, Sept. 15 Notre Dame Michigan State (-3)
Saturday, Sept. 15 USC (-10) Stanford
Saturday, Sept. 15 Florida -5 Tennessee

Week 4
Date Away Home
Saturday, Sept. 22 LSU (-10 ½) Auburn
Saturday, Sept. 22 Clemson Florida State (-8)
Saturday, Sept. 22 Michigan Notre Dame (-1)
Saturday, Sept. 22 Kansas State Oklahoma (-16)
Saturday, Sept. 22 Missouri South Carolina (-5)
Saturday, Sept. 22 California USC (-24)

Week 5
Date Away Home
Saturday, Sept. 29 Mississippi Alabama (-31)
Saturday, Sept. 29 Tennessee Georgia (-13 ½)
Saturday, Sept. 29 Ohio State Michigan State (-4 ½)
Saturday, Sept. 29 Wisconsin Nebraska (-3)
Saturday, Sept. 29 Texas Oklahoma State (-3 ½)
Saturday, Sept. 29 Arkansas (-2 ½) Texas A&M
Saturday, Sept. 29 Baylor West Virginia (-11)

Week 6
Date Away Home
Thursday, Oct. 4 USC (-16) Utah
Saturday, Oct. 6 Arkansas (-4 ½) Auburn
Saturday, Oct. 6 LSU (-7 ½) Florida
Saturday, Oct. 6 Kansas Kansas State (-20)
Saturday, Oct. 6 Nebraska Ohio State (-2)
Saturday, Oct. 6 Washington Oregon (-20)
Saturday, Oct. 6 Georgia (-2 ½) South Carolina
Saturday, Oct. 6 West Virginia Texas (-4 ½)
Saturday, Oct. 6 (Chicago, IL) Miami, Fl. Notre Dame (-9 ½)

Week 7
Date Away Home
Saturday, Oct. 13 Stanford Notre Dame (-5)
Saturday, Oct. 13 Nevada (-17) UNLV
Saturday, Oct. 13 Alabama (-14 ½) Missouri
Saturday, Oct. 13 USC (-17) Washington
Saturday, Oct. 13 (Dallas, TX) Texas Oklahoma (-6)

Week 8
Date Away Home
Saturday, Oct. 20 UNLV Boise State (-35 ½)
Saturday, Oct. 20 Stanford (-4) California
Saturday, Oct. 20 South Carolina Florida (-4)
Saturday, Oct. 20 Florida State (-10) Miami, Fl.
Saturday, Oct. 20 Michigan State Michigan (-6)
Saturday, Oct. 20 BYU Notre Dame (-10)
Saturday, Oct. 20 Alabama (-17) Tennessee
Saturday, Oct. 20 Baylor Texas (-11)
Saturday, Oct. 20 LSU (-8) Texas A&M
Saturday, Oct. 20 Colorado USC (-36)
Saturday, Oct. 20 Kansas State West Virginia (-7 ½)

Week 9
Date Away Home
Friday, Oct. 26 Cincinnati Louisville (-3 ½)
Saturday, Oct. 27 Mississippi State Alabama (-24)
Saturday, Oct. 27 USC (-14) Arizona
Saturday, Oct. 27 Texas A&M Auburn (-3)
Saturday, Oct. 27 Michigan (-2) Nebraska
Saturday, Oct. 27 Notre Dame Oklahoma (-12)
Saturday, Oct. 27 TCU Oklahoma State (-9)
Saturday, Oct. 27 Ohio State (-3) Penn State
Saturday, Oct. 27 Tennessee South Carolina (-7 ½)
Saturday, Oct. 27 Michigan State Wisconsin (-5)
Saturday, Oct. 27 (Jacksonville, FL) Florida Georgia (-4 ½)

Week 10
Date Away Home
Thursday, Nov. 1 Virginia Tech (-6 ½) Miami, Fl.
Saturday, Nov. 3 Missouri Florida (-5 ½)
Saturday, Nov. 3 Oklahoma State Kansas State (-1)
Saturday, Nov. 3 Alabama LSU (-2)
Saturday, Nov. 3 Nebraska Michigan State (-5)
Saturday, Nov. 3 Pittsburgh Notre Dame (-13)
Saturday, Nov. 3 Oregon USC (-6)
Saturday, Nov. 3 TCU West Virginia (-7)

Week 11
Date Away Home
Thursday, Nov. 8 Florida State Virginia Tech (-1)
Friday, Nov. 9 Pittsburgh (-2 ½) Connecticut
Saturday, Nov. 10 Texas A&M Alabama (-20)
Saturday, Nov. 10 Georgia (-6) Auburn
Saturday, Nov. 10 Notre Dame (-12) Boston College
Saturday, Nov. 10 Mississippi State LSU (-17)
Saturday, Nov. 10 Baylor Oklahoma (-17)
Saturday, Nov. 10 West Virginia Oklahoma State (-6 ½)
Saturday, Nov. 10 Arkansas (-3) South Carolina
Saturday, Nov. 10 Kansas State TCU (-3 ½)
Saturday, Nov. 10 Missouri Tennessee (-1)
Saturday, Nov. 10 Arizona State USC (-27)

Week 12
Date Away Home
Saturday, Nov. 17 Mississippi LSU (-26)
Saturday, Nov. 17 Stanford Oregon (-13 ½)
Saturday, Nov. 17 USC (-16) UCLA
Saturday, Nov. 17 Ohio State Wisconsin (-7)
Saturday, Nov. 17 Oklahoma (-4) West Virginia

Week 13
Date Away Home
Friday, Nov. 23 Arizona State Arizona (-5 ½)
Friday, Nov. 23 Washington Washington State (-3)
Saturday, Nov. 24 Auburn Alabama (-18)
Saturday, Nov. 24 LSU (-3) Arkansas
Saturday, Nov. 24 South Carolina Clemson (-4)
Saturday, Nov. 24 Florida Florida State (-7 ½)
Saturday, Nov. 24 Mississippi State (-10) Mississippi
Saturday, Nov. 24 Michigan (-3) Ohio State
Saturday, Nov. 24 Oklahoma State Oklahoma (-8)
Saturday, Nov. 24 Oregon (-16) Oregon State
Saturday, Nov. 24 TCU Texas (-7 ½)
Saturday, Nov. 24 Missouri Texas A&M (-3)
Saturday, Nov. 24 Notre Dame USC (-14)

Week 14
Date Away Home
Saturday, Dec. 1 Texas (-3) Kansas State
Saturday, Dec. 1 Oklahoma (-10) TCU

Week 15
Date Away Home
Saturday, Dec. 8 (Philadelphia, PA) Army Navy -4 ½

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Cantor Gaming Sports Book First to Post 2012 NFL Season Win Totals

Cantor Gaming Sports Book at the Hard Rock Hotel
Micah Roberts

At 8:30 am (PT) on Wednesday morning Cantor Gaming sports books in Las Vegas became the first book in the state to offer NFL Season win totals. Sports books like the LVH Super Book and MGM Resorts are scheduled to have their totals posted by Memorial Day.

The Patriots and Packers both open up with the highest totals at 12 wins each with a slight shade on the money to the OVER. The worst expected teams are the Colts, Jaguars and Browns at 5 ½ wins with a heavy shade on the money to the UNDER.

Six teams have 10 wins posted while the 21 other teams are all bunched together from 9 ½ to 6 wins. Those 21 teams in the middle is where the bulk of the action will come in on. It’s those teams that often show the greatest disparity from what the sharp player thinks a team will do and the what the sports book posts.

By being the first to post the season wins, it allows for Cantor Gaming to get action from bettors who have a strong opinion on what teams will do rather than getting wagers from those who are scalping prices from different numbers at other sports books. Once the LVH and MGM post their numbers, there will be a frenzy of action from bettors trying to set up a middle for themselves playing both sides at different books.

Because the totals are so small compared to what we see posted in baseball and the NBA, every half-a-win and every cent on the over-under is analyzed by the sharpest minds with the goal of finding an edge. Usually there are about six to seven teams the sharp players already have pegged that they project will have a much improved season from 2011 or show a major decline.

One of those teams last season was the Cincinnati Bengals who came into 2011 with rookie quarterback Andy Dalton as their starter. In 2010 the Bengals won only four games, but when the first totals were posted in town by MGM Resorts, the Bengals were listed at 7 ½ wins for 2011.

Most bettors had the feeling the Bengals would be slightly better than 2010, but not better than 6 wins. This number was pummeled all the way down to 6 ½ and eventually 6 after all the other books posted their numbers, most of which reluctantly started with 7 wins only because MGM Resorts set the market so high. The Bengals finished 9-7 and made the playoffs last season.

This year, Cantor Gaming opened the Bengals at 7 ½ wins, OVER -130.

Because of Peyton Manning’s arrival in Denver, there are sure to be a lot of differing opinions on their total of 9 ½ wins. They have the highest total posted among the AFC West teams, but not by much. The Chargers are set at 9 wins, the Chiefs at 8 and the Raiders at 7. Denver did win their division last year, but will be running a completely different offensive system to accentuate the talents of Manning.

We’ll update in a couple of days how the first wave of action went at Cantor Gaming and then also detail the type of action that came in everywhere in town once LVH and MGM posted their totals.

First Wave of Action at Cantor Gaming Sports Book
The action came in fast and strong when Cantor Gaming opened Las Vegas’ first glimpse of this years NFL season win totals Wednesday morning. Cantor is taking a good size bet with a $3,000 limit on the totals and according to sports book director Mike Colbert, a bunch of those limits plays shuffled the opening numbers on a handful of teams.

“We had multiple wagers come in early on a few teams, mostly on the under,” said Colbert from his M Resort and Spa office. “The largest line movement we’ve had thus far (11:00am PT) has been bettors taking the under on the Broncos and Buccaneers. The Broncos went from 9 ½ under-120 to under -170 and the Bucs went from 6 under-120 to under-170.”

A few of the other early plays that came in with less enthusiasm, but still multiple times, was the Saints being bet from 10 over-125 to under-125. The Cardinals were bet from 7 under-120 to under-140 and the Chiefs went from 8 under-110 to under-125.

The only team that saw multiple limit wagers betting OVER the total was Cam Newton’s Panthers who went from 7 ½ over-115 to over-135.

“I was a little surprised by the Saints being bet under,” said Colbert, “but I’m really shocked at the type of action that came in on the Broncos under.”

The MGM Resort sports books will open their NFL season win totals tomorrow, and not Monday as previously reported. The LVH Super Book should also have their numbers posted over the weekend.

When those two other numbers go up, that is where the real fun starts. The disparity between their numbers will slowly get them all close to each other by the bettors and that will be the market number that most of the other sports books will eventually post.

We’ll keep you updated along the way with all the action that occurs.

Easy to See Why Bettors Would Bet UNDER on Broncos
The Broncos were one of the two most heavily bet teams, along with the Buccaneers, when Cantor Gaming sports books first opened their NFL Season win totals on Wednesday. Both teams were bet UNDER their posted total that had the Broncos opening at 9 ½ wins under-120.

Sharp bettors couldn’t get enough of the UNDER and bet Denver all the way down to under-170. Part of the reason for thinking the Broncos won’t have a better record than last season rests with their schedule, the most difficult of any team this season. Not only do the Broncos have to play six tough games within the always competitive AFC West, but seven of their other 10 games are against teams that made the playoffs last season.

Peyton Manning and the Broncos better get as sharp as they can during training camp and pre-season because things could get bad in a hurry if they’re not. Manning has little time to waste as the Broncos home opener is against the Steelers, not exactly the type of defense a new offense wants to face.

Following the Steelers, Denver has to play at Atlanta and then come back home to play the Texans in week 3. It’s quite possible that by the time Manning finally gets his game timing down that Denver could be 0-3.

In week 5 the Broncos play at New England, week 8 is against the Saints, week 9 at Cincinnati, week 10 at Carolina and week 15 at Baltimore. Those are all games that Denver could lose that no one would say they 'didn’t see that coming'.

Carolina’s team gets upgraded in value just because they were the only team to be bet multiple times OVER the total of 7 ½ wins. Denver losing at Carolina this season would not be a shock. Cantor’s week 10 line for the game opened as a pick’em.

When you mix in their six divisional games, which are always close, it would be unreasonable to think Denver could win all three on the road as they did last season. 4-2 looks very possible, but so does 3-3.

So when you break down the Broncos schedule, an 8-8 record with maybe 9-7 being the high point, it’s easier to understand why bettors went so heavy on the Broncos UNDER. If the Broncos managed to win 10 or more games with that schedule, they would then have to be considered one of the Super Bowl favorites.

List of Cantor Gaming 2012 NFL Season Totals

Cantor Gaming Releases Las Vegas' First NFL Season Win Totals for 2012

NFL News: Cantor releases Win Totals - at

Monday, February 13, 2012

Basketball the Savior of Nevada Sports Books in 2011

By Micah Roberts

Football was a down year for Las Vegas sports books in 2011
The Super Bowl may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the excitement in Las Vegas sports books goes away. In many ways, the excitement level is just beginning as college and pro basketball can finally take center stage.

Many recreational bettors have to get football fully out of their system before they start concentrating on hoops, but when they do, they fire repeatedly on a daily basis. And in 2011, it was that type of play that salvaged some positives in an otherwise down year for Nevada sports books. Who would have ever thought in this age of football being America’s sport that basketball would reign with the best numbers in the books?

Nevada Casinos won $44.2 million (3.3% hold) in the football category, which includes both college and pro, according to Nevada Gaming Control Board statewide numbers released last week. Meanwhile, pro and college basketball brought in $48.8 million (6.6%) combined to the bottom line showing just how important these next two months are to the sports books.

Granted, parlay cards generated $17.6 million in win for a whopping 28% hold -- the majority of play of which comes during football season, and football also wrote more action on the year. But many people are astonished to believe that basketball actually has that type of impact on a comparative level with football in the sports books.

“These next eight weeks are always huge for us,” said South Point sports director Bert Osborne. ”Between the college conference tournaments coming up and all the nightly action between the pros and college, our book is jumping Monday through Friday more than anytime of the year.“

To give another feather in the NBA’s cap of importance to the state, you also have to factor in that each NBA team lost 16 games on the season, which would have been played in November and December of 2011. The regular season didn’t start until Christmas day which cost sports books collectively an estimated $2-to-$3 million in win.

When there was a threat of losing the NBA season due to labor issues, it didn’t come close to bothering the masses like the football lockout did, but every sports book director in town was scrambling to adjust their green sheets as each day passed without them.

“We don’t have a real estimate on what the delay of the NBA season cost us in 2011, but it does help that we do get some of those games back this year with their compressed schedule,” said Osborne.

Pro football attracts a broad level of fans and crosses over into all areas, like grabbing the attention of our grandparents or perhaps our priest, but where basketball comes close in catching football is that there is more to offer.

Football is only once a week while basketball is daily. Hoop fans may be less in numbers as a group, but at the betting windows they make up for the differences because of all the daily wagers where money is constantly churning rather than waiting weekly for the big Saturday or Sunday action.

College basketball is going into the final stretch run over the next four weeks and then the March Madness begins where every sports book will be rocking with consecutive days of excitement. And not to be forgotten, this year’s version of the NBA may be as entertaining as ever on a nightly basis with their condensed schedule where we see teams playing four games in five days on a regular basis.

The NBA also got a surprise marketing gift with Jeremy Lin taking over New York during a five-game winning streak, sparking life into an otherwise unmotivated lackluster team. It doesn‘t hurt that New York, the media capital of the world, has fueled the popularity of the second year player out of Harvard. Lin’s instant stardom, now known as ’Lin-sanity’, is almost at Tim Tebow type of proportions and has made everyone want to watch, all of which has also translated through the betting windows in Las Vegas.

2011 Final Statewide Sports Book Numbers

As a whole, Nevada sports books won $140 million (4,8% hold), a 6.8% decrease from 2010 with most of it due to football (-21.5%), baseball (-13.9%) and believe it or not, parlay cards (-7.35%) were also higher. The football and parlay card decreases this year has more to do with the public getting it handed to them in 2010’s NFL season while having several more stellar weeks in 2011, including handing the sports books a miniscule win in the Super Bowl with the Packers winning.

“We’ve been accustomed to expect about three to four huge weeks out of the 17 annually during the pro football season and last season we had only one,” said Osborne who also noted that college football was consistently strong for the first seven weeks of action.

The sports books started out doing quite well in baseball with several teams like the Pirates and Royal playing competitive ball in the early going, much to the dismay of the bettors. But the bettors got their revenge in late August and September when four-team parlays were regularly hitting with the Rays, Phillies, Brewers and Cardinals.

And then the big bomb hit when the Cardinals paid out at some sports books with 250-to-1 odds to win the pennant and 500-to-1 to win the World Series.

It’s always a big win for the sports books when a favorite like Yankees win the World Series. Even though they may have the most tickets written on them, or second most -- Cubbies usually lead that category, they have so much volume from the season to overcome payouts of 10-to-1 or less.

Most sports books build in an average theoretic hold in their futures at around 37%. No matter how high you make the hold percentage, 500-to-1 is going to do some damage.

The NGCB lists one of the categories as ‘Other‘ which includes combined revenues of the NHL, Soccer, Boxing, Golf and NASCAR. That category dropped 24% below 2010 with much of that due to the World Cup being missed. Because of the Euro Cup this summer we should see a boost in revenues for this category in 2012.

$140 million is a lot of cash, but to put the sports book’s contributions to the casino in perspective, consider that Nevada casinos had $10.7 billion in revenues. It may be the most exciting place to be in every casino, but it’s got a long ways to go before it can match penny slots.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sports Books Being Careful With Patriots Super Bowl Line

By Micah Roberts

We’ve had 10 Super Bowls with the spread hovering around minus-3 and none of them have landed on the number. This years Super Bowl opened with the Patriots a 3 ½-point favorite and quickly went to -3 and based on the way almost every book has -3 (EV) posted, it looks as though we could be seeing -2 ½ quickly, but Cantor Gaming sports book director Mike Colbert hopes it doesn’t and based on past history, it probably won‘t.

“I think 3-flat (-110) is the perfect number that the betting public understands,“ said Colbert who opened the Patriots -3 (-115) and is currently at -3 (-105). “I’m hoping we get balanced up enough to where we can go in to next week with a 3-flat.”

In recent history, we have seen four of the five Super Bowls that have landed on 3 occur and they all involved the Patriots. In each of their games, the spread never came into question as they were 14-point dogs to the Rams, 7-point favorites against the Panthers and Eagles and 12-point favorites against the Giants.

“I’m superstitious, so now I’m really not getting off the number,” Colbert said jokingly after told about the Patriots love of 3 in the Super Bowl. “Obviously we don’t want a push, but until we get overwhelming support for the Giants that puts us in too much jeopardy, I’m staying on the number.”

“We got early action on the Patriots because we opened lower than what the market had, but since then it’s been all Giants money. However, I do think it will even out because the Patriots have been a public team, along with the Packers, all season.”

13.9 % of all NFL games this season landed on 3, including both Championship games on Sunday. The sports books want a decision in the game, but not at the risk of putting their property in harms way.

The last two Super Bowls that ended in pushes were the Rams (-7) beating the Titans 23-16 and the Packers (-14) beating the Patriots 35-21. In each case, there were lines a mile a long with everyone getting refunds. The books all ended up small winners due to propositions and OVER-UNDER wagers, but a decision with the type of volume that happens in these games is what they want, because it’s very rare that the books lose the big game.

But messing around with a key number can get a book into serious trouble by either getting sided or getting middled like happened in the Super Bowl following the 1979 season when the Steelers played the Cowboys. Jimmy Vaccaro was just getting started in the sports book business at the Royal Inn and remembers it being a real education into bookmaking.

“You have to remember that things were much different back then. Most of the casinos in town didn’t have sports books, there was no internet and most of the betting people did from outside the state was through bookmakers,” said Vaccaro. On the east coast, many of the bookmakers knew people were going to bet the Steelers so they were making bettors lay -4 ½ with Pittsburgh. On the west coast, many of the bookmakers were operating with a line of -2 ½ because of knowing they’d get Dallas money.”

So Vaccaro knew what the market was on each side of the coast and had to set the line for his book. The Steelers were two-time Super Bowl champions and the Cowboys were America’s team who had won the Super Bowl the previous year.

“I opened the Steelers minus-3, got as high as 4 ½ and finally closed at 3 ½. Some of the little bet shops around town were also offering a promotional deal to create more business to their place by offering the Steelers at -3 ½ and Cowboys at +4 ½. None of us thought the game would land 4, but you know how the rest of the story goes.“

Steelers 35, Cowboys 31.

“It’s never a good thing when your paying everyone as winners or giving their money back on a push,” said Vaccaro. “And back then we didn’t have computer systems to quickly generate an overall win-loss result. I knew the figure was going to be bad, but I had to wait and hand grade every ticket and it over four hours until I was able to give a final answer to Michael (Royal Inn owner, Michael Gaughan, current owner of the South Point).”

“We had lines of people backed up all the way to convention center drive waiting to cash,” said Vaccaro. “It was a great baptism into bookmaking and a lesson very well learned.”

Although there aren’t many current bookmakers around who actually experienced the sting of that day, they all know the story of what happened on the fateful day known as ‘Black Sunday‘. With a little history lesson intertwined, it’s quite understandable to see why we may never see the Patriots game drop below -3, no matter how much money is attached.

With the way the action is currently going, we could see Patriots -3 (+115) before someone finally makes the move to -2 ½.. 99.9% of the action on the game is still to come, so each of the books in Las Vegas have plenty of time to make their move without getting stung too bad by getting middled or sided. But no one wants to be first. If making a guess on who might be first in Vegas, it would have to be the South Point which only uses flat (-110) numbers.

We’ll keep you updated along the way as it happens.