LAS VEGAS – One of my favorite themes in covering the “Vegas Beat” is that all good trends must come to an end.
No matter how lopsided a trend is, given enough time and sample size it’s going to regress to the mean and move back toward .500. The forces at work are plentiful, not the least of which is that oddsmakers will tend to adjust lines to kill a streak if they’re getting heavy action on one side. The fact is that by the time a trend reaches you (or the betting masses in general); it’s already too late as the value has usually been sucked out of the line.
But the good news is that bookies are not immune to these forces either. Through the first three weeks of the NFL season, the sports books here were cleaning up. The most popular bets were going down in flames every week. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: the SuperContest has become a really strong barometer of the overall betting market with its mix of sharps and squares.
Through the first three weeks of the season, the consensus plays of all players (simply which team was taken by the most SuperContestants in each game) was a pitiful 19-27-2 (41.3%) against the spread. Things were so bad that someone asked me on my Twitter account @ViewFromVegas if someone would be in the lead if they just played against the Top 5 consensus plays each week. At that point, the consensus was 6-8-1, so the answer was “no” as 8-6-1 would not have been even close to the lead, but it was clear that the SuperContestants were off to a slow start.
So, what happened in Week 4? The Top 5 Consensus went 5-0 ATS as the most popular bets all cashed (I sure hope that Twitter follower did not start fading the SuperContestants starting this past weekend) and the consensus on all games was an equally incredible 12-3. So, after four weeks, the Top 5 Consensus is profitable again at 11-8-1 ATS while the overall consensus is 31-30-2.
Another trend I track every week is what I call “line moves” and see how many of the significant moves cash in. This past weekend, the moves (note: many of these end up being SuperContest consensus plays as there is often better stale numbers on the SuperContest card that players will gravitate to) were 8-1 ATS to improve to 18-17 overall, meaning the significant moves were 10-16
The biggest games for the public were the Patriots and 49ers both covering as 4-point road favorites. The Patriots beat the Bills 52-28 while the 49ers skunked the Jets 34-0. The public also benefited from the Patriots game also going over the total, but the books lucked out that the popular favorite/over parlay also only cashed in the Chargers-Chiefs and Titans-Texans games.
It was not as drastic, but college football bettors also had their best weekend so far this season, especially since scoreboards were exploding all over the country and overs were cashing.
We have another exciting football weekend ahead, but just know that the oddsmakers are already working to combat any trends you’re reading/hearing about.
UPS update: This also goes for the Ugly Puppy Society (UPS) that we told you about a few weeks ago. Home underdogs were 5-1 ATS in Week 2 and followed that up with a 5-3 ATS record in Week 3, but last week they only went 2-3 ATS and it could have been worse if the Jaguars had stayed a home underdog against the Bengals instead of closing as 1.5-point favorites. Double-digit underdogs were also just 1-1 with the Browns covering last Thursday night against the Ravens but then the Titans were blown out by the Texans. This weekend’s home dogs are the Rams (Thursday night), Redskins, Colts, Panthers, Chiefs, Jaguars, and Jets. Like I have said before: don’t go betting these blindly, but just beware of the trap of loading up on road favorites or laying double digits in the NFL.
MLB playoffs: The baseball postseason starts this weekend. If you’re in Vegas, you might be surprised at what a low percentage of TVs will be tuned into the baseball games on Saturday and Sunday as football dominates the number of people wagering/watching the games. Still, if the postseason is as competitive as the stretch run in the race for the playoff berths has been, it’ll be full of excitement. Although the teams that will be advancing to the playoffs came into focus on Sunday and Monday, as of my late Monday night deadline we still didn’t have our first-round matchups set. Still, I got the updated World Series futures from the LVH SuperBook as well as the odds to win the World Series.
The Yankees have been bet down to 5-1 co-favorites to win the World Series along with the Rangers. Three NL teams –the Giants, Reds and Nationals -- are next at 6-1, followed by the Tigers at 7-1, the Braves at 12-1, Cardinals at 14-1, the A’s at 15-1, the Orioles at 20-1, and the Dodgers at 100-1.
And I would be remiss if not congratulating Paul Bessire and the Prediction Machine for hitting their two best bets in MLB over/under season win totals with the Mets OVER 72 and the Royals UNDER 80.
Enjoy all the games this weekend.
Dave Tuley is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Las Vegas race & sports beat since 1998, first for the GamingToday newspaper in Vegas and has written for Daily Racing Form since 2000. Tuley started his own website, ViewFromVegas.com, in 2007 and has written for other websites, including ESPN.com. In 2006, he won "Best News Story" by the Professional Football Writers of America, the only time a gambling story has won a PFWA award. Tuley, 45, grew up in the Chicago suburbs and is married with children in Vegas. His roots can be seen in the names of his three children: daughters Jordyn and Peyton (named for Walter Payton, not Peyton Manning) and son Maddux. Dave can be followed on Twitter @ViewFromVegas.