Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012
LAS VEGAS – The World Series starts Wednesday and continues with games in Detroit on Saturday, Sunday and Monday night. But if you think that’s the main betting attraction in the sports books here over the weekend, you’re mistaken.
Here’s an interesting social experiment if you’re in Vegas this weekend. Go to a sports book for those games, which are all scheduled to start just after 5 p.m. Pacific Time and will be going up against the Notre Dame-Oklahoma game on Saturday, New Orleans Saints-Denver Broncos on Sunday, and San Francisco 49ers-Cardinals on Monday night.
I’m willing to bet that, once the football games are under way, those will be the games on the main screen with sound. Some sports book directors, especially old “baseball guys,” might opt to feature the World Series on Saturday night instead of ND-OU (which isn’t as marquee of a game as we usually see Saturday night; in fact, there seems to have been a concerted effort not to put big matchups in prime-time with more West Coast games than normal also played in the afternoon), but the NFL should be the main draw on Sunday and Monday night.
If by some chance you’re in a book that has the baseball on the main TV with sound, instead listen to the reactions of your fellow customers and it’ll be clear where their interest (and betting dollars) are focused. And it’s not just here. I’m guessing it’s the same at your own local bar, with possible exceptions in Detroit and San Francisco. You might recall that NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” didn’t air games in 2006 through 2009 during the World Series to avoid a conflict, but starting in 2010 they dropped all pretense and just go head-to-head knowing they’ll undoubtedly win the ratings battle. OK, before someone corrects me and points to last year when MLB had a higher rating on the head-to-head Sunday night matchup: yes, there is some doubt if people flip over to the World Series game because the NFL game is a blowout like it was with the Saints marching 62-7 over the Colts.
For those interested in betting the World Series – and for all the bad-mouthing of baseball, I know obviously that a lot of people will be betting both sports this weekend – the Tigers opened as a -150 favorite offshore after the Giants clinched the NL on Monday night. On Tuesday morning, the LVH posted the series price as -170/+150 and it still ended up getting bet up to -175/+155. The no-vig price of 165 (the average of the two price without the bookmakers’ percentage) equates to a 62.26% probability that the Tigers to win the World Series. This is all despite the fact that the Giants have home-field advantage due to the NL winning the All-Star Game, though the Giants had the better record anyway at 94-68 while the Tigers were 88-74 so the Giants would also have had home field under the previous rules.
But back to football. After sports books have gotten the better of bettors most every weekend so far, they suffered their worst weekend so far this football season as most of the top colleges covered on Saturday and then the big public teams came through early Sunday, including the Packers, Cowboys and Saints. The books were bailed out a little in the two afternoon games as the Patriots and Raiders both failed to cover in their overtime wins, but it was still a big winning week for the public and a losing one for the sports books (and a lot of wise guys, who tend to end up on the same side as the books need).
Favorites and underdogs actually split 6-6-1 against the spread versus my ViewFromVegas Consensus Closing Lines, but again it was those popular teams that did the most damage (plus the parlays that also cashed). For the year, underdogs still are hitting 62% as they’re 62-38 with three pushes (and one pick-em). The home underdogs, part of our patented Ugly Dog Society, didn’t fare as well this past week as they were 0-4 ATS but are still 21-15 (58.3%). The Jets were the only double-digit underdog and they covered to bring DD dogs back to .500 at 4-4 ATS.
This week, the only double-digit underdog looks like it will be the Jaguars at the Packers though the number hadn’t been set as of press-time due to the uncertain status of Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert. The home dogs are the Browns +3 vs. the Chargers and possibly the Cowboys +1 vs. the Giants as they opened as a short fave but money has caused a change of favorite at most books on the Giants, who tend to play better away from home anyway.
For the most part, the NFL lines have been pretty stable since opening Sunday afternoon. One move has seen the Steelers go from -3.5 to -5.5 against the Redskins. The other one is in the aforementioned Sunday night game where the Broncos have gone from -4.5 to -6 against the Saints.
Finally, circling back to the Saturday prime-time game, Oklahoma opened -9.5 against Notre Dame and has been bet up to -10.5 as it appears the wiseguys think the luck of the Irish will wear out. The other major line move in the colleges came in the Ohio St.-Penn St. where the Nittany Lions opened -2 at the Wynn when Buckeye QB Braxton Miller was listed as questionable and was actually bet up to -2.5, but then Monday morning he was cleared to practice and play and we’ve been the line move to pick-em and even THE Ohio St. University as a small favorite.
Hopefully this has your juices flowing for all the action ahead. Good luck this weekend (and every 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.