Betting Public riding McGregor
August 19, 2017
By Micah Roberts
With a week to go until Saturday's Floyd Mayweather-Connor McGregor bout at T-Mobile Arena from Las Vegas, Nevada, the sports books are getting their game plans finalized for the fight of the year in their city. The risk is becoming the highest books collectively have even seen and could get larger which means there's a benefit for a few laying dirt cheap prices on Mayweather.
Jason Simbal, the VP of risk management for CG Technology, said he expects to write four times as much action over the next week than what he's booked since opening June 15 with Mayweather -950 and McGregor +650. The past two days he's been flirting with one of the shortest prices in town.
"Since dropping to -490, with a +390 take-back on McGregor, we've had good two-way action which is a big change from what we had the last two months of betting where ticket counts were dominated by McGregor wagers," Simbal said. The short split CG books are using is one of the fairest in town.
"The average wager on McGregor is $131. The average wager on Mayweather is $5,100," he said.
The big question Simbal is going to have to come to terms with himself and his corporate bosses is how much risk they're willing to incur. Is it $250,000, $500,000 or $1 million?
"We've already accepted that we're willing to take a position by needing Mayweather to win, but how much that final number could be also depends on what happens with props. If McGregor wins, it's likely to be by knockout which pays 5/1 and is already a big risk for us, and they're betting if that happens that it will be in the specific rounds of round 1, 2 or 3. And those knockout rounds are large negatives," Simbal said.
The seven CG Technology sports books across Las Vegas took $3 million in action last year during the final week before the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight. Will they write more for this bout?
"You know what, I think we might write more for this one," Simbal said in a surprised tone.
Wynn Resorts sports book director John Avello has also been taking big action already.
"We've taken 3 three-quarter million ($750,000) dollar bets," Avello said. "All on them on Mayweather, so that's given us an opportunity to be a winner with any outcome. I'm on a win-win now, but I don't expect it to be that way by fight night."
Avello has been telling his crew to be careful with the underdog risk and move accordingly. He's got the lowest price in town with Mayweather -475, which has been bet up from a record-low so far of -450 which Avello tried on Friday at his Wynn and Encore books, which have just been completely refurbished.
"We got knocked down that low and immediately got some Mayweather money," Avello said of his move up to -475. "The reason we were at -450 was because a bettor I respect a lot took +425 on McGregor for a small wager, only $10,000. I was asking myself why this guy would be betting that side, but he's very sharp so it the amount he wagered didn't matter. I just respected the opinion."
Tony Miller's sports book at the Golden Nugget in downtown Las Vegas dipped their toes in the water on Friday going to -450 as well, and within four minutes they found takers and got the big wager they wanted and went back to -500.
The entire equation of how to book a fight of this magnitude has many layers and one of those happens this week as the fight buzz and pressure intensifies. Then sharp money unloads their cash on the best value at the same time. It can be nerve wrecking for the bookmaker staring at the large risk. It can certainly cause hair loss. Who wants to be second guessed on Monday morning about a loss?
Seeing Mayweather's tweets that he's hanging out at a Las Vegas strip club all weekend might make a few bettors think again whether they're on the right side, but it's all a Mayweather ploy. That's his version of pre-fight mind games. But remember, the only thing that means anything to him is his 49-0 undefeated record and he doesn't ever jeopardize that by not being prepared.
The sharp McGregor bet at Avello's joint should give a moment for pause, but taking Mayweather at -400 seems like the deal of the century considering the Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook opened Mayweather -2,500 weeks before the bout was officially announced. Will we ever see -400?
"If anyone is looking to lay -400 with Mayweather at some point, they'll find it, " Avello said, and then he got serious about what this really is.
"I'm not calling this a fight or a bout, I'm calling it an event, because that's what it is," Avello said. "Or at least the jury is still out on what we'll eventually call it after it happens."
Some have suggested they could see McGregor get DQ'd after being frustrated chasing the quicker, more elusive Mayweather. Is this just a show, or is it the future of what we'll soon be seeing with crossover events? Whatever it is, handle has been on a record pace everywhere.
"I'm not in the eight figures just yet," Avello remarked about his fight handle so far, although his tone suggested he's close. "No, we're still in the seven figures."
Something to remember before wagering about Floyd Mayweather is that the sports books have never lost with him. They go into every Mayweather fight needing him because the general public doesn't want to lay his -700 prices and would rather take the 'dog instead. He's a cash-making machine for the Las Vegas books. No fighter has given more to the books than Mayweather.
And know this, if McGregor actually does win, it will be the sports books biggest single loss in Las Vegas boxing history. The approved 8 oz. gloves both will use would appear to be an edge for McGregor.
More pre-fight happenings from Las Vegas during the week leading up to Saturday's event, fight or whatever you want to call it.
It's a happening and I must say I'm at least intrigued by it all and want to be involved, so I'm in.
Roberts is a former Las Vegas sports book director that has been covering the sports betting industry for the last 12 years.
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