Las Vegas Betting Notes
September 2, 2012
By Micah Roberts
The first week of college football action couldn’t have been scripted better by any sports book director in town. Beginning with Thursday night’s opening action and ending Saturday with a flurry of late night house winners, the Las Vegas sports books got the best of the betting public, which is something that couldn’t be said in the first seven weeks of college action last season.
Remember last season when a bettor could simply fill out a parlay card consisting of six or seven of the top-10 teams in the nation and then cash in it regularly? Or how about the public beating the books on nearly every isolated night game? The sports book was almost giving out free money on a weekly basis in 2011 and there wasn’t a spread too high to scare off the masses.
Well the tide has turned, as it always does in the sports betting world. New season. New results. And new trends for the sports books.
It all started Thursday night where the favorites went 5-2 against-the-spread, which normally would be a bad night for the books because the general public always takes the favorites. However, in this instance, the biggest games of the night -- the big isolated television games -- were the two underdogs that won. The majority of parlay tickets on the night had South Carolina laying six points at Vanderbilt and Minnesota laying nine points at UNLV. Vanderbilt and UNLV lost the game outright, but covered the spread.
On Friday, the underdogs went 1-2 ATS with the public jumping all over the high profile ESPN game. Unlike last season, but exactly like the night before, the public choice -- eight-point favorite Michigan State -- won, but didn’t cover the spread. Even the 17-13 score from the South Carolina and Michigan State games were identical.
Going into Saturday’s games the four biggest decisions based on straight bets and parlay risk were Ohio State (-26), Miami-FL (-2 ½), Alabama (-13), and USC (-43). On a normal day of action, losing three out of four big games like that would have been disastrous, but it was the timing of the games in relation to everything else going on that made those games not matter as much in the big picture.
The early wave of games had the makings of being a repeat of the 2011 season, but a few key games thwarted the liability and killed several teasers, money-line parlays and parlay card action to stop the early momentum dead in its tracks.
“The Nevada upset win at Cal really turned the tide for us,” said William Hill sports book director Jimmy Vaccaro. “But the biggest key to our day was USC not covering the spread against Hawaii. The USC game was so pivotal for us.“
No. 1 ranked USC opened as a 38-point favorite three weeks ago at most sports books and by kickoff Saturday they were -43 ½. It seemed like the spread moved a half-point every day. There was no sharp money jumping on board, but almost every other type of money out there had the Trojans to cover the large spread. They were also the last leg of the most popular four-teamer on the day with Ohio State, Miami, and Alabama.
Last year, sports books couldn’t make the spreads high enough on the top teams. This year, they did. Of the seven teams on the regular and added board favored by 29-points, all seven underdogs covered the spread, including one monstrous upset with Houston -- favored by 35 points -- losing outright to Texas State.
William Hill sports books were one of the only bet shops to offer a money-line on the Houston game and one lucky bettor cashed a $3,000 wager on Texas State at 35/1 odds. Despite the $105,000 payout, William Hill still posted a strong day on their first college football weekend as an operation in the states.
“It was a very good day for us, with great action throughout all of our books,” said Vaccaro. “The biggest key for us was the night games. I haven’t seen a run of underdogs come on like they did Saturday night in a while.”
Through Saturday’s games, the favorites went 16-22 ATS. The big night TV games went 1-5 ATS and the top-10 teams on the regular board went 1-7 ATS.
All that should give bettors plenty to chew on for next week with something like this going on their minds, "Do I follow what I was successful at last season by taking the top favorites, or do I change up a little and realize some of these spreads are simply too high to mess with, or maybe even take an underdog?"
William Hill Money-Lines Everywhere!
If you are looking for the a money-line on a large spread, there is no need to shop around, just visit your nearest William Hill book or PT's Pub kiosk. Most sports books in Las Vegas don't offer money-lines on games when the spread reaches double-digits. A small portion of books will go as high as a 30-point spread. William Hill is going all in by posting every college football game, no matter what the spread is, with a money-line. This includes all added games and even the extra games board. Very well done and thank you, with much of the credit going to the William Hill operation led by their top bookmaker, Nick Bogdanovich, who loves to gamble and let others do the same.
Bad Beat of the Week
If you had Oregon up 50-10 at halftime while laying 37 points and lost because of a hard-charging Arkansas State squad in the second, you have my sympathies. But the killer of the week had to be those who had the UNDER 52 on UNLV-Minnesota Thursday night. This was a dead 'under' game that eventually got tied 13-13 by the end of regulation and then the offenses exploded in overtime going three extra sessions until Minnesota kicked the winning field to win, 30-27.
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