August was a tough baseball month for the Las Vegas sports books in 2011 as the good teams became great and the bad teams got worse making it common for more three, four and five-team parlays to regularly hit than the previous four months. In 2012, history is starting to repeat itself.
It's hard enough for the sports books to try and win straight bets with a 10-cent line where the house loses its edge on each ensuing line move, but losing a month in true-odds parlay payouts is the absolute back-breaker. Parlays are supposed to be gravy for the books; a way to overcome some of the disadvantages they have against sharp groups getting the best/bad number on large limit straight bets when first posted, or when it circles around to the desired number they want closer to game time.
The baseball clubs that are becoming big public teams due to consistent play are the Reds, Cardinals, Braves and Diamondbacks, You can also add the Yankees and Rangers on the list of popular sides just because of their recent past history of faring well during August and September between the two juggernauts.
The teams we can expect to continue as reliable bet-against are the Indians, Padres, Astros and Rockies, teams that sports book directors have been cussing out quietly in their minds over the last month. It doesn't matter how high the plus-money is to make these teams attractive, the public still isn't biting, which leads to unwanted one-sided action.
An example showing the degree of how good some of these teams are is just looking at the series prices offered by William Hill last week where 12 of the 15 favored teams won their weekend series.
The collective bang-boom sound sports book customers heard around the valley happened on two occasions Sunday, when bookmakers collectively dented their file cabinets with fists, staplers, clipboards, or anything else they could sling as two pivotal games for the house went against them in dramatic fashion. The difference between a winning day and losing day in baseball for the book usually rests with two, sometimes three games.
On Sunday, the first wave of posted events all came down to the Indians against the Tigers. If the Indians win, which would have been their first victory in nine games, the books would likely win for the day. If the Tigers won, all the live parlays would turn into either winners or carry over into the afternoon games creating a massive tidal wave of liability.
Things looked good for the house when the Indians put three runs on the board in the top of 10th to take an 8-5 lead, but sometimes getting those last three outs can seem like an eternity. Not only did the Tigers tie the game 8-8 with two outs in the bottom half of the inning, but Miguel Cabrera hit a walk-off home-run with a man on base giving the sports books a double whammy, losing on the money line (-215) as well as the run-line (-1.5 -110).
The majority of the public lays the run-and-a-half because they get higher payouts on their parlays. For whatever its worth, in all my years behind the counter, I never saw any baseball bettor I both feared and respected ever lay runs for the limit. It's too hard to win by win one, let alone two. But when teams start to roll, it makes any bettor looks smart laying runs.
So all that Tigers money that was still alive carried over into Las Vegas' favorite team, the Dodgers, on the money-line and run-line. Wouldn't you know it, another bad team the sports books had to root for, this time the Cubs, to avoid a sweep.
This was to be the last of the afternoon games posted and despite the books needing the Cubs, the win-loss projections still showed many books a four-way loss (sides and totals) -- no matter who won -- just because of so much risk from the early games funneling into the Dodgers-Cubs game. Obviously, the worst decision was the Dodgers and it gets compounded even further if they won by two or more runs.
In a game where the lead went back-and-forth several times, the Dodgers eventually won 7-6 in walk-off fashion in the bottom on the ninth. The silver lining in it all for the books was that it was a one-run outcome. They can also be grateful that large favorites like the Rays and Rangers lost earlier in the day.
The sports books safe zone of September football is right around the corner, but August is still a long way from over. For those of you that have been cashing in three-teamers, keep banging away on the same teams with the same strategy.