In 2010, when the Golden Nugget opened up betting on their 200 college football “Games of the Year”, there were long lines for several hours as bettors jockeyed with one another to take their crack at college football’s very first pointspreads. With a $1000 maximum bet and a three bet per customer limit, wise guys spent a good portion of the afternoon making repeated trips to the betting window.
Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller: “Last year, we had lines out the door… it was a frenzy.” The Nugget wrote close to $130,000 on the first day they posted their lines.
When the Nugget posted their advanced college football lines this past Friday, the action was somewhat subdued compared to last year – shorter lines and less frenzy. Some of the lesser handle was a result of competition. Cantor Gaming opened their NFL lines for every single regular season game at the M Casino on the same day; another highly attractive wise guy destination. Some of the reduced handle had to do with the smaller menu this year – after the Nugget got hammered last year, they cut their number of game nearly in half; from 200 games in 2010 to 105 this year.
Last year, the lines built up in anticipation of the numbers coming out, but the numbers came out later than expected. This year, the numbers came out right on time, allowing the “early birds to get the worms” so to speak. The uncertain state of the offshore betting world was probably a factor as well – there simply isn’t as much wise guy money floating around today as there was a year ago (or two, or three) at this time.
Miller, talking about the books willingness to post early numbers, despite the beating they took last year: “Yeah, it’s a risky move and, like always, we’ve had things work for us and against us. But in the end, it’s worth it. For this one day, we’ll have more handle than anywhere else in the state.”
Even if you didn’t make it down to the Nugget for the openers, there is still one major advantage to having these opening numbers sitting for us to bet all summer. You can bet any information that comes out in the weeks and months to follow. One of the biggest losers for the Nugget last year was North Carolina. Bettors wagered against the Tar Heels repeatedly as NCAA allegations and then suspensions dogged the program all summer.
Bettors had a better handle on the situation than the oddsmakers, and Butch Davis’s squad was a real money loser for the house. We can expect that at some point this summer, some “hot off the presses” info will come out on one or two teams, giving fast moving bettors an opportunity to bet information, not opinions.
It’s not hard to tell what teams the earliest bettors were interested in supporting and what teams they were looking to fade. The line moves tell the entire story, and there were a handful of significant moves within the first few hours after the numbers were posted.
Popular “bet on” teams at the Nugget this past Friday included Tennessee, Georgia, Notre Dame, Northwestern and LSU. All five schools took multiple bets in more than one game, driving the line in their direction.
Popular “bet against” teams included Auburn, Michigan, TCU, Mississippi State and Florida. All five were fade material; either shorter favorites or bigger underdogs now than they were at the opener.
If those lists seem SEC heavy, it’s because they are! Of the 105 games, 36 featured at least one SEC team. The Big Ten, Big-12 and PAC-12 were all heavily represented as well. The Nugget didn’t show any hometown or home-state love this year – neither UNLV nor Nevada-Reno were listed even once.
Tomorrow, I’ll post a brief synopsis of those ten teams in an effort to explain the betting attention they received.