Books: Sunday and Monday Night Games ]]> include($base_url . “/includes/header.htm”); ?>
| NFL: Books Bank On Sunday and Monday Night Games
by Jeremy Martin www.docsports.com
The NFL realized in the early 1970s that showcasinga game on Monday night to a national television audience wouldcreate a windfall of interest and permeate some demographics thatmight not be familiar with the league. In the late 1980s the leaguepartnered with ESPN to provide a game on Sunday night. In thefollowing years these two primetime games have become incrediblypopular with viewers.
One reason for the immense popularity of theseprimetime games – even though the NFL would never admit it – issports betting. Monday Night Football usually gets the top matchupsas the NFL tends to schedule the best pairing of the week forits marquee telecast. ESPN Sunday night games are usually hitor miss. Sometimes the matchup is great, sometimes it leaves abit to be desired for the average viewer.
As far wagering is concerned, however, the twoworst teams in the league can line up on the field and the bettorswould still be lining up in droves to place their wagers. Sundayand Monday night games are the two highest-volume games for thesportsbooks each football weekend. When it comes to betting theseprimetime games, everybody gets involved. Sunday and Monday nightgames are a favorite of the public or ‘square’ bettors. And wheneverthere is heavy action from the public, the professional and syndicateplayers are never far behind. ‘Scalpers’ and ‘middlers’ play thesegames because they can find the numbers they want during the tug-of-warbetween the first two groups. Heck, your grandmother is probablyeven betting the game.
Sportsbooks in Nevada and offshore see two tothree times the handle of an average Sunday daytime game for theseprimetime contests. It doesn’t matter who plays in these games- those who wager on football just love to bet an isolated gamethat is on national television.
Since so many public bettors play the Sunday andMonday night games, the oddsmakers usually ‘shade’ or add pointsto the favorite and the ‘over,’ since those are the sides thatthe public tends to wager on. Therefore, the sharp bettors tendto go against the public and take the underdog and the ‘under.’In addition to the shading that is widespread in the industry,the public tends to play the favorite close to game time, causingthe oddsmakers to move the number even further in the hours leadingup to kickoff. This makes the underdog an even more attractiveplay to the savvy bettor. The books see a lot of two-way actionin the hour before the game.
“We always make our base number what we feelthe number should be before the public perception comes into play,and then we shade it off of that” said Bob Scucci, race andsports book director for the Stardust Resort and Casino in LasVegas, of Sunday and Monday night games. “We try not to adjusttoo much (due to) public perception but there is an adjustmentjust because the average recreational player loves to bet on agame he can watch at home that’s on national TV. So any of thenationally televised games are going to draw more action fromthe public than the non-televised games.”
Bookmakers must be even more careful when movingthe lines for Sunday and Monday night games than they are withaverage daytime NFL games. They are getting hit in all differentdirections from a variety of bettors – each with their own agendas.In addition to regular straight bets that are placed on thesegames at a high volume, many parlays and teasers come down tothe Sunday and Monday games. Bookmakers must take this into accountwhen trying to balance their books. Some bettors who have winningparlays going into these last two games of the week may attemptto ‘hedge’ their bets by taking the other side in an attempt toensure a profit.
Some bettors will attempt to middle a book bybetting the line at its lowest point early in the week and then,after the public had driven up the number to its highest pointclose to game time, they will take the other side in an attemptto cash in on both bets if the number falls in the middle. Accordingto Bodog.eu President Rob Gillespie, the smart money is crucialto the book in order to get a balance on these games.
“There’s some (rare) games where the publicand the (professionals) are on the same side and the line getsup real high real fast and then the sharp money pulls out becausethey don’t like the value (in the new number),” he said.”When they are split then you are going to get a lot moresharp action. The public is in on these games every week. Theydon’t play every game on Sunday, but they play every Sunday nightand every Monday night game. The pros sort of dip in and out wherethey see value.”
In Las Vegas the Sunday game is the biggest gameof the football weekend. This is because of a couple of factors.Most of the weekend visitors who are vacationing in Las Vegasare going to be gone by the time the Monday Night game takes place.In addition, many bettors attempt to ‘chase’ – or recoup theirlosses – from the Sunday daytime games by betting the Sunday nightgame.
“(The Sunday night game) has really becomewhat the Monday night game used to be 10-15 years ago in termsof the volume,” commented Scucci. “We have more liabilityon the Sunday night game than any other game (of the weekend).”
On the Internet, however, Monday Night Footballstill reigns supreme. According to Gillespie, Bodog takes in fourtimes the handle of an average game for the MNF game.
With such diverse groups of bettors playing theSunday and Monday night games, one would probably assume thatthe books could get in trouble if the game does not go their way.With such a high volume of action on the games however, bookiesare usually assured a nice profit because of the vig – or commission- that is charged on sports bets.
“(For lower-profile college games) you mayhave $5,000 on each side and you only have $500 in vig to workwith so you have to be balanced pretty close,” said Gillespie.”When you have $500,000 on each side of a game, now you have$50,000 in vig to work with and you have a lot bigger margin oferror. When you get $1 million on each side or $2 million on eachside or $3 million on each side, you can see how you can be within$300,000 and still be in a profit-profit situation. Our risk isslightly lower (on games with increased handle).”
“Sunday and Monday night games have sucha high handle because the entire nation gets the same game ona major network during primetime,” added Scotty Johnson,general manager for Bet Jamaica. “Of course some people arechasing their bad day while others having a good day will increasetheir wager size because they are firing with the book’s moneyinstead of their own.”
Jeremy Martin is a writer for www.docsports.com
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