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|2004 NFL Season Totals Popular With Recreational Bettors
by Jeremy Martin of DocSports.com
While most bettors are familiar with NFL future pools, whichinvolve picking a team to win their division, conference oreven the Super Bowl, not everyone knows that they can also betthe ‘over’ or ‘under’ on the number of games a particular teamwill win over the course of its season.
This betting option is becoming increasingly popular with playersin Nevada and on the Internet. According to Richard B. Dressler,race and sports book manager for the Imperial Palace in LasVegas, there are three types of individuals who bet on NFL seasontotals.
The first and largest contingent is the recreational bettorthat is on vacation and wants to have action on their favoriteteam for the entire course of the season. The second type isthe savvy bettor who has an educated opinion on the potentialoutcome of a team’s season. The third type – which Dresslersaid he turns away at the IP – is the “scalper” or”middler” who is trying to take advantage of differentnumbers at competing books in an attempt to cash in at the expenseof the casinos without taking any financial risk.
While most professionals stay away from NFL season totals,there are some inherent advantages for potential profits. Aswith any form of betting that involves a large group of recreationalbettors, going against the public can be a good idea in certainsituations and that certainly applies to this form of wagering.
“I’ll tell you why (recreational) bettors love them,”said Dressler, the first bookie on The Strip to post numbersfor NFL season totals. “Lets say a guy comes in here fromPennsylvania. He knows he is only here (one) week. He knowshe is going to watch (the Pittsburgh Steelers) every week sohe takes the ‘over.’ That one ticket is like having a bet on16 individual games.”
Since there is no one to compare its lines to, releasing thefirst numbers for season totals exposes the IP to some risk,but Dressler is confident in the strength of his oddsmakingteam. In order to come up with the numbers, he and three othermembers of his staff split up and individually make a numberfor each team. Then, during a roundtable discussion, the grouphammers out a consensus number. He says that his team usuallycomes up with similar numbers that rarely differ more than ½a game. In extremely unusual cases, however, members of thegroup may differ as many as two full games.
Several factors go into the formulation of the numbers at theIP, the most important being the team’s personnel. Betting patternsof sports book patrons is also an important factor. Dresslersaid his staff also looks at the schedule, although that isnot important as some people may think.
“With so much parity, the schedule doesn’t weigh as muchas it used to,” he said. “And it’s not like the teamthat wins the division now gets to play the tough schedule -they have changed that up a little bit too.”
Most seasons there is one team that is projected to be wayahead of the competition at 11 or 12 wins. This year, however,the top two teams – New England and Indianapolis – are listedat only 10 ½ wins. Most of the league is bunched up between10 and seven wins and perennial cellar-dwellers like Arizonaand San Diego are at the bottom of the list at 5 ½ and4 ½ wins, respectively.
Of course, there are going to be teams that win more than 10games during the upcoming season just as there will likely beteams that will win less than five games. That proves that thereare some opportunities for the savvy handicapper to make somenice profits playing these season totals. Most professionals,however, stay away from them because they can win money eachweek of the NFL season without having to wait until the endof the regular season in order to cash their tickets. The 30-centline that is regularly used for these betting options also ensuresa healthy profit for the books and a small margin of error foreven the sharpest of bettors.
For the most part, the actual number of wins posted at a bookwill not change from the time the numbers are put up until theyare taken off the board at the start of the regular season.Bookmakers balance the action by adjusting the money line accordingto the action that is coming in. If an influx of bettors isheavy on the Patriots ‘over,’ for example, they will lower theprice on the ‘under’ in order to make that side more attractive.
“There is not a single team (on our board) that has nothad a (money line) movement,” said Dressler. “We donot move off the number. If I put up a nine on a team, I putthem at a flat minus 115. If I take ‘over’ or ‘under’ money,I will go to minus 125 or 130 (on that side). (Former IP oddsmaker)Ed Salmons said he could only remember once in the past fouror five years that we took so much money on the ‘under’ thatwe had to move (a team) from six to 6 ½.”
Another situation that could cause a number to move is a preseasoninjury to a key player. Dressler said, however, that it wouldtake an injury to a starting quarterback or a superstar runningback in order to move the line. If there is a major injury,Dressler will take the number down right away and post a newnumber. Any bettor who placed a wager with the original number,however, gets to keep that wager.
“It would have to be someone really major,” he added.”(In certain cases) a star wide receiver goes out and people(who bet the over) start to panic. It’s only someone the caliberof a starting quarterback that would make the number come downand be changed. Even if a team’s head running back goes down;unless it is a guy like (Eric) Dickerson when he was runningfor the Rams at his peak; most don’t have a superstar at thatposition. Most teams have a (quality) backup (RB) that willstep in.”
Even if a starting QB does go down, that does not always guaranteethat it is an automatic win for ‘under’ bettors. The perfectexample of this was in 1999 when St. Louis starter Trent Greenwas injured in the preseason on a hit by Chargers safety RodneyHarrison. Green was out for the season with a damaged knee andthe starting job was handed over to Kurt Warner, an unknownfrom the Arena Football League. At this point the ‘under’ bettorswere already counting their winnings while the ‘over’ bettorswere chalking it up as a loss. Of course, Warner stepped inand led the Rams to a 13-3 regular season record and an eventualSuper Bowl victory.
Betting on NFL season totals has been swift at the IP, accordingto Dressler. But he expects the bulk of his business to comein the last two weeks of August. This wagering option can bea fun way to have action throughout the course of the NFL seasonand it can be a profitable opportunity for those who do theirhomework and pick their spots carefully.
NFL 2004 Regular Season Wins from the Imperial Palace in LasVegas
Jeremy Martin is one of the foremost experts in the sportsbetting industry. For more information, Free Picks or to contactJeremy visit DocSports.com