Notable bets: New England cover hurts books on mixed weekend

Notable bets is a regular Monday roundup of wagers — some sharper than others — made recently at sportsbooks across the nation.

On Thanksgiving Day, the line to the buffet at Mirage in Las Vegas wound through slot machines, stretching deep into the casino.

Some estimated it took over an hour to make it to the front of the turkey trail. In fact, the line was so long that a few sports bettors who had earned comps to the $38 buffet –which included unlimited beer and wine — returned to ask the sportsbook supervisor to trade in their ticket for a different establishment.

“They didn’t want to wait,” Mirage sportsbook supervisor Scott Shelton said.

There weren’t any lines at the sportsbook, though. There rarely are on Thanksgiving Day. It’s one of the quieter days in the book. Everyone’s at the buffet.

The gluttony, however, doesn’t curtail the gambling too much. A comparable amount of money was bet on Washington-Dallas and Atlanta-New Orleans, the two late games on Thursday, as is typically bet on a Monday night game, which can be upwards of $1 million at some books. People were still finding time to place their bets, evidently.

A lot of that money was on the right side this Thanksgiving, as all three favorites — the Cowboys, Saints and Detroit Lions — covered the spread. The results left many parlays like leftovers into the weekend and ended up producing mixed results for bettors and the books.

“We’re down a decent amount for the day,” Ed Salmons, vice president of risk management for the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, said Sunday before the prime-time kickoff. “The problem is we’re paying the price for Thursday. The three favorites, that stuff always kicks down the road to somewhere.”

Here are the notable bets:


NFL

o The New England Patriots opened as low as 7.5-point favorites over the New York Jets and closed as high as -13 in Las Vegas. Thirty minutes prior to kickoff, 97 percent of the money bet on the game’s point spread was on the Patriots at William Hill US sportsbooks.

o At Caesars Palace sportsbooks in Nevada, for every one bet on the underdog Jets, there were 10 on the Patriots. Head of risk Jeff Davis said the money wagered on the game was even more lopsided on New England.

o The Patriots covered the spread in a 27-13 win. Late in the fourth quarter, Jets quarterback Josh McCown led a 13-play drive down to the New England 4-yard line, but threw two incomplete passes and turned the ball over on downs.

o “We had a guy bet $50,000 flat on Patriots -9 early in the week,” John Murray, director of race and sports at the SuperBook, said. “People were piling on five-figures on the Patriots all week, no matter what we moved the number to.”

o A bettor at MGM placed an $80,000 bet on the Cleveland Browns and “high-five figure” bets on the 49ers, Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Jets.

o The SuperBook took an $84,000 on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -3 (-120) when the line was first posted on the board last Sunday. The Bucs won 27-9.

o “We lost for the day on Thursday,” Jason Simbal, vice president of risk for CG Technology sportsbooks in Nevada, said. “But it really wasn’t that bad. The next day, we got beat bad, though.”

o A VIP customer at the SuperBook placed a $55,000 bet on the Green Bay Packers +3.5 against the Minnesota Vikings in the prime-time game. “If we win the Vikings, we’ll probably break even for the day,” Salmons said prior to kickoff.

Minnesota won 24-17.

College football

o If the favorites prevail in this week’s conference championship games, the College Football Playoff committee will likely be tasked with deciding between Oklahoma and Ohio State for the final spot in the playoff. Salmons said he’d make Oklahoma a tiny favorite over Ohio State, “maybe Oklahoma -1 or even pick ’em. They’re like the same team.”

o Matt Lindeman, who oversees college football odds for Caesars Palace, said he also has Oklahoma rated just slightly ahead of Ohio State, “by about a point.”

o Conference championship game opening lines at the SuperBook:

Big 12: Texas vs. Oklahoma -7
Big Ten: Northwestern vs. Ohio State -13.5
SEC: Georgia vs. Alabama -13.5
Pac-12: Utah vs. Washington -5.5
ACC: Pittsburgh at Clemson -25

o Notre Dame opened as low as a 9-point favorite over USC and closed as high as -14. “You just keep moving the thing, and if no one bets, you keep moving it,” Salmons said of the line movement. “It was finally like, screw it, just go to 14, if they bet it, we’ll move it back. And no one bet it.”

o Notre Dame-USC “was probably our biggest college football decision of the season to date,” the SuperBook’s Murray said.

o The Notre Dame-USC game produced the biggest decision on Saturday for Caesars Palace sportsbooks in Nevada, where 91 percent of the money wagered on the game was on the Fighting Irish, both on the point spread (ND -14) and money-line (ND -650). Notre Dame won but failed to cover the spread in a 24-17 victory.

o Las Vegas sportsbook operator CG Technology took a $110,000 bet on Notre Dame -14.

o The sportsbook at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town in West Virginia took a $40,000 bet on Notre Dame -12.

o A bettor at a CG Technology sportsbook hit four big bets on Friday. They bet $110,000 on Virginia Tech +5 and $50,000 on the Hokies on the money-line +170 against Virginia — and $143,000 on Washington +3 and $20,000 on the Huskies on the moneyline against Washington State. In total, they won over $300,000, when Virginia Tech beat the Cavaliers and the Huskies knocked off Washington State in a snowy Pac-12 battle. “That killed our Friday,” Simbal said.

o A bettor at MGM placed a $100,000 bet on Nebraska +7.5 against Iowa and $90,000 on Houston +7 against Memphis. Nebraska covered the spread in a 31-28 loss, and Houston failed to cover in a 52-31 loss.

o The largest season-win total bet the SuperBook this year was on Oregon State under 2.5 to win $80,000. The bet came through Saturday when Oregon crushed the Beavers 55-15. Oregon State finished the season at 2-10.

o Louisville finished the season 1-11 against the spread, the worst such mark since 2011, when Central Michigan also finished 1-11 ATS. The only game the Cardinals covered the spread in was in a 28-24 loss to Florida State. Louisville was a 5-point underdog.

o MGM took a $66,000 bet on Syracuse +6.5 against Boston College. The Orange cruised to a 42-21 win. (First reported by Covers.com).

o A Philadelphia-based bettor has gone on a holiday spending spree at PropSwap, an online secondary market where sports bets that have already been placed are bought and sold. The unnamed bettor has purchased seven tickets on Alabama to win the national championship for a total of $2,931, each at odds of -200 or greater, and four tickets on Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa to win the Heisman Trophy at varying prices, including an $857 ticket at -600 odds purchased Saturday.

o The SuperBook took a $30,000 bet on Alabama to win the national championship at -250 last week. If the Crimson Tide win the title, the bettor would win a net $12,000.


Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson: The Match

o The two largest bets MGM took on The Match were in the high-five-figure range and both on the underdog Mickelson. “We got destroyed on The Match,” the MGM’s Shelton said.

o “It was the 13th most bet event on Friday for us,” Simbal said. “We had more money bet on the Warriors-Trail Blazers game that day.”

o The SuperBook took approximately $66,000 in handle on The Match. “People were in the book cheering,” Salmons said. “There was more cheering than betting, though.”


Odds and ends

o U.S. sports betting legalization: Twin Rivers Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island will open its sportsbook Monday. Rhode Island will be the eighth state to offer legal sports betting in the U.S., joining Delaware, Mississippi, New Mexico, New Jersey, Nevada, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

o NBA: MGM took a $100,000 money-line bet on the Los Angeles Lakers to beat the Utah Jazz and a $90,000 on the Denver Nuggets to cover an 8-point spread against the Orlando Magic on Friday. The Lakers won 90-83, and the Nuggets won 112-87. (First reported by Covers.com).

A bettor at the FanDuel sportsbook at the Meadowlands in New Jersey hit a $2 seven-team NBA parlay Saturday that paid $1,118.57.

o College basketball: Bookmaker William Hill was offering a prop bet on “Will Duke go undefeated?” The “Yes” opened at 25-1 and was bet down to 12-1 by Nov. 21. There were 168 bets on the “Yes” and one bet on the “No.” Duke lost to Gonzaga 89-87 on Nov. 21.

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