Las Vegas Sun

July 31, 2014

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Columnist Jeff Haney: Football betting by the book (or magazine)

Reach Jeff Haney at (702) 259-4041 or [email protected]

The Gambler's Book Shop (630 South 11th St.) can be reached at 382-7555 and is online at gamblersbook.com.

For gamblers with a taste for football -- by far the most heavily bet sport in Nevada casinos -- this is the season of eternal hope.

This will be the year they win that handicapping contest, overcome that odious 11-to-10, finally show the oddsmaker who's in charge.

For Howard Schwartz, longtime marketing director at the Gambler's Book Shop, that optimism translates into a hopping business as bettors scarf down a smorgasbord of preseason football publications -- many aimed directly at gamblers.

"I see 'em all," Schwartz said, surveying the dozens of football magazines and preview books at the venerable store on South 11th St. "Newcomers, old pros, system players, guys who just want to show off for their friends. ...

"In football betting you get a lot of guys who like to talk, show off, let everyone know how educated they are. But probably the most successful ones are the quietest ones."

As expected, the shop's hottest seller this summer, Schwartz said, has been Phil Steele's College Football Preview ($8.95), a comprehensive, eagerly awaited annual magazine that is indeed, as the cover advises, "Jampacked With Information."

"It's the best bargain for the price," Schwartz said. "It's almost a book in itself. It has team evaluations, betting angles, you can write (scores) in it. ... What else would you need?"

In handicapping the Heisman Trophy race, Steele makes USC quarterback Matt Leinart a "clear-cut favorite."

Among other noteworthy preseason football publications, according to Schwartz:

Fast fact from the Gold Sheet: The Denver Broncos are 14-6-1 against the spread in preseason games the past five years, though just 2-3 last year.

Fast fact: From 1999 through 2004, the Green Bay Packers were 18-2-1 in 6-point teaser situations when facing an opponent for the second time in a season.

Fast fact: The visiting team in the UNLV-Wyoming series is 6-0 ATS in their past six meetings.

Speaking generally of trend handicapping, Schwartz said: "People are looking for emotional things to hook their bets into, revenge situations or what have you. You can find some records that sound remarkable, but the important question is what is the rationale or the reasoning behind it. How likely is it to continue?

"Then again, some guys don't care -- if something happened 18 of the last 20 times, well, that's good enough for them."

When researching trends based on how teams perform on grass as opposed to artifical turf, proceed with caution, as the recent technological advances in artificial turf can lead to some confusion.

For example, local handicapper Bobby Bryde points out that the Gold Sheet preview magazine lists UNLV's home field as grass, while Phil Steele lists it as TurfTech.

"I consider TurfTech to be the same as grass," Bryde said. "However, in heavy rain it is worse than (artificial) turf as far as poor footing."

Fast fact from Killer Sports: The Dallas Cowboys play on artificial turf at home, and "... they love to entertain the home fans with their skills on their home surface. This brings up the possibility that they will have a flat spot when on the road on grass."

Fast fact from Frederick: The Miami Hurricanes are on a 14-3 ATS streak in season openers.

Fast fact: The Super Bowl champion usually fares poorly against the spread the following year -- but the New England Patriots bucked that trend last season, going 13-5-1 ATS.

British Open

Odds on the "field" -- meaning all other golfers not listed individually -- to win next week's British Open are drifting steadily downward in Las Vegas sports books.

Perhaps the most attractive field bet in town can be found at the Venetian, which offers 3-1 odds on the field (down from 7-2) while listing only 30 individual golfers.

The Las Vegas Hilton offers 9-2 on the field with 49 individual golfers. The Plaza also lists 49 individuals, with 3-1 odds on the field. At Wynn Las Vegas, odds on the field are down to 7-2 from 5-1, also with 49 individuals listed.

Caesars Palace offers 7-1 on the field, but lists an impressive 79 individual golfers.

The field was listed at 2-5 on Tuesday at the Mirage, which has 30 individual golfers on the board. Harrah's has 30 individuals listed and 2-1 odds on the field.

Tiger Woods is favored to win at odds ranging from 2-1 (Harrah's) to 4-1 (Venetian).

The British Open is scheduled for July 14-17 at St. Andrews in Fife, Scotland.

Baseball betting

The Palms has a couple of good baseball propositions available, including one asking whether the New York Yankees will make the playoffs. It's minus-125 (risk $1.25 to win $1) the Bombers will make the playoffs, plus-105 they won't.

Also, the American League representative is a minus-145 favorite to win the World Series, while the NL is a plus-125 underdog.

Watch for that line to be adjusted according to the result of next week's All-Star game, which determines home-field advantage in the World Series.

Wie prop

Some golf experts are giving 15-year-old phenom Michelle Wie a decent chance of making the cut in the PGA tour's John Deere Classic, scheduled to begin Thursday at the TPC at Deere Run in Silvis, Ill.

But Las Vegas oddsmakers say she's a long shot to do it.

The Las Vegas Hilton and Caesars Palace are offering a proposition asking whether Wie will make the cut, which is determined after 36 holes.

The Hilton's opening price was minus-700 on "No," Wie won't make the cut. (Minus-700 means bettors risk $7 to win $1). Late Tuesday, Caesars had minus-400 on the "No" side, and plus-300 that Wie will make the cut.

As always, odds -- especially those on an offbeat prop like this one -- can change frequently, so double-check before wagering.

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