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October 22, 2014

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Q&A:

Public sports bettors like Red Sox, pros backing Cardinals in World Series

Baseball oddsmaker at world’s largest sports book breaks down championship pairing

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Michael Wacha throws during the first inning of Game 6 of the National League baseball championship series against the Los Angeles Dodgers Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, in St. Louis.

Wednesday's Game 1

  • Moneyline: Cardinals (Wainwright) plus-110 at Red Sox (Lester) minus-120
  • Run Line: Cardinals (+1.5) minus-200 at Red Sox (-1.5) plus-180
  • Total: o/u 7
  • Props: Variety available before first pitch at 5:07 p.m.
  • Numbers from LVH Superbook

By some measures, this year’s World Series is the most intriguing matchup in ages.

The teams with the best regular-season records from both the American and National Leagues, the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively, advanced to the World Series for the first time in 14 years. The teams rank in the upper echelon of the league in terms of pedigree and tradition.

And Las Vegas oddsmakers see it as an awfully close series. Boston is currently listed as a minus-140 (risking $1.40 to win $1) favorite with St. Louis coming back at plus-120 (risking $1 to win $1.20) at the LVH Superbook, implying a 56 percent chance of the Red Sox becoming champions.

The series price is similar at other properties, though the Superbook initially opened the Red Sox higher. We caught up with LVH Superbook baseball odds expert Chris Bennett to explain the movement and preview the World Series from a Las Vegas point of view:

What were some of the factors that went into posting the series odds?

We tried to be a little bit higher on the Red Sox than the market because of our futures position. Like I told you earlier, we have some liability on the Red Sox. We lose a decent amount on them and win only a little bit on the Cardinals. So we put up minus-160 on the Red Sox to get money back on the Cardinals, and the sharps came out and had the influence to drive down the price. But we set it up that way.

What stands out to you before the series?

Even though both these teams finished with the best records, it’s not like either team is so much better than the opponents in their league. The Cardinals were underdogs to the Dodgers in the NLCS, and the Red Sox were basically a pick’em against the Tigers. But I think it’s an intriguing matchup. The biggest thing might be if Michael Wacha can keep doing what he’s done over his last five starts for the Cardinals. If he keeps pitching at that elite level, then I think the Cardinals will have a really good chance.

Do you think taking the plus-price with the Cardinals is the right side for the series?

When I was putting my lines for the individual games and assuming the matchups, I came up with Red Sox minus-122 with no juice. So, right now, I don’t think there’s value on either side. The line is where it should be. But if I had to bet it, I’d probably bet the Cardinals.

Will the aura and following of these franchises boost the betting handle in Las Vegas?

I don’t really think there’s going to be any extra betting interest with these teams. I think there would have been more with the Dodgers instead of the Cardinals. The L.A. teams would obviously be huge, but I think betting-wise, you get more interest from the teams that haven’t been there in a while. I think people are used to the Cardinals and the Red Sox, which have both won two in the last 10 years. It’s not that it’s boring or anything, but I don’t think it’s going to be anything special or different than an average World Series for us.

How have bettors approached these teams throughout the postseason? Have they been profitable or bothersome to the book?

The public has been more on the Red Sox, but it hasn’t hurt us on the individual games because the sharps have been on the other side. We took sharp bets on the Tigers in every game of that series. There were a couple good Cardinals games for us where the public was really on the Dodgers. Game 1 of the NLCS, when (Zack) Greinke was pitching for the Dodgers, and the deciding game with Wacha and (Clayton) Kershaw, those were good for us. The Cardinals have been helpful overall.

What do you think tonight’s action will be like for Game 1?

I don’t know what the public is going to do with this game. I would say the average person is thinking, “(Adam) Wainwright is the better pitcher,” but the public has been on the Red Sox a lot more as a team. So I’m not sure what we’re going to need. It might be pretty balanced action.

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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