Dennis Miller and LV Sports Books

Vegas looks to squeeze sports bettors by reducing parlay card payoffs and more in Friday

“Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus” is a book that tells us how different members of the same species apply radically divergent points of view to essentially the same issue.

Another example of different strokes for different folks is reflected in ABC’s search for new blood to pump up sagging ratings in its venerable Monday Night Football telecast.

After a much-publicized hunt for the right personalities, the web selected humorist Dennis Miller and ex-NFL great Dan Fouts, a Hall of Fame quarterback.

We’re not going to quarrel with the choices.  Given the pressure of fewer viewers, a sense that the show had gotten stale, and the necessity of conforming to the ever-vigilant NFL’s standards, Miller and Fouts are excellent, maybe even inspired choices.

Amidst all the talk of capturing the show’s edge that supposedly was fostered by one of the original mike men, the late Howard Cossell, the network overlooked a little known but essential truth.

Throughout America, Monday night is the bettors’ bailout special.  Yep, all that action on Saturday and Sunday leaves some of us in a most vulnerable position:  owing our bookies big time.

It’s not likely that ABC Sports president Howard Katz took into consideration that the game it’s televising is the last one of the week prior to reaching a settle-up figure between bettors and local bookies.

Huge amounts are bet on the side or total in a mad dash by players trying to get even, or – as was the case when we bet with our BM – just hoping to get the number under the settlement figure.  If we accomplished that, it meant we could go another week without seeing our man.

Of course, when bettors are really in the hole, they parlay the side and total.  Been there, done that.

There is enough tension built into the game so that it doesn’t matter who the broadcast talent is.  Bettors would be zoned in even if Little Orphan Annie were in the TV booth.

But wouldn’t it be nice if ABC had the ability to put in announcers who really know the wagering aspects of a game, ones who would make comments and observations about coaching strategies based on pointspread considerations?

How about a special channel with analysts like Jimmy Vaccaro and Dave Malinsky, or Russ Culver and Ken White, or … well, you get the idea.  Guys who would take care of little details like reporting penalties, instead of promoing the network’s latest sitcom while yardage was being marked off.

We’re sure SBS readers could provide ABC with some other choices, but alas, it is simply not to be.  Not while the NFL continues to view wagering on their precious product as one step removed from a capital crime.

Fouts and Miller figure to juice up the proceedings a bit.  Maybe one of them will pick up on Al Michaels’ oblique references to the betting aspect of a game.  He certainly endears himself to bettors with sly remarks like, “now the game’s really over,” which shows his awareness level is higher than many NFL broadcasters.

More Gutsiness from Vegas Sports Books.  In their never-ending quest to achieve supreme wimpiness, Las Vegas sports books are looking to reduce their parlay card payouts.

We’re not as outraged as that statement makes us out to be.  We understand sports betting is a business, and Vegas not only worships the bottom line, but the town’s bet barons are under orders not to lose money.

It seems that betting syndicates very quietly have cleaned up by playing parlay cards, particularly in hitting 7/7 and 8/8.  Those are the payout numbers that are under consideration for downward adjustment at several properties.

Cards come out on Wednesdays at a few books and Thursdays at the rest.  Sophisticated wagering techniques of deep-pocketed syndicates bet into the cards’ static lines, and find enough edges of as many as 1½ points to make football weekends extremely uncomfortable for the books.

Using customized computer software to put together combinations of games with frozen lines, the wiseguys get full leverage out of small advantages.

Some parlay cards pay as much as 104 for 1 for hitting 7/7, and 208 for 8/8.  Others pay 100-1 and 200-1 respectively.  These are actually more generous than off-the-board payoffs.

Last year, the books made enough of these payouts that they are rethinking their competitiveness vis-à-vis parlay cards.

We’re not going to rip them for commonsense defensive measures.  But it is too bad that the vast majority of players who are not wiseguys are also penalized.

Still, most players we know would be so thrilled to hit 7/7, there would be nary a word of protest about a slightly reduced payoff. | June 23rd, 2000

– – – – – – – – – – – –About the writer
A long time sports betting columnist, Buzz Daly

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