NFL WEEK 7
October 21, 2020 - October 27, 2020 Vol. 45 No. 42 $4 www.GamingToday.com
An Official G2E Show Publication
Several NFL teams able to avoid early mishaps The element of surprise has always been an integral part of the Halloween season. We watch scary movies and go to haunted houses because we like being kept on our toes. It also was an important part to the start of the 2020 NFL season. But the teams that used it now need to stay ahead of the curve. The Carolina Panthers were a total unknown heading into this season. New head coach Matt Rhule spent one year in the NFL as an assistant offensive line coach in 2012. That was the extent of his NFL coaching experience. Of-
Spread Offense James Bunting @BuntsBratsBrews fensive Coordinator Joe Brady was plucked from LSU’s coaching staff after the Tigers won the National Championship last year. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was on his fourth NFL team in four years. The Panthers have impressed, jumping out to a 3-3 start. But Please see Bunting p11
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The Miami Dolphins plan to start rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa after their bye week.
A missed bet opportunity
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President Donald Trump
BY ROB MIECH If wagering on presidential elections were legal in Nevada, the consensus of Jimmy Vaccaro, Johnny Avello and Jay Kornegay — owners of more than 100 years of Las Vegas sportsbook experience —pegs its potential handle at $1.5 billion. “No doubt about it,” says South Point oddsmaker Vaccaro, “it’s right there.” At current tax rates, that’s about $4 million to Uncle Sam and more than $100M to the Silver State. At a nominal sportsbook hold of four percent, that’s $60M to the state’s casinos. Every four years.
“And to not be able to (reap) this, and be as stubborn as our politicians are, is beyond me,” said Vaccaro, 75. “When I was a kid, we were told politicians are very smart people and they do everything right. But put this in your little (story) — there are more politicians in jail than bookmakers.” Kornegay, 57, tapped vast global resources to gauge potential election business at 10 to 15 times the handle of recent Super Bowls, which has been about $150 million. That puts the quadrennial event’s action closer to $2.25 billion. “Look at other parts of the world that do allow wagers on the presi-
dential election — it’s very, very popular,” said Kornegay, vice president of the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. “If it’s that popular over there, how popular would it be here?” Avello, the 67-year-old director of the DraftKings sportsbook operations, crunches other astounding numbers. Twenty-three jurisdictions have legal sports betting. Soon, it could be 29. Kornegay expects 40 to 43 in the next few years. “If those (projected figures) were to hold true in Nevada, look at the rest of the country,” said Avello. “It’s a huge number.” Please see Election p3
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Election: Bet handle in the billions Continued from p1 Opposing team loyalties can sometimes inflame sportsbook patrons, but Avello doesn’t expect heated red-blue confrontations when election odds eventually are posted on the big boards. “It might take the temperature down,” he said, “because you could put your money where your mouth is.”
Tick’s plan rejected Former Nevada state Senator Richard “Tick” Segerblom has run hot because he believed he was making inroads back in 2013 to get election wagering legalized in the Battle Born State. Which might have furnished a fiscal safety net during, say, a pandemic crisis. Today, he said, “I suspect (those who opposed the measure) wish they had supported me.” Offshore companies currently place Democratic challenger Joe Biden as a favorite and Vaccaro expects his odds to settle at about -140. Republican President Donald Trump, the favorite not so long ago, will be an underdog, a role with which he is familiar. A savvy punter in a distant land might currently hold underdog positions on both sides, arbitrage heaven. “Right now, it’s very simple,” adds Vaccaro. “The people who like Trump are waiting, like they’d wait for a football underdog to go from six and a half to seven and a half. Then they’ll jump in to get the most value.” None of which, he admits, means a damn thing, because of heavy bias and manipulation that has eviscerated neutrality and impartiality in newspaper headlines, polls and offshore indicators.
PaddyPower move backfired More than a year before the 2016 election, Trump could have been nabbed at triple digits. Election morning, he was a 6-1 underdog. Hillary Clinton had been such an overwhelming favorite, PaddyPower Betfair (PPB, now Flutter Entertainment) in Ireland paid its customers with tickets on her three weeks before the election.
That’s a PR-seeking ploy not uncommon with certain sportsbook entities, but it cost PPB more than $1 million. Then Trump won, causing PPB to pay more than $4 million to his backers. “Boy, did we get it wrong,” said a PPB spokesman. “We’ve been well and truly thumped by Trump.” But don’t shed any tears for PPB. Its profits that year were the equivalent of about $500 million. State laws bar election wagering, but they have been conducted on the sly since George Washington won that first one in April 1789. However, that changed early the evening of April 7, when West Virginia permitted FanDuel Sports to accept election wagers. Trump opened at -110, Biden +125. That window slammed shut less than 15 minutes later. Jim Justice, spewing gubernatorial sanctimony, called election wagering “ludicrous.” Lottery director John Myers apologized for incorrectly allowing those odds to be released. “They thought they were home, but they got shut down,” said Avello, “I’m hopeful it’ll happen at some point. As far as I’m concerned, it’ll be one of the bigger betting propositions for us.” DraftKings posts election props, but in free pools. Less than a week before a Biden-Bernie Sanders debate, a list of questions included “Who will say ‘Trump’ first?” It attracted 75,000 players. For its presidential pool, more than 300,000 participants have answered who will claim the presidency and the victor in each of 11 states. Winners will split $100,000. He expects half a million players by Nov. 3. “It’s a cool way to be involved in the election,” said Avello. “Five or seven years ago, all the sportsbook (directors) in Nevada tried to form a committee to get election wagering (legalized), but we didn’t get the push we needed.” That coincided with Segerblom’s push in the 2013 Legislature. The Las Vegas Democrat shepherded his measure through the Senate, but it flopped in the House. A year later, his resuscitation effort evaporated before a preliminary panel. “For some reason, they thought it would hurt our reputation,” the
Photo from AP Photos
Tick Segerblom advocated for legalized betting on elctions back in 2013. 75-year-old Segerblom wrote in an email. “No one was really pushing for it, except William Hill and me. Also, I think the ‘big gamers’ didn’t really care. Maybe they were opposed to it behind the scenes.” He believes the casinos will be the election-wagering catalysts. “They need the revenue,” he said.
Betting likely in future Avello mentioned PredictIt, the Washington-based research outfit that conducts political futures trading — similar to the University of Iowa’s Iowa Electronic Market. The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission allows those, due to their low-stakes and nonprofit templates. It has been debated how the CFTC might counter a state legalizing election wagering, but Segerblom dismisses any issue. “No one ever said it would be a
violation of federal law,” he said. In May, Segerblom said it’s a sore personal subject that so much business is being generated on American politics everywhere but in America. Last week, though, he tempered his emotions. “Just sorry that the casino industry didn’t realize how important this would be when everything shut down,” he said. “And it only happens every four years, so now we have to wait until 2024 to really take advantage of it. C’est la vie.” Vaccaro predicts 2028 will usher in legal election wagering in the States, because it’s long overdue
and many older politicos will be gone by then. “The kids who are in their mid30s and early 40s (now), who have been playing fantasy football their entire lives and have been betting (on sports) will see that there’s nothing wrong with it if it’s done correctly,” he said. “Eight years, tops. “I will be aggravated because I’ve been screaming about this for 30 years. But I won’t be able to take advantage of it because I’ll be sitting in Trafford (Pa.), watching Turner Classic Movies.” RobMiech@GamingToday.com
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OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
An unlikely alliance Pat Christenson was someone in need of some good news. The president of Las Vegas Events has had a rocky year. Haven’t we all? But he lost several major events that brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to town and generate millions of dollars for the city. No NBA Summer League. No PBR World Finals. No National Finals Rodeo. So when word came that the NCAA, of all organizations, was going to do something nice for Las Vegas, Christenson probably fell out of his chair. Actually, he may have fallen down from jumping for joy after it was announced the 2023 men’s basketball tournament regional would be played at T-Mobile Arena and the 2026 men’s Frozen Four ice hockey championship was also coming to what Golden Knights fans adoringly call “The Fortress.” In all, 11 NCAA championships will be contested in Southern Nevada between 2023-26 including golf, soccer and bowling at all three Divisions. It’s a huge get for a city that has been shunned by college sports’ governing body for decades. The NCAA still isn’t totally com-
fortable doing business in a locale where you can bet on its events. But with sports betting growing
From the Editor Steve Carp @stevecarp56 all over the country, what was it going to do? Set up shop in Utah? For years, Christenson and the folks at LVE have been pushing hard for the NCAA to at least listen to the idea of putting one of its championships in Las Vegas. Same for Jim Livengood, the former athletic director at UNLV who had been chairman of the men’s basketball committee and understood what went into the bid process. Together, they formulated a proposal, kept knocking on the door like a persistent salesperson until the NCAA finally let them in. Once in, they had a lot of things going for them to sell. The fact four D-1 conferences (Pac-12, Mountain West, WCC and WAC) all hold their postseason tournaments in Las Vegas was a big chip to be played.
Also, the city’s growth and less of a dependency on gambling added to the attractiveness. NCAA President Mark Emmert has visited the town several times the past few years and he has seen that firsthand. “People who don’t visit Las Vegas don’t realize there’s so much more to do here than just gamble,” Livengood said in a radio interview last week. The other big chip that was played was NACDA, the National Association of College Directors of Athletics. That organization has held its annual meeting in Las Vegas and the AD’s, who drive policy in college athletics, have come away with a much different opinion of the town from back in the old days. They see the diversity of the city. They can’t help but notice the facilities, including T-Mobile Arena, and now, Allegiant Stadium. They see the hotel space, the upscale dining options, the entertainment, shopping and the beauty of the outdoors in the area, including Lake Mead, Red Rock and Mount Charleston. Most of all, they see dollar signs. And the NCAA now sees them too.
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T-Mobile Arena will host NCAA Regional in 2023. The dollars have been missing from here since the middle of March. They’re slowly trickling back in. We can only hope Las Vegas is back to being itself come 2023 when the Sweet 16 and Elite 8 are contested here. It would be a tremendous shot in the arm for this community which has suffered as much as any in America Please see Carp p25
When Jimmy the Greek cashed in BY ROB MIECH Election wagering traces to the 1500s, a century in which zealous Italians risked florins and lira on 17 papal elections. In the United States, betting has been synonymous with elections since George Washington’s triumph in 1789. “All voting is a sort of gaming,” wrote Henry David Thoreau, “and betting naturally accompanies it.” Which they could confirm at the Curb Exchange in Manhattan, the American Stock Exchange’s informal predecessor, where early last century election wagering sometimes exceeded daily trading in stocks and bonds. It hit an early-era peak in 1916, when the equivalent of $240 million in today’s dollars was bet on incumbent Woodrow Wilson’s
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Jimmy The Greek. presidential joust with Charles Hughes. Boxing promoter Tex Rickard was the front man for an Ohio group which posted $60,000 ($1.43 million today) on Wilson, the winner by a sliver.
New York City was the place to bet, albeit illegally, since state laws have long forbidden election wagering. So Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder bolted there in 1948. Harry Truman had the office, challenger Thomas Dewey had the mustache. Snyder asked 1,900 women in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio, if they trusted a hair-lipped politico, and it was 6-1 against. So the Greek hit New York City with $10,000, which became $170,000 ($1.8 million today) when Truman won, to forever shame the Chicago Daily Tribune’s “Dewey Defeats Truman” headline. In 2000, famous gambler Amarillo Slim went to Albuquerque to bet a prominent Democrat. Both posted more than half a million bucks — Slim on Republican victor George W. Bush, his foe on
Democrat Al Gore. Slim wrote in his 2003 biography that he’d be the dirtiest son-of-a-(bleep) if he identified his opponent. “I don’t think his party or his peers would appreciate this getting out,” penned Slim, who died in 2012. “Whoever said presidential history was boring?” RobMiech@GamingToday.com
Disclaimer: Each Gaming Today writer uses the betting line available to him at the time he makes his selections, so you may see different lines on the same game throughout the paper. Writers’ selections are a guide to their thinking on the game and their choice for a possible bet based on the line they had available.
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OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Titans bounce back from COVID
Through a lot of league language, what I deciphered from Monday’s story via The Associated Press was the Tennessee Titans won’t likely face any discipline for their recent COVID-19 mess. Titans fans were going “Whew!” After all, they don’t want to see this undefeated run derailed anytime soon. Tennessee (5-0) was 3-0 before a multitude of positive coronavirus tests shut down operations, as the outbreak grew to as many as 24 and forced the NFL to reschedule its games with Pittsburgh, from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25, and its game with Buffalo from Oct. 11 to Oct. 13. The Titans are 2-0 since team operations reopened, after blasting the Bills in Week 5 and sneaking past the Texans in OT on Sunday. Bettors should be salivating with this team at this point, as the Titans have a chance to win their next four before enjoying 10 days off between Weeks 10 and 11, when they’ll face the Ravens in Baltimore on Nov. 22. This Sunday is the biggest chore, as they host fellow-undefeated Pittsburgh (5-0) in a showdown of division leaders. As of Tuesday, the Steelers (-1.5) were laying a small number in Tennessee, and it’s tough to overlook a home underdog when its offense ranks 12th in the league in total offense (2,110 yards in five games), and the first 11 teams have six games under their belt. The Titans rank second in the NFL with an average of 422 yards per game. Seattle is the only team scoring more — by one point — than Tennessee (32.8), which has scored at least 30 in four straight games and at least 42 points five times since the start of the 2019 season — most in the NFL in that span. Last week, Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill passed for 364 yards and four touchdowns. Running back Derrick Henry — who is on pace to have a career season — totaled a career-high 264 scrimmage yards (212 rushing, 52 receiving) and two rushing touchdowns — including a 94-yard touchdown run. Tight end An-
thony Firkser added 113 receiving yards and a touchdown Tennessee, which is averaging a league fifth-best 6.2 yards per
Dink and Dunk W.G. Ramirez @WillieGRamirez play, is the third team to have a 300-yard passer, 200-yard rusher and 100-yard receiver in the same regular-season game in NFL history. The Titans are just 2-3 at the betting windows, but the three ATS losses came before the team shutdown and they failed to cover by an average of just 2.5 points. But they’ve gone over in four of their five games. I told you about their offense. That’s the good part. But their defense ranks dead last in the NFL in the red zone, allowing touchdowns on 87.5% of opponents’ trips. The Titans rank 27th, surrendering 409.8 yards per game. They gave up 10 plays of 15 yards or longer to Houston and a total of 412 yards for the game. The “Over” is going to be attractive until they work things out. It’s safe to say when you’re looking for value with short point spreads, and high totals, “Remember the Titans.” I’m ready to forget last week’s display:
Sunday Browns at Bengals +3.5: One-win Cincinnati has played well enough to be 5-1 right now. We’re talking a tie with the Eagles in Week 3, and three of four losses by a combined 12 points. Maybe a division foe is exactly what is needed. BENGALS Bills -13 at Jets: New York averages 12.5 points per game. The league average is 25.5. Buffalo needs a punching bag after backto-back losses. The Jets may not score. BILLS Packers -3.5 at Texans: Last Sunday’s defeat to the Buccaneers was Green Bay’s fourth straight regular-season setback following a bye. Now it’s back to busi-
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RB Derrick Henry has been great for the Titans. ness against struggling Houston. PACKERS Seahawks -3.5 at Cardinals:
Just because Arizona waxed the Cowboys on Monday doesn’t mean the Glendale birds are ready
to fly with NFC West’s mighty Seahawks. Teams are 3-0 the game after beating Dallas, but Seattle isn’t losing this game off a bye. SEAHAWKS 49ers at Patriots -2.5: A monumental win for San Francisco on Sunday, toppling the Rams on national television. But a trip to back east to start a back-to-back road set in New England and Seattle is no way to celebrate. Especially with the Pats off a home loss to Denver. PATRIOTS Jaguars at Chargers -8: Did you read last week’s column on L.A. quarterback Justin Herbert? One thing I didn’t tell you was the Jaguars passed on Herbert in the NFL Draft and stuck with Gardner Minshew. Herbert is about to hit Jacksonville’s secondary like a bolt of lightning. CHARGERS Last Week: 2-4 Season: 19-14 WGRamirez@GamingToday.com
NFL Averages & Rankings c/o Andy Iskoe AVE AVE AVE AVE RUSH PASS TOTL RUSH PASS TOTL PTS PTS PTS PTS ATS ATS ATS YRDS YRDS YRDS YDSA YRDS YRDS NET NET FOR AGST FOR AGST TEAM SUW SUL SUT W L P OVR UND PSH FOR FOR FOR AGST AGST AGST YRDS T/O HOME HOME ROAD ROAD NY GIANTS 1 5 0 PHILADELPHIA 1 4 1 CLEVELAND 4 2 0 CINCINNATI 1 4 1 DALLAS 2 4 0 WASHINGTON 1 5 0 DETROIT 2 3 0 ATLANTA 1 5 0 CAROLINA 3 3 0 NEW ORLEANS 3 2 0 BUFFALO 4 2 0 NY JETS 0 6 0 GREEN BAY 4 1 0 HOUSTON 1 5 0 SEATTLE 5 0 0 ARIZONA 4 2 0 SAN FRANCISCO 3 3 0 NEW ENGLAND 2 3 0 KANSAS CITY 5 1 0 DENVER 2 3 0 TAMPA BAY 4 2 0 LAS VEGAS 3 2 0 JACKSONVILLE 1 5 0 LA CHARGERS 1 4 0 PITTSBURGH 5 0 0 TENNESSEE 5 0 0 CHICAGO 5 1 0 LA RAMS 4 2 0 BALTIMORE 5 1 0 INDIANAPOLIS 4 2 0 MIAMI 3 3 0 MINNESOTA 1 5 0
3 3 0 2 4 0 88 188 276 106 236 342 -66 -2 15.0 27.0 18.7 23.7 2 4 0 4 2 0 122 207 329 126 230 356 -27 -7 23.3 30.0 23.7 28.3 3 3 0 4 2 0 170 189 359 93 272 365 -6 4 33.7 24.3 20.7 38.0 4 2 0 3 3 0 102 242 344 142 252 394 -50 -1 23.0 20.5 20.8 29.0 0 6 0 4 2 0 105 359 464 173 237 410 54 -12 31.2 40.0 24.0 29.0 2 3 1 3 3 0 82 193 275 130 207 337 -62 -2 18.0 26.0 18.0 28.0 2 3 0 3 2 0 117 230 347 145 234 379 -32 2 26.0 31.0 27.0 27.0 2 4 0 4 2 0 112 290 402 97 335 432 -30 3 22.3 30.3 31.7 31.0 3 3 0 2 3 1 117 267 384 122 218 340 44 1 25.7 26.0 20.3 21.0 2 3 0 5 0 0 115 263 378 100 237 337 41 1 31.3 29.0 29.5 31.5 3 3 0 4 1 1 92 277 369 131 256 387 -18 -2 26.3 25.0 25.7 31.0 0 6 0 3 3 0 105 171 276 126 253 379 -103 3 17.0 32.7 8.0 29.0 4 1 0 3 2 0 139 257 396 116 231 347 49 1 36.0 18.5 30.0 34.0 1 5 0 4 1 1 86 282 368 178 246 424 -56 -3 23.0 26.0 25.7 34.7 4 1 0 3 2 0 115 280 395 101 370 471 -76 6 33.3 29.0 34.5 24.0 4 2 0 0 5 1 161 242 403 120 226 346 57 0 26.5 20.5 28.2 17.8 3 3 0 3 3 0 128 241 369 108 213 321 48 -1 20.2 27.0 33.5 11.0 2 3 0 2 3 0 167 207 374 119 220 339 35 0 23.0 16.3 20.0 30.5 4 2 0 2 4 0 140 277 417 145 208 353 64 5 30.7 23.3 27.7 19.0 4 1 0 2 3 0 101 204 305 111 239 350 -45 -5 12.0 22.0 25.3 22.0 3 3 0 3 3 0 109 249 358 64 218 282 76 4 35.7 19.3 23.3 21.3 3 2 0 4 0 1 121 278 399 126 267 393 6 -4 28.5 27.0 31.3 32.7 2 4 0 3 3 0 89 262 351 144 271 415 -64 -3 18.7 28.3 23.0 32.0 4 1 0 2 3 0 122 268 390 108 273 381 9 -3 18.0 22.0 24.7 27.0 4 1 0 3 2 0 137 221 358 66 219 285 73 5 32.5 19.5 26.0 16.0 2 3 0 4 1 0 158 264 422 137 273 410 12 6 39.0 27.3 23.5 22.0 4 2 0 2 4 0 90 223 313 113 224 337 -24 1 16.0 17.0 26.7 21.7 3 3 0 2 4 0 135 253 388 109 210 319 69 -1 18.5 13.0 28.8 22.0 3 2 1 2 3 1 164 178 342 109 231 340 2 6 28.3 14.3 31.3 20.3 3 3 0 3 3 0 98 265 363 88 200 288 75 3 31.7 15.0 20.7 23.3 4 2 0 2 4 0 105 249 354 124 236 360 -6 2 25.0 20.7 28.3 17.0 3 3 0 4 2 0 139 235 374 127 287 414 -40 -7 29.0 38.0 22.7 26.0
The above chart shows each team’s wins, losses, point spread and Over/Under results plus yardage, turnover and home/road scoring averages for the current 2020 season through Monday night’s game. Through 10-19-20.
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
J-E-T-S chant: Lose! Lose! Lose! They won the most important game in football history a halfcentury ago, but now they are the laughingstock of the football world. With Atlanta and the Giants winning on Sunday, the New York Jets are the NFL’s only winless team. At 0-6, the Jets’ average loss has been by 18.3 points with each loss by at least nine points. As we go to press on Tuesday Adam Gase, inexplicably, remains the head coach. The Jets are fortunate that American football treats bad teams more favorably than their European counterparts treat soccer teams or the Jets might be relegated to the college ranks, perhaps to the FCS level such as to the Pioneer Conference. After averaging 51.4 total points per game through the first five weeks, scoring dropped last week to an average of just 47.4 ppg. This drop-off was reflected in Totals results which were 10-4 to the Under. Overs still have the edge vs. Unders (47-41 plus three pushes) and the average remains above 50 at 50.8 ppg. Only five underdogs of seven points or more have pulled upsets this season and Denver’s 18-12 win at New England on Sunday was one. As 7-point underdogs, the Broncos faced a Patriots team that was dealing with some COVID-19 issues within the organization that resulted in the postponement of this game that was scheduled for Week 5. Is it possible that some players were not fully focused for Sunday’s game as the result of what may have been subconscious distractions? It would be interesting to hear a professional psychologist’s opinion. Certainly the Titans did not exhibit similar lack of focus for their games against Buffalo and Houston following a similar outbreak. It may be worth watch how teams react following COVID-19-related postponements as there could be more in coming weeks. An issue that has cropped up this season is the impact on home field advantage due to the lack of most if not all fans at NFL games. Next week I’ll share some research I’ve done on the issue and the re-
Pigskin Picks Andy Iskoe @vegasandy711 sults are, if not surprising, certainly enlightening.
Sunday Lions at Falcons, Total 56.5: Atlanta ranks fourth in total offense and next-to-last in total defense with those ranks closely mirroring their ranks in the passing game. Those are strong ingredients that forecast a high scoring contest. Even in getting their first win, the Falcons allowed 7.3 yards per play to Minnesota. Detroit has been very efficient in scoring more than their raw statistics might suggest but their defense against the run has been a major weakness. Both offenses have excelled in avoiding turnovers which should indicate an ability to sustain drives and wear down the other’s defense. Each has played more Overs than Unders. Both average scoring in the high 20s while allowing a shade under 30. OVER Bills -13 at Jets: After starting 4-0, Buffalo will be in a foul mood following back-to- back losses at Tennessee and to Kansas City. Because of schedule adjustments the Bills will be playing their third game over a 13-day stretch with just five days off between games. Yet it’s hard to make a case for the Jets despite the hefty spread. Not only are they 0-6 SU with an average loss by 18.3 points, they’re also 0-6 ATS, failing to cover the spread by 11.7 points per game. Their lone “almost cover” was in their opener at Buffalo in which they scored in the final minute of a 27-17 loss. BILLS Packers -3.5 at Texans: Off their Bye week, Green Bay was embarrassed by Tampa Bay, losing 38-10. QB Aaron Rodgers played extremely poorly as the Pack had their first negative turnover margin this season. The Texans were unable to fol-
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Adam Gase continues to be the head coach of the struggling, winless Jets. low up their first win of the season as they failed to hold a late lead in Tennessee before losing in overtime. Statistically the teams are similar — well above average on offense and somewhat below average defensively. The key edge may be Green Bay’s seventh ranked rushing game (139 ypg) facing Houston’s last-ranked rushing defense (178 ypg). Green Bay is 5-1 ATS, Houston 1-4. PACKERS Chiefs -9.5 at Broncos: Considering their respective reputations it should surprise many that Denver actually averages a higher yards-per-pass completion rate (12.1) than Kansas City (11.8). Broncos starting QB Drew Lock returned last week and led the offense to six field goals in an 18-12 upset win at New England. This game should mark running back Le’Veon Bell’s debut with Kansas City and it will be interesting to see if there’s any negative
impact in the locker room, considering the Chiefs were averaging 119 rushing yards per game before rushing for 245 in Monday’s win at Buffalo. Something about upsetting the apple cart? Kansas City was taken to overtime in their win at the Chargers and two of Denver’s three losses were by two and five points. BRONCOS Buccaneers -3 at Raiders: Both teams are coming off huge emotionally-charged wins. Tampa played its best all-around game in many years, routing Green Bay 3810, dominating the game as much as that score suggests. The Pack gained just 201 total yards on 3.3 yards per play. Their defense ranks first in the league, allowing just 282 ypg and 4.6 ypp. The Raiders are off their upset win at Kansas City and may have come down to earth sooner than the Bucs by virtue of last week’s Bye. The Raiders will be chal-
lenged to run the ball against Tampa’s outstanding rush defense. Rested and having played one of the NFL’s toughest schedules to date is worth noting. RAIDERS
Monday Bears at Rams, Total 45.5: The good news for the Rams is that they’re 4-2. The bad news is that all four wins have come against the NFC whose teams are a combined 5-18-1 with three of those wins against fellow Division teams. Their two losses are to a pair of playoff teams from last season — Buffalo and San Francisco. Chicago is 5-1 but doesn’t win pretty. The five wins are by 4, 4, 4, 1 and 7 points. The Rams have been the stronger offensive team (but consider the competition) while the defensive stats are virtually even. UNDER Last week: 1-5 Total: 12-23-1 AndyIskoe@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
2020 Bookies Battle
Line Home -3.5
DET CAR ATL
Lst Wk Season
CONTESTANT W L W L
Aliante Socrates Cherry III Aria Jason Halpin Baldini’s Sportsbook Robert Kowalski Barley’s Lucas Smith Beau Rivage Juanita James Bet MGM Jason Scott Jay Rood Bet.Works Borgata Rafael Figueroa Boulder Station Steve Piccolo J Morton Cannery Casablanca Louie Martin Jeff Davis Circa DraftKings Casino Queen Marc VanderWeele DraftKings Del Lago Nicole Boisvert DraftKings Digital Michael Halperin Ed Malinowski DraftKings LV Hub DraftKings Manchester Tony Bantis DRAFTKINGS Mardi Gras Frank Cardenas DRAFTKINGS Resorts Hal Tendler DRAFTKINGS Scarlet Pearl Brad Carpenter DRAFTKINGS The Brook Chris Robichaud DRAFTKINGS Wild Rose Andy Kron Damon Clark El Cortez Excalibur Edgar Hernandez Gold Strike Tunica Art Heun Golden Nugget LV Tony Miller Golden Nugget Lau Norman Arnett Green Valley Ranch Bert Cirincione Harrah’s Gulf Coast Rob Portwood Harrah’s Hoosier Park John Lindheimer Hollywood INDIANA Hugh Aufill Horseshoe Tunica Kenny Martin IP Biloxi Kevin Conway Luxor Richard Corbett Mandalay Bay Mike Piranio Meadows Casino Atif Chaudry MGM Grand Lamarr Mitchell Mirage Randy Madayag New york, new york Richard McInerney Palace Station Brian Edwards Par-a-dice Nicholas Smith Paris Las Vegas A. L. Beal
4 - 9 40 - 48 8 - 5 52 - 36 7 - 6 47 - 41 7 - 6 44 - 44 7 - 6 45 - 43 5 - 8 45 - 43 7 - 6 45 - 43 8 - 5 45 - 43 8 - 5 45 - 43 6 - 7 45 - 43 4 - 9 40 - 48 4 - 9 38 - 50 6 - 7 50 - 38 5 - 8 48 - 40 5 - 8 37 - 51 7 - 6 48 - 40 7 - 6 45 - 43 5 - 8 40 - 48 6 - 7 40 - 48 8 - 5 44 - 44 5 - 8 45 - 43 6 - 7 50 - 38 5 - 8 38 - 50 8 - 5 50 - 38 8 - 5 45 - 43 5 - 8 44 - 44 3 - 10 43 - 45 5 - 8 37 - 51 5 - 8 41 - 47 6 - 7 48 - 40 8 - 5 47 - 41 7 - 6 43 - 45 3 - 10 41 - 47 6 - 7 36 - 52 6 - 7 48 - 40 6 - 7 47 - 41 6 - 7 42 - 46 6 - 7 53 - 35 3 - 10 37 - 51 6 - 7 45 - 43 6 - 7 43 - 45 6 - 7 41 - 47
PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI NYG NYG PHI PHI NYG NYG NYG PHI NYG PHI PHI PHI PHI NYG PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI PHI NYG PHI NYG PHI NYG PHI NYG PHI PHI NYG PHI PHI NYG PHI PHI PHI NYG
CIN CIN CIN CLE CIN CLE CIN CLE CIN CIN CIN CIN CLE CIN CLE CIN CIN CLE CLE CIN CLE CIN CIN CIN CIN CIN CLE CIN CIN CIN CIN CLE CIN CIN CLE CLE CIN CIN CLE CLE CLE CLE
WAS DAL WAS DAL WAS WAS WAS DAL JAC DAL DAL WAS DAL DAL DAL WAS WAS WAS DAL WAS DAL DAL DAL WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS DAL WAS WAS WAS WAS JAC WAS WAS DAL WAS DAL WAS WAS WAS
DET DET DET ATL DET ATL DET ATL DET DET ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL DET ATL ATL ATL DET ATL ATL DET ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL DET ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL ATL DET
CAR CAR CAR NO CAR NO CAR CAR NO CAR NO NO NO CAR CAR NO NO CAR NO NO CAR NO CAR NO CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR CAR NO NO NO CAR NO CAR NO NO CAR NO
BUF BUF NYJ BUF BUF BUF NYJ BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF NYJ NYJ NYJ BUF NYJ BUF BUF BUF BUF NYJ NYJ BUF BUF NYJ BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF NYJ NYJ BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF
HOU ARI GB SEA GB ARI HOU SEA GB ARI GB ARI HOU ARI GB SEA GB ARI HOU ARI GB SEA GB ARI GB SEA HOU SEA GB ARI GB SEA GB ARI GB SEA HOU ARI GB ARI GB ARI GB SEA HOU ARI GB ARI HOU ARI GB SEA HOU ARI GB ARI GB ARI GB ARI HOU ARI HOU SEA HOU SEA HOU ARI HOU SEA HOU SEA HOU ARI HOU ARI GB ARI GB SEA GB SEA HOU ARI
the Point Spreads
NE NE SF SF SF NE SF SF NE SF SF NE NE SF NE NE NE NE NE SF SF NE SF SF NE NE NE NE SF NE NE NE SF NE NE SF NE NE NE SF NE NE
KC KC DEN KC KC KC DEN KC DEN KC KC KC KC DEN KC KC KC DEN KC KC KC KC KC KC DEN KC DEN DEN DEN DEN KC KC KC DEN DEN DEN KC DEN KC DEN KC DEN
LV TB LV LV TB LV LV TB TB TB TB TB TB TB TB LV LV LV LV LV TB TB TB LV LV TB TB TB TB TB TB TB LV LV LV TB LV LV TB TB TB LV
TEN TEN TEN TEN PIT TEN TEN TEN PIT TEN TEN TEN PIT PIT TEN PIT TEN PIT TEN PIT TEN PIT TEN TEN PIT PIT PIT PIT TEN PIT TEN TEN TEN TEN PIT PIT PIT PIT TEN TEN TEN PIT
JAC LAC JAC JAC LAC JAC LAC JAC JAC JAC LAC JAC LAC LAC JAC LAC JAC LAC LAC JAC LAC LAC LAC JAC LAC LAC JAC LAC JAC JAC LAC LAC JAC LAC JAC JAC LAC LAC JAC JAC LAC LAC
CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI LAR CHI LAR LAR CHI CHI LAR LAR CHI CHI CHI LAR LAR CHI CHI LAR CHI CHI CHI LAR CHI CHI LAR CHI CHI CHI LAR CHI CHI CHI
TEN CAR CHI SEA DET CHI LAC PHI TB TB NO WAS KC TB NYJ SEA NE GB HOU GB BUF TB TB LV PIT ATL BUF CIN ATL WAS LAC KC KC CHI IND SF CHI ARI ATL GB CHI LAC
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Bookies Battle Season Leaderboard Suncoast Sunset Station
Mike Lewis Chuck Esposito
SPORTSBOOK CONTESTANT RECORD
57-31 Mirage 54-34 Aria Multiple Bookies Tied At 51-37
Line Home -3.5
Randy Madayag Jason Halpin
DET CAR ATL
Lst Wk Season
CONTESTANT W L W L
PointsBet Johnny Aitken 5 - 8 38 - 50 Rampart Casino Duane Colucci 4 - 9 41 - 47 Red Rock Casino Jason McCormick 5 - 8 46 - 42 Rivers Philadelphia Jim Llewellyn 7 - 6 49 - 39 Rivers Pittsburgh Max Schmerin 5 - 8 40 - 48 Sam’s Town Tunica Jeffrey Link 6 - 7 41 - 47 Santa Fe David Garrett 5 - 8 42 - 46 South Point Tom Blazek 7 - 6 44 - 44 Suncoast Mike Lewis 10 - 3 57 - 31 Sunset Station Chuck Esposito 8 - 5 54 - 34 Eric Osterman 3 - 10 42 - 46 SuperBook The Orleans Edwin Ruvalcaba 7 - 6 43 - 45 Tony Nevill 7 - 6 51 - 37 TI Wild Wild West Jeffery Smith 5 - 8 42 - 46 Wildfire Boulder Michael Smoller 7 - 6 47 - 41 Wildfire Casino Lanes Jonathan Veltri 5 - 8 43 - 45 Wildfire Rancho Jesse Ballesteros 6 - 7 44 - 44 Wildfire Sunset Jackie Garcia 5 - 8 35 - 53 William Hill Nick Bogdanovich 5 - 8 51 - 37 Wynn Las Vegas James Coggins 7 - 6 43 - 45 CONSENSUS 3 - 10 44 - 44 * Took consensus (only 2 consensus allowed) Percentage
PHI PHI NYG PHI NYG PHI NYG NYG PHI NYG PHI PHI PHI PHI NYG NYG PHI NYG NYG PHI PHI 63%
CLE CIN CLE CIN CIN CLE CLE CIN CLE CIN CLE CLE CLE CIN CLE CIN CIN CLE CIN CLE CIN 56%
WAS WAS WAS DAL WAS DAL WAS JAC WAS WAS DAL DAL DET DAL WAS DAL WAS WAS WAS WAS WAS 60%
ATL DET ATL ATL ATL ATL DET DET DET DET DET DET DET ATL ATL ATL ATL DET ATL DET ATL 65%
NO CAR CAR CAR CAR NO CAR CAR CAR NO CAR CAR NO NO NO NO NO CAR NO CAR CAR 55%
BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF BUF NYJ BUF NYJ BUF NYJ NYJ NYJ NYJ BUF BUF BUF 73%
HOU SEA GB SEA GB ARI GB ARI HOU ARI GB ARI GB ARI GB ARI GB ARI HOU ARI HOU ARI HOU ARI GB SEA GB ARI HOU ARI HOU SEA GB SEA GB ARI GB ARI GB SEA GB ARI 60% 65%
SPORTSBOOK CONTESTANT RECORD
NE DEN LV STCI 174295 FmwcTENLastLAC Man LAR Standing -2.5 -8.5 -5.5 Bookie Battle GAMING TODAY AD 3”x1.5” • 4/0 • QTY: 1 • DUE 9/4 SF KC TB PIT JAC LAR TB LOGO VERSION NE SF NE NE NE NE SF SF NE SF SF SF NE SF NE NE SF NE NE NE 60%
DEN KC KC KC KC DEN KC DEN DEN DEN DEN KC KC DEN KC DEN KC KC KC KC 61%
TB TB LV LV TB TB LV TB TB LV LV TB LV TB TB TB LV TB LV TB 58%
TEN PIT PIT TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN TEN PIT TEN PIT PIT PIT PIT PIT TEN TEN 56%
LAC JAC LAC JAC LAC LAC JAC LAC JAC JAC LAC JAC LAC LAC LAC JAC JAC LAC JAC LAC 52%
LAR LAR CHI LAR CHI CHI LAR CHI CHI CHI CHI CHI LAR CHI CHI CHI CHI LAR LAR CHI 69%
DEN LAR PHI LV CHI NE TEN CLE TB CAR CAR CLE NO SF ATL WAS ARI WAS KC
NO GAME IS OUT OF REACH EARN UP TO $100
OFFER APPLIES TO NEW MOBILE SPORTS ENROLLMENT ONLY. 10% BONUS WILL BE AWARDED IN BOARDING PASS POINTS ONCE THE TOTAL INITIAL DEPOSIT AMOUNT HAS BEEN WAGERED. MINIMUM DEPOSIT $50, MAXIMUM DEPOSIT $1,000. GUEST HAS 30 DAY EARNING PERIOD. SEE SPORTS BOOK FOR DETAILS. OFFER APPLIES TO MOBILE WAGERING ONLY. OTC WAGERING NOT INCLUDED. MANAGEMENT RESERVES ALL RIGHTS. MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER. WAGERS ACCEPTED WITHIN NEVADA ONLY. NEW SIGN-UP OFFER EXPIRES DECEMBER 31, 2020.
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Sports bet tickets sell better than MLB BY STEVE CARP Robert Kowalski thought he had his dream job when he worked for a Major League Baseball team. Then he visited Las Vegas and his dream changed. The 47-year-old from New York decided it was a better bet to work in a sportsbook writing tickets rather than sell tickets to a losing baseball team. So in 2004, he left the New York Mets and landed at the Barbary Coast. Today, he’s living his ultimate dream — running his own sportsbook — as he is in charge at Baldini’s Casino in Sparks. “I’ve always been fascinated by sports betting,” said Kowalski, who is currently in his second year in charge. “I remember seeing the lines in the newspaper and I would see these plus signs next to the Mets and I asked my manager, ‘Why are there always plus signs next to the Mets?’ “He gave me a quick tutorial and I was hooked.” The reason for the plus signs? The Mets weren’t very good and were constant underdogs. And in
a way, Baldini’s is a bit of an underdog. It has to battle the bigger companies in nearby Reno and being an independent sportsbook, it has to make its lines attractive to lure bettors into the house. “We have a half-century’s experience,” Kowalski said of he and his staff. “That allows us to operate as well as we do.” It also allows Kowalski a certain amount of freedom. “I’m out on the floor a lot,” he said. “It’s more of an old-school feel. We know most of our customers by their first name and we can provide a more personal touch.” That mentality stems from the people Kowalski learned from. Long-time bookmakers Johnny Spot, Vinny Magliulo, Johnny Avello, Art Manteris, Jason McCormick and Vic Salerno have all worked with Kowalski over the years and he has taken a little bit from each of them in formulating his book’s identity at Baldini’s. “Johnny Spot took a chance on me when he hired me as a ticket writer at the Barbary Coast,” Kowalski said. “The best advice he
Parry’s Power Guide
National Football League Fav. Team
Oct 22 PHILADELPHIA...............75.7..... 8.0..... 67.7.................... NY Giants Oct 25 ATLANTA........................80.4..... 7.9..... 72.5..........................Detroit Buffalo............................76.6..... 9.7..... 66.9.......................NY JETS CINCINNATI...................73.9..... 1.3..... 72.6.....................Cleveland Dallas..............................70.6..... 2.8..... 67.8............ WASHINGTON Green Bay.......................81.5..... 2.5..... 79.0................... HOUSTON Kansas City.....................86.2..... 5.7..... 80.5.......................DENVER LA CHARGERS...............75.9..... 9.3..... 66.6.................Jacksonville NEW ORLEANS..............81.0... 13.1..... 67.9....................... Carolina San Francisco.................78.6..... 2.1..... 76.5.......... NEW ENGLAND Seattle............................80.1..... 1.3..... 78.8..................... ARIZONA Tampa Bay......................79.0..... 1.0..... 78.0................. LAS VEGAS TENNESSEE...................86.5... 10.2..... 76.3....................Pittsburgh Oct 26 LA RAMS........................82.7..... 6.9..... 75.8........................Chicago Home team in CAPS; Home team rating includes four additional points. Copyright 2020 by Noland Parry
gave me was, ‘Always know your customer, make sure you know who is coming to the counter, use your visual aids and you’re always going to have a good day.’ “Johnny was absolutely right. Knowing who your customers are is really important in our business.” Kowalski is representing Baldini’s beyond its walls. He’s in Gaming Today’s 2020 Bookies Battle contest sponsored by Station Casinos and he’s holding his own as Northern Nevada’s lone contestant. He has a winning record through six weeks (47-41) and he is relying on his own power rankings and lines in making his selections. “I always look at what happens as it unfolds and I see the result and I compare it to my numbers and put it in a small worksheet,” he said. “I come up with a number of my own. Then I compare it to at Gaming Today’s number and look for value.” Kowalski said even though fans are still not allowed in many NFL stadiums, he does have a favorite handicapping tool. “I look for home ‘dogs,” he said. “Anytime I see one, I’m usually on it.” The other challenge for Kowalski and the other Bookies Battle contestants is getting accurate information. It’s especially important for their side of the counter when it comes to making the NFL
Photo courtesy of Baldini's
Robert Kowalski of Baldini's in Sparks. lines each week. “It’s a race for information,” he said. “You’re trying to find out as much as you can and factor it into the number you post.” Kowalski admits it’s a tougher challenge today because bettors have access to the same information and if they can exploit a line that is off, they will. “It’s always about the ‘dog,” he said. “As a bookmaker, I’m always asking myself, ‘Am I giving away too many points?’ So you really
have to stay on top of it but not overreact because things can change from moment to moment.” Kowalski looks back on that Las Vegas trip in 1998, how it changed his life and what it has led to. “I worked at Shea Stadium for the Mets for 10 years and it was great,” he said. “But then I went to Vegas and said, ‘This is definitely for me.’ It’s the best decision I ever made." firstname.lastname@example.org
Super Bowl LV Raymond James Stadium — Tampa, Florida Sunday, February 7, 2021 ODDS PROVIDED BY SuperBook at Westgate 10.19.20 CHIEFS....................................3-1 RAVENS..................................6-1 49ERS....................................20-1 SAINTS.................................14-1 PATRIOTS.............................40-1 STEELERS.............................14-1 COWBOYS............................30-1 EAGLES.................................30-1
PACKERS..............................10-1 SEAHAWKS............................6-1 RAMS....................................20-1 BEARS...................................60-1 BROWNS...............................40-1 CHARGERS.........................200-1 COLTS...................................20-1 TEXANS..............................300-1
TITANS..................................25-1 VIKINGS..............................100-1 BILLS.....................................20-1 RAIDERS.............................100-1 BUCCANEERS......................14-1 CARDINALS..........................60-1 LIONS..................................200-1 PANTHERS..........................200-1
For a complete list of odds, visit GamingToday.com in Race-Sports Futures
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
1 Cincinnati +2 at SMU (Saturday)
Luke Fickell had some big offers to move on after last year’s 11-win season. He decided to stay in Cincinnati which may turn out to be the right move. The line opened pick ‘em and the early money has gone on SMU. We will fade and take the points. CINCINNATI
2 Lions +2.5 at Falcons (Sunday)
Loved the win this past Sunday when the Lions blew out the Jaguars in Jacksonville 34-16 with QB Matthew Stafford at the top of his game. The Falcons play little to no defense. LIONS Richard Saber: Last week: 1-1; 2020 season: 22-20
11 Oklahoma -7 at TCU (Saturday)
Both teams square off in Fort Worth after a bye week. The Sooners are top 10 in total yards, passing, and points scored. The Horned Frogs looked bad in their last vs. Kansas State. OKLAHOMA
Buccaneers at Raiders, Total 53.5 (Sunday)
Tom Brady and Co. make their debut at Allegiant Stadium. Who would have thought a Bruce Arians defense could lead the league in yards allowed? Also, the Bucs score less on the road. UNDER Howard Barish: Last week: 2-0; 2020 season: 24-17
Bunting: Hard to stay ahead of curve Continued from p1 after six games, the element of surprise is dwindling. Opposing teams now have six weeks of film on Brady’s offense with Bridgewater. The Los Angeles Chargers threw a curveball when Justin Herbert was inserted as starting quarterback 15 minutes before the start of their Week 2 game. He almost pulled off a shocking upset of the Chiefs, but opposing teams now have three games of film on him after not getting a look at him in the preseason. Six teams have completed their bye week and returned to action. Those teams went 4-2 in their first game back, but two of those teams faced each other (Denver and New England last week). If you take them out of the equation, teams returning off the bye are 3-1 with those three wins coming by nine, 18 and 26 points. Bye weeks were always critical for getting players rested and healthy, but in 2020, the focus is on the scouting departments. Teams are anxious to learn more about their opponents after not getting a proper look at them in the preseason. On Tuesday morning, the Miami Dolphins announced that Tua Tagovailoa will be the starting quarterback moving forward. Miami has the element of surprise on their side with a rookie quarterback that has not been seen in 11 months. How long can they keep it?
Thursday Giants at Eagles -4: If you are a situational handicapper, this one has it all. Giants are sitting fat and happy after earning their
first win of the season. New York has a rookie head coach going on the road in a short week against an experienced head coach and quarterback. The Eagles are wrecked with injuries, but Dallas’ struggles will keep them motivated in the miserable NFC East. EAGLES
Sunday Panthers at Saints -7.5: Early money has showed for the Panthers, but I am comfortable going against it. There is still a talent gap between these two teams. The bye week came at a great time for New Orleans. SAINTS 49ers at Patriots, Total 45.5: San Francisco’s opening drive against the Rams averaged -4.9 air yards per attempt, with all four of Jimmy Garoppolo’s passes coming behind the line of scrimmage. He finished the night averaging 4.4 air yards per attempt. Something tells me Bill Belichick will have a game plan for his former quarterback. UNDER Steelers at Titans, Total 52: I got a little lucky last week with the under in Pittsburgh vs. Cleveland, but I am going back to the well again. Pittsburgh’s offense is No. 25 in yards per play. Tennessee lost stud lineman Taylor Lewan to a torn ACL. Pittsburgh is not a team you want to face with a bangedup offensive line. UNDER Cowboys at Washington, Total 46: The Washington Football Team can only do one thing well, and it just so happens to counter Dallas’ biggest weakness right now. Washington’s defensive line could cause havoc for the Cowboys’ depleted offensive line. Andy Dalton will likely be under pressure every time he drops back to pass. Unfortunately for
Photo from USA Today
Teams may be figuring out the tendencies of Carolina’s first-year coach Matt Rhule. Washington, their offense just does not have the pieces to take advantage of a poor Dallas defense. UNDER Jaguars +8 at Chargers: Herbert has looked better than most people anticipated, but let’s pump
the brakes a little bit. He had a 64yard touchdown pass to Mike Williams against the Saints where Williams was the only player within a five-mile radius of Bourbon Street. Take that play out of the game and Los Angeles averages 4.2 yards
per play against the Saints. Do the Chargers deserve to be laying more than a touchdown? JAGUARS Last week: 2-4 Season: 16-20 JamesBunting@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
New teams bear watching The Big Ten and Mountain West will kick off their college football seasons this weekend with the Pac-12 and MAC not far behind them starting in early November. With that in mind, it’s a good time to remind all of our Gaming Today readers of some betting concepts that can help put you on the winning side in the first couple weeks of the season in these conferences. A strong betting angle when the SEC, Big 12, ACC and all the other conferences started back
Inside the Lines Ian Cameron @bobano two under their belt before they begin to start firing on all cylinders. The last thing to consider in these first couple games for these
Fighting Illini and Badgers get the Big Ten season underway with a Friday night clash under the lights in Madison. Illinois beat Wisconsin outright as 28.5-point underdogs last season in a 24-23 win. The Badgers have to work in a new starting QB this season in redshirt freshman Graham Mertz because Jack Coan, last year’s starter, is out with a broken foot. They also must replace Jonathan Taylor at RB. The defense should be improved for Wisconsin, but Illinois' offense
Photo from AP Photos
Illinois QB Brandon Peters goes up against Wisconsin Friday in Big Ten opener. in September was betting on teams that had more practice sessions than their opponent. Proper preparation prevents poor performance is a phrase that I believe in and it’s certainly true in sports as well. Teams that had more practice time on the field often had better performances in those first couple games of the season. Betting against teams with a new head coach is also a solid betting profile to consider in this unique season. Teams with new coaches and coordinators often need time to implement their systems and schemes. This year’s offseason routine was completely disrupted by COVID-19 and coaches don’t often get the same amount of time they would in a normal offseason to work directly with the players to get everyone on the same page with all the changes taking place. As a result, teams in this situation often need to get a game or
conferences set to begin are strong home field edges that certainly will lose their strength with no fans being permitted to attend other than family members of the players and coaches. The Big House in Michigan, Camp Randall in Wisconsin and “The Shoe” in Columbus are just three venues in particular that stand out like a sore thumb where the home field advantage for the Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers and Ohio State Buckeyes will be diminished significantly and could lead to value betting against those teams at home. Those are some tips that worked for me last month when other major conferences started playing. As always, keep them in mind but don’t blindly bet these angles. It’s still important to make sure to treat each game as its own entity. Here are my picks for this week:
Friday Illinois +20 at Wisconsin: The
could be exceptional with senior QB Brandon Peters back at the helm along with a loaded and experienced offensive line returning 125 career starts. I expect this game to be more of a battle than a blowout. Illinois was 6-1 ATS as Big Ten underdogs last season. ILLINOIS
Saturday Virginia Tech at Wake Forest, Total 68.5: Virginia Tech’s offense is on fire, averaging 42 points per game and 484.5 total yards per game at 7.3 yards per play and should be even better now with Hendon Hooker back at QB. I don’t expect a subpar Wake Forest defense which allowed 45 and 37 points vs. Clemson and NC State to shut down the Hokies here. On the flip side, Wake Forest also plays at an extremely high tempo and QB Sam Hartman and the Demon Deacons' offense has been outstanding since their first
game against Clemson. They have scored 42, 66 and 40 points in their last three games and should do damage against a Virginia Tech defense surrendering 31.3 points per game and over 473 total yards per game. OVER Syracuse at Clemson, Total 61.5: Clemson’s offense put up 73 points in an annihilation over Georgia Tech last week. They could match that output here and possibly go over this total by themselves. The Syracuse defense is an injury-riddled mess and it showed on the field last week as Liberty gashed them for 38 points and 520 total yards in a home loss on Saturday. That is trouble against QB Trevor Lawrence, RB Travis Etienne and company. Syracuse is still playing a fast tempo on offense and to be honest, there isn’t much of a decline from the injured Tommy DeVito to Rex Culpepper, who had three TD passes last week. I think Syracuse can at least find the end zone once or twice while Clemson gets to at least the high 50’s if not the 60’s in points in this game. OVER Michigan at Minnesota +3: Michigan will have a new starting QB this season as redshirt freshman Joe Milton is the frontrunner to be under center for them here on Saturday against Minnesota. He’s gotten solid reviews in camp but getting it done in what will be his first game action as a starter is a different animal. Minnesota had a breakthrough year last season under head coach PJ Fleck and they should be strong on offense with QB Tanner Morgan back and an experienced offensive line which holds a size advantage in the trenches over the undersized Michigan defensive line. The Gophers lost a few pieces on defense but this may not be the opponent capable of taking advantage of them as head coach Jim Harbaugh often goes conservative on offense away from home. I’m not convinced that Minnesota deserves to be home 'dogs in this spot. MINNESOTA Last week: 3-1 Season: 11-9-1 IanCameron@GamingToday.com
Parry’s Power Guide
NCAAF FBS Ranking Week beginning October 21, 2020
Ohio State.......................(1) 199.0 Clemson...........................(2) 196.1 Alabama...........................(3) 191.6 Louisiana State.............(4) 189.4 Georgia............................(5) 187.4 Michigan..........................(6) 185.2 Wisconsin........................(7) 183.7 Penn State......................(8) 180.6 Florida.............................(9) 178.7 Iowa.................................(10) 178.6 Notre Dame...................(11) 178.4 Texas A&M......................(12) 178.1 Oklahoma......................(13) 178.0 Minnesota.....................(14) 176.8 Oklahoma State.........(15) 176.2 South Carolina...........(16) 175.0 Kentucky.......................(17) 174.8 Baylor............................(18) 174.5 Texas...............................(19) 172.8 Auburn...........................(20) 172.7 Virginia Tech.................(21) 171.5 Iowa State....................(22) 171.3 North Carolina...........(23) 171.1 West Virginia................(24) 170.3 Kansas State...............(25) 170.0 Tennessee......................(26) 169.8 Mississippi......................(27) 169.3 Brigham Young............(28) 168.3 Central Florida..........(29) 167.2 Missouri.........................(30) 167.2 Cincinnati......................(31) 167.1 Air Force........................(32) 167.1 Indiana............................(33) 166.0 Virginia...........................(34) 165.9 Memphis..........................(35) 165.7 Miami Florida...............(36) 165.6 Tulsa...............................(37) 164.6 Nebraska.......................(38) 164.5 Michigan State............(39) 163.2 Purdue............................(40) 162.7 Louisville......................(41) 162.5 Wake Forest.................(42) 162.4 Arkansas.......................(43) 161.8 Northwestern.............(44) 161.6 Boise State....................(45) 161.2 Southern Methodist.(46) 160.8 Illinois............................(47) 160.7 North Carolina St.....(48) 160.6 Florida State...............(49) 160.5 Texas Christian...........(50) 160.3 How to use the ratings: 1. Add 6 points to the home teams rating. 2. Pair the two teams that play each other. 3. The difference between the two ratings indicates the predicted margin of victory. Copyright 2020 by Noland Parry.
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Rankings puzzling Something is bothering me about the college football rankings. I understand Georgia slipping from third to fourth after losing to Alabama. But, how in the world can Notre Dame actually go up in the rankings? Mind you, I am not looking to take any respect away from the Fighting Irish. They are certainly a very good team. However, they have played four contests against four "less than stellar" opponents (Duke, USF, FSU, Louisville). O.K., their opening-season 27-13 win over the Blue Devils as a 21.5-point favorite can be chalked up to rust. And, their 52-0 demolishing of the Bulls was expected following their previous performance. But South Florida is horrible, with their only win coming against The Citadel. Here's where it gets sketchy to me. The last two weeks, Notre Dame had problems, big problems with the doormat which is Florida State and a Louisville squad riding a four-game slide. How can this team move up in the rankings this week? With a schedule coming up against Pitt, Georgia Tech, Clemson, Boston College, North Carolina, and Syracuse, unless Notre Dame shows us they can compete against decent squads, let alone cover (1-3 ATS), they don't deserve their ranking. One thing for sure, if the oddsmakers keep overvaluing them, they are a go-against, especially in the Nov. 7 matchup with Clemson.
Saturday Alabama -21 at Tennessee: Even a COVID-19 scare couldn't stop Nick Saban from beating and beating up a former assistant last week. As Alabama put up 41 points on the highly-touted Georgia defense, Saban took his record against former assistants to 22-0, taking down Kirby Smart. An ex-defensive coordinator, Jeremy Pruitt is in the crosshairs this week as the Crimson Tide face the Volunteers. Mac Jones and Najee Harris lead the nation's second-ranked scoring offense (48.5 PPG). Very few units in college football can match this team score-for-score. Tennes-
see is not one of those units. They stepped up in class the last two weeks and the Vols could only
Red Zone Joe Dâ€™Amico @joedamicowins muster a combined 28 points in two losses and two no covers vs. Georgia and Kentucky. UT quarterback Jarrett Guarantano (four TD's/three INT's) just won't be able to move the ball in the air. Especially without the luxury of a true ground game (57th, 134.8 YPG) to keep the 'Bama "D" honest. Saban has owned any Tennessee head coach he's faced since taking the reins at Alabama, winning 13 consecutive meetings SU and going 9-4 ATS. The Crimson Tide is 8-1 ATS the last nine at the Vols and 6-2 ATS the last eight in October. The Volunteers are 8-18 ARS the last 26 at home and 1-4-1 ATS the last six overall. ALABAMA Penn State -6.5 at Indiana: The Nittany Lions begin their campaign ranked eighth in the nation. They have lost a few defenders from last season's 11-2 squad that beat Memphis in the Cotton Bowl. But, I wouldn't be too concerned as reports are that the team replenished their stop-unit. The offensive talent is off the charts. The "O" has a great quarterback, a deep running back group, fantastic hands in the receivers role and all four big, strong, experienced offensive linemen back. Indiana does have quite a few weapons returning as well, including quarterback Michael Penix, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2019 after five games. The Nittany Lions' offense will dominate the clock and control the tempo here, not allowing the Hoosiers' offense to spend too much time on the field. PSU is 4-1 ATS the last five on the road. Indiana is 1-9-1 ATS the last 11 as a home 'dog. Penn State has dominated this series, taking 22 of the last 23 meetings. Under a touchdown is a gift. PENN STATE Iowa -3.5 at Purdue: As of pen-
ning this, I do see some 3's around. I prefer the -3. No doubt, Purdue possesses one of the best receiving corps in the nation. They also have to deal with a quarterback battle. But, some off-the-field distractions and head coach Jeff Brohm missing this game due to the coronavirus will be issues. Iowa has had some distractions as well. And head coach, Kirk Ferentz had to replace three-year starting quarterback Nate Stanley. These items all factor into the line. However, word is that sophomore Spencer Petras will fill in for Stanley at the helm without missing a beat. The offense also returns their two top-rushers in Goodson and Sargent (1,201 yards rushing, nine TD's in 2019). This is a very well-balanced and well-coached team that will counter the Boilermakers' offense with one of the stingiest stop-units in the country (fifth in points allowed, 13.2 PPG and 11th vs. the pass last season). The Hawkeyes are 4-1 ATS the last five at the Boilermakers and 17-5 ATS the last 22 as a road favorite. IOWA Kansas at Kansas State -20: Wanna' make money? Just keep riding the train against KU until college hoops starts. The only sunlight that shined upon Kansas just got darkened by a cloud. Running back Pooka Williams has opted out for the season. This doesn't bode well for a Jayhawks team that just can't seem to stay within 21 points of any Big 12 opponent. After a surprising openingseason loss to the feisty Arkansas State teams, Kansas State has now rattled off three consecutive wins and covers against teams that appear to be better on paper (Oklahoma, Texas Tech, TCU). Quarterback Will Howard will continue to fill in nicely for the injured Skylar Thompson. The backfield is solid. The receivers are outstanding. And FYI, the Wildcats have not turned the ball over this season. Look for Les Miles' team to sink deeper into the abyss. On both sides of the ball, Kansas is once again in trouble. KANSAS STATE Last week: 2-1 Season: 10-8 JoeDAmico@GamingToday.com
Photo from AP Photos
Ian Brook and Notre Dame are ranked No. 3 in AP Poll. Parryâ€™s Power Guide
College Football Favored Team
Week of Oct. 21, 2020
Oct 22 APPALACHIAN STATE.......160.9...12.3.... 148.6............... Arkansas State Oct 23 FLORIDA INT'L....................139.1...24.9.... 114.2.......... Jacksonville State La.-Lafayette.......................158.0.....6.8.... 151.2....... ALA. BIRMINGHAM Tulsa....................................164.6...18.4.... 146.2........... SOUTH FLORIDA WISCONSIN........................186.7...26.0.... 160.7............................. Illinois Oct 24 Air Force.............................167.1...21.8.... 145.3..........SAN JOSE STATE Alabama..............................191.6...18.8.... 172.8................... TENNESSEE ARMY..................................150.2...41.5.... 108.7............................ Mercer Auburn................................172.7.....0.4.... 172.3................... MISSISSIPPI BOISE STATE......................164.2...15.0.... 149.2.......................Utah State BOSTON COLLEGE............160.8.....4.6.... 156.2..................Georgia Tech BRIGHAM YOUNG..............171.3...35.6.... 135.7.....................Texas State CENTRAL FLORIDA............170.2...12.5.... 157.7.............................Tulane CHARLOTTE.......................153.1...28.0.... 125.1.................Texas-El Paso Cincinnati............................167.1.....3.3.... 163.8.SOUTHERN METHODIST CLEMSON...........................199.1...49.1.... 150.0.........................Syracuse COASTAL CAROLINA.........151.3.....7.2.... 144.1.......... Georgia Southern COLORADO STATE............151.9...18.6.... 133.3................... New Mexico Hawai'i.................................151.9.....3.7.... 148.2............. FRESNO STATE Iowa.....................................178.6...12.9.... 165.7......................... PURDUE KANSAS STATE.................173.0...24.4.... 148.6............................ Kansas Kentucky.............................174.8.....4.6.... 170.2...................... MISSOURI LIBERTY..............................150.0.....6.5.... 143.5...............Southern Miss. LOUISIANA STATE.............192.4...17.4.... 175.0............... South Carolina LOUISVILLE........................165.5.....5.0.... 160.5................... Florida State MARSHALL.........................160.9.....1.4.... 159.5............... Florida Atlantic MEMPHIS............................168.7...14.9.... 153.8........................... Temple MIAMI FLORIDA.................168.6.....2.7.... 165.9........................... Virginia Michigan.............................185.2.....5.4.... 179.8.................. MINNESOTA MICHIGAN STATE..............166.2...19.9.... 146.3........................... Rutgers NAVY...................................160.3.....0.9.... 159.4..........................Houston NORTH CAROLINA.............174.1...13.5.... 160.6...........North Carolina St. NORTHWESTERN...............164.6...14.5.... 150.1........................ Maryland Notre Dame.........................178.4...15.5.... 162.9..................PITTSBURGH OHIO STATE.......................202.0...37.5.... 164.5........................ Nebraska Home team in CAPS. Home team rating includes three additional points. Copyright 2020 by Noland Parry.
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Can Rays seal deal? Let me open with a disclaimer that I started this abbreviated season by predicting the Los Angeles Dodgers would hoist the Commissioner’s Trophy, finally winning the World Series for the first time since 1988. I’m rolling into this week’s column short-sighted, based on my preseason prediction. There is only one way the Tampa Bay Rays are going to beat the Dodgers in the best-of-seven series in Arlington, Texas. And it’s with a trend they started in baseball a couple of seasons back, utilizing a bullpen-heavy staff rather than relying on key starters. Don’t get me wrong, the Rays have quality starting pitching. But it’s their bullpen that has dominated. Truthfully, they’ve had no choice considering how bad their offense has been. Tampa Bay finished the regular season ranked No. 21 with a .238 batting average. It is hitting the league seventhlowest .209 during the playoffs. And the six teams beneath them played a mere 2.5-game average in the postseason. The Rays also have the league’s seventh-lowest .702 OPS (on-base + slugging percentage). Only two players on the Rays roster with at least 10 at-bats in the ALCS against Houston hit better than .300. Only four hit better than .200. So how are they supposed to compete with the Dodgers’ hardhitting offense that is hitting .256 in the playoffs and finished the regular season with a league-lead-
ing 118 home runs? With a strong bullpen that can keep Los Angeles’ versatile lineup off-balance.
Inside the Park W.G. Ramirez @WillieGRamirez Nick Anderson, Pete Fairbanks, Diego Castillo, Jose Alvarado, Ryan Thompson, John Curtiss, Aaron Loup, Josh Fleming ... get to know their names. There are even more, and for good reason. Back in 2018, when they were supposed to be one of the worst teams in baseball, the Rays created a brand-new strategy for starting pitching, and surprised the league by not only playing better than expected, but by sparking a conversation about how to utilize the pitching staff. They stack relievers, load up on bullpen days and have what is called “the opener.” In a seven-game series, you’re bound to count on your starters like Tyler Glasnow, Blake Snell and Charlie Morton. But knowing you have eight, nine, even 10 bullpen guys to serve as the opener and get your team through two innings before bringing in a long reliever to get you to the seventh or eighth to set up the closer, it has become quite a ploy across the league. Late in the 2018 season, manager Kevin Cash said, “What we’ve
WORLD SERIES SCHEDULE At Globe Life Field, Arlington, TX (Best of 7, All times Pacific)
Tampa Bay Rays vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Tuesday — Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles Wednesday — Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles 5:08 p.m. Friday — Los Angeles vs. Tampa Bay, 5:08 p.m. Saturday — Los Angeles vs. Tampa Bay, 5:08 p.m. Sunday — Los Angeles vs. Tampa Bay, 5:08 p.m.* Oct. 27 — Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles, 5:08 p.m.* Oct. 28 — Tampa Bay vs. Los Angeles, 5:09 p.m.* * If necessary
found out is that if you have the right personnel, it’s capable of working.” Obviously. The masters of “the opener” are now in the World Series, and it’s the one strategy they need to add a second Commissioner’s Trophy to the cabinet.
Wednesday Rays vs. Dodgers: Manager Dave Roberts is being very careful in naming starters ahead of time. Cash is not. He’s going with Snell in Game 2, and that could pose a problem for the Rays. He is only 2-2 in the postseason, and while I know he was solid in two ALCS starts. He’s only faced the Dodgers one time in his career and doesn’t even have a decision. Los Angeles won two of their three Game 2s in the previous rounds and know how important this game can be. DODGERS
Friday Dodgers vs. Rays: As careful as Roberts is for Game 2, speculation is Walker Buehler will be the main man Friday night in Game 3. And this is going to be a problem for the Rays. Buehler is making his second career World Series start, and rolls into this game as the most consistent guy on this staff. In four starts so far this postseason, Buehler has a 1.89 ERA and 29 strikeouts — second-most in the 2020 playoffs. DODGERS
Saturday Dodgers vs. Rays: Tampa Bay
Photo from USA Today
Rays manager Kevin Cash has pushed the right buttons. will thrive in this game, based on the theory of my column. Whether the Dodgers are up 3-0 or 2-1, I think Game 4 is the Rays’ to lose, as this is where they’ll use several pitchers to keep the Dodgers’ hitters guessing, and might be the one game they actually utilize in
upwards of six or seven pitchers. Roberts noted after one of the Padres games how hard it was to face a lot of pitchers when you have a lineup like he has. RAYS Last week: 1-2 Season: 19-15 WGRamirez@GamingToday.com
2021 World Series ODDS PROVIDED BY SuperBook at Westgate 10.19.20 DODGERS...............................5-1 YANKEES................................6-1 BRAVES................................ 12-1 PADRES................................ 12-1 WHITE SOX........................... 12-1 RAYS.....................................14-1 ATHLETICS...........................16-1 REDS.....................................16-1 TWINS...................................20-1 INDIANS................................20-1
ASTROS................................30-1 PHILLIES...............................30-1 NATIONALS..........................30-1 METS....................................30-1 CUBS.....................................30-1 CARDINALS..........................30-1 BLUE JAYS............................40-1 RED SOX...............................40-1 BREWERS.............................40-1 ANGELS................................40-1
TIGERS..................................50-1 MARLINS..............................50-1 DIAMONDBACKS.................60-1 GIANTS.................................60-1 ORIOLES...............................60-1 ROYALS.................................60-1 ROCKIES...............................80-1 MARINERS............................80-1 RANGERS.............................80-1 PIRATES..............................100-1
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Rays hope to join Bolts as champs Could Tampa, Fla., be the new sports capital of the U.S.? Their NHL team, the Lightning, just won the Stanley Cup. Their football team, the Buccaneers, appear to be a legitimate Super Bowl contender. And in between those two sports championships, their baseball team could win the 2020 World Series. The upstart Rays defeated Houston in seven games after blowing a 3-0 lead. Their opponent, the Los Angeles Dodgers, also needed seven games to win the NLCS. The Dodgers opened as consensus 2-1 favorites to win the Series with slight variations from book to book. As we went to press on Tuesday, eight hours prior to the start of Game 1. The Dodgers were up to -220 at several Las Vegas books. The takeback on Tampa was generally between +170 and +190. Unlike the prior rounds of the postseason, the World Series will be played in a traditional best-ofseven format with scheduled days off following Games 2 and 5, even though the Series is being entirely played at the neutral site of Arlington, Texas. Both bullpens should benefit from the stretching out of the Series after playing their previous playoff games on consecutive days. Tuesday’s opener was the Dodgers’ 13th playoff game since starting out on Sept 30. It will be Tampa’s 14th postseason game since starting their playoff run a day earlier. The Dodgers have the much better offense, having averaged 5.8 runs per game during the regular season compared to Tampa’s 4.8 rpg. The runs allowed averages are much closer but the Dodgers still have the edge having allowed 3.6 rpg vs. 3.8 rpg.
In 12 playoff games, the Dodgers averaged 5.8 rpg while allowing 3.7. The Rays have scored 4.1 rpg while allowing 3.5. The Dodg-
The 3-2 Pitch Andy Iskoe @vegasandy711 ers’ significant edge at the plate has continued in the postseason and the closeness of runs allowed has also carried over from the regular season. The Dodgers have a huge edge in playoff experience, playing in their third World Series in four seasons, losing to Houston in 2017 and Boston in 2018. They seek their first title since 1988. They’ve made the playoffs each season since 2013. Tampa is in the Series for just the second time, the first being in 2008. They lost their ALDS series to Houston in 2019 in their first playoffs appearance since 2013. The Rays are sneaky tough and won’t be an easy out. Manager Kevin Cash’s use of his pitching staff has been brilliant with opposing hitters rarely facing the same pitcher twice. And the Rays play excellent defense. But ultimately the Dodgers’ depth, especially at the plate, will be decisive. The forecast is for the Dodgers to win the title that’s eluded them since 1988 by defeating the Rays in six games.
Wednesday Rays vs. Dodgers: Blake Snell was expected to start Game 2 for Tampa. The Dodgers had yet to name their starter although they’ve announced their second-
Parry’s Power Guide
LA Dodgers......................(1) 52.4 Tampa Bay........................(2) 51.6 How to use the ratings: 1. Add 0.5 points to the home teams rating. 2. Pair the two teams that play each other. 3. The difference between the two ratings indicates the predicted margin of victory. Copyright 2020 by Noland Parry.
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager has done it in the field and at the plate. best starter, Walker Buehler, will start Friday's Game 3. Should that change if the Dodgers lose the opener, Buehler would be starting on three days' rest after pitching a strong six shutout innings on Saturday. Otherwise I expect either Dustin May or Tony Gonsolin to get the start and asked to pitch an inning or two in what likely will be a bullpen game. Snell has been effective all season, although he’s never completed six full innings (averaged 4.7 per start). In 15 starts (including four in the Playoffs) Snell’s more than three runs just twice and has a solid 82-28 strikeout to walk margin. This is a good spot for Tampa, even if they pulled the upset in Game 1. RAYS
Friday Dodgers vs. Rays: Charlie Mor-
ton should get the start for Tampa after pitching last Saturday when he tossed 5.2 innings of shutout baseball and would be pitching on four days’ rest. Buehler also pitched last Saturday. As a testament to both bullpens neither averaged more than five innings per start with Buehler putting up slightly better stats. Morton’s allowed just one earned run in three postseason starts, covering 15.2 innings. In four postseason starts, Buehler’s allowed just four earned runs over 19 innings. With this being a matchup of two quality pitchers, this game presents the greatest likelihood of being low scoring, especially early. FIRST 5 INNINGS UNDER
Saturday Dodgers vs. Rays: Game 4 will
likely be a bullpen game for both teams as neither Game 1 starter is expected to start on three days’ rest. Both bullpens should be relatively fresh but can also be expected to be called upon with both ‘openers’ not pitching more than a couple of innings. Unless one team is in position to be swept, this game may not be as tightly managed as when a team faces elimination with both managers keeping in mind considerations for Sunday’s Game 5. This game presents an ideal situation for being one of the higher scoring games in the series with perhaps one or both Game 1 starters set to return on Sunday. OVER Last week: 0-1 Season: 17-11 AndyIskoe@GamingToday.com
Major League Baseball Handicapping Data
Week beginning October 19, 2020
Photo from USA Today
c/o Andy Iskoe
HOME HOME ROAD ROAD AVER AVER AVER AVER NET HOM HM HM HM RUNS RUNS ROD RD RD RD RUNS RUNS TEAM W L P&L OVR UND PSH QS HW HL P&L OV UN P FOR AGST RW RL P&L OV UN P AGST FOR
TAMPA BAY LA DODGERS
49 25 1382 32 38 3 8 28 11 1103 19 19 1 4.6 3.6 21 14 279 13 19 2 4.7 4.0 52 20 1082 33 33 6 19 27 11 292 14 20 4 5.4 3.2 25 9 790 19 13 2 6.2 3.9
The above chart shows each team’s wins, losses, net Profit or (Loss) for the 2020 season through last Monday night. The Profit/(Loss) is based upon wagering to win $100 on a Favorite and based on wagering $100 to win a higher amount on an underdog. Also shown are each’s team’s results for Overs, Unders and Pushes. Additionally, each team’s Quality Starts (QS) are shown. A team is credited with a QS whenever a starting pitcher goes at least 6 innings and allows 2 earned runs or less. Each team’s Home vs. Road breakdown is also shown together with the Average Runs For and Against at both Home and on the Road. Through 10-19-20.
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Staffs a juggling act For the third time in four years, the Los Angeles Dodgers are representing the National League in the World Series. This time, they’d like to walk away with the trophy. In 2017, LA was factually cheated out of one by the Houston Astros, while the following campaign saw them fall to one of the best Boston Red Sox teams in franchise history in a tough sixgame set. It won’t get much easier in this particular matchup. Just like the Dodgers accomplished, the Tampa Bay Rays notched the best record in their league, thus garnering the organization’s first No. 1 seed ever, and the aftermath has been an impressive display on both sides of the ball to land them in this year’s Fall Classic.
Both teams figure to clash in similar fashion, as each side boasts strong starting pitching
look at totals early in the World Series.
Blake Snell vs. Dustin May: May just started Game 7 of the National League Championship Series, but since it was an outing that saw him go only one inning, he can likely be entrusted to get the ball in Game 2 of the Fall Classic. The lack of duration in his most recent start was more by design, so I don’t think that can be held against the rookie when projecting his outlook for any appearance on the biggest stage. Besides, May enjoyed a very impressive sophomore campaign this season and that success has carried into the playoffs. Before his Game 7 nod, May allowed only two runs (one
Matt Zylbert @mattzylbert with arguably-even-stronger bullpens following in tow. Los Angeles has a superior lineup but Tampa skipper Kevin Cash is showing an ability to mix-andmatch the right matchups. So, it comes down to this, with the upcoming week (and hopefully the proceeding one, too) set to host the final baseball meetings of 2020. Let’s try to get a
Photo from USA Today
Charlie Morton is expected to start Game 3 for Rays. earned) in four games (two starts). Like his counterpart, Snell is getting his second taste of play-
A season of frustration nearing its end To say this has been a frustrating baseball season is an understatement. This shortened “unique” regular season consisting of opponents just in your division for both the American and National League made it tough. No fans in the stands made it tougher. Cancellations, postponements and doubleheaders that were only seven innings added to the difficulties of handicapping ballgames. I think we would all agree that many managers and teams took full advantage of the health situation and did not name starting pitchers until later than usual. In some cases, not until just minutes before game time. This obviously affected when Joe D’Amico the lines came out and our @joedamicowins needing to quickly respond to them. Maybe the oddsmakers even took advantage at times and overvalued teams. Let’s not even go into late pitching changes where lines drastically moved. As a professional handicapper, bettor, and columnist, this all certainly frustrated me. So, if you felt the same way at times, I just wanted you to know you were not alone. We aren’t going to have to deal with many of these items in the Fall Classic. Things should be a bit easier. With the entire series being played at Globe Life Field in Arlington Texas, The Los Angeles Dodgers are the home team and hosts the first two games, while Tampa Bay then becomes the home team in the next three games. There will be 10,555 tickets sold for seats and an additional 950 tickets sold for suites. This all in a venue that can house just over 40,000 onlookers. On paper, Los Angeles is the stronger combatant, both on the mound and at the plate, The Dodgers have the better numbers. Game 1 is always a huge part of how we look at the ensuing games of a series. Writing this column Tuesday morning makes me unable to do that. We do know starters are listed as Tyler Glasnow and Clayton
Clear the Bases
Kershaw. Tampa Bay has listed Game 2’s starter as Blake Snell. And Los Angeles has slated Walker Buehler as the Game 3 starter. We talked about LA being better on paper. However, games are played on the diamond. With all respect to the Dodgers, they have been to the World Series each of the last two seasons and each time, were sent away hat in hand. The AL has dominated them. We all know someone who has attended numerous weddings as a bridesmaid, but never as a bride. The pressure is all on the Dodgers. Of course, the Rays are going to feel some pressure too. But very few in the baseball world are giving Tampa Bay a second thought. To me, this makes them very dangerous. You will be able to get great odds on the Rays as the underdogs in the Series, as well as in most of the individual game matchups. Not only do I think the AL representative offers us value, I think they win it all and send the NL rep back home again empty-handed, once again a bridesmaid. I’m siding with Tampa Bay in the World Series in six or seven games.
Wednesday Rays vs. Dodgers: We expect Snell and Dustin May to start here. May has been more consistent of the two. Momentum going into this series is important. Los Angeles is a very good team at making necessary adjustments. Regardless of what happens in Game 1 or who starts in this matchup, I like the Dodgers here as manager Dave Roberts and his staff have been excellent at making those adjustments all season long. Los Angeles is 9-4 the last 13 vs. the AL East. DODGERS
Friday Dodgers vs. Rays: Game 3 comes after the only scheduled off day in the first five meetings. This will surely benefit the Rays, which played a few more games over the postseason. The starters appear to be Charlie Morton and Walker Buehler. Please see D’Amico p17
off baseball — and the results have been good this second time around as well. The former AL Cy Young Award Winner has made four starts and yielded two runs or fewer in three of them. He still hasn’t lasted six-plus innings yet but that should change. UNDER
Friday Walker Buehler vs. Charlie Morton: The series will remain in Arlington, of course, but this Game 3 will mark when the Rays get their turn as the home team. They’re likely going with Morton, who once again was inserted into a Game 7, as he did in the ALCS, and once again delivered in the most clutch spot in sports to propel Tampa Bay past Houston. The 13-year veteran is enjoying a fabulous postseason, one that has seen opponents collectively only manage a single earned run in three starts, spanning 15.1 innings. Buehler, however, is Morton’s postseason match, excelling in playoff assignments as much as any starter since first debuting a few years ago. Buehler came up big his last time out in Game 6 of the NLCS — with LA down 3-2 in the series and facing elimination — by firing six shutout innings. In his still-young career, the 26-yearold has already made 10 postseason starts and manufactured a splendid 2.44 ERA. UNDER Last week: 1-1 Season: 7-6 MattZylbert@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Be wary of the draw There have been several inquiries about the diabolical Draw, a third option on typical three-way offerings that can make handicapping soccer especially torturous. In Dante’s third circle, El Futbol Diablo is right there, tempting with odds on A, B and Draw. It’s such a thorny path, a handicapper I respect announced over the weekend that he will no longer speculate on the sport. He had tapped a service that offers multi-star plays, up to five stars. “They sucked,” he said. Another provides a database that digests English Premier League statistics. “They weren’t much better. Blessing in disguise as I’m doing well in everything else.” In England on Saturday, two of four Premier League matches drew. Sunday, three of four ended in ties, as did both in the German
Bundesliga. The payoff for a knot certainly is sweet. The Draw figures on Frank-
Free Kicks Rob Miech @robmiech furt-Cologne (+275) and Union Berlin-Schalke 04 (+234) on Sunday meant a daring punter could have turned $100 into $1,152.50. A tip o’ the cap to those who have been betting Wolfsburg and AZ Alkmaar to tie this season. Both are 0-0-4 and play Sunday. The former plays host to Arminia Bielefeld in the Bundesliga, the latter is at Den Haag in the Dutch Eredivisie. However, I will rarely wade into
D’Amico: Go with TB Continued from p16 The Rays have won Morton’s last five starts as the veteran righthander has not allowed more than three earned runs over his past 11 appearances. Buehler has been just as impressive, but has had limited outings over his last six starts. To win here, you need your starters to go a little further in the game than what Buehler has been doing. Tampa Bay is 4-0 the last four interleague games, 4-1 the last five interleague games as a ‘dog, and 12-4 the last 16 overall as an underdog. I’m staying with Tampa Bay here, even if these starters don’t go. RAYS
Saturday Dodgers vs. Rays: We can only speculate as to who starts this Game 4 matchup. It all depends on what happens in the first three contests. Both teams have solid pitchers after their first three in the rotation. By this time, both managers and both teams have seen enough of one another to know just what to expect. I anticipate the Series will be separated by just one game at this point. Thus, I expect both teams to start the next pitcher in the lineup. This is what has made handicapping baseball such a frustrating experience. You can’t really plan ahead because you don’t know who’s pitching. And even if you do know, how far will they go? Over the last few weeks, Tampa Bay has utilized an extra starter to their rotation, making their hurlers a bit more rested. But the Los Angeles rotation has had excellent output from their next-inline staff. I like the Dodgers here. DODGERS Last week: 2-1 Season: 17-17 JoeDAmico@GamingToday.com
that part of the pool because it’s tough enough to pick either side in a spread or total wager. A third option represents the third rail. Conner Streeter has employed the Draw, and aspects of it, like a maestro. That’s his professional alias. We have mentioned bits of this scenario, but more has unfolded and his actions merit further examination. On Aug. 2, he had earmarked FC Winterthur, at +600, against Grasshoppers. His safety valve was Draw at +480. He laid a unit on each wager. The two Swiss clubs had tied their three previous meetings, so Streeter felt confident that this would, at worst, end in a draw. Plus, the recent form of each, to him, did not justify such odds. If Grasshoppers won, both bets would have lost, which can be mitigated, he advised, by placing a half-unit on both. Winterthur won, 6-0. A month later, Streeter noted how Grasshoppers had been upgrading their roster specifically, it seemed, for their next battle against Winterthur. This time, he bet on Grasshoppers, at -125, sprinkling a bit on Draw at +274. Grasshoppers won, 3-2. When we chatted last Tuesday, Streeter had just implemented the Draw, again, as insurance. Luxembourg was +350 to beat Montenegro on the three-way, and Streeter caught plus a halfgoal, at -110, on an enviable Luxembourg spread line, to cover a potential Nations League draw. A month earlier, Montenegro had won, 1-0, on an extra-time penalty kick against a 10-man Luxembourg, which had outshot Montenegro 21-10. He equates total shots to effort along with aggressiveness. For the rematch, he put a unit on Luxembourg getting that half-goal and a half-unit on it to win at +350. “To me, Luxembourg was the better team and, at best, the return match would be a toss-up— they certainly aren’t 3.5-times worse,” he says. “It was significant for their group play, and Luxembourg needed to win. To me, that was great value.” Luxembourg won, 2-1, getting the winner in the 86th minute.
Photo from USA Today
Luxembourg’s Daniel Sanani. Streeter nearly tripled his 1.5-unit investment. He had stared down El Diablo, and El Diablo blinked.
Saturday Sampdoria at Atalanta, Total 3.5 Ov -115: It has been raining goals in Serie A, and this is projected to be one of the weekend’s top-three highest-scoring matches in Italy. Great to see sharpshooter Josip Iličić, sidelined for three months due to personal issues, return to the Atalanta fold last Saturday. OVER Real Betis at Atlético Madrid -164: The home side has suffered no defeats over its past 20 La Liga matches. Atlético keeper Jan Oblak has clean-sheeted five of Madrid’s past seven foes. Betis has not tallied a goal in its past four at Atlético. ATLÉTICO MADRID
Sunday Udinese at Fiorentina -135: Udinese is 0-3 and has been outscored 4-0. Among the Big Five’s 98 teams, it’s the only one averaging 0.00 goal-creating actions. The home team averages 26 shotcreating actions, 13th in the B5. FIORENTINA
Monday AS Roma at AC Milan, Total 2.5 Ov -144: Zlatan Ibrahimović returned from quarantine to net two within 20 minutes last weekend at Inter. Zlatan has led us out of a previous horizontal spin, so we tap him again for guidance.
OVER Last week: 0-3 Season: 8-13-1 RobMiech@GamingToday.com
Parry’s Power Guide
Week beginning October 19, 2020
Colorado........................(1) 18.6 Toronto...........................(2) 18.1 New England..................(3) 18.0 Orlando City..................(4) 18.0 Los Angeles....................(5) 17.7 Philadelphia...................(6) 17.6 Portland.........................(7) 17.6 New York.........................(8) 17.4 Seattle.............................(9) 17.4 Kansas City...................(10) 17.3 Nashville.......................(11) 17.3 San Jose.........................(12) 17.3 Atlanta..........................(13) 17.0 Columbus......................(14) 17.0 Dallas.............................(15) 16.8 NY City.............................(16) 16.8 Minnesota.....................(17) 16.7 Montreal.......................(18) 16.7 Salt Lake........................(19) 16.6 Chicago..........................(20) 16.4 DC......................................(21) 16.2 Houston.........................(22) 16.2 Miami...............................(23) 16.0 Vancouver....................(24) 15.9 Cincinnati......................(25) 15.5 LA Galaxy......................(26) 15.3 How to use the ratings: 1. Add 6 points to the home teams rating. 2. Pair the two teams that play each other. 3. The difference between the two ratings indicates the predicted margin of victory. Copyright 2020 by Noland Parry.
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Tiger’s back? Meh
First the good news: Defending champion Tiger Woods will highlight a PGA Tour event this week as the Tour brings the 2020 ZOZO Championship @ Sherwood to United States soil. The inaugural playing of the event was held in Japan last year. But with the coronavirus still haunting everyone, it has landed at Sherwood Country Club outside of Los Angeles for this year. Now the bad news: Don’t expect Woods, at 40-1, to be the two-time defending champion when the winner is crowned Sunday. The reasoning is quite simple as Woods, who has fallen to 28th in the world rankings, hasn’t shown anywhere near the consistency to win that he will need. Granted, Woods has won at Sherwood five times in his own
Bowman’s Top 5 at ZOZO Championship
1. Xander Schauffele 2. Tyrrell Hatton 3. Justin Thomas 4. Rory McIlroy 5. Collin Morikawa
(10-1) (20-1) (12-1) (14-1) (25-1)
tournament, the Hero World Challenge, which was held at the course from 2000-2013. But this is a different time and this is cer-
Tee to Green Bill Bowman tainly a different Tiger Woods. That’s not to say he’s still not capable of winning again. It’s just that with his limited playing time and sketchy results in 2020, he’s certainly not hitting on all cylinders. How sketchy? Here are the cold, hard facts. He’s only made one start in the 2020-2021 wraparound season and that was a missed cut at the U.S. Open. Before that, in the 2019-2020 season, you’ve got to go back to January for a top-10 finish as he was T-9 at the Farmers Insurance Open. Since that top-10, he has a mediocre T-37 is his best finish in just seven events. He’s also got a finish in the 40s, a couple in the 50s and his worst was a 68th at the Genesis. Sorry Tiger fans, we’re feeling there’s still too much work to do,
way too much, for him to win, even in a limited field event as the ZOZO will have just 78 players with no cut. In that field of 78 will be 37 of the top 50 players in the world rankings. So, who will be hoisting the trophy and cashing the big paycheck (around $1.75 million) come Sunday night? Well, this week ‘X’ marks the spot. There’s just been no keeping Xander Schauffele, at 10-1 odds this week, off the leaderboard in majors or big-time, no-cut events. This is the latter. And Schauffele is coming off an impressive solo fifth finish in the U.S. Open and then, after a couple of weeks off, tore up Shadow Creek early and often in the CJ Cup @ Shadow Creek event. He stumbled badly on Saturday (a two-over-par-74) but rebounded with an impressive six-underpar Sunday effort to grab second alone. Now, how did he get to this point of being on the radar without actually being on the radar? Well, it’s the little things. For instance, you might be shocked to know he’s the seventh-ranked player in the world golf rankings. He’s that low-key.
Photo from USA Today
Tyrrell Hatton may be a live long shot this week. Another saying fits perfectly in this scenario as well: Speak softly and carry a big stick. Schauffele does both. For his size, he’s all of 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, he can hit it with the best of them. Well, almost. He’s averaging 311-plus yards off the tee. Now before your eyes bug out too far, let’s put that in a little perspective: He’s only 45th on the Tour in driving distance. But add in his scoring average of 66.91 (good enough for third) and that can make the difference and help him win the fifth Tour crown of his career. His last win was at the 2019 Tournament of Champions on Maui, but he’s been close. He’s had six runner-up finishes (and two
third-place finishes) since that win. Two more stats to keep in mind. He’s tops in strokes gained around the greens and third in strokes gained overall. Add in that 311 number off the tee and it’s a wonder he’s not winning more. Another guy to keep an eye on in the ‘when you’re hot, you’re hot’ category is Tyrrell Hatton, who’s 20-1. Hatton was fresh off a victory in the BMW PGA event on the European Tour when he took the 20-plus hour flight to Vegas to compete in the CJ Cup. Not only did he compete, he was in contention until the end and finished T-3. A little rest Monday before he tees it up Thursday and he could be holding another trophy. BillBowman@GamingToday.com
Logano coasts into NASCAR championship Joey Logano claimed the first won a race before the pandemic berth into the Nov. 8 Champion- shutdown. He had won two of ship 4 race at Phoenix Raceway the four races before it, but none by winning after the season Sunday was rebooted, at K ans as until Sunday. Sp e e d w ay The Westgate in the first of Las Vegas Suthree races perBook’s upMicah Roberts dated futures during the @MicahRoberts7 have Logano Round of 8. at 3-1 to win T h r e e more invites are awaiting among the 2020 Championship behind the seven eligible drivers. Win at Kevin Harvick (6-5), and ahead of either Texas this week or Mar- Denny Hamlin (7-2). Logano has no pressure now tinsville next week and get the automatic bid, or else score the and can coast into Phoenix where they’ll be using the race most points to advance. Logano wasn’t expected by package with 750 horsepower most to be one of the Champi- which has proven to be his best onship 4 drivers because he last package this season — he won
at Phoenix in March. But he also showed signs of improved performance in the 550 hp package he won with Sunday at Kansas and it was apparent they were all better with it in the July 19 Texas race when he finished third after leading 22 laps. Sunday’s AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas will be the 11th and final race on a 1.5mile track and also the 20th and final race using the 550 hp package. Eight of the 10 races on 1.5s have been won by different drivers with Hamlin and Logano having multiple wins. Harvick has a series-leading nine wins on the season, but just one win on a 1.5 track (Atlanta, June 7). On Sunday at Kansas, Harvick was runner-up
after leading But that’s not a race-high Harvick. He’ll 85 laps. drive to win. Harvick Hamlin’s at AutoTrader was win15th-place finEchoPark 500 less in his ish at Kansas Cup career 1. #4 Kevin Harvick (7-2) last week looks at Texas in 2. #88 Alex Bowman (20-1) like a disap his first 29 pointment. 3. #11 Denny Hamlin (6-1) starts, but But he actu 4. #22 Joey Logano (10-1) h e ’s w o n ally scored 40 (12-1) points, 2 points t h r e e o f 5. #18 Kyle Busch less than winthe past six races there — one each in 2017, ner Logano scored. He scored 2018, and 2019. He was fifth in the bonus points for winning the July race, leading 40 laps, to drop second stage and leading 58 his career average finish to 10.2. laps. It’s the third straight race of He’s got a 41-point lead over the 1.5s that he’s led at least 57 laps. Before he threw his car into the fifth-place driver and could coast into the next round by just play- fence on Sunday, he was cruising ing it safe the next two weeks. Please see Roberts p19
Roberts’ Top 5
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Khabib back in Octagon 2020 has been quite a year for a lot of us, UFC Lightweight champion Khabib Nurmagomedov lost a lot this year everywhere but the octagon. Khabib lost his father Abdulmanap on July 3 due to coronavirus-related complications and not only was Khabib very close to his father but he was also the man responsible for training Khabib all the way to his UFC championship. This Saturday at UFC 254, Khabib will make his third defense of the lightweight gold, but his first since losing his father, against UFC Interim Lightweight champion Justin Gaethje at Fight Island aka Yas Island, Abu Dhabi. The main card will be on ESPN+ PPV and has a special start time of 11 a.m. PT. Currently, the betting line has Khabib at -330 at Caesars Sports with Gaethje at +290 at the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook. What can be said about Khabib that hasn’t been already? He’s 28-0 and has dominated nearly every opponent that he has ever stepped into the cage with. He has the money, the fame, the adoration of MMA fans for his skill set and tapped out longtime nemesis Conor McGregor in 2019. All that remains in the goals his father and Khabib set for his career is 30-0, then retirement. Khabib brings up Georges St. Pierre as the one opponent he wants to fight for his last fight, telling people that’s all that he believes he has left. However, he might not want to overlook Gaethje. After entering the UFC as an undefeated prospect, Gaethje found some tougher sledding, losing two straight fights to Eddie Alverez and Dustin Poirier. We learned he was a fighter that loved to throw hands with anyone and was impossible to take to the mat. Gaethje has still never been taken down in a MMA fight, which could be his biggest strength against Khabib. Either Khabib is the first to bring Gaethje down and en route to victory or Gaethje consistently stuffs the champ’s
takedowns, completely flipping the favorite in the fight. As a volume puncher I don’t think Gaethje lands one shot that
Off the Canvas Alan Berg @PercentBerg would put Khabib away, so he will need to have elite movement and tire out Khabib by staying on his feet. For me, there are two ways to approach wagering on this fight: lay the -330 or gamble to Gaethje. Getting under 3-1 on the true challenger doesn’t excite me as the value seems to be on the champion. That said if we wanna go after Gaethje here is how I would approach that and it might sound unusual. If Gaethje can win this fight, which I do believe he can, he will have to fight as flawlessly as he did against Tony Ferguson. Do not allow Khabib to have control in the first and second round by being a defensive master. Even if Khabib does win the opening two rounds, if Gaethje hasn’t been on the mat, the door is wide open. In Khabib’s fight vs. Al Iaquinta, after completely dominating the first two rounds, Khabib started to tire and suddenly couldn’t land a takedown and Iaquinta had him backing up in spots. Gaethje is a much better fighter than Iaquinta and those little moments in that fight are the blueprint for how to beat Khabib. It’s not easy however. Using this angle, I think there could be crazy value in Gaethje Round 4 and Round 5. If he is in the fight and stayed upright, there is a chance he can finish Khabib late with his volume striking and relentlessness. Odds look to be around 20-1 and 35-1 for that result and I don’t think it’s completely nuts. If you are betting against Khabib you are already gambling
Photo from USA Today
UFC Lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov faces Justin Gaethje Saturday. so might as well do it in style. Also, a shoutout to Circa Sports, which is offering in-play on fights. So maybe look at Gaethje after Round 2 if he’s down, there’s a chance he sweeps the last three rounds edging Khabib for a decision. But don’t go that route if Khabib has dominated the opening two rounds; it’s only if Gaethje stays on his feet. That said I can’t give a side pick on Gaethje, so if you want to go the conservative route, lay the -330 with Khabib before it’s gone. Jared Cannonier vs. Robert Whittaker: One of the more intriguing matchups on the card comes in the co-main event as the winner likely gets a title shot. Whittaker, the former middleweight champion, has his first fight since losing the crown to Israel Adesanya. Which after that dominating Adesanya performance against Costa, Whittaker’s performance in that fight looks even stronger, though it ended the same way a KO loss to Adesanya. Cannonier has a ton of punching power and can win this fight. However, I don’t agree with this betting line which has him as a -115 to -120 favorite. Whittaker has done too much in the UFC already and fought the top guys in this weight class, Cannonier doesn’t have a signature win that leads me
to believe in him at this level just yet. WHITTAKER Alexander Volkov vs. Walt Harris: Harris was seconds away from stopping MMA legend Alistair Overeem and instead got stopped himself in an emotional loss in his first fight back from a personal family tragedy. Volkov has lost three of four
with his only win over the inexperienced but strong Greg Hardy. Harris has too much on the line and I think with his skill set can close the distance between the taller man and put Volkov on the mat like his last fight with Curtis Blaydes. Take Harris at +140. HARRIS AlanBerg@GamingToday.com
Roberts: 3 spots left Continued from p18 for another Kansas win. He has three Texas wins, the last coming in the spring of 2019. One of the biggest surprises of the season happened at Texas in July when Austin Dillon won and paid out 100-1 odds. It was a Richard Childress Racing exacta as Tyler Reddick had his best finish of the season in second place. Those notes of the winning set-up should still be fresh and be able to be applied here, but neither driver recreated the magic in the remaining three races on 1.5s, although Dillon was runner-up at Darlington Raceway’s 1.366-mile track Sept. 6. Alex Bowman came away with third-place last week at Kansas giving him three straight races on 1.5s of finishing eighth or better, as well as a sixth at Darlington last month. He was fifth last fall at Texas. They’ve got something clicking with the No. 88 team. Bowman’s Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson holds several track records at Texas such as wins (7), top-fives (16), and laps led (1,152) and this will be his last race which will surely garner him some goodbye gifts. I wish I could suggest he might be a good bet this week but his only top-five using this week’s race package was at Las Vegas in February. MicahRoberts@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Smith takes CHRB to task California’s new whip restrictions went into effect Oct. 1 and it didn’t take long for Santa Anita-based Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to make his concerns known to the California Horse Racing Board. The new restrictions limit jockeys to six strikes of the whip during a race, no more than twice in succession before waiting for a response from the horse. The restrictions also require the jockeys to use the whip in an underhanded position with the crop always at or below the shoulder level of the jockey. After riding with the new rules the weekend of Oct. 2-4 at Santa Anita, Smith wrote a letter to the CHRB dated Oct. 8. “After the jockeys have attempted to comply with CHRB 1688 this weekend, our concerns have been reiterated and we strongly believe that more than one of us will suffer a serious injury, or even possibly death, from your new rule 1688,”
wrote Smith. “The reality is we are very alarmed about the lack of concern for our safety and wellbeing.
Lindo Report Jon Lindo @JonLindo60 “Furthermore, not only do we have a concern for our own welfare, but also grave concerns about the risks being created for the horses.” Smith noted the jockeys have attempted to participate in the rule making process, but “for whatever reason, our concerns are not being given credence … we are the people who are risking our lives, balancing on the balls of our feet, in a very narrow stirrup, going 35-50 miles per hour on a 1,200-pound horse, surrounded
Horses to Watch Richard Saber @RSaberGT
SANTA ANITA LIL NAS: California-bred 2-year-old maiden may have found his best running style. Speed type had to take back when having to steady into the turn. He was then taken to the outside and made a real nice late run to miss by a dwindling neck. PYRON: Stumbled at the start and had to settle in the back while down on the inside. He was angled out down the lane for clear sailing and blasted home, inhaling the two runners in front of him to win going away. We say he comes right back and repeats next out. DANCEFORMUNNY: Filly was in a good stalking position on the inside in this mile grass race. She looked ready to pounce but lacked room near the quarter pole. She remained inside but was swung out late and surged, just missing by less than a length. SUZIE QZZ BROTHER: 2-year-old maiden was a single on many tickets, including mine. He stalked the lone speed in this 6 1/2-furlong sprint. He found his best stride late to make one big run only to miss by a dwindling half a length. We would love to see this guy going a flat mile on the grass or dirt.
Photo from USA Today
Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith has been an outspoken critic of CHRB whip rules. by other jockeys who are doing the same thing.” Smith pointed out that the recently redesigned whips, which were developed with input from jockeys, are safer for the horses. “Over the past 10 years, when the approved cushioned riding crops were used in the appropriate manner, the welts and cuts have almost been completely eliminated,” wrote Smith. One of the most important points made by Smith was in reference to horseplayers and horse owners. “In addition to the increased dangers, there has also been a serious impact on the integrity and outcome of the races. In multiple races over the weekend (Oct. 2-4), jockeys were limited in the encouragement they were able to give the horses, which in turn impacted the outcome of the race and jockeys were unable to maximize placing of the horses. “The owners, along with the betting public, both of whom are the driving force behind our sport, were not afforded every possible opportunity to maximize return on their investment,” Smith added. The CHRB, including Executive Director Scott Chaney, should take these concerns from Smith into consideration. After all, if the CHRB loses the trust of the horseplayers, handle will drop, which will cause purses to drop, and in turn will force horses and horsemen to leave for greener pastures. California is already at critically low levels when it comes to the horse population.
So far there has been no public response from the CHRB to Smith’s concerns.
Closing week Keeneland’s closing day is Saturday, with mandatory payouts in all pools. Kentucky racing shifts to Churchill Downs Sunday, where an impasse remains with Nevada and no wagering will be allowed on the Churchill signal. Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday thru Sunday basis Oct. 28 through Nov. 1, and Churchill will also race Wednesday and Thursday Nov. 4-5 before the Breeders’ Cup is held at Keeneland Nov. 6-7. This is also closing weekend at Santa Anita, with mandatory payouts in all pools Sunday. Racing in Southern California shifts to Del Mar when their fall meet opens Saturday, Oct. 31.
Canadian Triple Crown on line A home-bred colt with just one eye – Mighty Heart – has a chance to capture the Canadian Triple Crown if he can win the $400,000 Breeders’ Stakes Saturday at Woodbine. Mighty Heart wired the field in the Queen’s Plate over the synthetic Tapeta track at Woodbine Sept. 12, and came right back to win the Prince of Wales Stakes on dirt at Fort Erie Sept. 29. The Breeders’ Stakes is contested at 1 1/2 miles on turf and with a win Mighty Heart would just be the eighth horse to win the Canadian Triple Crown. He is trained by Josie Carroll for owner/
breeder Lawrence Cordes and will once again by ridden by Daisuke Fukumoto. Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday, Race 5: N.K. Rocket Man (No. 6). Cal-bred was compromised by rough start and traffic trouble in the stretch when splitting a similar field Oct. 2. He takes off the blinkers and should have clear sailing this time from an outside post. JonLindo@GamingToday.com
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OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Lopez’s win over Loma KO’s books
Nevada sportsbooks took it on the chin Saturday night when Teofimo Lopez upset favored Vasiliy Lomachenko by unanimous decision at the MGM Grand Conference Center to win the lightweight world unification title. It was the first major boxing match since the pandemic and it was also offered for free on ESPN. “We had a lot more handle on it than I thought we would,” said Nevada BetMGM sportsbook director Jeff Stoneback. “I guess it being televised free had something to do with it. We had a really good day with college football, but gave about 80% of it back with the Lopez decision.” In all the big fights in Las Vegas Stoneback has booked, bettors routinely bet the underdog just because of the perceived value. Most bettors don’t want to lay $40 to win only $10 so they simply bet the ‘dog so they have something to root for as they watch pay-perview or watch it live at one of the MGM properties. But this fight took that notion up a notch. “We had tickets counts on Lopez at a 9-to-1 ratio,” Stoneback said. Stoneback said they won the pick-the-knockout round prop, the one where they offer odds on each fighter to score a knockout in each round — 24 options to bet but the bettor loses if the fight goes to a decision or draw. I told him I was surprised books were still offering that prop because it never fails to create angry losers after a decision in any fight. Anyway, Stoneback said their win off the prop didn’t put a dent in their losses with the five-way result and the match itself. “We intended to keep the Lopez price the lowest and people still bet it,” Stoneback said of their -350/+290 split, a more than fair split. But unlike most big fights in Las Vegas, when the favorite gets to its lowest point on fight night, sharp money usually comes in and scoops up the low price knowing smaller money on the ‘dog adds up large and will force the books to drop the price. But that big late favorite money didn’t show up much Saturday night. The most attractive price on the fight between low theoretic hold
on the props and price splits I saw was offered by Circa Sports, but book director Matt Metcalf didn’t
Las Vegas Sportsbooks Micah Roberts @MicahRoberts7 get the type of action BetMGM did. “We lost on Lopez,” Metcalf said. “Our handle was a little less than I anticipated. I’m not sure if these were big enough names to the casual fan yet. It was an awesome fight, though.” Circa had Lomachenko -405 and Lopez +330 — an amazing price split, and a total set at 10.5 rounds over -180. They also had the fiveway prop with Lopez by decision paying out at +945, and pick-theknockout round prop that also included each fighter to win by decision and a draw — 27 options. The Circa Resort and Casino are set for its grand opening on Oct. 28 featuring what will be the largest sportsbook in the state.
NFL great for books Sportsbooks got the perfect combination of underdogs winning and covering in Sunday’s NFL Week 6 action with favorites going 4-8 against-the-spread and five of the underdogs winning outright. “It was our best Sunday of the season,” Stoneback said. “We kind of had everything go our way except for one of our house players doing very well betting the halves. One of our best games was your team (Broncos) winning outright which knocked out a bunch of money-line parlays and teasers.” The Broncos got six field goals from Brandon McManus to win 18-12 at New England, a game that ran from Patriots -10 down to -7 by kickoff and closed a Las Vegasbest +300 on the money-line at William Hill books. Stoneback said he had a bettor buy the half-point down to -6.5 for $270,000 and another $100,000 on the Patriots at -7. Broncos QB Drew Lock returned to the lineup but was very ordinary. The key to their win was Phil-
Photo from AP Photos
Teofimo Lopez captured all the lightweight title belts. lip Lindsay rushing for 101 yards and chewing time off the clock while Cam Newton struggled for the Patriots against a very aggressive Broncos defense. The biggest decision of the day with just about every sportsbook was the Buccaneers’ 38-10 thrashing of the visiting Packers who had won and covered all four previous games this season. The game ran from pick ‘em to as high as Packers -3 at the South Point. The Packers jumped out to a 10-0 lead which featured a freaky celebration dance by Aaron Rodgers after he scored a TD — which was reversed by replay. But then he would throw a pick-six in his next possession, his first interception of the year and the first turnover by the Packers all season. In his next possession, he would throw another interception which was almost run back and led to an easy Bucs score and 14-10 lead. And that was it. Rodgers was rattled and the Bucs would reel off 38 unanswered points. The 5-1 Bears are now in first place in the NFC North after their 23-16 win at Carolina. Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay said the Buccaneers were their top win followed by the Falcons who came in 0-5 but absolutely dismantled the Vikings (-4), 40-23, and it wasn’t really that close.
The nine early games saw favorites go just 3-6 ATS and kill off any momentum with parlays and teas-
ers. Going into the two afternoongames, the books just needed to beat the Packers to secure a great day. Teaser risk into the Dolphins (-9) had already been erased before their 24-0 win, Miami’s first shutout since 2014. The late game also went the books’ way with the 49ers winning, 24-16, against the visiting Rams, but much of the risk had been wiped out to make it not as impactful to the day as a regular Sunday night game. Another note to mention is that totals went 8-4 to the Under, showing that the last two weeks has paid off for those going against the inflated totals in the highest-scoring season ever. What goes up always has to come down. There will likely be a half-point adjustment downward on each team’s total rating this week, but the first four weeks forced a 2-3-point adjustment upward for most teams. So the Unders should be live for value this week too. MicahRoberts@GamingToday.com
Maryland vote looms On May 14, 2018, the Supreme Court deemed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act of 1992 unconstitutional, thereby paving the way for legal sports betting to expand outside of the state of Nevada. Fast forward two years, and a lot of states have gotten into the game. As a result of the Court’s decision, Gambling has spread into Vikas Chokshi 22 total jurisdictions. @docksquad33 Many states that do not yet have legalized sports gambling now want a piece of the pie, as they see the huge windfalls of cash the gambling states are earning. So much money is flowing that the Governor of New Jersey tweeted on Oct. 16 about the money made from legalized sports betting. One of the states trying to get in on the action is Maryland. As surrounding states have legalized betting on sports, Maryland has not expanded its legal gambling industry ... yet. For the upcoming election on Nov. 3, lawmakers have decided to add a broad question on the ballot. Known as Maryland Question 2, the Sports Betting Expansion Measure, the question on the ballot asks only if voters agree with legalizing sports betting. A “Yes” vote would support authorizing sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities with state revenue intended to fund public education. A “No” vote would oppose authorizing sports and events wagering at certain licensed facilities. Proponents of the bill believe that illegal sports betting is already big business in Maryland. Coupled with the fact that Please see Chokshi p22
East Coast Scene
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
How Indiana got it right
When it comes to crafting success out of unexpected circumstances, it sure seems like Sara Tait has cornered her portion of the market. The executive director of the Indiana Gaming Commission since the summer of 2015 got her start in the industry because of eagerness. She moved up the career ladder because of her efficiency. And now, she’s steered the Hoosier State to sports wagering regulatory excellence in the Midwest in spite of ever-changing, challenging environments. Tait and her staff of a dozen employees who were fully dedicated to the activity’s implementation — in step with Dennis Mullen, the state’s sports wagering guru — went from legalization to launch in a three-month span. In just over a year since bets have been accepted, the state has passed more than $1 billion in handle with a minimal number of technological or rulemaking hiccups.
Not too shabby a resume, really, when you’re still short of age 40 and when gaming was a personal
Midwest Musings Danny Lawhon @DannyLawhon afterthought as recently as a decade ago. “I was a fresh lawyer looking for a staff attorney job in Indiana, and one available was with the gaming commission. I had relatively little knowledge or expertise (in the industry),” the 37-year-old Tait said. “But I had someone tell me that if you can regulate a casino, you can regulate anything, so I went to learn and it was a great place for me to develop my skills. “Frankly, from there, I’ve been fortunate to be in the right place at the right time.”
The staff attorney job became a promotion to director of license control. That position led to a general counsel post. When her predecessor, Ernest Yelton, decided to retire, Tait made her pitch to then-Gov. Mike Pence. “I essentially had to say, ‘Hey, I can do this’ and that I wanted to be considered for the role. I was a young female, and all the previous directors were men and more advanced in age,” she explained. “But what I had going for me was that I had worked in the agency, and — you’ll hear me say this a lot, and I mean it — we have such a great, long-serving staff at the IGC that works well together.” She made her case and won the job, and she’s since been off to the races. More so than being in her role as a woman, Tait said that if she’s encountered any eyebrowraising in industry meetings, it was because of her age. But that time has come and gone, she said, with her casino leadership peers giving
Photo courtesy Sara Tait
Indiana Gaming Commission executive director Sara Tait. support because they’ve appreciated the quality of her work. “You just have to prove yourself. You go in and demonstrate why you’re the person sitting at that table, and fortunately, I’ve been able to do so,” she said. “Our operators in Indiana are great, and
Chokshi: MD proponents making push Continued from p21 aryland residents are already placing their bets legally by crossing M into Washington D.C. and pulling out their phones, the state is missing out on much needed revenue. For instance, this lost revenue could help the public schools. Lowball estimates suggest that Maryland would see anywhere from $20$40 million that could be directed towards public schools. Joe Weinberg, Managing Partner & CEO Cordish Gaming Group, parent company of Live! based in Maryland, had this to say about the bill: “Authorization of sports betting in Maryland will create tens of millions of dollars in new gaming tax revenue to the state, money that has been constitutionally earmarked to enhance education funding. Sports betting has been legalized in half the states in the country and has become an expected amenity to casino gaming facilities.” Online sports-betting giants FanDuel and DraftKings spent millions to persuade voters to back the measure and it seems to be working. As of today, things are looking good for everyone that is behind the bill and both the House and Senate seem supportive. Another key factor that bodes well is that there is no organized opposition against it either. But, there are some questions, the main one being, will the money actually be put towards education? Some opponents bring up 2008, when a casino referendum was also sold as a way to fund schools. Ultimately, the funds were just redirected to other areas rather than adding to the education totals. Weinberg admitted that was a valid question, but said things will be different this time. “We agree with those upset that the gaming tax revenues were not initially used to ‘enhance’ the education budget,” he said. “For-
tunately, the Maryland General Assembly passed a Constitutional Amendment in 2018 that mandated all gaming tax dollars be used to supplement education funding.”” Witek Wacinski, BetMGM’s Vice President of Strategy & Development, said there are benefits for both those who wager and for the state. “A yes vote on Question 2 will create the path for legal, regulated sports betting in the state,” he said. “It will allow Maryland voters to wager on sports with operators they know and trust and the tax revenues directed will support Maryland education at a time of critical need.” As for undecided voters, Wacinski said: “It is important for voters to understand, sports betting is already happening in Maryland but through the use of offshore, illegal, unregulated applications. Marylanders who are betting in the legal market are going to surrounding states to spend their money, helping to fund priorities elsewhere.” Once the ballots are in and if voters approve, then lawmakers would have to get into the details of the actual laws itself like who would be eligible for the licenses to run sports betting operations? If Maryland follows the blueprints of other states, they would license casinos, possibly some racetracks, its fairgrounds and other bigger locations like the Washington football team’s stadium, to operate betting venues. These brick-and-mortar avenues would go along with an online plan, which would be driven by mostly mobile platforms. Think companies like DraftKings and FanDuel. Of course, the steps to take after legalization is a whole other discussion. For now, the future of sports betting for the state of Maryland is in the hands of its constituents. VikasChokshi@GamingToday.com
everyone has been a pleasure to work with and welcoming. I can’t say enough good things.” People outside the commission bubble have been equally effusive of their praise in return. Ed Feigenbaum has been the editor and publisher of the Indiana Gaming Insight newsletter since 1993. Especially when compared with neighboring states, he’s said that the commission has succeeded over the years because of its timely, consumer-forward approach. He said Tait has been a worthy bearer of the burden. “Sara is loved by her staff and respected by her peers,” he said. “She is proactive and does things right.” Perhaps the best recent example of such forethought is in the commission’s work leading up to and following the landmark Supreme Court decision that effectively nixed the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018. Even before the national decision was rendered, Tait and the commission had set forth research firm Eilers and Krejcik to lay out for legislators how a statewide operation would work, including enforcement options, a range of taxes and the pros and cons of mobile wagering and remote registration. Once a handful of other U.S. states were up and running with their sports wagering protocols, Tait added to the study by showing lawmakers those other policies. Preparedness was key when Please see Lawhon p24
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
G2E forced to have different look
The Global Gaming Expo, known as G2E that normally brings some 27,000 gaming industry executives from around the world to Las Vegas is going virtual next week. The industry’s 20th annual trade show originally set for Oct. 5-8 at the Sands Expo and Convention Center will instead take place online Oct. 27-28. Las Vegas’ slot manufacturers and companies that serve the gaming industry won’t have a trade show floor to display their new machines and technology. But they are counting on the virtual event to help with the gaming industry’s ongoing recovery into 2021. Cait DeBaun, senior director of strategic communications and responsibility for the American Gaming Association, said since the pandemic hit, they knew G2E would need to change. They canceled the in-person event over the summer when they didn’t know what travel and convention restrictions would be in place. Nevada has recently upped its limit from 50 to 250 people to attend conferences. “Although we don’t have an inperson event, we wanted a platform for the industry to connect to share common learnings on how to conduct business, to network and have a conversation of what our recovery looks like,” DeBaun said.
The topics of the educational portions of the conference cover a range of issues from sports betting, payments, responsible gam-
in an exhibition hall where customers can see everything in one location. The cancellation of the in-person show comes at a time the industry is dealing with reduced revenues and reduced capital expenditure budgets. Jingoli said it’s been difficult for the gaming industry in Las Vegas, Buck Wargo especially properties on the Strip. @brianbuckwargo But there are pockets across the country with regional and tribal ing, and iGaming. There’s also the casinos that are seeing recovery. virtual trade show and networkProducts make a difference no ing events online. matter the state of the industry, The focus of the conference is he said. always about innovation and the “The good thing about our infuture of gaming. But this year’s dustry is when you have a product event deals with what the next six, that performs at a high level, it 12 and 24 months will be like and seems to always find a way to get Photo from Konami features AGA President and CEO on the casino floor,” Jingoli said. Konami’s virtual showroom for this year’s G2E. Bill Miller’s outlook. “We’re seeing some of that for DeBaun said this year’s show sure. It’s not at the volume we had will provide lessons about how Expo center and bring it online,” Vice President & Chief Operating pre-Covid, but there’s certainly to include virtual elements in fu- DeBaun said. “You can’t create Officer Thomas Jingoli said the Las interest out there. On our systems ture shows. There are also plans to those large, impressive and inno- Vegas-based slot maker and gam- side, we’re going to have a record launch year-round virtual events vative booths that they offer, but ing management systems compa- year in terms of connections and you can still bring your content. ny will miss the opportunity of not revenue. There’s business to be that take G2E beyond October. “We’ve seen great interest from meeting with and being in front of had out there.” The in-person shows have been used by Las Vegas-based compa- our suppliers to show off the great customers at the trade show. Konami’s hot product is called “It’s definitely different, but it’s All Aboard — a successful slot nies to showcase their products to products they offer in any given casino operators across the world. year. But they are also displaying important as a company we get brought to the U.S. from Australia. Companies will now have to use products that respond to the pan- in front of our customers any way There are 125 of those games out the virtual show and alternatives demic and how casinos had to we can,” Jingoli on floors in North pivot to responsibly reopening said. “Doing to make up for that loss. America today. “We created the virtual show- and focus on sanitization and ca- the virtual G2E “ Eve r y w h e r e rooms this year to take some of sino-floor spacing with products trade show is we placed it, it’s a good opporthe experience exhibitors and that didn’t exist six months ago.” performing three Konami Gaming Inc. Executive tunity for all of buyers have in person at the Sands times the house us showcasaverage,” Jingoli ing products. said. “We’re exHopefully, we tremely excited will get good about it.” visitation from Konami is also Nation and other tribes are required to share STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS our customers.” poised for 2021 by The Tohono O’odham Nation has announced a percentage of gaming revenues with local Jingoli said being named the it will be contributing $1 million each to the Uni- governments and qualified nonprofits. The NaKo n a m i h a s exclusive gaming versity of Arizona and Arizona State University to tion has awarded more than 500 of these grants had a good system managesince enactment of the compact in 2003 support their mediturnout already ment partner for Photo from Konami and, with large awards such as these, the cal researchers’ efof customers Konami’s Tom Jingoli. Resorts World Las program allows for funding to come from forts to combat the willing to travel Vegas that opens multiple fiscal years. coronavirus. to Las Vegas for pre-G2E meetings in the summer. Jingoli called that The funding will come from the Nation’s 12% on a smaller scale. More are sched- a “huge opportunity” for the comSports bet seminar goes virtual gaming revenue grants required under its comuled for the next 30 days, he said. pany. In light of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, pact with Arizona to share with local community “Customers are starting to get The system is a marketing, comSBC Events has converted the 2020 edition of Betprograms. out and move a little bit, as is all munications and tracking tool Both universities will use the funds to mitigate ting on Sports America into a fully virtual event of our competition,” Jingoli said. to increase player engagement the disruptive consequences of COVID-19, includ- to ensure the safety of speakers, delegates and “We’re also doing our own virtual through individual customized ing new testing methods and tools to enable the sponsors. showroom. A lot has changed in incentives. It also assesses casino The two-day event, scheduled for Dec. 1-2, feaeffective and equitable deployment of emerging 2020 for sure.” performance through detailed tures a high-level digital conference that will see technologies. Nothing, however, can make up analytics and manages accountPlease see Industry Notes p24 Under the tribal-state gaming compact, the for the in-person meetings and ing, slot and table operations. having a defined date and time BuckWargo@GamingToday.com
AZ schools get grants Industry Notes
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Fall promos in full swing As we see the temperatures finally begin to fall in Las Vegas and with Halloween a little over a week away, many casinos are ramping up their promotions for the holiday. This week focuses on cards, new member programs and food!
South Point Poker players have two promotions to get their hands on: “Hot Card Daze,” and “Spooktober Mystery High Hands.” Next Tuesday, in the South Point Poker Room, the Hot Card Daze promotion will feature a Hot Card matching the number
Inside the House Sebastian Ross @Vegasveryown of the month and pays bonuses by improving with the designated pocket pair. Tens are featured as the designated card for the month of October. Players get $100 when flopping a set, $200 for a full house, $400 for flopping a full house, $500 if you make quads, and $1,000 when you flop quads.
Lawhon: Tait was ready Continued from p22 the state approved sports wagering for a Sept. 1, 2019 start date and a mobile launch a month later. That summer of constant meetings and furious license approvals brought many late nights, stressful moments, shifts in job responsibilities and several trips for Tait to buy the staff pizza. As wagering on mobile devices has rapidly increased — Tait said that conservatively, north of 70% of all Indiana handle comes from bets made on phones or computers — she’s been grateful for members of her staff with technological backgrounds who have become the unsung superstars of the sports wagering team. The months since the coronavirus pandemic have actually seen the work increase for Tait and her staff, given the increased focus on mobile operations and health and safety measures that also allow facilities to keep their daily operations above-board. In this time that’s heavy on remote work, she said she’s missed the camaraderie that came with rolling up collective sleeves with her staff and accomplishing tasks together. A recent socially distanced picnic reminded her of good fortune. “I’ve tried to be more mindful to call and check in on people,” said Tait, herself a mother of three children who only recently saw them returning to in-person learning in early October. “Or have a video conference to see how they’re doing, ask about that nonprofessional stuff. I’ve missed the watercooler talk. At that outdoor picnic, with all of us in our lawn chairs, it was really great to see everybody’s faces.” And when the time comes for normalcy to reappear, the Indiana gaming industry will remain confident that Tait is the face regulating it. “The biggest takeaways should be we did everything right in Indiana, and we had everybody together on this,” Feigenbaum said. “Everybody understood what was needed and wanted out of it. That’s the way things have been in this state’s gaming industry since 1993, and (sports wagering) was more of the good same.” DannyLawhon@GamingToday.com
Photo from South Point Facebook
The Poker Room at the South Point is running two Halloween promotions. The Spooktober Mystery High Hands promotion incentivizes winning on big hands. For the rest of the month, mystery envelopes containing cash prizes starting at $50 are available. A total of 700 envelopes are in play, with the prize going as high as $5,000.
Downtown Grand The third street venue offers a few new promotions for its players this month. The first features what the venue is calling “Downtown Las Vegas’ only $1 blackjack, the game’s lowest available in Sin City.”
The second begins with wishing a farewell to the “Daily Slot Tournament,” and welcoming the “Instant Millionaire New Member Program.” The promotion welcomes new Grand Rewards players by allowing them to win prizes such as a free room, free slot play credit, match play, mystery gifts, and a shot at $1 million. New players get a shot at all of this with one free spin, after signing up.
El Cortez This is a big weekend for the UFC, as Khabib squares up with Gaethje for the lightweight title in
Industry notes: CT loss Continued from p23 senior executives from major operators, regulators, and sports organizations share ideas that will help to shape the future of the U.S. sports betting industry. Along with the content, there will be a wide range of opportunities to connect and talk business, including an interactive expo hall showcasing the latest innovations from leading suppliers, themed networking roundtables, and workshops.
Pittsburgh casino sets opening date Live! Casino Pittsburgh will be open, pending approval from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board, on Nov. 24. Prior to the grand opening, the casino will host a few private charity events on November 14-15 to benefit the Westmoreland County Food Bank. There is also a planned ribbon-cutting ceremony on November 17.”
Connecticut handle declines Slot machine revenues were down at Connecticut’s casinos last month, with Mohegan Sun’s slots win falling by nearly 10% and Foxwoods Resort Casino’s down by more than 20%. Mohegan Sun reported that it kept $40.3 million after paying out prizes, a 9.7% decline from the $44.6 million it kept the previous September. Foxwoods kept $27.6 million last month, down 22.9% from the $35.9 million it kept the same month a year ago. In August, Mohegan Sun was down nearly 9% while Foxwoods was down about 25%.
UFC 254. The venue is selling tickets to the viewing party to Club Cortez Members for $10; General admission is $20. This pairs up with a “New Players Choice Offer.” New Club Cortez players get a choice of $10 in free slot play or $10 in blackjack match play.
Plaza The Plaza has revamped their promotions recently. Plaza Rewards get 10x points during the “Mystery Multiplier” promotion, this and next Wednesday. The maximum-point total is capped at 25,000. The “Pick Your Pumpkin Kiosk Game” gives players a shot at winning $1,000 by earning 50 base points on Tuesdays and Thursdays, for the rest of the month. Another draw for players is the food specials. “Pizza Mondays” serves up a free slice of cheese or pepperoni from Pop Up Pizza, for players earning 100 points slot points; “Taco Tuesdays” gives players a free taco and medium drink from Fresh Mexican Grill, for earning 100 points; “Grilled Cheese Wednesdays” from the Coffee Bar for players earning 100 points; and “Coffee & Croissant Fridays” rounds the week out by offering a free cappuccino and almond croissant by tallying up 100 points, too. The food specials run from 8 a.m. through midnight on the assigned day. Another good thing: you get to keep all of your points! This Week’s Big Winner: A $133,000 Pai Gow jackpot was reported on Oct. 13, at Planet Hollywood. The winner, John Daly, was visiting on a surprise trip planned out by his friends. The Strip venue reopened back on Oct. 8. SebastianRoss@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Calculating expected value
Last week, I discussed how every strategy decision made in the casino is based on the expected value. In the game of Blackjack, there are usually only two, maybe three realistic ways to play a hand. Many hands are fairly obvious if you get even the most basic strategy down. Not much to choose from when you’re dealt a 3-4. You can’t split them. You’re not going to double and hopefully you won’t stick on it, even if the Dealer has a 6. Video Poker is a bit more complex, sort of. You’re dealt five cards. There are now 32 distinct ways, theoretically, that you can play the hand. But, like Blackjack, most of the ways get eliminated with just the slightest amount of strategy. You’re not going to throw away a pair to hold two High Cards. If you have a 4-card Straight, you’re not going to keep a random 5 along with a King. In reality, there are usually just two or three realistic ways you’re going
to play the hand, with a handful of hands that might stretch this out to four or five. To hopefully help you under-
Strategies Elliot Frome @Gambatria stand how we calculate the expected value, I’m going to start with a simple example. Let’s say you are dealt the following: I think we can all figure out how
to play this hand. I purposefully designed it so that there is no question at all. There is not even a 3-Card Straight Flush for you to think about. How do we calculate the ex-
pected value for this hand? Before I even start, let me be clear to the newbies out there. You do not have to learn how to calculate this on your own, nor do it on the fly while sitting there. I am simply demonstrating how it is calculated so that you see that there is real math behind the expected value and the strategy overall. As most versions of video poker use a 52-card deck, there are 47 cards remaining in the deck after the 5-card deal. We are going to start with the obvious strategy here and hold the three 5’s. That leaves us drawing two cards. There are 1,081 ways to draw two cards from the remaining 47 cards. This is called ‘47 choose 2’ as the order of the two cards is meaningless. Simplified the math comes down to 47 times 46 divided by 2. This is 1,081. So, we use a computer program to figure out what the final hand will be if we were to play out all 1,081 hands. 46 of these hands
will result in a Four of a Kind. Sixtysix will result in a Full House. The remaining 969 will stay Three of a Kinds. We now add up the coins we would have won. Assuming a basic jacks or better full-pay machine, we have: (46 x 25)+(66 x 9)+(969 x 3)=4,651 We divide this by the 1,081 possible hands and get a value of 4.30. This is the expected value of a Three of a Kind. If we were playing Bonus Poker, the Full House would pay only 8 and the expected value would be only 4.24. When we build our strategy, we take nothing for granted. So, the computer program would actually go out and calculate the expected value of the other 31 ways to play the hand, like keeping just one 5 or just a 5-8. Obviously, the calculations for all of these will result in a lot of non-winning hands and the expected value will be much less than 4.30. Next week, I’ll dissect a hand with a bit more decision making involved.
Carp: Continued from p4 during the coronavirus pandemic. For Christenson, Livengood and those who worked on the NCAA bids that were ultimately successful, great job. But upon hearing the news, I couldn’t help but think about a certain basketball coach who once worked here. Somewhere in hoops heaven, Jerry Tarkanian is smiling that wry smile he would always display when he won a game. But this? This news likely called for Tark to light up a victory cigar, Red Auerbachstyle. Hey, it’s not often Vegas gets to do business with the NCAA without Vegas getting the short end of the stick. Incidentally, how are those nice folks from the NCAA’s Committee on Infractions doing these days? I kinda miss them in a somewhat morbid way. email@example.com
Reading opponents a key component In general, I do appreciate In his Upswing Poker website, poker guru Doug Polk recently Doug’s advice. But there is one offered advice on reading your thing he suggests that needs more thought, opp onent s: especially in a What range of low/middle hands is each limit game most likely to where the be holding. George ‘The bets are douThe more acEngineer’ Epstein bled on the curate your turn and river. read, the better your chance of winning the That’s the game most of us recpot. This applies to all varieties reational players prefer, so let’s stick to it. High-limit and no-limit of poker. “Pay close attention to what games require further consideryour opponents are doing, es- ation. As an example, he uses a pecially in a live setting,” he says. “They will often times give away hold’em hand where you raise a lot of information.” Focus your preflop and an opponent calls attention on the game and the from the Big Blind. On that baplayers — even after you have sis, he explains you can rule out already folded. The more you that the BB has a made hand like study your opponents and their A-A, K-K, or Q-Q within his range actions, the better chance you “because they almost certainly have of getting an accurate read would have 3-bet these hands and more likely to win the pot. preflop.”
Poker by George
Here is my question: Is a reraise (a 3-bet) always the wise move with a big pocket pair? It’s more complicated than Doug suggests. In this case, holding pocket Aces, the BB might indeed be inclined to make a 3-bet; it is only natural. “It is almost always better to fast-play your strongest hands before the flop,” Doug says. But is that always the best decision? A sharp player realizes that his goal is to win as big a pot as possible. Holding pocket Aces, for example, and considering the probabilities (the card odds and the pot odds), the optimum is to play against three or four (at most) opponents. If BB’s reraise were to force out several opponents, he may not be able to achieve that objective. How do you decide? My advice? Consider your opponents’ traits — tight, loose,
passive or aggressive. If there are several tight players at your table, your 3-bet is likely to get them to muck their hole cards. Is that to your advantage? Yes, that will certainly give your hand a better chance to hold up; but your goal is to win as many chips as possible. Is he a calling-station? Once he has invested preflop, is he bound to stay all the way to the showdown? Is he a “maniac” who loves to raise and reraise? In those cases, your 3-bet won’t force him out; but what about the others? Even if your 3-bet is called, your opponents are bound to be more cautious on the turn and river — and less likely to further contribute to building the pot. Before making a 3-bet, ask yourself how many opponents still remain in the pot? If there are only one or two, your reraise
may do more harm than good. In that case, just limp along. Call any bets preflop. But what if there is a raise and several callers? Then you might make it a check-raise by 3-betting when the action gets back to you in the Big Blind. Those opponents who had already called, along with the raiser, are bound to call your reraise — multiplying the size of the pot you expect to win. Otherwise, plan to play deceptively starting with the turn. Remember that, in this case, your goal is to build the pot as big as possible. Check from the Big Blind; an opponent opens the betting and gets called by several others. Now is the time to make your check-raise to further build the pot. If you are called, consider the type of player he is. If he is tight, be cautious; he could have your pocket Aces beat. GeorgeEpstein@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
Things haven’t been all bad in 2020 Like many families, I grew up with three adults in our household. My grandmother on my mother’s side lived with us until I was in my teens. She was born in County Cork, Ireland, with wonderful old-world values, which she readily shared with my sister and me. She was also inbred with several Irish traditions and superstitions and sayings, which she held as dear as the weathered Bible that was always by her bed. I learned early on that if I found a four-leaf clover, I was in for a long spell of good luck. But if I ever killed a robin, I would have lifelong bad luck. That explained why I never had a young boy’s pleasures of a BB gun or a slingshot. After reading the newspaper every morning, my granny would share with us the good news and the bad news of the day. She said if the good news outweighed the bad, it was going to be a wonderful day. Of course, bad news sells more papers than good news, so there was something skewed with that reasoning. I thought I’d put the good news/ bad news metric to Las Vegas in recent days, to see if 2020 is as horrible as one might suspect. Here’s some recent good news: • The Las Vegas Raiders beat the current Super Bowl champ Kansas City Chiefs last week and looked like they too could become an elite team in the NFL. • The Vegas Golden Knights made it to the final four teams in the National Hockey League, a strong accomplishment in just their third season. But they spoiled local puck fans by making it to the championship finals in their inaugural season, so anything less than winning Lord Stanley’s Cup seems somehow disappointing. • The WNBA Las Vegas Aces made it to the championship final and look to be building a franchise that will be a contender for years to come. They also had the league MVP in A’ja Wilson. • It seems totally appropriate that the Raiders and Aces have rough-around-the-edges coaches perfectly suited to our city. John Gruden is known as Chucky, for his movie character’s evil smile, and Bill Laimbeer was the centerpiece
of the Bad Boys of the NBA. Both men must have been chosen by central casting. • The Oct. 28 opening of Derek
Vegas Vibe Jack Sheehan @jacksheehanspks Stevens’ Circa Resort & Casino is a great shot in the arm for downtown Las Vegas. If COVID will eventually give us a break, there’s every reason to believe that all the energy that has been put forth in the downtown area will provide strong job opportunities and revenue for the heart of the city. • Resorts World is making progress towards a summer 2021 opening date. It is projected to add 7,000 jobs to a blighted economy that has left far too many unemployed and suffering and looking for a new opportunity.
I’ll try not to make the bad news list overly long. It would be too depressing: • As this is being written, Nevada is one of 36 states that is seeing an increase in positive COVID tests, with no substantially lowering in death rates. Ugh! New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo says we’ll all be wearing masks up to Christmas 2021. • Our state’s unemployment rate is currently 14%, slightly worse than the national average. There is some relative good news in that back in July, just three months ago, the rate was 25.3%, one of the highest in the nation. • It’s unsettling to realize that our COVID positive test rate seems to be moving in the wrong direction as winter settles upon us. • We are less than two weeks out from one of the most contentious Presidential elections in the last century. The silver lining is that after Nov. 3 there won’t be any more political ads on television, even though our suspicion is the final
Photo from USA Today
A’ja Wilson led the Las Vegas Aces to WNBA Finals. vote count won’t be totally resolved until Christmas or beyond. With all of that to chew on, I wish all our readers a Happy Halloween in advance. And rather than sporting those boring pale
blue masks the rest of the month, how about one touting the Golden Knights or the Raiders? It might give you a hidden smile and reason to look forward. JackSheehan@GamingToday.com.
Chianti has old-world charm During football season, I try to go to a lot of sports bar-themed places for my reviews. But as we all know, 2020 has been extremely difficult for a lot of local restaurants. So I am trying to have a good mix of the places I go to and review. This week, I tried a place that had opened last November and even though this place is just three minutes Marco D’Angelo from my house, I hadn’t been @MarcoInVegas there yet, mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic. Chianti is an Italian restaurant located at 4275 S. Durango Drive, Suite 100. The owners of Chianti have two other restaurants, both of them in the state of Washington. The first was opened in 2011 and the restaurant featured homemade recipes — pasta, desserts, fresh seafood, and a wood-fired pizza oven. Their whole family worked there, parents, kids, cousins, aunts, uncles, and friends. For me growing up in an Italian house, food and family were one in the same. And from their first restaurant in Kirkland, Wash., to Chianti here in Las Vegas, I got that same feeling here. When you walk in, you might think you are at a wedding with all the white decor. But honestly, it would be a great place to have a small wedding dinner at. The ambiance of the restaurant will make you feel like you’re in a Tuscan village about to enjoy good food with family and friends and that’s exactly what we had. We started the meal off with salad and moved on to two of our favorite dishes. Lori ordered Chicken Parmigiana as she usually does
and I ordered Veal Parmigiana which is always followed by the look and remark from Lori, saying, “You are eating a baby cow” and I answer, “Yes I am, and that chicken is so grateful you let him grow a little longer before he became your dinner.” Both dishes were spot on. Lori had hers with a side of mixed vegetables while I went with a side of spaghetti with their house marinara. The veal was very tender, and the breading complimented the meat instead of overpowering it. In fact, when we ordered these dishes, the waiter asked if we wanted the dishes prepared with or without being breaded. I have only been to a few places that ever gave that option. The breading was excellent, and both the pasta and veggies were good side dishes. Save room for dessert as they have several good options and I narrowed it down to two choices. The Limoncello Mascarpone Cake or the Blanca. When the waiter returned, I asked him what his favorite dessert was, not telling him what I narrowed it down to. He replied quickly with the Blanca being his favorite. So, the Blanca it was. It is a hazelnut cookie base topped with a layer of hazelnut crunch and chocolate sponge cake filled and topped with vanilla flavored cream studded with chocolate chips and coated in a white chocolate. Or for the short version, an amazing dessert. Chianti had live music when we were there on a Saturday night and the place was packed, with social distancing of course. I highly recommend making reservations. Everyone is so friendly here and very attentive so all your needs. I give Chianti a rating of 3.75 Forks. MarcoDangelo@GamingToday.com
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
OCTOBER 21, 2020 - OCTOBER 27, 2020
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