By Micah Roberts
It was interesting to see one chain of Las Vegas sports books offer the Penguins at 75/1 (Bet $100 to win $7,500), the favorite coming into the playoffs, while down 1-3 to the Flyers in their first-round series.
The thing that intrigued me the most about this particular book, which shall remain nameless although most can probably figure out who it is, is that they are always one of the two worst books in Las Vegas as far as offering value in future prices to unsuspecting out-of-town visitors. They rape the public with their insanely high theoretic holds -- routinely over 55% in all sports -- to a degree that the Nevada Gaming Commission should probably get involved, but yet offer such irresponsible odds on a team that was favored to win the Stanley Cup which leads me to believe the following:
a) They had severe risk of the Flyers to win the series and the Stanley Cup and the only way to balance out their future was by offering extremely high odds on the other side.
b) They made a mistake. It happens sometimes and the person changing the odds could have been trying to put in 7/1 and hit another key by mistake.
c) They have been tired of getting beat up by Jeff Haney in his columns that critique sports book theoretic holds across the state and wanted to take a stand by upgrading their image.
d) One of their bookmakers handicapped the series using opinion rather than logic or math.
e) They fell asleep at the wheel and forgot to update their odds after results from the previous game happened.
f) Poor leadership with no internal policy in place on how to fairly offer and book futures.
The likely reasoning is probably a little bit of d, e and f combined, which is hard to understand because of how severely the sports books took a beating with the Cardinals winning the World Series last year. The Cardinals were offered at odds of 200/1 and 300/1 throughout September and made quite a few believers in them some big money and in the process taught a lot of lessons to the sports books.
The first thing the Cardinals should have taught everyone is to re-tool their bookmaking approach in futures beginning with not getting too overly excited with numbers when a team still has a shot. What is an extra $500 to $1,000 on a team that you've raised the odds on going to mean to the bottom line compared to the damage it can do if it wins? You've got to keep the hold percentage respectable, but without selling your soul or even worse, possibly your job.
Two of the most fundamentally sound future book operations in town are at the LVH Super Book and Lucky's. They always offer the lowest theoretic holds in Las Vegas and have a process in place that has each bookmaker check and update odds daily before and after each game so they never get snuck up on with a team on a hot streak while also gradually raising the prices on teams that are fading.
While it's commendable that this particular unnamed sports book offered 75/1 on the Penguins when everyone else had them no higher than 30/1, it's also laughable that a major corporation could have an operation so routinely inept in all phases.
Even though the Flyers won the series in six games, making them look smart after the fact, it was reckless bookmaking with total disregard for the market and most of all, the company they are supposed to be safeguarding funds for.
If they have turned a corner and decided to be more aggressive and respectable within the betting community, they should start by lowering all their future odds to win any championship into the 40% range.
In case they don't know how to do it, it's that little percentage number the computer figures out at the top of the screen on all index pages. And to maintain a fair hold percentage, when you chop odds from 10/1 down to 6/1, you have to raise another teams odds to balance it out.
The next step is actually taking a wager with odds to win risk of over $1,000.
LVH Super Book Odds through Monday
ODDS TO WIN 2011-2012 STANLEY CUP
ODDS TO WIN 2011-2012 EASTERN CONFERENCE
ODDS TO WIN 2011-2012 WESTERN CONFERENCE