Bookie report: Is Billy Walters responsible for BCS line move?

Jan 9, 2012 |
Rumors regularly swirl throughout the gambling community about major line moves on the biggest games. Over the last few days there’s been no bigger discussion than what betting group is potentially behind the move on today’s national championship game. 

Stories out of Birmingham speculate the move was driven by none other than Billy Walters himself, pile driving the line from LSU -1.5 to Alabama to -2. One of my primary responsibilities as a bookmaker is to recognize customers whose opinions are worth valuing however for this game I’d be lying if I said the betting pattern hasn’t been unusual. 

I haven’t seen the normal contingent of gamblers on the “sharp” side which really makes me wonder how this game will play out on the field. The real curiosity is why and more importantly how the story of Walters’ supposedly large position leaks to the press? 

By making the sharp position common knowledge the betting public could take it as the catalyst to flood the market on the same side driving the number higher for dog bettors to grab the best available line. 

As the betting pool for a game swells, each large bet has less impact on the line than it would on the opening price before the line settles, so it just takes a few bets (albeit large ones) to get the ball rolling.  Once a line comes to rest, books extend greater limits to bettors realizing the price won’t continue to move thus eliminating exposure on a middle. 

Bettors are aware of the process and structure betting patterns accordingly (especially during bowl season) with 3-4 weeks of time to manipulate the spread for their best number. Unfortunately the reality is we won’t know the real position of the world’s sharpest gamblers until kickoff and I caution any novice gambler out there from doing two things: chasing alleged steam on a true position and grabbing the worst of the number at the tail end of the move.

Books Biggest Win: Denver beating the Steelers outright was the biggest decision of the week to fall in the house’s favor. Plenty of bettors believe parlaying favorites on the moneyline is the safest betting methodology but ask individuals who assumed the Saints /Steelers combination would lead to a risk free payday if they still felt the same way after Tim Tebow’s 80-yard TD strike.

Books Biggest Loss: South Carolina might not have deserved to cover against Nebraska yet it didn’t matter to the bettors who cashed plenty of tickets on the Ole Ball Coach. Fading the Big Ten became a theme this bowl season and no game put more of a hurting on the book than the Capital One Bowl this past week. Nick Holt, Washington’s defensive coordinator, won’t be receiving holiday wishes from Vegas either.

Futures Report: Wisconsin’s recent three-game skid has sent its stock plummeting in the college hoops futures market. The Badgers lost two games at home, typically a season’s worth under Bo Ryan. Unless this team rediscovers its ability to score in the halfcourt, a once promising year in Madison could turn south in a hurry.

Fastest riser? None other than the Atlanta Hawks who appear poised for a run at the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Even with their wins over the Bulls and Heat, the Hawks are still a dark horse/borderline contender, at least for now.

Quote of the week: “So if I bet the Steelers to win the Super Bowl and they don’t even make it to the, game does that mean I get my money back?”

Sterling Ross works on the other side of the betting window at a popular sportsbook in Las Vegas. He tells us what's on his mind and the biggest winners and losers at his book every other week.

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