Nothing brings out degenerates in droves like football spreads in June.
The Golden Nugget will post lines on 111 college football matchups – its Games of the Year – at 10 a.m. PT Monday morning. You’ll see plenty of nerdy-looking, number-crunchers clutching their Phil Steele magazines, as sharp bettors line up 50 deep for their first crack at betting college football games since Alabama topped LSU in the 2012 BCS Championship Game.
“The first day is the most stressful by far,” Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller told Covers. “It pits us against all the smart handicappers and wise guys in the business. The numbers settle after the first day and it slows down a lot from smart money.”
Check out the full list of the Golden Nugget's Games of the Year as well as the biggest games, spreads, non-conference clashes and conference newcomers.
Bettors are allowed to make three bets ($1,000 per bet limit) before they’re asked to return to the back of the line. The Golden Nugget took $130,000 in action on opening day of its Games of the Year last June and expects to take closer to $200,000 in bets for today’s openers.
Be prepared to see some of these lines move quickly. Miller and his staff let the Day 1 bettors set the market and move the spreads accordingly.
“Our main concern is middles,” Miller says.
Middles happen when a pointspread for a game makes a large move and a bettor buys at the first price, say Florida State -8, and then - after the line move - grabs the other side, say Clemson +12.5. Sportsbooks end up having to pay both sides if the final score falls in between those two spreads.
A few years ago, the Golden Nugget was exposed to a 14-point middle in a USC-Notre Dame game and Miller says his book got beat up pretty bad two years ago by some sharp bettors who were ahead of the North Carolina suspension story.
There is a limited market to go off too. Miller said he did see the college football spreads 5Dimes posted for Week 1.
Here is a quick comparison between the two shops:
5Dimes Week 1 lines compared, Golden Nugget in bold
Boise State at Michigan State -7 -120 - Michigan State -6
Michigan vs Alabama, in Arlington -12 -120 - Alabama -12
Marshall at West Virginia -20½ -120 - West Virginia -20
Auburn vs Clemson, in Atlanta -4½ -120 - Clemson -2
Navy vs Notre Dame, in Dublin -14½ -120 - Notre Dame -13.5
Kentucky at Louisville -9½ -120 - Louisville -11.5
This is the sixth year Miller and his staff posted their Games of the Year spreads for college football and they’ve finished in the black in four of the past five years, although Miller admits the losses from the one bad year probably match the combined winnings from the other four years.
Miller and Golden Nugget oddsmaker Aaron Kessler see things pretty much the same way most do. Southern Cal is at the top of their power ratings followed by Alabama, LSU and Oregon, which sets Saturday, Nov. 3 – when the Ducks visit the Trojans and the Tigers host the Tide – as the biggest day on the college football calendar.