The Vegas Sports Informer has been part of the winning handicapping team at Doc’s Sports Service for over four years now with his expert selections for a number of different sports. He has also been able to provide some keen insight into what it is like behind the counter in the center of the universe when it comes to wagering on sports.
As part of an ongoing weekly series, we decided to take better advantage of this wealth of gambling knowledge by sitting down with The Informer to explore the entire Las Vegas sports betting scene as only a true insider can understand and appreciate it. Our goal is to give you a unique glimpse into the world behind the counter of a Las Vegas book as well as some insight into what it takes to successfully handicap the games.
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Doc’s Sports: Before we get into the nuts and bolts of this week’s action, could you provide a brief recap of what moved the dial in Las Vegas last weekend?
VSI: All I can say is thank God for the Fighting Irish. Everyone was on Oklahoma last week, so Notre Dame’s big win ended up saving the books’ collective hides. They still took a beating on Kansas State and the “over,” which seems to be a weekly occurrence, and Sunday crashed and burned by a fingertip with the Cowboys’ loss to the Giants.
Doc’s Sports: The big game on this Saturday’s slate is No.5 LSU as a 9.5-point home underdog against No.1 Alabama. How do you see this one turning out?
VSI: I’ll probably stay completely away from this game, but if I had to make an educated guess I would take the Tigers to cover. The thing that scares me is the way that Alabama ran all over Mississippi State last week. It is hard to see anyone beating the Tide right now, so LSU has to try and keep this game ugly for all four quarters to have any kind of chance.
Doc’s Sports: Turning to the pros, the second half of the NFL regular season gets underway this week. Do see any teams that are currently “under the radar” making a run?
VSI: Looking at the NFC, the Redskins have a chance to make some noise and get in the playoffs as a wildcard team if RG III keeps developing and the defense tightens things up. The team I really like to make a move is the Pittsburgh Steelers. With Baltimore’s defense devastated by injuries, the door is now wide open in the AFC North. While even the Bengals have a chance to make a move, my money is on the Steelers to steamroll their way into the postseason.
Doc’s Sports: The NBA tips off a new season on Tuesday night as the league returns to a full 82 games this year. Can you give me a few teams that have the ability to get out to a fast start and make us all some early money?
VSI: I have made a pretty good living handicapping pro basketball with six straight years of producing winners, but this season could be my biggest challenge with so many good teams in the league. I look for the Brooklyn Nets to quickly settle into their new digs to make some early noise in the Atlantic Division, while Indiana has a golden opportunity to jump out to a fast start in the Central with Chicago’s Derrick Rose still on the mend. As far as the Western Conference, keep an eye out for Utah and Houston. The Jazz are young, but they have a very deep bench that can pile up more than a few wins against the better teams in the league. The recent addition of James Harden to the Rockets lineup makes them an automatic contender to win the Southwest. His presence will take much of the pressure off of Jeremy Lin to try and carry this team while adding exactly what Houston needed; another legitimate scoring threat.
Doc’s Sports: Adding to all the fun will be the start of another college basketball season in a couple of weeks. Do you have a few quick tips when it comes to handicapping the early season nonconference games and tournaments?
VSI: I have noticed over the years that the oddsmakers have a tendency to go a little high on their total lines when the season first starts. Many times you will see coaches pull their starters early if their team has a big lead to give the entire bench some much-needed playing time. This in turn works to keep the final scores down and “under” the total line. Another early tendency for some of the bigger bettors in Las Vegas is to focus mainly on the first-half line. For the same reason mentioned above, that spread will better reflect how one team’s starters should perform against another team’s starters. Once the backups are in the game it is very hard to predict what will happen on the scoreboard.
In closing, I would like to add that this should be a huge weekend behind the counter with a few key matchups in college football, the regular NFL action, the start of the NBA, and the running of the Breeders’ Cup Stakes from nearby Santa Anita Racetrack, so be sure to check back in next week to see how it all played out.
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