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Cooking up the odds

Early Sunday morning, as gamblers flood the sports books, a group of Las Vegas-based “sports junkies” are cooking up the lines for the following week’s NFL matchups.

Roxy Roxborough, former owner of Las Vegas Sports Consultants, was asked what it takes to be an oddsmaker.

“I’ve always believed that any odds making brew includes parts of both art and science,” Roxborough said. “The degree to which each ingredient appears depends on who’s stirring the pot. The guys setting the lines are all individuals, with their own preferences and procedures, but everyone has to take both aspects of oddsmaking into account.”



LVSC odds manager Cesar Robaina, a believer in the intuitive school of oddsmaking, stated, “Not all sports are the same, but when it comes to the NFL, I sort of feel the number. I then pull out the stat book and validate the number by checking the power ratings, betting patterns and other hard data to make sure everything makes sense.

“In the NFL, where the public really gets involved, you can get a feel for the number pretty easily. There are other areas, such as college football and NBA totals, where professional gamblers have been particularly successful that you have to look at the mathematical approach a little more.”




The meeting of the sports junky minds begins on Sundays at approximately 4:15 p.m. Five guys push their desks together, forming an octagon, as they pore over the upcoming contests.

Game by game, each oddsmaker discusses his theory on the correct point spread. After consideration of each individual’s opinion, a line is set and the numbers are shipped off to the Las Vegas Stardust where management, along with outside consultants, review the numbers, make adjustments and then post the lines.

A group of bettors known as sharks or “Wise Guys” draw straws to see who’s the lucky guy to make the first bets. These professionals then take turns betting the games, as the sports book personnel adjust the lines and attempt to balance the action. Betting continues until the last “Wise Guy” believes the numbers no longer offer him/her any value or advantage.

Monday mornings, linesmakers across the state begin putting up the numbers that reflect the opinion of the smartest players in the business, a group of individuals who attempt to make a living betting sports.

As one Wise Guy said when it comes to posting the lines, “The early bird gets the number.” Then again, as I am fond of telling all you “dog” bettors, “The patient investor will be rewarded with the extra point.”

— Steve Schorr is the race/sports-poker-keno manager at Harveys Resort & Casino.


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