11/10/2011 3:55PM

Base Penn State-Nebraska bets on football facts, not emotions


Is the NBA missed here?

The sports books miss the handle, but bettors are mostly just putting more of their bankrolls into football, so any real impact won’t be felt until February.

Personally, I’m glad there’s no pro basketball to follow as this past week has been the busiest I have ever had with the Breeders’ Cup and World Series of Poker final table thrown on top of the regular football action, so let me clean out my reporter’s notebook:

DRF SPORTS: Latest betting lines, StatFox matchups, and handicapping news for every game

◗ Even with everything else that has been going on, the Penn State scandal has overshadowed all else. We won’t touch the details of that case, but the ViewFromVegas always looks at the betting on the games. PSU is scheduled to host Nebraska at noon Pacific on Saturday in Not-So-Happy Valley. Nebraska opened as a 3-point road favorite at the Wynn Las Vegas on Sunday afternoon (offshore giant CRIS made it -2). Per usual, early betting brought the two together and the consensus around Vegas was Nebraska -2.5 on Monday. As the scandal escalated early in the week, the line was bet to Nebraska -3.5. Many offshore books took the game off the board, but most Vegas books kept booking it. A lot of people have made the assumption that Penn State must be distracted by everything that is going on, including the firing of coach Joe Paterno on Wednesday night, and say that Nebraska is the play (and, according to the VegasInsider.com Live Odds screen, 77 percent of bets have been on the Cornhuskers). However, a lot of people expect the Penn State players to try even harder to win for their fired coach, so the line has stayed pretty steady at 3.5. After the game, we’re sure to hear “See, you should have known the Penn State players wouldn’t be focused” or “See, you should have known they would win for JoePa” depending on the outcome, and those who espoused those beliefs before the game will feel vindicated by the result. However, in my opinion, it’s faulty to assume a cause/effect on something like this. It’s a game. The players will play, and the result will be determined by how they perform on the field during the 60-minute escape from the real world.

◗ The Breeders’ Cup was deemed a success in our race and sports books – despite a drop in handle from last year’s $7.25 million on the BC races to $6.861 million this year, according to Vinny Magliulo at the Las Vegas Dissemination Company – as it was part of a huge college football Saturday capped by the LSU-Alabama game. Drosselmeyer’s upset in the Classic was a mixed result in the future books. Dan Shapiro of Lucky’s Race & Sports Books said Drosselmeyer was a loser for his books as they sold a lot of tickets on the winner at 30-1. John Avello at the Wynn said Drosselmeyer was a winner for his book even though he took some big bets at 40-1 earlier this fall; of course, Avello’s BC Classic futures are put up in January so he had a longer time (and more dead tickets on horses that didn’t make it to the race) to overcome the late money. After the Breeders’ Cup, all eyes in the futures books turn to the Kentucky Derby. Before upsetting the BC Juvenile, Hansen was 50-1 to win the 2012 Derby at the Wynn; after his win, Avello only dropped him to 25-1. Union Rags is still the 10-1 favorite with Creative Cause at 20-1. Note: BC Juvenile Fillies winner Secret Circle is 30-1.

◗ Back to the LSU-Alabama game, action was balanced for the most part so the books made out okay with LSU’s 9-6 overtime win. The Las Vegas Hilton lowered the Tigers to odds of 5-7 to win the BCS Championship Game. A lot is being made about whether a rematch is possible if the remaining undefeated teams – Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Boise State – lose or even if Alabama could finish ahead of those teams in the final BCS Poll. The Hilton kept the Crimson Tide as the second choice at 5-2 while Oklahoma State and Stanford are both 9-2 with Boise State at 25-1.

◗ The World Series of Poker’s Main Event resumed Sunday at the Rio with the November Nine competing for the $8.7 million first-place prize. They played down to the final three – Pius Heinz, 22, of Cologne, Germany; Martin Staszko, 35, of Trinic, Czech Republic; and Ben Lamb, 26, of Tulsa, Okla., and Las Vegas) – and that trio returned to play shortly before 6 p.m. Tuesday. The atmosphere was wild in the Penn & Teller Theater with several thousand spectators, many in cheering sections for their favorite players. With all the chanting and singing, it was like a soccer crowd (except without the rioting and the vuvuzelas, thankfully). This isn’t your old man’s World Series of Poker, which used to be played in Benny’s Bullpen upstairs at Binion’s Horseshoe downtown. Lamb, the 2011 Player of the Year and biggest liability for casinos that legally book the World Series of Poker for the first time, busted out on the fourth hand Tuesday night as his aggressive play backfired and he settled for the $4 million third-place prize. Those who were hoping for an early night (yes, that would be yours truly) were in for a surprise as Heinz and Staszko battled for the next six hours with just a few 10- to 15-minute breaks and some TV timeouts as ESPN was broadcasting the final table with a 15-minute delay for the first time. After nine lead changes, Heinz finally won the title at 12:15 a.m. Wednesday. Staszko had gone all-in with 10-7 suited and Heinz called his bluff with Ace-King. The ace-high held, giving Heinz the $8.7 million and the bracelet. Heinz closed at odds of 5-1 (after being as high as 12-1) when the Rio closed its betting on who would win the title. Staszko won $5.4 million for second.

Back to the (football) betting board

I went 3-0 with my NFL plays last week with the Buccaneers-Saints staying under the total of 50 and the Bengals and Ravens both winning outright as 3-point underdogs against the Titans and Steelers, respectively. Hopefully the winning continues this weekend.

Steelers-Bengals Under 41.5

With shorter space for plays this week, I will stick with my hot under plays. Rookie QB Andy Dalton is given a lot of credit for the Bengals’ surprising start, but it’s their defense that has been the key. This game has playoff implications and I expect it to be hard-fought and low-scoring.

PLAY: Steelers-Bengals under 41.5 points for 1 unit .

Vikings +13.5 vs. Packers

The Vikings are playing better and I’m impressed with their rookie QB, Christian Ponder. In fact, just three weeks ago the Vikings covered a 10-point spread in a 33-27 loss to the Packers and they can do it again. The Packers are playing well, but they’re just looking to keep winning and there’s no incentive (like there is in college football with the polls) to run up the score.

PLAY: Vikings for 1 unit .

Last week: 3-0 for a profit of 3 units. NFL season record: 10-13 for a net loss of 4.3 units (based on risking 1.1 units to win 1) .