Updated on 09/16/2011 6:40AM

Bettors shopping for odds find Diamond at Regent


LAS VEGAS - Football bettors often complain that with all the consolidation in the Las Vegas casino industry there aren't enough places to shop for a point spread, and that bookmakers aren't willing to take risks. It's not like the good old days, they say.

While there's truth to that, the wise guys have a new place to shop since Sid Diamond took over the sports book at The Regent, which was recently bought by Marriott. Diamond, who used to run a "lottery" for big bettors (similar to the Stardust's) when he was at the Excalibur and then the Stratosphere, brought it to The Regent the last two Mondays.

Diamond unflinchingly puts his own opinion into his lines.

For instance, he likes the Rams at home this week against the Packers. While nearly every other book in Nevada had the Rams favored by 10, Diamond made the line 11 1/2 and let the professionals fire away. He took some bets and lowered it to 11 and then to 10 1/2, still higher than any other book (and with the all-important hook on the key number).

Diamond made the over-under on the game 56 1/2, even though most books were at 54 1/2 or 55. He took some bets but decided to leave it there because he thinks that's the way the line is headed later in the week.

"How many people are going to bet the under?" he asked rhetorically before asking another. "What is Brett Favre going to do when the Rams get up by two touchdowns? This is going to be a shootout."

In the other games, Diamond opened the Bears as a 3-point favorite over the Eagles and it was bet down to 2 1/2, which was the consensus line around town. He posted the Steelers at -6 (it was 5 1/2 just about everywhere). Diamond took bets on the Ravens at that price but didn't move off 6.

"I didn't get enough action at that number," he said. "I guess I should have opened it at 6 1/2."

Critics say he is "giving away the store," but Diamond logically defends his bookmaking style.

"I don't want the players to control who I need," Diamond said. "I have as much of an opinion as the guys on the other side of the counter. I want to control my own destiny."

But it's not all about ego. Diamond says it's good business, too.

"Later in the week, everyone's going to be betting the Rams and the over," he said. "Every other book will be raising the odds and needing the Packers and the under or they'll get crushed. I'm going to be the only guy in town on this side of the counter rooting for the Rams."

Diamond fully admits that he's not always right. He shaded the lines toward all four underdogs last week (meaning he allowed bettors to lay fewer points with the favorites) and lost three of the four games.

"If I win, I'll take the praise; if I lose, I'll take the heat," he said. "But I have no one to blame but myself. I've been doing it this way for 38 years, so I'm right more often than I'm wrong. And on this side of the counter you don't have to hit 50 percent."

Bookies on the money

Like Diamond, nearly all other bookmakers were once bettors themselves and continue to try to pick winners. Some should keep their day job, others have excelled.

* The Venetian's Rob Akers won Gaming Today's "Bookies Battle the Point Spread" feature. Akers was 154-93 (62 percent) and was 3-1 last weekend.

* Imperial Palace sports book director Jay Kornegay won a handicapping contest in The Las Vegas Review-Journal against fellow bookies John Avello of Bally's, Cyrill Burger of the Las Vegas Hilton, and Douglas Beil of Terrible's.

Kornegay and Beil tied for the season title. Kornegay won the tiebreaker as both went 2-2 last weekend, but Kornegay's best bet was on the Raiders; Beil's was on the Dolphins.

Beil, who worked at The Orleans before moving to Terrible's, was trying to follow in the footsteps of other current/former Coast Resorts bookmakers Bert Osborne (who won $10,000 in the Stardust Invitational) and Muggsy Muniz (who won $5,000 in the Barley's Gridiron Growler).

NFL playoff trends

Favorites (all at home) were 3-1 both straight up and against the spread in last weekend's wild card games.

The lines moved toward the favorite in all four games. Early money this week came on the underdog Raiders and Ravens, and the favored Rams.

The two games on Saturday went over while the two Sunday games went under last weekend. The early money didn't fare as well on totals, going 1-2 with no movement on the Jets-Raiders total. This week, the Raiders-Patriots and Rams-Packers totals were bet up, while the Ravens-Steelers was bet down.

NFC teams that received byes and hosted divisional playoff games in the past five years have all won, and are 8-2 against the spread. In fact, only one NFC road team in the past 11 years (Green Bay at San Francisco in 1995) has won straight up. There were more upsets in the AFC, as home teams were only 6-4 straight up the last five years (and 5-5 against the spread).

Bankroll treading water

The NFL bankroll, which opened the season at 1,000 units and entered the playoffs at 810, was 2-2 in the wild card round.

In Saturday's games, I lost 11 units on the Buccaneers versus the Eagles in a 31-9 loss, and rebounded with a 22-unit, best-bet win on the Raiders versus the Jets in a 38-24 victory.

On Sunday, I lost my 22-unit, best-bet on the 49ers versus the Packers in a 25-15 loss, but finished the weekend with an easy 11-unit win on the Ravens-Dolphins under 33, in a 20-3 Ravens victory. A net loss of three units drops the season bankroll to 807.