Updated on 09/17/2011 11:29AM

Inside parlay cards

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LAS VEGAS - Last week I discussed the pitfalls of parlay cards, how the house holds a big edge over the players, and advised that the cards should be avoided in all but the rarest cases, such as when you can get an advantageous line.

But since old habits are hard to break, here's a primer on what to look for on different types of cards and where to find the best values to at least give you a fighting chance.

In a bit of a surprise, I found that a lot of the best-paying parlay cards were at the Club Cal Neva book out of Reno. In the Las Vegas area, those cards can be found at the Tuscany on Flamingo Road just east of the Strip and at Thirstbusters in Henderson. They're a little off the beaten path, but worth the trip if you're comparison-shopping.

Half-point card: These cards adjust all lines to include half-points so that there are no pushes. Sometimes you can find a line that is 3 all over town and will be 2 1/ 2 on some cards and 3 1/2 on others, allowing the option to play both sides of the same game on different cards. Since parlay-card players as a group tend to play a lot of chalk, sports book are more likely to shade the numbers higher (so 3 1/2 when it's 3 on the board, or 7 1/2 when it should be 7), so underdog bettors can find some value around key numbers, too. Most cards pay 6 1/2 for 1 on three-teamers, but the Club Cal Neva offers 6 3/4 for 1. The Coast Casinos, Boyd Gaming Casinos, and Rampart/Cannery books also have respectable payoffs of 6 1/2 for 1 on three-teamers, 13 for 1 on four-teamers, and at least 25 for 1 on five-teamers (Boyd Gaming and Club Cal Neva actually offer 26 for 1 on five-teamers).

Looking for the really big score? Most cards cap the number of teams at 10, but Boyd Gaming offers 20,000 for 1 if you can go 15 for 15, while the Club Cal Neva's odds are 25,000 for 1.

If you've ever come up one game short of hitting your big parlay (and haven't we all?), Terrible's has a consolation on its regular half-point card that pays you 20 for 1 if you hit nine out of 10. The Hard Rock takes it one step further with a "Not So Perfect" half-point parlay card. It also pays for five out of six (2 for 1), six out of seven (5 for 1), seven out of eight (7 for 1), eight out of nine (15 for 1) and nine out of 10 (25 for 1).

Ties win: These allow you to keep your card alive if you push a game, but they pay slightly lower odds. Some books will sneak a half-point line on a ties-win card around key numbers. You should be able to find a better line elsewhere, and in fact if a line is 3, you might find some books dropping the line to 2 while others raise it to 4. It happened in the season opener with the Redskins favored by 3 over the Jets. The best-paying ties-win card I found was at Terrible's, which pays 11 for 1 on four-teamers, 22 for 1 on five teams, 44 for 1 on six teams. On the high end, Coast Casinos pays the best at 750 for 1 for a successful 10-teamer. The Coast card stops there, but the Palms and Boyd Gaming go to 11 (Palms paying 1,250 for 1 and Boyd paying 1,200 for 1).

Teaser cards: These cards move the lines a few points in your favor, but again have lower odds. Here's another case where it pays to shop around. Be sure to double-check exactly what lines you're getting and if ties win or lose (or if they're all adjusted to half-points). Some "mini" teasers will adjust the line only 3 1/2 points either way, while the regular teasers will move the lines 5 points either way, and still others - called "mega" or "super" teasers - will adjust 8 points both ways on up to 10 points on the Cal Neva "big teaser" card.

Reverse teasers: These move the line against you, but offer much higher odds. For years the leader was the Stratosphere with 25 for 1 for three-teamers and 75 for 1 for four-teamers, but the Cal Neva offers 26 for 1 on three-teamers and 80 for 1 on four-teamers. In addition, the Cal Neva cards have only a 14-point instead of the 15-point straddle that most books offer. For instance, in a pick-em game, most reverse teasers make it -7 1/2 on both teams, but the Cal Nevada makes it -7 1/2 on one team and -6 1/2 on the other.

I'll discuss the special Sunday night/Monday night cards in Sunday's column.

NFL betting stats

Favorites covered all seven of the early games Sunday, but then underdogs covered all five in the afternoon. The favorites won and covered on Sunday and Monday night (the Dolphins and Broncos, respectively) and finished the week 9-5 against the spread. For the season, chalk is 28-15 (65.1 percent) with two pushes.

Speaking of pushes, the Rams-Seahawks game landed on the closing total of 47 in Seattle's 24-23 win for the first over/under push of the season. The under went 9-4 in other games over the weekend and now has a 25-20 (55.6 percent) edge.

Home dogs continued their uncharacteristic struggle, going 1-4 both straight up and against the spread. That actually raised the record of home dogs to 1-10 on the young season. The lone exception was the Cardinals' shocking 20-13 win over the Packers as a 7 1/2-point dog.

The AFC vs. NFC battle is 3-3 straight up, but the AFC has a 4-1-1 record against the spread. There are four interconference games this week with the AFC favored in four of them.

Tackling the trends

My look at trends last week again proved prophetic as Boston College failed to cover against Miami-Fla., Michigan St. (with Jeff Smoker cleared to play after being listed as "questionable" all week) not only covered the spread but also beat Notre Dame outright, and Rice was unable to stay within 30 points of a motivated Texas squad.

But it should be pointed out that these are intended to be looks at which trends might be relevant and which are statistical anomalies. They are not predictions, per se, but if they put you on some winners (or help avoid losers), there's nothing wrong with that.

This Saturday, Utah is 8-0 against the spread as an underdog the last three years and is getting 6 1/2 points at Colorado St., which is 1-7 as a home favorite over the last three years. That could be a good spot for the Utes.

On Sunday, the Falcons are 5-0-1 against the spread in the last six meetings with the Panthers, and that's tempting as they're getting 6 points.

Nebraska (-8 1/2) at Southern Miss

Before we get to the weekend, on Thursday night Nebraska visits a Southern Mississippi team that is 1-7 against the spread in its last eight non-conference games as well as its last eight games as an underdog (USM failed in both spots in a 34-2 loss at California in the season-opener). Nebraska should coast to victory as well, so I will make that a bankroll play.

PLAY: Nebraska -8 1/2 for 1 unit.

Last week: 2-2 for net loss of -0.2 units (based on laying 1.1 units to win 1).

Season record: 7-10 for a net loss of 4 units.