10/24/2005 12:00AM

NFL lines showing off their moves


It has long been said that NFL lines are tight and they generally don't change by more than a point, while college odds are much more volatile.

While there certainly were big moves last Saturday in college football (many of which went down in flames for bettors), there were more big moves than usual on Sunday with the Vikings going from a +1 underdog to a 2-point favorite over the Packers, the Redskins going from -10 1/2 to -13 1/2 vs. the 49ers, the Seahawks going from -3 to -5 vs. the Cowboys, and the Cardinals going from -3 to -6 vs. the Titans.

It continued Sunday night when odds were posted for this weekend's action. When the Stardust and Stratosphere put up the first college numbers in town on Sunday afternoon, there were 18 games at the Stardust ($5,000 limit) that were bet enough to move off the opening number and only three at the Stratosphere ($3,000 limit), and only one game moved by more than a point. That was the USC-Washington State line in which the Trojans opened as a 32-point favorite at the Stardust and money showed for the underdog and it was lowered to 30. It should be pointed out, however, that a 2-point move at that high of a number is not uncommon as the farther a point spread is from zero, the more aggressively bookmakers will move it.

Meanwhile, movement was happening all over the NFL board, which was strange enough but especially rare considering the books are reluctant to cross key numbers such as 3, 7, or 10.

The biggest move was on the Buccaneers-49ers game. Last Tuesday, the Las Vegas Hilton posted the Bucs as a -6 1/2- point favorite. After the 49ers got blown out, 52-17, by the Redskins Sunday, the Hilton made that line -8 1/2 while the Imperial Palace opened at -9 and the Stratosphere went with -7 1/2. By the time the bets flew in, and offshore books posted the Bucs -10, the line was double digits everywhere by the time the Stardust made the Bucs -11 1/2 at 5:30 p.m. By noon Pacific on Monday, the line everywhere was Bucs -11.

The Bengals-Packers line also ran crazy, passing the key number of 7. The Imperial Palace and Stratosphere both opened the Bengals -6 1/2.

Another game to cross the key number of 7 was the Cowboys-Cardinals matchup. The Strato-sphere opened Cowboys -6 while the Hilton went with 6 1/2 and the Cowboys were quickly bet to 7. By noon Monday all books were dealing the line at 8 or even as high as 8 1/2.

Two more examples were the Eagles-Broncos game and the Bill-Patriots matchup. The Broncos opened -2 1/2 at the Stratosphere and were 3 1/2 everywhere on Monday. The Pats opened at -6 1/2 and by noon Monday the spread was 8 just about everywhere

Needless to say, it's a week where some books will be cheering for the underdogs even more than usual and hoping the games don't fall on the key numbers.

Room left in Hilton tournament

Jay Kornegay knows what it's like to be the proverbial pretty girl that doesn't get asked to the prom because everyone assumes she has a date.

Wait, I should word that another way before people get the wrong idea about the Las Vegas Hilton's director of race and sports. Maybe it's better to say he can relate to Yogi Berra's comment about a popular restaurant: "Nobody goes there any more. It's too crowded."

Either way, Kornegay and his staff are hosting the Pick the Ponies Invitational horse handicapping tournament Wednesday through Friday and, despite the fact it has sold out the past three years, there are still spots available in the field that is capped at 200.

"A lot of people think it's sold out, but it's not," Kornegay said Monday morning. "We have 165 entries right now, but a lot of people assume it's sold out because that's what they've heard in the past."

For those thinking about entering, the deadline is 2 p.m. Pacific on Wednesday, around the time that there are still enough races to get in your contest plays. The entry fee is $500 and contestants make 10 mythical $100 across-the-board wagers on each day. The first $50 of each bet is credited at full track odds, with the remaining balance capped at $42 to win, $18 to place, and $10 to show.

"We're also getting the word out to those who have already entered if they want extra entries - which are limited to three per person - because a lot of people also assume it's sold out and don't ask if they can buy extra entries," Kornegay said.

If you ask contest organizers about the success of handicapping tournaments, they will say that it is measured - especially by the accounting departments - by how much handle increases at the windows. For instance, Kornegay said his August tournament did very well with 164 entries compared with the full field of 200 back in May because there were some big players who were firing away at the Saratoga and Del Mar cards. But Kornegay said he would still prefer to see a full field to increase the prize money for the participants. If the field fills at 200, the purse will be $100,000 with $38,000 going to the winner.

Sports book notes

While horse racing fans are gearing up for this weekend, Nextel Cup driver Jeff Gordon obviously likes the weekends before big horse races. Sunday, Gordon won the Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway at generous odds of 10-1 as the co-fourth-choice at Station Casinos. It was Gordon's first victory since May 1, the Sunday before the Kentucky Derby.

* On the local track, the ACDelco NHRA Nationals took place over the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In the most competitive division, Ron Capps won the Funny Car title at odds of 4-1, while Gary Scelzi took over the season-long points lead from 13-time defending champ John Force heading into next weekend's final event in Pomona, Calif. In Sunday's other elimination finals of the top professional divisions, Kurt Johnson pulled a mild upset in Pro Stock at 4-1 and Tony Schumacher won Top Fuel as the 2-1 favorite. Schumacher also won the Budweiser Shootout exhibition race on Saturday night as the even-money favorite at Stations.

* On the PGA Tour, a player in the betting field won for the second straight week. The Las Vegas Hilton had 49 individual golfers listed for the Funai Classic at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., plus a field of all others at 9-2. Lucas Glover was one of 10 golfers within striking distance of winning the tournament Sunday and he made a 40-foot birdie putt on the 17th hole and holed out on a 35-yard bunker shot on the 18th for his first PGA win.