01/11/2006 12:00AM

Power to move sports lines lives


The history of sports betting is full of stories about how certain handicappers or bettors could move the Las Vegas line, either with their own action or the wagers of all their followers.

Doc Moseman of Doc's Sports won his Big 10 Game of the Year for 19 straight years, from 1975 through 1993.

In the 1980's, the famed Computer Group, fronted by Billy Walters, routinely moved lines with its runners at every Vegas sports book. When word spread on the street about a Computer Group play, the lines would move more. The power of the group was such that many people suspected the principals would like a side and leak false information, wait for the masses to bet it, then come back with their preferred play at a better number.

The legend of the Computer Group lives to this day in that whenever there's a big line move, people often assume it's Walters or Computer Group, giving credit to them even if they had nothing to do with it.

Doc's Sports and the Computer Group had their heyday years ago, but there have been some hints of old-time Vegas in recent months.

On the Sunday night "Stardust Line" radio show on KDWN AM-720 in the fall, handicapper Dave Cokin gives out three college football plays against the lines that are available just before midnight when the show goes off the air. Picking against the opening numbers, Cokin has been around 60 percent the past few years, and this season was no different. In fact, it was better. Through his first 20 picks, he was 14-5-1 (74 percent after tossing out the push). Word got out about how red-hot he was, and then he went 6-1 over the next two weeks to improve to 20-6-1 (77 percent).

For those who waited until Monday morning to get his plays, the lines would often have moved several points. In fact, some sharp bettors were known to sit at their computers and fire away at offshore books once Cokin's plays were released. The lines would get moved a point or two within minutes, or if a particular book would just adjust the juice, it would quickly climb to -120, -130 or upward on the side Cokin preferred.

Well, a similar thing happened last Friday when professional bettor Alan Boston gave out his play in the "Leroy's Sports Hour" on KDWN from 8-9 p.m. Leroy's is sponsoring a "Beat Boston" contest in which the sports book company and Boston are putting up $30,000 vs. $20,000 by alatex.com handicapper Brent Crowe and his sponsor, nine.com. Each handicapper gives out six plays from the college basketball card, with a push worth half a point and a best-bet winner worth 1 1/2.

Boston's plays obviously affected the marketplace, as the juice at offshore books quickly increased and the lines steamed throughout the day on Saturday. A recap: Boston had Cincinnati -3 vs. Marquette, and it closed at -4 1/2 after being as high as -5 at some books; Harvard -6 vs. Dartmouth, and it closed at -9; Arizona St. +5 vs. UCLA, and it closed +3 1/2; Drexel +6 vs. Virginia Commonwealth, and it was bet to +4 at several books; Arkansas -3 vs. Mississippi St. and it closed -6; and Montana -13 vs. Weber St., and it closed at -14 1/2.

In addition to going 4-2, losing only the Arkansas and Montana plays, Boston also gave bettors a chance to arbitrage the marketplace. In fact, bettors who laid the -3 or -3 1/2 with Cincy could have bet back the other side when the line went to -4 1/2 or -5 and nailed the middle when Cincinnati won, 70-66.

Crowe, who went 3-3, didn't have lines move as much in his favor. He did take Kansas -2 1/2 vs. Kentucky, and it got bet to 4, but he also took Texas Tech +5 vs. Texas A&M, and that line moved against him up to +7.

It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens this Friday night.

Hitting the college future books

With college football completed and basketball taking center court, it's a good time to check the updated future book odds for the NCAA title game, to be played April 3 at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis. Las Vegas Sports Consultants has Duke as the 5-2 favorite, followed by Connecticut at 5-1 and Texas at 8-1. Villanova, which is Boston's pick to win it all, is 10-1 along with Michigan St., and Oklahoma, Memphis, and Illinois are listed at 12-1.

* If college football is your game, you will be interested to know that Ohio St. is the 5-1 favorite to win the BCS title game in the Fiesta Bowl next January. Notre Dame and Oklahoma are the co-second choices at 6-1, with USC at 7-1 and Texas at 10-1. Race and sports book director Jay Kornegay said that before Vince Young's announcement that he was going pro, the Hilton was planning to put Texas up at 6-1; had the Hilton been certain that Young would return, the Longhorns would have been much lower.

And now for odds you can't bet

As mentioned in this space last Friday, John Avello, the race and sports book director at Wynn Las Vegas, has posted his Eclipse Awards odds for entertainment purposes only (Nevada gaming regulations forbid wagers on things decided by a vote).

Avello sees runaway victories in most categories. Saint Liam is a 1-5 favorite to win Horse of the Year, with Afleet Alex at 4-1 and Stevie Wonderboy at 25-1. Stevie Wonderboy is 1-9 to win 2-year-old male, Folklore is 2-5 to win 2-year-old female, Afleet Alex is 1-2 to win 3-year-old male, Smuggler is 3-5 to win 3-year-old female, Saint Liam is 1-9 to win older male, Ashado is 2-5 to win older female, Lost in the Fog is 3-5 to win sprinter, and McDynamo is 1-2 to win steeplechase. The closest equine battles he sees are for male female horse with Artie Schiller at 7-5 and Leroidesanimaux at 8-5 (Shirocco is 5-1) and female turf horse with Intercontinental at 4-5 and Cesario at 6-5.

In the human categories, John Velazquez is 1-9 for jockey, Todd Pletcher is 1-5 for trainer, Michael Gill is 4-5 for owner, and Adena Springs is 4-5 for breeder. The apprentice jockey race is the closest, with Emma-Jayne Wilson at 4-5 and Channing Hill at even money.