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November 24, 2014

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Dodging the Dodgers: Vegas sports books could take hit on World Series favorite

Betting action forced oddsmakers to shift Los Angeles’ numbers drastically downward

Image

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu, of South Korea, right, celebrates with Yasiel Puig after their win over the Arizona Diamondbacks after a baseball game, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013, in Phoenix. The Dodgers clinched the N.L. West with their 7-6 win over the Diamondbacks.

Odds to win World Series

  • Dodgers 3-to-1
  • Red Sox 7-to-2
  • Tigers 5-to-1
  • Cardinals 5-to-1
  • As 8-to-1
  • Braves 9-to-1
  • Rays 16-to-1
  • Pirates 18-to-1
  • Reds 18-to-1
  • Indians 22-to-1
  • Numbers from LVH Superbook

The Los Angeles Dodgers became the talk of Major League Baseball during a win streak that saw them victorious in 26 of their first 30 contests after the All-Star Game.

Las Vegas oddsmakers turned into the ones who needed a break as it felt like 26 out of every 30 people to enter the sports book wagered on the Dodgers to win the World Series.

“There are some people who have them at pretty decent odds,” conceded Chris Bennett, assistant manager and overseer of baseball odds at the LVH Superbook. “But even when we lowered their odds drastically when it became clear they were going to win their division, people were still firing away, which was a little surprising to me. I don’t think it’s a good bet now.”

No matter, the action on Los Angeles continues to pour in. With baseball’s postseason officially slated to begin today — the Pirates are a minus-130 (risking $1.30 to win $1) favorite at home against the Reds at plus-120 (risking $1 to win $1.20) in the National League Wild Card Game — the Dodgers are alone as World Series favorites at 3-to-1.

Sports book types are hoping they don’t convert on what the odds indicate is around a 20 percent chance, after factoring in the hold, to win their first World Series in a quarter-century.

Books would take a hit paying off the pool of tickets. It’s a problem all over town.

“We had them as high as 30-to-1 before the All-Star break,” said Jason McCormick, Red Rock race and sports director. “Maybe we weren’t as quick to react as we should have been because it felt like they weren’t that great of a team and were going nowhere. Next thing you know, money’s coming in and they’re the favorite.”

Going back to the start of the season, the Dodgers trailed only the Detroit Tigers, Washington Nationals and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in odds to win the World Series. They were 8-to-1, but that number shot as high as 40-to-1 at the Superbook to coincide with their 30-42 start to the season.

Only two true long shots from the offseason are among the 10 teams to advance to the playoffs. The Cleveland Indians, which meet the Tampa Bay Rays in Wednesday’s wild-card game, were 70-to-1. The Pirates were 60-to-1.

Bennett reported that bettors were enamored with neither Pittsburgh nor Cleveland all season. The Superbook would win money in the futures market with either prevailing.

That doesn’t extend to Station Casinos, where McCormick said Pittsburgh, which hasn’t been in the postseason in 21 years, would bring a loss comparable to Los Angeles if it won the World Series.

“It’s exciting to see them there after all these years, but it’s not particularly good for us,” McCormick said. “I’m not sure their pitching can pull them through, though. It’s going to be tough to come out of the National League.”

Contrary to popular belief, that’s not only because of the Dodgers. The Cardinals, who await the winner of Reds vs. Pirates, won their last six games to finish with the National League’s best record.

Bennett pointed out that Baseball Prospectus’ projections give Atlanta, Los Angeles’ divisional-series opponent, the best chance to reach the World Series from the National League. If he had to wager on one of the teams remaining, Bennett would be inclined to look to the Braves at 9-to-1.

As an added bonus, that’s the best possible result for his future book. As for the worst, it’s surprisingly not the Dodgers.

“The Red Sox are slightly worse for us than the Dodgers,” Bennett said. “But the Red Sox liability is all based on one person who we gave a big bet to. The Dodgers is just accumulation from the public, everyone betting it.”

The Boston bettor showed up about a month ago, placing a wager large enough to make the Red Sox go from a best-case scenario to a worst-case scenario for the Superbook. It pushed Boston’s odds to win the World Series down to 4-to-1 from 7-to-1.

It was a move that was totally unforeseen and therefore in contrast to the Dodgers money. Local casinos brace for a gambling onslaught anytime a Los Angeles sports team is in championship contention. But this year’s blitz on the Dodgers was more fierce than normal.

The only counterattack for the books was deflating their odds.

“They aren’t that much better than any of the other teams,” Bennett said. “There’s just so much support that we have to keep them at a low number, but the Braves could easily beat them.”

“The way baseball is, there’s just no team that’s so dominant you can be confident in 3-to-1. Any of these teams are capable of winning the World Series.”

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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