From now on, let's call Sunday night "Bet Night." Because, if you're making plays on the college football games, that's when a lot of the action is happening.
I'm not just talking about handicappers taking advantage of the opening numbers -- usually put out by offshore books like CRIS around 6 p.m. on Sunday evenings -- I'm talking about manipulation and gamesmanship. Think of the week leading up to the games as one big chessboard. The moves made on Sundays are the opening gambits.
This notion came up in two conversations I had this week. The first was in my podcast (the link is below) with Bryan Leonard, who talked about how most of his moves are made within the first 48 hours of the lines opening. And then it happened again with Sal Selvaggio from madduxsports.com, when we were talking about this week's college football line moves. "It's always been like that," he said. "But this year it seems like it's happening more and more. It's not just guys making bets because they see a line they can take advantage. It's guys betting one side to set up a bigger play on another side."
Manipulating the lines is a longtime wiseguy tactic. They think of it as an investment: Bet enough to move the line a point or two in one direction and then, once it gets where they want it to go, bet double that amount on the opposite side. Even if bookmakers know what's happening, there is really nothing they can do to stop it. They become bettors themselves if they leave the line where it is just to spite the sharps.
But Sal pointed out that the manipulators have been particularly aggressive this year. I think there are two reasons: (1) Lines are tighter than ever because players are sharper, and (2) there are more amateur players betting earlier, impacting the market so real sharps can't wait for patterns to develop. Either way, as I've written several times in the past, if you're inclined to make a play, better to start early, before all the value is lost.
With Sal's insight, let's take a look at some of the college games impacted by big lines moves this weekend: