In dribs and drabs I've been hearing it all season. A wiseguy says it in a podcast or a bookmaker mentions it while we're talking about lines. No one makes a big deal about it, they just drop the info into conversation very casually, like the weather outside might be. Usually, it sounds like this: "Well at the Wynn, which is putting lines up before anyone else " Or this: "I'm picking that game off the Wynn because they're not waiting on anyone to put up lines."
Finally, after two months of hearing this, I had a thought: I should call the Wynn and see what's going on. George Dohrmann's got nothing on me, man. I am a whip-smart reporter.
John Avello, who runs the Wynn's book, is a great guy to catch up with. He's got an old-school tone in his voice and still goes by "Johnny." Say his name fast and it's impossible to tell where the Johnny ends and the Avello begins. He used to run the book at Bally's. (Where I stayed for my bachelor party more than a decade ago and spent a night dressed as Elvis).
Putting up the first line is a badge of honor in Vegas -- and offshore. It's a sign that you're confident and a little bit crazy. But it earns the respect of sharp players, because you are willing to go out with an opinion before anyone else. That also means you will get tapped by wiseguys almost immediately. It doesn't cost much, but it costs something, when all the other books are still waiting to see what the rest of the world opens at. "I like dealing with the sharp bettors," Avello says. "They come in and bet their opinion and I enjoy taking that action as opposed to moving a line based on other books' moves. And I enjoy it when it's my work against their work."
Avello gets his college lines up by 3:30 on Sunday afternoons and his NFL lines up a couple of hours later. He works the numbers himself, taking into account the opinion of a consultant he trusts, and limits bettors to $2K on college games and $10K on the NFL. But if sharps want a piece, they have to be fast. Almost inevitably the lines adjust after that first hit.
So what lines have bettors been picking at most this week at the Wynn? Let's take a look.