Read earlier installments here from the Sportsbook Consigliere (@sportsbkconsig), who’s been working in sportsbooks for over 20 years. Various roles, various places, making numbers, taking bets and everything else in between.
With the legalization of sportsbooks across the country, there are a lot of things about the business that are being discussed during football season. Whether it’s the sharp side or the square side is a weekly debate. Line movement is discussed, analyzed and speculated upon with a fine tooth comb. Whatever information you seek to find, it’s pretty much out there. Whether it’s “good” info or not is a whole other story.
For so many of us in the business, these discussions have been going on for years. Who bet what. Or what is the public on. What does the book need. And after the games are played, how did the book do?
This is a tricky one. Nobody wants to hear that the book won. People don’t need a reminder that they lost. Except the know-it-all who was on the book side in most of the games of course. That guy has all the answers.
Speaking of answers, the books have them as well. For years, bookies have been talking about this exact thing at meet ups and drop offs on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Now, we have fancy titles like senior oddsmakers, risk analysts and, the European influenced favorite, “trader.” By any name, the talk is the same. For those of you who don’t know, I can help you read “between the lines…”
“We had a good week.”
This means people got crushed. The majority of decisions went the book’s way. More ‘dogs covered, and some even won outright. Books would love to have weeks like this every week, but then nobody would have any money to bet.
“We did ok.”
This means the book won pretty good. Not as good as having a good week, but still a solid winner. Maybe a couple wiseguys won or a big house player made a big play to get the book off of a game, but it’s a nice week overall for the book.
“We won small.”
Or “We won a ham sandwich.” Or “We won a peanut.” Whatever the food reference, it means the book won. Not on the level of “doing ok” and certainly not “a good week” but still on the plus side. One of those weeks where the book lost some decisions yes, but due to either outstanding bookmaking or sheer luck, the book came out ahead.
“We broke even.”
Nobody breaks even. When the book tells you they broke even, it usually means the book won small. Dare I say, it could even mean the book lost small. Either way, it was a blah week. As Vinny told Judge Chamberlain Haller in My Cousin Vinny and the Judge later uttered back: “win some, lose some.”
“We lost small.”
Most likely, this means the same thing as “we broke even.” It was likely a small winner or a small loser. The old timers say “grocery dollars.” This was one of those weeks where the books and the players trade grocery dollars. A stalemate. In the old days, the book would just carry the balance to the next week.
“We got beat up a little.”
Cry me a river. The book actually lost. It happens sometimes. Lots of cash outs this week. People that haven’t won in weeks won this week. Back in the day, the phone wouldn’t stop ringing trying to arrange a lunch or dinner meeting to settle up the figure. In the beeper days, you got the 911 this week. Usually on Monday night before the favorite was done covering and the game going over.
“We got destroyed.”
This is the Armageddon that happens once or twice a season. Almost all the favorites cover, teasers win every which way and every game goes over. Even the Mush wins this week. Stevie Wonder hit an eight teamer this week, and he wasn’t alone. (Full disclosure, I love Stevie, and his music.)
This is the week that leaves a mark. Like, back in the day for the numbers guys when a triple number hit. 777 meant some bad shit for them. Like, maybe they had to cancel the fishing trip to the Caribbean next month. Or maybe fast food for dinner instead of steaks. Again, whatever had to be done to make ends meet, this was that week.
But, alas, nobody cries for the book. The lights come on and the windows are open the next day. There are more games to bet. Enjoy the win. And remember, when a book tells you how they did, read between the lines.
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