Pittsburgh is a solid favorite for Super Bowl XL, but Seattle appears to have strong pockets of support among Las Vegas’ elite players.
“I had dinner the other night (at the Stardust) with some of the best young handicapped minds in Las Vegas, some very talented guys, and they all liked Seattle,” said internationally renowned sports bettor Lem Banker, clicking on names like Steve Fezzik, Andy Iskoe and Nick Bogdanovich, a former bookmaker well established on the betting side of the counter.
They are the wise men of Sin City and not, as Banker might point out, those of Jerusalem.
Animal-loving Lem, who’s never met a dog he didn’t like, is riding the Seahawks (he’s also in the UNDER) and takes the points, but it’s hard to say how many points.
The number is increasing and the banker will wait to bet, thinking that he will get the best of it.
“The Wise Men don’t have a great record in the World Series and the Super Bowl,” Banker continued.
“(That’s partly because) hotels are forced to move money abroad.
“Pittsburgh is the big crowd favorite right now and the crowd number is 4 1/2.
“I’m going to wait to play and get value.”
“That’s how it works,” said Stratosphere Race and Sports Director Robert Jaynes.
“The public bets on the favorite while the smart money waits until they see a good shot, then moves on and takes the dog.
“They (the wise) seek value.”
The Stratosphere, one of Bogdanovich’s former “homes,” is still in Pittsburgh minus 4 pairs.
“We’ve changed the juice, not the number,” said Jaynes, who reported seeing 4 1/2s and 5s at resorts like Rampart Casino and the Golden Nugget.
“I don’t think it will go higher than 5 1/2,” Jaynes predicted, “because 6 is a key number. Same with 4.”
Las Vegas handicapper veteran Andy Iskoe thinks the number could go as high as 5, but it will soon dip again.
“I think a lot of the cash is going to have to settle for 4 1/2,” Iskoe said.
“My question to the opposite side is, ‘What has Seattle done to make you think they don’t have a chance of winning?'”
Jaynes personally leans toward the Steelers, citing the strength of the schedule.
“However, I’m a little worried about training,” he said. “(Mike) Holmgren has been there before and won a Super Bowl.
Earl Jack Snyder, assistant manager of race and sports betting at Sam’s Town, on the corner of Seattle.
“I’ll take the Seahawks and the points,” he said.
“The Steelers have been underdogs all year. Now they are the favorites and they have pressure on them and they have to win by more than 3.”
“That makes it two possessions, unless you’re talking about touchdowns, one field goal isn’t enough.”
Jaynes thinks the game will close, “but history suggests it’s going to be a boring fight.”
“People talk about the strength of the schedule because Seattle had two games with Arizona, the 49ers and the Rams, and they all had bad seasons.
“I don’t think we’ve seen the best of the Seahawks yet.
“They’re not the road warriors that the Steelers are, but they have things that work for them.”
Seattle has an MVP running back in Shaun Alexander, a fast and mobile quarterback in Matt Hasselbeck and a good offensive line.
“I really like those two guards who are Pro Bowlers,” Snyder said.
The total opened wide at 48 and hit 49; it was quickly bet at 47 1/2 (at one point, when the game was listed simply as an AFC-NFC matchup, the over/under was 45).
As one bookie put it: “Now it’s 47 1/2 in 20,000 places and 47 in another 20,000.”
“Our players have been betting LESS, not just on totals, but on a lot of other things, like number of field goals,” Jaynes said.
Iskoe, a totals player who likes to go UNDER, predicts a score of 34-23 (Seattle), so he’s obviously MORE on this one.
“I think there will be a lot of passing and Pittsburgh will play very aggressively,” Iskoe explained.
“There’s my reason.
“It’s not going to be an amazing Super Bowl, but it’s not going to be incredibly bad either.”