Sunday, January 23, 2022
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For sports bettors, the virus is now a known unknown

LAS VEGAS – Support for the Cardinals snowballed against the Rams, whose coronavirus concerns would sideline several key coaches and players on Monday evening, December 13.

Young sterling quarterback Kyler Murray and the Cardinals 10-2, just three home favorites against such a lopsided opponent?

The dreaded L-word has created a buzz on social networks. Lock of the week? Of the month? This fodder alone should have sounded the alarm, putting potential bettors on hold. The Rams won 30-23.

Flash last weekend and poetic reversal. This time the Cardinals had virus issues when they traveled to Dallas.

“The [virus]“The exhausted Cardinals were supposed to be too thin to handle the Cowboys offense,” said professional punter Bill Krackomberger, “and the line moved.

The Westgate SuperBook opened on December 21 with an early line (one week ahead) from Dallas -2½. Five days later, the Cowboys’ money shifted that number to 3.

However, when Arizona’s health problems surfaced on Dec. 27, most of the pounds shifted to -5½ Cowboys. They would close Dallas -6½. Arizona won 25-22.

“This is where it comes down to betting on the NFL, in a nutshell,” said Jeff Stoneback, director of trading at BetMGM, of Arizona’s two opposing results. “A lot of times it just doesn’t make sense. This is why the books work so well on the NFL.

As the season wore on, Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) senior writer / broadcaster Matt Youmans wisely bet on fewer NFL games at the start of the week.

“You think you catch a good number Tuesday, there’s bad COVID news two days later and you’ve got four points for the worst by Friday. You feel like an idiot, like Clark Griswold, when you make this mistake.


Sports betting has never been a vacation. Those who claim otherwise deserve to appear, perhaps slipping on a banana peel, in one of those Chevy Chase movies.

In the brave new world of gambling during a pandemic, the Cardinals, having experienced the polar extremes in the span of 20 days, are the posters of the times.

With seemingly all the perceived advantages, they lose at home to the Rams. With so many factors allegedly against them, they win in Dallas.

“Absolutely correct!” Krackomberger said. “The [new] world has definitely presented some unique challenges for professional gamers.

The pre-pandemic world of sport was difficult enough to navigate. Postponements and cancellations, along with changes in protocols and quarantine measures, can all derail even the most proven prognostic methods.

On Twitter Tuesday night, an NHL handicapper wrote, “This will be the last time I bet on or against a team coming out of a COVID hiatus. Two NFL games were recently postponed to a Tuesday.

Loyola and northern Illinois started last week after canceling or postponing hoop play games. After three straight shelters, DePaul lost by four as a two-point underdog and, as a one-point favorite, lost to Providence 70-53.

University of San Jose Mercury-News scribe Jon Wilner wrote on Wednesday: “At some point schools should just announce when they’re playing.”

Each season, I update college hoops information notebooks daily. A month ago, however, I put them away. Too much uncertainty. I started these ledgers, from scratch, on January 1, and I may request action next week.

Youmans ventured to San Diego for a bowl game that would be called off hours before kickoff. Usually at present he has made 100 bets on college baskets. It was halved.

“It’s harder to develop a rhythm as a handicapper when so many teams aren’t playing,” Youmans said. “I’m not complaining. I just hope we can get back to a normal basketball schedule without so many interruptions. “


Tom Barton, the Long Island handicapper who is a regular on the SportsGarten sports betting radio network, is also hoping for a return to normal.

He has long benefited from college baskets in the Northeast Corridor, especially the Ivy League, but many games have recently been suspended.

“My main lecture,” Barton said, “so it was difficult.”

He had circled Cornell, one of the nation’s most successful teams, in Syracuse on December 18. This has been postponed. On December 29, Georgia Tech called off its game against the Orange and Cornell slipped into the vacancy.

As a 15-point underdog, the Big Red covered an 80-68 loss to Syracuse.

“I loved Cornell against Syracuse,” Barton says. “Fortunately, the line hasn’t changed much. But I could have burned myself in this game if it had been completely canceled.

Its overall volume is declining as the virus has required light treading in many sports betting arenas. The NFL, towards Barton and many others, has been treacherous.

“A minefield,” he said. “So many times you want to get those best first numbers, but this season which has turned into a disaster with the end of the week [virus] problems.”

Barton has enjoyed success in the NHL and the NBA, the latter because he was ultra-selective in choosing spots and situations. Until the new year, he had only played 10 NBA games, going 10-0.

He notes that teams from those two leagues have rebounded slowly as they regroup with returning players.

“With regular injuries, we at least got a feel for it in advance,” Barton says. “But COVID has not received any warning and has affected some prominent players. As for when I bet, it changed my style.

For Youmans, and probably many others, the simple goal these days is to avoid any stylistic comparison with Clark Griswold.




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