Are Trap Games Fact or Fiction?

On August 26, 2014, in NFL, by Stephen

This topic seems to come up every so often usually when a betting line seems out of whack, or too good to be true.

So is Vegas actually trying to trap you in these instances?

The answer is unequivocally, positively NO.

I worked part-time for Las Vegas oddsmaker Roxy Roxborough, who was the premier linesmaker in North America from 1982-1999. Never was there any discussion of trapping bettors. The lines were based on power ratings with Roxy and each of his oddsmakers submitting their own numbers. From there a consensus number was established and sent out to the various Nevada sports books.

As the sports gaming writer for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, I once asked oddsmaker Pete Korner, owner of the oddsmaking firm The Sports Club and former office manager for Roxborough’s then Las Vegas Sports Consultants, if there were trap games?

The normally mild-mannered Korner berated me for close to five minutes for asking such a stupid question. Korner said lines were based on power ratings. It was all about numbers not perceptions.

I asked several bookmakers, too, about the reality of trap games and they all said there was no such thing.

Some lines do seem suspicious. They don’t pass the eye test. But they are not intentionally set up to trap you. If you make a line on a game and it’s way off from the real line then unfortunately it’s probably you who has miscalculated.

I remember once seeing an NFL line that I couldn’t believe. I couldn’t figure out why the line was so short because I liked the favorite by an extremely wide margin. What was I missing? So I asked Dave Malinsky, the smartest guy in the room, why the underdog was priced so competitively. Malinsky proceeded to rattle off about a dozen reasons in support of the ‘dog that all made sense.


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