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Caesar's better bettor: Cardinals are slight favorites in series vs. Phillies

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The Cardinals won 93 games this year, seven more than the Phillies. But in head-to-head competition, Philadelphia prevailed in the season series four games to three.

Each team won twice at Busch Stadium, where they again will meet in a best-of-three first-round playoff series that opens Friday afternoon. So as would be expected, the Cardinals are favored — albeit slightly — to win the series in odds posted at the three legal sportsbooks in the St. Louis area.

On Thursday afternoon, FanDuel (Collinsville) had the most favorable odds of the bunch for those wanting to bet on the Birds. They were -120 ($120 would need to be risked to try to win $100). The line at DraftKings (East St. Louis) was -130, and at Argosy (Alton), the number was -141.

Conversely, there was a significant difference for those wanting to back Philadelphia. The Phillies were +115 ($115 profit for a successful $100 bet) at Argosy, +110 at DraftKings and +102 at FanDuel.

Want to get a little bolder? You can bet on whether the series will end in two or three games. DraftkKings and FanDuel each had the line at -110 on both two and three games.

There is a seemingly endless stream of other proposition bets being offered. To wit:

Who will hit the most home runs in the series?

Odds at DraftKings ranged from 6-1 for the Phillies’ Kyle Schwarber to 19-1 for the Cardinals’ Tommy Edmonds. Other notables: Bryce Harper 7-1, Paul Goldschmidt 7½-1, Nolan Arenado 8-1, Rhys Hoskins 8½-1 and Albert Pujols 9½-1.

Who will have the most hits in the series?

DraftKings also offered this prop and Goldschmidt and Arenado were at the lowest odds, 8-1. The leading Phillies were Alex Bohm, 8½-1, and J.T. Realmuto, 9½-1. The longshots, all at 13-1: Schwarber, Pujols. the Cards’ Lars Nootbar and the Corey Dickerson.

How many runs will the first scoring play produce?

FanDuel was taking bets on how many runs will be scored off of the pitch that results in the first run(s) of the series. The breakdown:

One: -410. Two: +380. Three: 19-1. Four: 50-1.

Down the road: The Cardinals are fourth among the six National League teams in odds to win the pennant, ranging from 11-1 (FanDuel) to 9-1 (at Argosy and FanDuel). The Dodgers, Braves and Mets were ahead of them.

In prices to win the World Series, the Cards were seventh among the 12 clubs. Their odds: 25-1 at FanDuel, 22-1 at DraftKings and 20-1 at Argosy. Ahead of them were the Dodgers, Astros, Braves, Yankees, Mets, Blue Jays and Rays.

The middleman

A rare juicy betting situation presented itself Sunday afternoon when the opening lines for this week’s college football lines were posted.

At Argosy, Florida was listed as a 9½-point favorite over Missouri for the game at 11 a.m. (St. Louis time) in Gainesville, Florida. The Gators were 10½ at FanDuel.

So there was the opportunity to bet on each team and possibly cash both tickets. No matter how the game ended, the worst a bettor would do is lose the “vigorish” — the surcharge the bookies charge on losing wagers.

Here’s how the so-called “middling” situation would work.

It costs $110 up front to try to win $100 on such bets, so if you put $110 on Florida -9½ at Argosy and bet $110 on MU +10½ at FanDuel, both tickets would cash if Florida wins by exactly 10. You’d get your $110 investment back plus an extra hundred bucks at both, resulting in an easy $200 profit.

Of course it would take a 10-point win by the Gators. But with any other outcome, you’d lose only $10. You’d win one of the bets (a profit of $100) and lose the $110 wager.

Bump the bet up to risking $550 to try to win $500 at each book, and the profit for a 10-point Florida win would be $1,000. The loss if that didn’t hit would be $50.

By the way, the opening spread at the other local legal sportsbook (DraftKings) was right on that middle number — 10.

By Thursday afternoon, the number had moved up to Florida being favored by 10½ at DraftKings and FanDuel, 11 at Argosy.

Weekend picks

We were 2-1 last week with our selections, adding one unit to our season total (selections can range from one to five •••••). After a lousy start, we have hit four of our last five picks to improve the record to 5-8, at -8 units.

This week’s opinions (odds listed are the most favorable that were available Thursday afternoon among the three area sportsbooks):

Auburn at Georgia, 2:30 p.m. Saturday: The Bulldogs have had a couple sub-standard outings in a row, slumbering past Kent State then having to rally late to slip past Missouri — games in which they did not come close to covering big pointspreads. Look for a wakeup call here against the tepid Tigers, and an early onslaught to get things back on track. Georgia -16 for the first half (FanDuel) •••

Giants at Packers, 8:30 a.m. Sunday (in London): Green Bay has been functional, not spectacular, yet but gets a good spot for a robust performance here. Giants QB Daniel Jones is nursing an ankle ailment and the team has other injury concerns. NY already has three wins, but they were over the Titans, Panthers and Bears. Packers have a jolly old time here. Green Bay -7½ (Argosy, DraftKings). ••

Bengals at Ravens, 7:20 p.m. Sunday: Cincy comes in with a stout defense (not having allowed more than 20 points this season) and its improving offense gets to work against a team that is allowing 425 yards and 25 points per game. We’ll take the +3½ points being offered at Argosy and FanDuel. •••

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