Devil's Tale

A BETTOR’S PRIMER

By Adam Wright

There are no cards to count, no little ball bouncing around on a circle of numbers, no cherries to line up, no bluffing—and you never need to wear sunglasses like the poker players on TV.


Although betting in the sports book is a major step up from your yearly office pool, it’s still one of the simplest bets in town. There are no cards to count, no little ball bouncing around on a circle of numbers, no cherries to line up, no bluffing—and you never need to wear sunglasses like the poker players on TV. It’s simply feeling your hunch and placing your bet with a teller.

The first thing to know is the point spread or line, which is the number of points the favorite is expected to win by. It’s also the number the experts know will compel half the bettors to bet for the favorite while enticing the other half to take a chance on the underdog. By betting on the favorite, you give the underdog the lead before the game starts because the favorite has to overcome this hypothetical lead for the bet to be a winner.

Courtesy of AP A sports bettor’s best friend is the sports book in a Vegas casino.

Here’s an example. The New England Patriots were favored to win the 2005 Super Bowl by 6 points. The bet at the casino would look like this: Patriots –6/Eagles +6. Before the game even starts, you have to view the game as if the Eagles are already up by 6 points. The Patriots won by only 3, meaning that in Vegas, they lost by 3. The Patriots won the Super Bowl, but anyone who bet on them with the point spread lost the bet.

Another bet is the money line, which eliminates the point spread. Whoever wins the game, no matter if by one point or 100, wins the bet. This bet comes with odds. The lower the odds, the more it has a chance of happening.

The bet is written in the sports book like this: Suns +240/Spurs –280. This means the Spurs are favored. A $100 bet on the Suns would win $240. You’d have to bet $280 on the Spurs to win $100.

March Madness at home

You don’t have to leave home to experience the thrill that Vegas patrons feel during March Madness. In fact, you can even set yourself up in a similar fashion to enjoy the games. Listen to the games on the radio, watch the games on CBS, crack open a beer, and go to a sports betting Web site with practically the same lines (point spreads and money lines to bet the victors, as well as over/under on total points).

Sportsbetting.com pays nearly as quickly as Vegas, and you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. Features include a future wagers and a mini-casino section with such games as blackjack and roulette. Transactions are 100 percent safe. The site is easy to navigate once you register for a free membership.

Most casinos offer futures bets, which deal with games that are, well, in the future. For example: Let’s say you bet $5 on the Washington Nationals (300:1) to win the 2005 World Series this coming October. If by some miracle they actually do, you’ll win $1,500.

Betting the totals, also known as the over/under, doesn’t require you to pick a winner. Instead, the casino sets a number of total points that two teams will score. You simply decide whether the teams’ combined final score will add up to “over” or “under” the set score. For example: The Suns beat the Jazz 136-128. The total was 264, definitely over the point total that any casino in the world would have set. If you’d bet the “over” on this game, you’d have been the big winner.

The parlay bet is one of the most exciting and lucrative bets in Vegas. Pick two or more games, and if they all win, the winnings compound. The more games you pick, the higher the odds. A five-team basketball parlay at Bally’s pays off at 20 to 1. If you bet $5 and win all five games, you get $100. Unfortunately, if just one team loses, you lose the whole bet.

 

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