A BETTOR’S PRIMER
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
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
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
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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