March Madness extends to Augusta, Golf’s first major

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The Madness came and left Las Vegas with the bettors getting the best of the sports books which is really saying something because the first week of NCAA Tournament always produces consistent win for the house.

For the sports books, each day of the tournament turned in vastly different results.

Thursday was day for the favorites to shine going 11-5 ATS, which will always translate into a big day for the betters. Friday, the sports books struck back as the underdogs were barking with big upsets, two of which saw No. 2 seeded Duke and Missouri get knocked out.

As a 21-point favorite, Missouri’s spread became the largest ever to lose outright in a tournament game. And while not many bettors took 50-to-1 for Norfolk State to win outright, plenty of large money came in on the favorite (-9900). They call bettors who take losses like that “Bridge Jumpers.”

What the outright loss also did was kill several money-line parlays that crafty bettors like to throw in to increase their payouts because “they can’t lose.”

When Saturday rolled around, it was back to the same favored teams that beat the sports books on Thursday. The results were almost identical, a losing day. Syracuse, Kentucky, Marquette and Louisville were a popular four team parlay with 10-to-1 odds that the books couldn’t recover from.

That left Sunday as being the money day to decide the fate of the weekend for the sports books. Not only did they have to beat down the eight favorites on the day, but also had to stifle the extended risk from Saturday’s parlays that carried over into their final legs Sunday.

The sports books got out okay with the favorites going 3-5 ATS, but it wasn’t the type of weekend they had hoped for.

“We ended up showing a slight win for the weekend, but I think we could call it draw,” said South Point sports book director Bert Osborne, “They (bettors) won two days and we won two days. The big winner of the weekend was Las Vegas and its image as whole. I think the city offered the good time bettors had hoped for.”

Most sports books reported gains in handle of up to 10% over the same weekend last year. Part of that is due to the economy looking like it’s turning around, but most of it can be attributed to bettors faring well and churning their winnings over into the next games at a higher rate.

We could call it a draw for the sports book, but it should be considered a win for the bettors just because draws don’t happen on these tournament weekends where the books rarely hold less than 8%. So congratulations to all of you out there who walked, flew or drove away from Las Vegas with a positive experience and a wad of cash in the pocket.

Masters already huge

Golf’s first major is only two weeks away and just like last year, Tiger Woods is the story. If you remember, Woods was making his first start in a major last year after missing the previous season because of all his personal issues.

The anticipation of his return was high, so high that wagering on the Masters had never reached the levels it obtained. It’s hard to say that his return this season has more intrigue, but the action at the bet windows say otherwise.

“We have already exceeded last year’s record Masters handle and we still have almost three weeks to go before they tee off,” said LVH Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman. “Beyond everyone wanting to see how Woods will fare, the level of play from golfers like Luke Donald being back at No. 1, Rory McIlroy, Lee Westwood and even Phil Mickelson winning a tournament has added some great intrigue.”

Woods withdrew in the final round of WGC-Cadillac Championship two weeks ago because of a strained Achilles, but Sherman doesn’t think it will be an issue.

“He’s playing this week so there should be little concern, but we did raise his odds from 6-to-1 up to 7-to-1 because of the injury,” said Sherman.

But that’s not to say Sherman discounts Woods chances to win on such a big stage and break through with his first official tournament win since 2009 and first majors win since getting his 14th at the 2008 US Open.

“He’s been playing very well since November, but just hasn’t been able to get on top yet, and at some point he is going break through.”

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