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Just like that, the NCAA Tournament came and went, but between baseball and the NBA regular season closing out, bettors in Las Vegas have plenty of wagering opportunities to satisfy their betting needs.

This week we get treated to another special betting event: The Masters. The big question here is whether or not there will still be the big public appeal because of no Tiger Woods. “Our overall handle on majors kind of mirrors the TV ratings,” said LVH Superbook assistant manager Jeff Sherman, the premiere golf oddsmaker in Las Vegas. “When the TV ratings are up, it’s because a tournament is appealing to that fringe audience, and that’s the same with us and our wagering volume. There is always a noticeable increase when Tiger is playing, and especially if he’s playing well.”

Whether you’re a fan of Woods or not, it’s fair to say many people watch just to see what he’ll do next. Some of the storylines that captivated us the last couple of majors have all been surrounding Woods. Can he win his elusive 15th major? Will he be in contention on the final day? Will he make the cut? With none of those questions in play, does the rest of the field have enough appeal to get that borderline fan to the betting window?

Now, without Woods in the mix, who will the public gravitate to?

“The most action we have been seeing lately has been on Matt Kuchar,” Sherman said. “We opened him at 30-1 odds, which was below the market number at 40-1, and I dropped him down to 15-1 to be aggressive and stay ahead. Then we took a pretty large bet at that price, so we dropped him lower to 12-1 and they’re (public) still betting him.”

Sherman says he actually likes Kuchar to do well because of finishing fourth and second the past two weeks, and he also likes Sergio Garcia to have a good run. The golfer the LVH stands to do extremely well with, because not many are betting him, is Rory McIlroy who is the 10-1 favorite.

“McIroy is higher at 10-1 than I usually have him,” said Sherman. “We opened him at 8-1, and that was when Tiger was expected to play. He finished with a 65 on Sunday and is carrying that momentum into this week.”

Sherman posted 40 propositions and 60 matchups on Monday night, by far the most in the city. At the end of each round, he’ll post updated odds and matchups for the next day. We might even get to see Sherman post some in-play wagering Sunday if it’s close.

Baseball is awesome! What an outstanding first week. No team looks too good or that bad. Every club still has the small inkling alive that this could be their year. Perhaps the best story so far is the first-place Miami Marlins at 5-2 in the tough NL East, a half-game ahead of the Braves and Nationals. Miami has scored a league high 42 runs while being fifth with a 2.42 ERA.

Another team that wasn’t expected to fare well this season, but has come out smoking is Milwaukee. The Brewers have used a miniscule 1.45 ERA to start 4-2, including a weekend sweep at Fenway Park, which happened to be the World Champion Red Sox season opening series. That is pretty impressive stuff. The big question with the Giants coming in was whether their solid pitching staff would get some run support, and the early indication from a league-leading 11 home runs and second-best 40 runs scored is, yes.

Are NBA favorites ripe for upset? We rarely see any upsets during the NBA playoffs among the top seeds, but when we do, it’s spectacular, and Golden State has been that team the past decade. Last season the Warriors beat No. 3 seed Denver in the first round, and in 2007 took out No. 1 Dallas who were -6000 to win the series.

However, underdogs don’t win NBA Championships, so is there any reason to waste money this year on an NBA future that isn’t Miami (8/5), Oklahoma City (3/1), San Antonio (5/2) or Indiana (6/1)? As ridiculous as it might sound, just because it never happens, a case could be made for the Clippers (12/1) and Rockets (20/1). Both will be a dangerous fight for the Thunder and Spurs.

While the Pacers continue to blunder – that Sunday night, 107-88, home loss to Atlanta was sickening, the Bulls (40/1) and Nets (50/1) have played well. Can Miami just flip the switch on and win their third straight title? I don’t know, but they do look more beatable than ever. As for the Pacers, going into Wednesday’s game at Milwaukee, Indiana failed to cover their last nine, and have gone 2-20 ATS since Feb. 27.

The team I would favor most to climb into the upper echelon of the league would be the Clippers. The feeling all rests with coach Doc Rivers and the mental change he’s brought to the team. He knows his Clips have the best athletes who can do freakish things at high speeds that no one can stop. And when LAC started thrashing good teams along the way, the confidence grew.

Rivers has made Blake Griffin a star now. Griffin’s dunking skills gained him plenty of fame and endorsements, but it wasn’t until this year that his entire game finally played to its fullest capabilities. Griffin and the entire team are much tougher now, and it all came from Rivers, who won the NBA Title in 2008 with Boston.

According to The Don Best/Linemakers power ratings, the Clippers are already considered an elite team. They are the No. 2 rated team, meaning only the Spurs would be favored over them on a neutral court. They are rated higher than Oklahoma City (-½), Miami (-1), Houston (-2) and Indiana (-3½). If the point spreads say the Clippers are the second best team, then getting 12-1 odds on that team to win it all over those below them is certainly attractive.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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