Vegas sports books sweat NCAA wagers

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While thousands of Final Four bettors were sweating out their action Saturday at their favorite Las Vegas sports book, perhaps no one was sweating more than bookmakers Tony Miller and Nick Bogdanovich as they had massive risk attached to each of the semi-final games.

For Miller over at the Golden Nugget, he was staring at a $1 million loss if Michigan State won the NCAA Tournament. In December he took a $20,000 wager at 50-to-1 odds from The D Las Vegas owner Derek Stevens, which at the time didn’t look too damaging because the Spartans weren’t playing well. But a few weeks before the Tournament began, Sparty started playing well and carried momentum all the way to the Final Four.

For the entire week after Michigan State beat Louisville in the Elite Eight, Miller had to stew over the possibilities of his book losing $1 million. However, Michigan State was the longest shot of the Final Four and he had at least two more cracks at beating the bet with odds in his favor and relief finally came when Duke won 81-61 as a 5-point favorite.

As for Bogdanovich who does the bookmaking for William Hill’s chain of sports books, he’s been simmering for a lot longer than Miller because of the massive risk he had on a Kentucky undefeated prop that was initially offered at 50-to-1 odds back in August.

This was supposed to be one of the best teams of all-time and they were rated 6-points better than everyone in college basketball. They went undefeated during the regular season, rolled through the SEC Tournament and then won the first four games of the NCAA Tournament.

Bogdanovich wasn’t staring at a $1 million loss like Miller was, but his books were the favorite by a longshot to come out the big loser between the two. So when Wisconsin knocked off Kentucky 71-64, Bogdanovich could finally let out that deep sigh of relief he had been holding in for the past six months.

To both Miller and Bogdanovich’s credit, they didn’t waver too much or at least put up a good front. They didn’t panic with their bookmaking and try to recoup possible losses by giving away generous prices on the money lines. They both stayed the course and treated the risk as an entirely different entity.

Best of all, they both got tons of national exposure for the Golden Nugget and William Hill. And the bettor with the Michigan State ticket, Stevens, was seen on several national TV shows and got The D millions worth of publicity. Best of all he hedged the bet to recoup his initial investment of $20,000. So all in all, everyone came out a winner, even the public as most had the popular parlay of Duke to Wisconsin come through.

Tiger relevant in LV

Tiger Woods hasn’t won a major since 2008, but that reality means nothing to bettors as they have made Woods the biggest risk for the Westgate Las Vegas Superbook in their Masters futures. Woods is listed at 40-to-1 odds, his highest ever during a major. Despite the risk, oddsmaker Jeff Sherman doesn’t seem inclined to move Woods down anytime soon just because of his poor form.

“If you were to look at his recent results and scratch the name off him, you would say that the golfer should have much higher odds than 40-1,” said Sherman, a Las Vegas pioneer in golf odds setting. “If you go back and look at what he’s done since June, he’s had a couple withdraws, missed the cut three times, tied for last and his best finish was 69th, and the stuff we’ve seen lately with his chipping is a little scary.”

Woods has been so bad lately Sherman is reluctant to even use him in a golfer vs. golfer matchup.

“I have no intention of using Tiger in any of the matchups I make, but I’ll also post whatever matchups the Don Best screen is showing and if they use him I’ll just have to radically adjust the number. If you matchup Tiger with golfers in his odds range, they’d all be massive favorites over him.”

The Westgate has posted four Tiger-specific Masters props, such as an over-under on his first round score at 73.5 and Will he make the cut? with No listed at -120.

After some uncertainty, Woods announced last week he’s participating in the Masters. Sherman thinks the media hoopla surrounding Woods could work in favor of a golfer who actually has a legitimate shot to win.

“Tiger being in the Tournament bodes well for (Rory) McIlroy just because some of the attention will be taken off him as he tries to win his third straight major and go for the career grand slam. There will be less spotlight on him and he should be more at ease.”

McIlroy is the 6-to-1 favorite, one of only two golfers posted at single digit odds.

As for who Sherman likes the most when combining value along with a legitimate shot to win, he cited Jason Day (12/1), Adam Scott (20/1), Matt Kuchar (30/1) and Keegan Bradley (50/1) as ones to watch.

Sherman will be offering in-progress wagering during the final round Sunday.

Baseball is back!

Las Vegas sports books win at the lowest percentage in baseball among all the sports, yet they offer the most attractive lines with 10-cent splits, or at least some still do.

A few books have made some adjustments on their splits over the years to bring an edge back to the house, such as MGM Resorts who have used a 20-cent split for quite a few years. Because of the wide split, they’re able to keep sharp betting groups out of their rooms and they rarely have bad months in baseball.

Station Casinos, Stratosphere, Caesars Palace and Coast Resorts recently went to a 15-cent split, while the South Point, Westgate SuperBook, Wynn, William Hill, Golden Nugget and CG Technology all use a 10-cent split. The most generous offering in town is at Aliante which offers an 8-cent split.

Between the splits and true odds parlay payouts, betting baseball is the best value a book offers.

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

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