Baseball, golf are heating up sports books

Apr 10, 2001 10:37 AM

Baseball games are back on televisions in Las Vegas sports books.

And so is the wagering on the summer sport!

According to Imperial Palace race and sports book director Jay Kornegay, there aren’t any big trends so far in the early season.

"It’s about what’s to be expected," Kornegay said. "There’s those initial results that people want to get their hands on. (The bettors) are carrying around all of their stats. Betting is about normal."

Kornegay said wiseguy action would pick up in a week or two.

"They proceed with caution," Kornegay said. "After three starts (by a pitcher), they start to get a better feeling. They start heating up around that fourth start."

It was a big weekend for underdogs as the Detroit Tigers swept the Chicago White Sox as dogs in their three games, and the San Diego Padres won three of four from the Colorado Rockies. The Padres were dogs in all four.

On Sunday, two teams, the Boston Red Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks, were the biggest favorites of the early season, closing -300 at just about all books. The Red Sox were favored heavily against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at home thanks to 2000 Cy Young Award winning starting pitcher Pedro Martinez. The Diamondbacks also had their ace, Randy Johnson, going against the St. Louis Cardinals at home.

Boston won 3-0, but Arizona lost 9-4.

So do bettors wager more on games with big favorites?

"Not really," said Bob Smith, Leroy’s sports book director. "More people like playing those games on parlays. With these big pitchers pitching, they just like to put it with other games."

But it wasn’t Martinez that caught the spotlight for Boston, but Hideo Nomo, who threw the season’s first no-hitter for Boston last Wednesday against Baltimore at Baltimore. In that game, Boston was around +110 at most books.

"We really didn’t have a lot of money on that game," Smith said. "The game started early (4 p.m.). We would do better if all the games started at 7:30 p.m. The later games have more action."

The Masters

While television coverage for The Masters seems to be getting worse and worse, the betting is getting bigger and better.

"It goes up every year," said Imperial Palace sports book director Ed Salmons. "All golf majors (betting) have gone up with the way Tiger Woods is dominating. With Tiger Woods in there, we seem to get a good bounce. A lot of people do like to bet on the longer odds."

Woods did dominate again, winning The Masters Sunday, that being his fourth consecutive major dating back to last year.

At IP, Woods closed a 2-1 favorite. David Duval, who finished second and nearly won his first major, was as high as 25-1 at some casinos. Phil Mickelson, who finished third, was 8-1.

"You have talented golfers like David Duval and he’s at 25-1 because of Tiger," Smith said.

So does Tiger help or hurt the books?

"I think it does hurt the books," Smith said. "It doesn’t matter that much though. Someone else has to win. Right now, he may win four or five tournaments in a row before he comes down."

In match-ups at IP, Woods was -190 against either Mickelson or Davis Love III at +160. Another match-up had Brad Faxon at -120 vs. Stewart Cink at even. Faxon won that match-up.

"We had to adjust some odds, but betting was great, there’s no doubt about it," Salmons said.

The IP has already posted odds Tuesday on the U.S. Open, which will be June 13-17.

Triple Crown watch

The Imperial Palace will be handing out T-shirts this Saturday.

The T-shirts will go to horse race bettors who place a $20 bet on either the Triple Crown Trail’s Bay Shore, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby this Saturday.

"We had a good crowd (this past Saturday) for the Santa Anita Derby, but we expect a bigger crowd this weekend," Kornegay said. "That’s the last big day before the (Kentucky) Derby (May 5)."

Crowds were also good at Bally’s as Point Given won the Santa Anita by five lengths, paying off $3.40.

"We had a nice race crowd (for Santa Anita)," Avello said. "We had a full house. Point Given did what he was supposed to do."

College hockey

Boston College, a -120 to -130 favorite against North Dakota, in the NCAA Division I hockey national championship game, prevailed with an overtime win Saturday.

"It received its fair share of action," Kornegay said of the Frozen Four betting. "More people talk about it than play it. When it got tied up, it got a reaction."

On March 10 at Bally’s/Paris, both B.C. and U.N.D. were 5-2 to win the national championship.

On Thursday, North Dakota defeated Michigan State 2-0 in one semifinal, while Boston College defeated Michigan 4-2 in the other semi.

"They were pretty much the only games in town on Thursday," Kornegay said.