March Madness lived up to its billing on Thursday as frenzied bettors crowded Las Vegas sports books to wager on their favorite college basketball teams.
Throughout the city, from the Vegas Strip to community casinos, sports books were swamped with elbow-to-elbow bettors.
"We were packed for most of the day," said a betting teller at the Palms resort and casino. "Just before tip-off there were lines of people five-deep, anxious to get their bets down."
The scene was played out in other Southern Nevada casinos.
Wynn Las Vegas was jammed and the Las Vegas Hilton reported that its SuperBook was packed, as was "locals" oriented casinos such as Red Rock Station and Arizona Charlie’s.
In addition to fielding "limit" bets on tournament teams, parlay cards were a popular choice with players.
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"There are 32 games on the card, and all I need is to catch five winners," said Justin Revell, a Southern California visitor who was filling out parlay cards at the Palms. "The half-point card is reasonable and they pay 25-for-1 for hitting five out of five.’
Indeed, the Palms offered one of the better NCAA tournament parlay cards. The half-point lines eliminated "ties lose," which was the custom at most sports books in town.
Also, the "higher odds" card featured solid payoffs of 13-for-1 for four-teamers, 25-for-1 for five –teamers, all the way up to 835-for-1 for hitting a ten-teamer.
Another sports book that attracted solid parlay card action was Wynn Las Vegas. Director John Avello put out a variety of attractive cards – the customary ties-lose card, but also an intriguing money-line parlay card, and a half-point teaser card.
The latter was hugely popular with high-end players. "The underdogs are huge in the first round," said Lester Walden, who said he was a "dime" bettor at the Wynn. "With the extra five points or so, these teams have an extremely high probability of covering the point spread."
Walden was dead-on in his assessment of underdogs. When the dust cleared Thursday night, underdogs were a brilliant 11-5 against the teaser card lines, three of which were covers based on the extra teaser points.
NCAA tournament action continues today. Bettors may want to check out GamingToday’s NCAA tournament preview released Wednesday, which correctly picked 12 winners out of the 16 games played on Thursday.