The inside word:
Stick to your bet

May 11, 2004 2:54 AM

Betting advice in sports books is much the same, only it means more coming from fellow players.

"The hardest thing is sticking to your guns," longtime gambler Mike McClain said between pitches of the Rockies-Cubs game last week. "I tell people to stay with what they are doing, no matter how tough it gets."

The thought process is merely part of a daily game plan to beat the house. There are players like Glen Sunderland who come to venues like the Stardust with the whole arsenal ”” multi-colored markers, an updated baseball workbook and a magnified ruler that enlarges the type when placed on the daily play sheet.

"I guess you can say I am a late bloomer," said Sunderland, adorned in Yankees cap and enjoying his hobby of five years during his retirement. "I like to watch and bet on baseball and basketball."

Sunderland, a regular visitor to Las Vegas from Glendale, Cal., especially enjoys betting hoops, particularly halftime lines.

"There is no pattern," he said. "I have to watch and see how the refs are calling the game."

Meanwhile as the Cubs jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead, McClain went into a soliloquy about betting that everyone has probably uttered at the window.

"In this town, the only person who treats me bad is me," he said. "I bet too much when I lost and didn’t bet enough when I won."

Amen, brother.

"I love the (NHL) Tampa Bay Lightning to win it all in the Stanley Cup," McClain said. "I loved them in the first game against Philadelphia. They (Tampa Bay) put the biscuit in the basket. Love them in the series. My best play."

McClain was happy with his Cubs bet, but had to throw another game in, "cause it was such a big minus."

"I took a shot with the Phillies plus the money," he said. "The Padilla-flotilla happens. Day after Cinco de Mayo and the Phils are in Phoenix."

Philadelphia defeated the D’backs 4-1 to continue a string of good luck for McClain, who was still feeling good from the Kentucky Derby.

"I was playing ponies at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. he said. "Did the Smarty party out there. All of us bet $50 on Smarty Jones. Made a little money and took the bus ride back to Vegas.’’

As for baseball, McClain wagers with teams he feels are going to win 100 games.

"I straight bet them," he explained. "Boston, Yankees, the Cubbies. Stick to betting teams that win. If these teams go 100-62, you will make out."

McClain is a regular at The Stardust and says he won’t change.

"It’s full of great people," McClain said "It’s money in the bank for me, a meeting of the minds. Starts off with John Kelly’s show. I touch base with a lot of bettors. That’s how we make money every day."

McClain said Vegas has changed over the years, but it hasn’t dampened his enthusiasm to bet.

"Corporations are making dollars hand over fist and they are giving very little of the pie out," he said. "It used to be you could get anything you wanted in this town. Now they make you earn it. If you do too well, the bosses may move you."

A gentleman we’ll call "Danno" bets baseball 30-to-45 days a year in Las Vegas. Nearly a week has passed in his latest venture to Sin City.

"I bet baseball streaks," said the Illinois resident. "I leave it alone after the All Star break. The streaks are still there, but the lines are so high then (plus $2.00 and up) that it’s hard to make money. If you can’t win 7 or 8 in a row at 2-1, it’s hard to win anything on that (favorite) side."

Danno said he watches the Cubs, White Sox, Cardinals and Braves when he’s back home, but doesn’t have a betting favorite. He feels that works to his benefit.

"More often than not, it’s better off going against the public," he said. "When you bet sports, don’t bet with your heart. The other day I bet the underdog Cards when the odds got higher with Philadelphia and wound up winning."

Then there’s the case of Danny Boich, who finds fault with the food prices when he’s in town.

"I come to Vegas four times a year from my home in Wilkes Barre (Pa.) and over the past 10 years it costs more to eat," he said. It’s the same story at all the casinos that I bet at.’’

Boich is a hardcore boxing fan, betting Cotto on the undercard of the Pacquiao-Marquez championship bout this past Saturday at MGM.

Nothing wrong with picky in betting.

"It’s all about betting winners," he said.