Everyone has Tiger Fever right now making this weekend’s Masters the most anticipated golf major ever, or at least according to how action is coming in at sports books around town.
"This is the highest handle we’ve ever had for any tournament since I’ve been around," said LVH Super Book assistant manager Jeff Sherman who has nearly 20 years of bookmaking experience. "We’ve had great response and most of it centers around Tiger Woods."
To help satisfy the public demand, Sherman and the LVH have offered dozens of propositions on the Masters with Woods being the centerpiece. Anything that can be found in the box-score next to Woods name can bet on. Bettors can take their shot on the first round score of Woods (70½), bet a YES-NO prop on Woods winning (YES +450), or even bet whether he’s make the cut (No +1000)
Sherman also paired Rory McIlroy and Woods together on a YES-NO prop asking if either of the pair would win the Masters with ‘NO’ being -300.
The anticipation of the Masters took on an entirely new shape after Woods broke a winless streak of nearly three years by winning at bay Hill two weeks ago. Up until that point, McIlroy was the favorite to win at 5-to-1, but now Woods has gone from 7-1 all the way down to the 9-2 favorite.
Other favorites include Phil Mickelson (12-1), Luke Donald (15-1) and Lee Westwood (20-1) with everyone else at odds of 25-1 or higher.
The LVH will be offering updated odds to win after each round as well as matchups for the next day. On Sunday they will be offering live odds on the final round where you can bet on adjusted odds with each putt.
Saturday’s Final Four action went well for the sports books as the best scenario unfolded for them when Kentucky won, but didn’t cover the 8 ½-point spread and Kansas beat Ohio State as a 3-point underdog.
The public was heavy with the two team parlay of Ohio State and Kentucky, but it was respected money on Louisville that kept the line from moving past -9. Most sports books like to be on the side the Sharps like even if it means having large extended risk on the other side that the public is playing.
Ryan Newman won a thrilling NASCAR race at Martinsville Sunday paying out at 25-1 odds. There is no race this week as NASCAR observes Easter, something very appropriate of the only sports that prays before each event. In two weeks they’ll be doing some night racing in Texas where we can use some of the information gained at Las Vegas and California to give us a head start.
After six races with 32 still to come, we should have kind of good read on who looks good to win the Championship, but the only problem is that several look good with not one driver standing out like we usually see at this juncture. Greg Biffle (12-1) currently leads in points with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (18-1) right behind.
Defending champion Tony Stewart (5-1) is the co-favorite to win it all and sits in third-place. Stewart has two wins – Las Vegas and California -- on the season and they both came on the type of tracks that are the gateway to a successful season.
The best value in the entire casino may be the odds offered on a baseball game where there is only a .10 cent split compared to football and basketball point spread lines where there is a .20 cent split at -110 each way.
Baseball is always the lowest hold percentage of all the sports in Las Vegas sports books and it‘s surprising that the pie-chart reading bean counters haven’t forced the issue of going to a .20 cent split.
Between paying out true odds on parlays, unlike a fixed pay chart on basketball and football, and the .10 cent split, the bettor always has the advantage in baseball especially when the line moves .5 to .10 cents and action is taken the other way at the adjusted price.
All the possible win the sports books were supposed to have simply on the juice is negated unlike the other sports where the juice always wins in two-way action with only the spread moving.
BEWARE OF -1½
It may seem awfully tempting and hard to resist laying -1½ runs at juicy plus money rewards, but the safe bet – regardless of how high the line is – is to lay the price. There is nothing more frustrating to have a game handicapped perfect with the winning side, but lose because they only won by one run.
In all my years behind a sports book counter, I never saw any of the most respected baseball bettors lay the run-line. They would frequently take the run-and-a-half, but never lay it. If that philosophy is good enough for bettors who make a living betting baseball, it should be good enough for everyone else.