Each year, I find it fascinating to sit down and talk to the folks who work in the Vegas sportsbooks. And to be honest, this year, thanks to the economy and the hit it’s put on their city, I found the bookmakers to be even more willing to open up and chat (in hopes of getting good pub for their book).
Here are just a few quick observations (some I mentioned in Part One of our Vegas series) from my week in the desert.
1. If your team is a 10-point underdog, it does not mean that the Vegas oddsmakers believe your team will lose by 10 points. It means that they believe a 10-point line will draw in an equal amount of cash from fans betting on your team and fans betting against your team.
2. I can demonstrate that point with a specific example. When I asked a number of oddsmakers about the line on the SEC’s first big matchup of the year—Tennessee (and Lane Kiffin) versus Florida (and Urban Meyer)—not one person talked about the teams or the players.
They talked about perceptions.
The general belief was that gamblers across America have come to trust in the Gators. At the same time, Kiffin has made such a splash on the national stage that most gamblers are aware that he has ticked off Meyer and his team.
Because of those two factors, the books will have to set the line big just to get gamblers (who most often come from the West Coast) to risk any money on Tennessee.
3. Since most of the gamblers in Vegas tend to come from the West Coast, always know that Pac-10 teams and nationally respected names (like Notre Dame, Ohio State and Penn State) will get a slight inflation in the lines of their games.
Bookmakers know that gamblers like to bet those teams and they take that into consideration when they set those teams’ lines.
4. For my money, if you’re heading to Las Vegas, The Bellagio sportsbook is the place to be. Among the options you’ll have will be leather chairs, table tops and individual television monitors, a number of mega screens surrounded by traditional big screens, and a very friendly complimentary drink policy.
The Bellagio also has an upscale air about it. Think “Ocean’s Eleven,” which was shot at the property.
If you’re looking for something a bit different, The Planet Hollywood Casino’s sportsbook is surprisingly comfortable. It’s more like a big living room than a sportsbook. But if you’re going on gameday, get there early. There aren’t a ton of seats.
I’m not a big, big fan of Caesar’s Palace because the sportsbook just doesn’t have a welcoming feel. Perhaps it’s the fact that they check how much you’re wagering before they offer you a complimentary beverage (adult or otherwise).
I don’t feel that the sportsbook at The MGM Grand lives up to its reputation, either. The facility is wide, but not deep. Staring straight up at their big screens (of which they do have many) left me with a crick in my neck.
However, if you’re a high-roller with the cash to grab your own luxury suite above and behind the common rabble, then you might have a better experience.
All that said, let us finally get to the meat of this post.
Below you’ll find each SEC team listed beside their most recent odds for winning the 2010 BCS championships. I’ve included the odds from four different casinos/casino groups.
For those teams who were not listed individually by a given casino, I’ve included the odds for a “field” bet, along with a capital “F.”
|Team ||P. Hollywood ||Harrah’s ||MGM/Mirage ||Hard Rock |
|Alabama ||20/1 ||+800 ||8/1 ||12/1|
|Arkansas ||80/1 ||125/1||80/1 ||150/1 |
|Auburn ||125/1 ||90/1 ||100/1 ||150/1 |
|Florida||7/5||+200 ||2/1 ||5/2 |
|Kentucky ||125/1||65/1F||125/1||100/1F |
|LSU ||20/1||11/1||12/1||15/1 |
|Miss. State ||20/1F||65/1F ||25/1F ||100/1F |
|Ole Miss ||20/1F ||40/1 ||25/1F ||50/1 |
|S. Carolina ||80/1 ||90/1 ||25/1F ||150/1 |
|Tennessee ||65/1 ||75/1 ||75/1 ||100/1 |
|Vanderbilt ||20/1F ||65/1F ||25/1F ||100/1F |