Since the first weekend of March Madness is here we thought it would be a good time to share a Beginners Guide To Sports Betting in Las Vegas. No matter your level of sports betting experience this should provide useful information for you.
A Las Vegas sports book can be intimidating if you’re new to legal sports wagering. Even if you’re an experienced sports bettor at home, you may not be familiar with how the process works in a casino. It’s not quite the same.
While the ticket writer (that’s the person who takes your bet) probably understands the lingo of most sports bettors, they work with computer systems and have a system to placing your bets. They take thousands of wagers every week using this system. Understanding the process will make your life and their life easier. Here are some tips for placing your first wager(s) in a Las Vegas sports book.
Understand The Bet You Want To Make
The sports wagering menu grows every new season for a sport and may not be what you’re used. Let’s start with basic wagers that most people will bet.
Point spread: You’re wagering on a team winning or losing by a certain number of points set by the sports book. For example, North Carolina is -7 against West Virginia. Your wager on the favorite, North Carolina, is that they will win by 8 points or more. A wager on the underdog, West Virginia, would be that they lose by six or fewer points. The bet is a push and you get your money back if North Carolina wins by exactly 7 points
Money line: This is a simple wager on which team will win. However, the payouts may not be so simple. We’ll use baseball for this example, the New York Yankees are favored at -190 against the Boston Red Sox who underdog are +170. A $190 wager on the Yankee would return $100 plus the original wager when they win. A $100 wager on the Red Sox would return $170 plus the original wager when they lose.
Total: You may be familiar with this as an over/under wager. You’re not betting on a team, rather you’re betting on whether the total points, runs, or goals scored by both teams is over or under the total provided by the sports book. For example, the total for North Carolina vs. West Virginia is 120. You’ll wager that the total points scored by both teams are greater or less than 120.
I’ll discuss other wagers shortly, but these are the bets you’ll most likely start out with since they’re individual game bets.
Learn Rotation Numbers
These are the numbers you seen before the team name and odds in the sports book. They’re meaningless outside of the sports book, but taking note of these numbers will make placing a wager quicker and easier for you and the ticket writer taking your bets.
Every day there’s a rotation number assigned to each team playing that day. The rotation number is the same in all casinos. This rotation number is what the ticket writer enters into the computer when you place a wager. If you walk up to the counter and ask for a team to win, the ticket writer will have to look up the rotation number to place your bet. You can make the betting process go quicker simply by knowing the rotation number when placing the bet. For example:
Ask: “I’d like to wager $100 on 550.” (In this example North Carolina is number 550)
Don’t Say: “Gimme North Carolina for $100.”
Knowing the rotation number makes it easier for the ticket writer to place your wager. In turn, your bet is placed quicker which should make you and the people waiting in line behind you in line happier. You don’t have to place wagers with rotation numbers. You should place wagers using rotation numbers.
No matter how you place your wager you’ll be told to check your ticket to make sure everything is correct before leaving. Always check your ticket to make sure everything is correct.
Complimentary Drink Tickets May Be Available
Every sports book in Las Vegas used to provide complimentary drink tickets when you placed a sports wager. Like most other complimentary drinks, the casino operators have cut back. Every casino and sports book operator has a different rule policy. This rule can vary by casino and even the ticket writer in the same casino.
For example, Monte Carlo had a sign offering one complimentary drink ticket for every $100 sports bet. That may or may not be followed at other MGM Resorts International casinos. Likewise, that might not always be offered at Monte Carlo. If it’s busy, the ticket writer may forget to offer tickets for your wagers. The writer may also offer more if he or she is in a good mood. While there may be a policy for complimentary drink tickets, it may not be followed.
If you see a similar drink ticket policy sign, and place the appropriate wagers, make sure you receive the tickets. Even if you don’t see a sign with a drink ticket policy, it doesn’t hurts to ask for a drink ticket after placing your bets. The worst the ticket writer can do is to say no. At least you tried.
Sometimes tipping the ticket writer on a winning wager might get you a drink ticket or two. That’s not a guarantee and never official policy, but it happens.
Other Types Of Wagers
Most sports bets will be on the point spread, total or a team to win. However, there are many more sports betting options in casinos today. Here are just a few examples.
Parlays: These are among the most popular sports bets in casinos. A parlay offers the chance at bigger wins than most individual game bets by grouping multiple teams into one large bet. You combine two or more teams up to create a parlay. Each team that is added to a parlay increases the return if all of the games are winners. Parlays are very popular because you can take a wager as small as $2 or $5 and turn it into hundreds and thousands of dollars. Of course, it’s more difficult than it sounds.
Parlay Cards: You can put together your own parlay from games offered or use a parlay card provided by the sports book. These cards come in different varieties with alternative point spreads and rules. A Teaser card gives each team you choose extra points while a Pleaser card is exactly the opposite. The Teaser card makes it easier to win a bet but it pays less than a traditional parlay. On the other hand, a Pleaser card makes it more difficult to win and pays better.
Futures: This is a bet on something happening in the future. For example, you could bet on the New York Yankees to win the World Series at 75-1 odds. You’ll have to wait for the season to end in order to collect. You can place future bets for all teams in all major sports. New futures bets allow you to wager on players too. Sports book operators are now offering odds on league leaders, award winner, and more.
Propositions: These are single game wagers for specific results. For example, you could bet on a certain player to have over or under a point total for a basketball game. These opportunities are different for every game. You’ll find a variety of these betting options since each sports book creates these on their own. Proposition bets add a little spice to a game instead of just betting on a team or a total.