If you are reading this article, it is likely that you either have decided to make a trip to Las Vegas, or are seriously considering one. That’s awesome! You’re going to have a great time. As easy as using an online sportsbook is, the feel of being in an environment where you and all of those around you are essentially trying to do the same thing (predict the outcome of a sporting event) is unlike any other. It is not the experience of being at a stadium, where virtually everyone is cheering for the same team, but instead a large group of people that are using a wide variety of methods to try and make some cash, whether it be their business or hobby. If you are nervous about being at a sportsbook, fear not, it’s not that intimidating.
You will be around all sorts of different people, all trying to solve the same problem: forecasting the outcome of a game before it finishes. While we can assume you understand the basic premise – pick a team to win a game outright (money line), cover a spread, or go over/under a total – you might not know what to expect upon arrival, and that can be an intimidating situation. No worries;p I’m here to guide you from afar through the process of live betting at a sportsbook.
Essentially, when you show up, you are going to see a well-lit movie theater. But instead of one giant screen, there will be many televisions showing all of the big games. In addition to TVs with action on them, there will be digital signs indicating the betting line on a wide variety of games. Below the televisions will be a betting window. Though this design is fairly standard, you can find variations in it. Some sportsbooks might have desks (this is usually for the racebook section where handicappers are reviewing their Daily Racing Form before betting the ponies); others will have individual tables or couches with TVs so that you don’t have to look up to the big screens; and there are some casinos that have their TVs in one direction and betting lines in another. But, no matter where you go, you will find the same elements: a place to sit, a bunch of screens showing games, a spot to review lines, and windows to bet at.
The digital sign with lines is going to be a large list. It will be divided by sport, and include: the betting code (which you need to identify when you place a wager), the team names, the moneyline prices, the point spread, and the over/under. For example, a key AFC West match-up featuring the Chiefs and Broncos in Denver might looks like this:
208 Chiefs +150
209 Broncos -3 -175 42.5
If you bet the Chiefs on the moneyline (+150), you will get $150 for every $100 you bet. If you bet Denver on the moneyline (-175), you need to risk $175 to win $100.
For all bets that are not of the moneyline variety, the odds are -110. That means you must bet $110 to win $100, or $11 to win $10. This includes the spread (Broncos -3) and the over/under (42.5).
The sportsbook is in business to take bets, so it will not be difficult to find a writer to place your wager with. If it is a high-traffic time, there might be a line. These will typically be at the front of the sportsbook, near the televisions, but some common sense will make the experience really easy. If you are unsure, politely ask an employee; there is nothing to be intimidated about. If you treat people with respect, and show some appreciation for their assistance, there will be no issues. That said, it is ideal if you know some simple lingo to wagering.
If you want to bet on the Broncos -3, say something like, “I would like to bet number 209, Broncos minus-3, for $110 straight.” If you prefer the over, you’d say, “I would like to bet number 208, over the 42.5 on Chiefs/Broncos for $110.” If you win your bet, it is a nice idea to tip less than five-percent of your winnings when you cash out. It will certainly be appreciated, and possibly could get you a free drink coupon. It will certainly get you good service in the future.
Depending upon where you are, and what season it is, there may be difficulty finding a place to watch games. If you are in Vegas for the Super Bowl or NCAA Tournament, make sure you arrive plenty early, find a seat well before the event begins, and enjoy the environment. Don’t make the bet and go back to your hotel room. It is fun to be around other people with a vested interest in the game; the tension is palpable.
Cell phones are generally frowned upon in the sportsbook, so if you need to make a call, step out while handling your business.
Finally, cocktail waitresses will often come around asking if you want a drink. Different casinos have different policies on what drinks cost. They are comped at some places; some require you make a bet to get a coupon; others have a cash bar. Regardless of the scenario, tip your waitress! They support themselves on tips.
Lastly, and most importantly, have fun. Don’t bet so much that a loss will ruin your trip, but bet enough that a win will be memorable. After all, you’re in Vegas to make memories … even if you get too drunk later in the night to remember them.
Photo Credit: Photo credit: roundnoon (flickr) [https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/]
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