Spreads, juice aren't groceries to gamblers

This primer of terms is good bet to help novices understand sports gaming

Gaming

January 31, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

LAS VEGAS - First-timers to this hedonistic oasis soon discover money is the primary staple of America's fastest-growing city. And anyone who ventures into one of the numerous sports books also learns that it helps to be bilingual.

Gambling, or gaming, is the official language, no matter what the dialect. A primer follows on how to speak like a pro:

Action is a bet.

Juice is the commission a gambler pays for the privilege of making a bet. On most point spreads, a patron must wager $110 to win $100. Gimmick, or proposition, bets often command a higher premium.

The vig, or vigorish, is another term for the juice. By taking in equal amounts of money on both teams, a sports book guarantees itself at least a 5 percent profit.

The line or point spread is what drives sports wagering. By favoring one team over another by a certain number of points, a seeming mismatch retains suspense. Aside from television, the point spread is considered the most compelling reason for the NFL's ascendance to the national game.

Totals or over-under bets deal with total points scored by both teams, usually in a game (though it can be for a half or quarter). For instance, at the Mirage on Sunday, the over-under was 33 1/2 points, meaning those betting the under (maximum of 33 points) lost when the final score was 34-7 or a total of 41.

A prop or proposition bet offers action on a game within the game. For example, one proposition bet on Super Bowl XXXV asked whether both teams would make a 30-yard or longer field goal. Those betting it had to wager $105 to win $100. Those betting against it had to wager $125 to win $100. The disparity reflects that more money was being bet against it happening. Rather than adjust the bet itself, sports books instead moved the odds.

A parlay is one bet that includes a series of wagers.

A push means a tie. If the Ravens had won Sunday by three points, virtually all bets taken in the last 10 days before the game would have been refunded. No juice is extracted. Those bettors who played the game when the spread was below three points would still have won or lost.

The dog in any game is the underdog, though the favored Minnesota Vikings were ridiculed as dogs after their 41-0 loss to the Giants in the NFC championship.

RFB is the term for the free room, food and beverage extended to a casino's best customers. At the glitzier resorts, those with $1 million credit lines receive complimentary air transportation and opulent suites for their patronage.

Whales are the biggest hitters, whose action threatens to sink a casino if one of them has a hot run.

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