Las Vegas Sports Betting 101 Primer – How To Bet Sports In Las Vegas

A friend of mine paid a long-awaited trip to Las Vegas in late October and had a great time wagering on football, blackjack, and rock climbing at Red Rock Canyon. On top of it, we were lucky enough to win most of the trip expenses. We were, however, mystified by the sports betting scene on a couple of counts.

First, the way casinos were offering bets were inconsistent, both between and within casinos. We had performed some statistical analyses related to half-time football bets. We wished to place bets based on points (i.e., picking a team and giving or taking points) rather than line bets (i.e., betting a certain amount to win $100). We had to run back and forth between casinos in order to find these bets, and as a result either backed out of some bets or missed being able to place them. We found them at Imperial, but then later in the day they reverted to line bets. Several people we asked about this either had no recognition of it or provided some unintelligible explanation, which led us to believe that the average person wagering on football is in “left field”. Do casinos do this in order to intentionally confuse gamblers? I’m not able to find any explanations in books about this matter. Also, it seems as though they take a larger commission out of the line bets. Any expert insight into this?

Second, unlike reports from friends, we found the service at the sports books to be practically nonexistent and drink prices to be high (and certainly far from comped). We spent most of a day at Imperial Palace and pretty much had to trip back and forth to other rooms to get water or drinks (at $4 a pop). Monday night football at RIO offered Miller for 2.75 as their best deal. Food was easy enough to get. It wasn’t until we played cards at the Horse shoe that we felt like actual customers.

I enjoy the newsletter and can’t wait to get back to Las Vegas.

Mark B.

Ted Responds:

Good questions. I’ll do my best, but if a veteran sports better is out there, please drop us a line at [email protected] with your input.

The goal of the sports books is to get exactly the same amount of money placed on each side of a game. They make their profit out because you have to bet $11 to win $10. So, they take $1 for each $10 they move from a losers hand to a winners. On money line bets (where you bet a team to win straight up instead of covering the spread), they work in a similar fashion.

There is not one “Las Vegas line” that all the sports books follow. A team may be favored by 5 at the Imperial Palace and by 6 next door at Flamingo Hilton. At the Flamingo, more money has been bet on the favorite and they raise the spread to get some money coming in on the underdog to even things up.

As far as drinks, I don’t spend time in sports books. I understand that some give you drink coupons when you bet (make sure to ask) depending on the size of the wager and others serve free cocktails as long as you have a valid betting slip in your hand. Please understand that they are generally not thrilled about giving away piles of free drinks when most people have placed a $10 or $20 bet, which may account for the slow waitress service. If your betting level is substantially higher, please talk to a sports book supervisor (ask for them at the window) about what kind of action you need for what kind of comps.

If you are in town with 2-3 buddies and serious about your sports betting, bring your cell phones and split up to cover as many books as possible before half-time. (Note: cell phones are NOT allowed to be used in the books themselves – read the numbers and then take a walk while you talk).

The beauty of Las Vegas is our “free market”. There are about 15 minor rules variations in the game of blackjack and if you don’t like the game at one casino, you can walk next door. If you don’t like the betting line at one casino, you can do the same. If you are betting some serious money, ask a number of casinos about comps and go with the best deal for you.




CEO/Managing Editor