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Well, kids, if you've lost yourselves in NHL playoff mania—worry not, we have too—you have missed some exciting NBA playoff games! The Knickerbockers and the Celtics, the Pacers and the Bulls, and the Mavericks and Blazers all have fought some bloody duels. And, in a pair of Game Ones out West, the Grizz upset the Spurs, just like the Hornets did the Lakers.
Where the NHL playoffs are madness, with hot goalies and nearly absent refereeing, the NBA playoffs show less variance in the results. Yes, even with NBA refs. Smart bettors know this and descend.
We talked to Bodog head oddsmaker Adam Young, who said that bettors have been riding long shots going into the playoffs: the books took "quite a bit of money" on the Nuggets' title odds at 100:1 after Denver sent Carmelo packing, pushing them all the way down to 25:1. More recently, gamblers were backing Portland as a 50:1 longshot, and taking the Blazers over the Mavericks in a series bet. With the Blazers down 2-0 to Dallas, getting ripped up by Peja and Kidd, perhaps bettors would have been better off looking elsewhere in the West.
And one of those West teams folks now ride, the Oklahoma City Thunder, won its first game against the once buzzier Nuggets.
"The Thunder and the Bulls, they both finished very strong," Young says. "Their title odds have fluctuated a bit more throughout the season, depending on how the teams were doing, whereas the Lakers' odds have held steady all season."
The Lakers have been the favorite to win all year. They were at 11:4 going into the playoffs, and their Game 1 loss to Chris Paul's point guard clinic only moved them to 10:3. Then again, that shift might mean something to you, if you're convinced the night one loss means nothing. Now's the time to ride the Lakers, if you plan on riding them at all.
What about the Heatles, that other title favorite? Bookmaker.com's head oddsmaker Tony Harvey says that while the Lakers and the Heat have the biggest followings among bettors, those bettors are rooting against the Heat.
Young says that the Heat have been so streaky and pricy—at 13:4 to win the title, going into the playoffs—that most bettors haven't wanted to ride them. And oddsmakers haven't done much to make the Heat enticing. So Young says "it would be a very desirable situation if the Heat were to win the title."
What about the other East teams? The Hawks and the Magic lull us to sleep, even though 4-5 series tend to draw more betting action than the 1-8s and the 2-7s. But the Knicks and Celtics have energized gamblers, Young says, even though most of the money has come in on one side.
"There's more money on the Knicks," he says. "People are definitely down on the Celtics since the Perkins trade—and you can see why, in their play." Close as they've come, the Knicks haven't quite rewarded the gambling public's faith.
We'll know a lot more after tonight, as the three 1-0 West series—Nuggets-Thunder, Spurs-Grizzlies, Lakers-Hornets—resume, with two big-time dogs up. (The Grizz were +340 to win their series, the Hornets were +1200.)
Tonight's slate, with odds from Bodog, with dubious wisdom attached:
THUNDER (-5) over Nuggets, OVER 205
Grizzlies (+8) over SPURS, UNDER 195
Hornets (+11.5) over LAKERS
Hey, also: we like the Lightning at +185 to defeat the Penguins in that series. Lightning -1.5 (+210) is not a bad bet tonight.
2002 - I was in Vegas, pretty drunk, lost, and wondering up to a Roulette table. After a few Green 00 losses, I look up to my right and see D-Backs juiceball Louis Gonzales. Not wanting to be that guy, I keep throwing my $5 chips on numbers and don't initiate any resemblance of a conversation with Mark McGwire-lite. So, Gonzo continues to bitch my $5 bets with $25 and $100 bets on the same numbers I am playing. Then, as I lay yet another chip on Black 17, I turn to Gonzo and say "Come ON Gracie, you gotta hit!" (In reference to Mark Grace, my favorite hometown Cub, and Gonzo's then current Arizona teammate). He once again bitches my $5 bet, throws a $100 on the 17, loses, looks at me and says "Gracie hasn't hit all year."
So, it's the summer after I graduate college. During my first month home, there was a party thrown at the local golf course. I was invited, and since my town has more cattle than people, I was obviously free for the day. The party was really 18 holes of golf and then a cocktail party afterward with about 40 or so people showing up. We began drinking around 2:00pm when we first teed off and continued until the party ended at around 9:00pm.
After people began to leave, two of my buddies suggested that we head to a local bar. Being fresh out of college, I was used to throwing back copious amounts of alcohol. Thus, I obliged and headed to the local bar. This trip ended up becoming a semi-bar crawl, with us hitting up 3 or 4 bars throughout our town until about 1:30 in the morning. At this point, it may be important to let you know that my friends and I are all degenerate gamblers. Each of us has won and lost more than $1000 dollars in a single day, and if you polled us each separately, we would probably all answer that gambling was one of our favorite three things to do in life.
Anyway, at this point in the night (early morning?), someone suggests that we head to the casino about 30 miles down the road... Done. So we all hop in a car and drive down to the boat. Now, keep in mind, that I had been drinking since roughly 12 hours ago. Additionally, at some point during the party, I decided that regular Jack and Coke's weren't getting the job done, so I switched to doubles.
We arrive at the casino and immediately get separated. I mumble something about needing to use the restroom (I think?), and this is where my night gets really hazy. I have absolutely no idea what exactly went down. I just have multiple "brownouts" where I remember things like being in a ballroom, a room with a lot of pipes, and at some point, I think I was on top of the boat. Anyway, I finally find the bathroom.
After relieving myself, I head down to the casino floor. Because I was right out of school, I had yet to begin my job, so I was broke. Amazingly, my $25 did not take me far, and I was only able to play for a little over an hour. Once I lose my cash, I walk around the boat until I meet my friends at the craps table. Although I'm out of cash, they allow me to throw the dice for them because they want to stay a little longer.
Just as we're about to leave, a casino employee comes up to us. He asks me, "Are you Burt Bulger?" Immediately, I become sticken with fear. "Oh no," I thought. "They have my old fake ID on file and matched the two names and figured out we have the same birthday, but three years apart with different addresses."
Unfortunately, I was wrong. They haul me down to the lower reaches of the boat for a little interrogation. At this point, I'm still pretty hammered, but I'm starting to wake up due to the adrenaline factor. Apparently, in my drunken stupor searching for the facilities, I wandered into some secure room that is not normally allowed for patron access. They have me on video tape stumbling around and now think I'm hacking into their security system. Here is some of the conversation I remember:
Casino Employee (CE): "What do you do?"
Me: "I just graduated."
CE: "Oh yeah, what was your major?"
CE (to another employee): "Hey Bob, this guy's an IT major. Listen Burt, we know what you were doing down there. And, we know you know what you were doing down there. Why don't you just spill it?"
This question leads to a long back and forth with me basically telling the guys I had no idea what I was doing.
Me: "I'm not sure what you saw on the tape, but trust me, I wasn't trying to break into your system. I got lost looking for the bathroom because I was really, really hammered."
CE: "Look son, if you were that drunk, we wouldn't have let you in the front door."
Me: "Obviously not."
Wrong thing to say. This leads to my two friends being brought down and interrogated. After finally coming to the conclusion that I am not, in fact, Danny Ocean, they take me picture and make me sign a piece of paper. I'm now banned from the casino for life and will be arrested for trespassing if I ever set foot on their property again. In addition to that, they won't let any of us drive home (too drunk), so we have to wait for another friend to drive 40 minutes to come pick us up at 5:00 in the morning. Awesome casino trip.
"How late will Kate Middleton be to her wedding?" props, from Paddy Power:
On time 7/2
1 minute late 5/2
2 minutes late 5/2
3 to 5 minutes late 3/1
6 to 10 minutes late 10/1
11 to 20 minutes late 14/1
21 to 30 minutes late 16/1
More than 30 minutes late 10/1
Ugh, the royals. Any site wanna give us Royals props instead?