Local oddsmakers stick out necks: Harveys provides celebrity golf odds for rest of state
Why isn’t Charles Barkley listed at a million to one to win this week’s American Century Championship and what gives with defending champion Jack Wagner not being recognized as the tournament favorite?
These are some of the issues that faced oddsmakers at Harveys Lake Tahoe Race & Sports Book in the month preceding the 54-hole celebrity golf tournament at Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course.
As the sole provider of tournament odds in the Stateline casino corridor, the book has also become responsible for supplying the odds for other Nevada casinos. That responsibility can be a burden.
“I’m definitely more nervous now that they are going out all over the state,” said Dave Cudney, a race and sports book supervisor. “It’s really hard when there isn’t a track record. Luckily this tournament has been going on for a long time and many of the guys have played in it a lot.”
Cudney prepares the odds by researching past performances and poring over the latest player handicap list provided by Golf Digest. After receiving input from other race and sports book personnel such as Steve Schorr and Frank King, Cudney’s odds will be checked by Las Vegas Sports Consultants and oddsmakers at Caesars Palace.
“I’d feel better if it was San Francisco and New Orleans and the line was 7. It’s a scary bet for us because we don’t know (for sure). It’s not an exact science. We’re not 100 percent confident,” said Schorr, Harveys’ full service games manager.
“It’s a fun event for us. It’s not like we’re putting it up to make a bunch of money. We do it because we support celebrity golf.”
One of the more unusual aspects about the gaming side of the tournament is that the celebrities can bet on themselves or other players. Cudney, however, has never seen a celebrity bet against himself/herself in a player matchup.
As the 18th championship approaches, six-time champion Rick Rhoden at 6-5 is one again the favorite. Dan Quinn (2-1), Wagner (5-1) and Billy Joe Tolliver (5-1) are the other top contenders. For good reason. The quartet has combined to win 12 of the 17 titles.
Unlike other pro golf tournaments, the 81-player celebrity championship really has about 10 to 12 legitimate title contenders. That can be a plus for gamblers.
“If it wasn’t for the liability of the casinos, we could make Barkley a million to one. No matter what, he isn’t gonna win,” Schorr said. “Those bets are souvenirs. In a normal golf match, there aren’t too many souvenirs. In pro golf, most of them have somewhat of a chance, a lot more than Barkley ever would have.”
The biggest swing in odds prior to the tournament belonged to Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback Tony Romo. Odds on Romo to win the tournament have dropped from 20-1 to 12-1.
“Rumors are flying around that he’s really good and he’s a new player. A few years ago, it was the same thing with Mark McGwire,” Cudney said.
Although Romo shot an even-par round of 72 in the first stage of qualifying for the U.S. Open in May, he has yet to play in the ACC. Many players perform differently when cameras are on them and spectators are watching every shot.
Retired hockey player Mario Lemieux (40-1) is the longest shot to ever win the tournament when he won the title back in 1998.
While the odds on players to win the tournament are relatively harmless to the books, the head-to-head matchups can cause some problems. Savvy gamblers have been know to pinpoint a poor matchup.
Last year, the book tendered a matchup of actors – Ray Romano vs. Cheech Marin – and the Romano’s 28-point victory sent some casino money up in smoke. The same thing happened in the matchup of Donald Trump and Dan Quayle. Quayle fired away at Trump, winning by a landslide – 31 points.
Years ago, a matchup between Barkley and Kevin Nealon became almost laughable when Nealon purposely hit some tee shots into Lake Tahoe.
As a result, the book has taken some precautions to avoid shaky matchups in the future. For this year’s tournament, Cudney has enlisted in players he perceives as either title contenders or highly competitive.
“The limits are much lower. We wouldn’t let someone bet $20,000 on a matchup,” Schorr said.
While the tournament is a fun week for the fans, Cudney, Schorr and King won’t be at ease. That nervousness is part of the reason they are in the gaming business.
“Overall, we’re pretty confident or we wouldn’t put up the lines,” Schorr said.
Celebrity golf odds
Trent Dilfer -1.05
Ryan Longwell -1.25
Al Del Greco -1.05
Chris Chandler -1.25
Mario Lemieux -1.20
Pierre Larouche -1.10
John Elway -1.25
Joe Theismann -1.05
Jack Wagner -1.40
Grant Fuhr +1.10
Ray Allen -1.15
Michael Jordan -1.15
Steve Beuerlein Even
Drew Brees -1.30