09/19/2006 11:00PM

Cause makes these picks well worth it


People often ask me if they should pay for sports betting picks, and whom I would recommend as a handicapper. My standard response is that I don't think anyone should pay for picks, especially with all the free selections out there from the many radio shows here in Las Vegas, as well as the casino contests that publish the picks of top handicappers. Plus, the number of opinions available on the Internet are countless.

Besides, if you lay the standard 11 to win 10, you have to hit 52.4 percent of your bets to start showing a profit. If you're paying for picks, you have to hit at an even higher rate to make up for the added expense.

But if you really think it's worth it to pay for picks, I've finally found a service that I can endorse, not necessarily for the picks but for the much more admirable end result.

It's all the plays of 16 Las Vegas sports book directors. Bettors can obtain these plays by donating $10, which will go to the Make a Wish Foundation, the organization that grants wishes for terminally ill children. The plays will be distributed by e-mail on the Friday night before the games are played.

The fund-raiser is being run by local handicapper Gary Greene, whose radio show airs Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to noon Pacific on KSHP AM-1400 (kshp.com or through Greene's website at bluebooksports.com).

Greene is also running a contest in which the bookmakers will make five plays a week - two college, two NFL, and one best bet. The top four finishers after the first 15 weeks will make the semifinals in Week 16. The championship will be decided in Week 17. The winner will have $2,500 - put up by Greene - donated in his name to the Make a Wish Foundation, with all the $10 donations for the picks added in. Make a Wish estimates that the wishes it grants cost an average of $5,000, so Greene said he is hoping to raise at least that much.

"I have lupus myself, and my brother was very sick when he was young, so I have seen what a terrible burden families with sick kids go through," Greene said. "This is my way of giving back. There really is no better cause out there than helping a sick kid and his family."

In addition to the consensus picks, two bookmakers will appear on the Thursday show each week and give their five selections. Through two weeks of the contest, Raphael Esparza of New York-New York and Vinny Sanzare of Fiesta Rancho are in the lead at 7-3.

Greene said he has collected $400 through the first two weeks, including some generous people who donated more than the $10. For further information, call Greene at (800) 587-2583 or e-mail him at bluebooksports@hotmail.com.

Ryder Cup tees off Friday

The United States and Europe face off in the Ryder Cup this weekend. The Las Vegas Hilton has Europe favored by a half-point with bettors risking -110 on each side, so if it's a draw, bettors who took the U.S. +1/2 would win their wagers. Other sports books, including the Harrah's-/Caesars family and Station Casinos, have three-way betting on the event, meaning if you bet either side and the match ends in a draw, you lose. Odds on the draw range from 8-1 to 10-1.

Richest golf event planned for Vegas

Which golf tournament has the biggest first-place purse? The Masters had a purse of $1.08 million this year. The British Open was worth $1.2 million. The Players Championship is actually the top so far at $1.44 million, but they will all be topped next year by the Ultimate Game at Wynn Las Vegas, which has a first-place prize of $2 million.

And while the others are for PGA Tour pros who don't risk their own money, the Ultimate Game is only open to players who have never been fully exempt members of the PGA, PGA European, Champions, or Nationwide tours. The tournament will also require a $50,000 entry fee.

The Ultimate Game will take place next spring. Preliminary rounds will take place May 29 through June 1, 2007, at the Reflection Bay Golf Club and The Falls Golf Club in Lake Las Vegas, and the final two rounds will be at the Wynn Las Vegas Golf Course on June 7-8. Fox Sports will show a taped broadcast on June 9-10.

Chase for the Cup in high gear

This weekend's Nextel Cup race is the Dover 400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday. Kevin Harvick is the 7-1 favorite at Station Casinos with Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch at 8-1, and Kasey Kahne at 9-1. In the odds to win the points championship, Harvick and Kenseth are the co-favorites at 5-2, with Johnson at 9-2 and Busch at 6-1.

Stations has interesting prop bets in which you can just pick the top Chevy finisher among eight drivers (Harvick is +175, Busch is +200) and another one with the top Dodge finisher (Kahne is -110, Kurt Busch is +175).

o Locally, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway is hosting the Smith's Las Vegas 350 truck race at 6:15 p.m. Saturday. Jeremy Mayfield and Johnny Benson are the co-favorites at 6-1 with Jack Sprague and Todd Bodine at 8-1. Brendan Gaughan is 20-1. He is the grandson of casino pioneer Jackie Gaughan and son of Michael Gaughan, the former owner of Coast Casinos who is buying back the South Coast from Boyd Gaming.