11/24/2004 12:00AM

Holiday gift ideas for those who bet


Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year.

It's the perfect time to find the right gift for those in your life who gamble on racing or sports, or have an affinity for all things Las Vegas. Of course, if your family and friends aren't regular readers of Daily Racing Form, there's nothing wrong with dropping a few hints or shopping for yourself.

For those looking for gambling-related books, the top source is the Gambler's Book Shop at 630 South 11th Street in Las Vegas. Out-of-towners can order online at gamblersbook.com. The store offers the widest range of gambling books, videos, and software, including all of the latest releases in the exploding world of poker.

Speaking of poker, the people who bring us the World Poker Tour every Wednesday night on the Travel Channel have branched out into the merchandising realm. Fans can buy two decks of WPT cards ($7.99) or a full poker set, including official WPT chips ($149.99) at worldpokertour.com. The ultimate gift would be a seat at the WPT Championship Finale at the Bellagio on April 18-24 for $25,000.

Another place to find poker sets, as well as supplies for every other casino game - from full-fledged blackjack and craps tables to cheaper layouts for your kitchen table to roulette wheels to slot machines - is at Gamblers General Store at 800 S. Main Street as well as gamblersgeneralstore.com.

One store that isn't on the web but offers a wide range of Vegas-style gifts is the Bonanza Gift Shop on the corner of the Strip and Sahara Avenue.

Another uniquely Las Vegas gift that has to be purchased in person is a future-book ticket on your loved one's favorite sports team, or a Kentucky Derby horse. Those can be purchased at any race and sports book, and it gives the recipient something to cheer for and can be worth much more than the ticket cost.

Daily Racing Form offers many books for horseplayers, including "Handicapping 101" by Brad Free ($24.95) and "Pedigree Handicapping" ($14.95) by Las Vegas's very own Lauren Stich.

'You Can Bet On It' year-round now

In the past, Las Vegans could set their calendars by the popular "You Can Bet On It" radio show, which would make its season debut on Aug. 1 and run through the Super Bowl. Host Larry Grossman set it up that way so he could do other projects during the off-season, as well as get an extended vacation.

Even though Grossman sometimes regretted being unable to bring advice to his faithful listeners during March Madness, the Kentucky Derby, the World Series of Poker, and other major events, he stuck to the schedule. But not anymore.

With an increased focus on poker as well as a more widespread acceptance in sports betting and casino games in general, Grossman has agreed to keep the show going year-round.

During the non-football months, the one-named professional gambler known as Fezzik will be the guest host with Grossman making cameos, including during the World Series of Poker.

The show is aired live Monday through Friday from 2-3 p.m. and archived at cardplayer.com in addition to its local airtime on KENO AM-1460

Fezzik's other radio gig at the Stardust

On Friday night, Fezzik appears in a quarterfinal match of the Stardust Invitational football handicapping tournament against Big Al McMordie. The show originates live in the Stardust sports book from 9-10 p.m. and is aired live on KDWN AM-720 as well as kdwn.com. The Olympic offshore sports book (thegreek.com) has Fezzik as a -150 favorite.

Cal State-Hayward statistics professor Mike Orkin joined Brent Carter in the semifinals by going 2-4-1 last week in his quarterfinal match vs. radio's "Papa" Joe Chevalier, who went 2-5. Their records paled in comparison to Jimmy Vaccaro and Cesar Robaina, who were trying to break their tie from the previous week but both went 4-2-1 with best-bet winners and will have to face off again this Friday with seven more selections, in addition to the plays from Fezzik and McMordie.

To prevent yet another deadlock, the handicappers will rank their three best bets. If those result in ties, the margin of victory (against the spread) will be used on the best bets to determine a winner.

All 28 selections will be available on printouts at the Stardust following the show.

* Contestants in Las Vegas's high-end handicapping contests had to submit their selections early this week if using a game on Thanksgiving Day, but the picks of the leaders as well as consensus plays of all contestants will be available as the regular times this weekend: Las Vegas Hilton (Friday afternoon), Station Casinos (late Saturday morning), Golden Nugget (6 p.m. Saturday). That same information can also be found online under the "Hot Links" section at Jim Feist's website, nss.net, though the Hilton selections usually aren't updated until Friday evening while the Stations and Nugget contests sometimes aren't up until late Saturday night.