09/22/2001 12:00AM

Question of the week: Do I still have action?

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After the events of Sept. 11, many bettors who made future or some proposition wagers weren't sure whether the tickets they held were valid. If a team doesn't play its original schedule, are you still locked in at the numbers you bet, or are your bets considered "no action?"

It's a situation that hasn't come up often since Las Vegas started booking sporting events, and sports book directors were scrambling to read the fine print of their house rules to see what to do with future wagers and over/under season win props.

"The rules simply say teams must play 16 games in the NFL and 160 games in baseball," said Ed Salmons, sports book manager at the Imperial Palace, which books a lot of these type of bets. "It's just like if a baseball game is 17-13 after five innings, do you get paid on the over? No. The rule is in place that the game must go at least 8 1/2 innings. We put in these types of rules to be fair to everyone ahead of time. It's not like we look to see what result is best for us and rule that way. It's all in black and white."

When pro football and baseball decided to tack postponed games on the end of their regular-season schedules, that made a lot of questions moot, but there are still some gray areas.

For instance, in college football, Northwestern had its game against Navy canceled, so it looked like all the over/under season win bets would be refunded because the Wildcats were only going to play 10 games. But on Tuesday, the school announced it adding a game against Bowling Green on Nov. 17. So now Northwestern is back up to 11 games, but Bowling Green has replaced Navy on its schedule.

Salmons said the Imperial Palace is waiting for a decision from the Nevada Gaming Control Board about what to do about this unprecedented rescheduling. Conventional wisdom says all bets should be refunded because handicappers were looking at a different schedule before the season began, but there are no house rules that apply in this case.

Other teams that were on the Imperial Palace's over/under prop that have had games canceled are Oregon State and South Carolina. Bets will be refunded if those teams play only 10 games instead of their originally scheduled 11. Otherwise, they'll be subject to the same ruling as the Northwestern situation.

*Football contests around town are including the games that were moved to the end of the schedule. Station Casinos, which allows entrants to play all games ahead of time, will be notifying contestants about changes in the schedule, such as the Cowboys-Raiders game being moved up from Oct. 21 to Oct. 7. Most other casinos don't print their contest cards until the week before, so they won't be as affected.

Contest Corner

With the Oak Tree meet starting at Santa Anita Wednesday, most local handicapping contests that have been on hiatus will return. The biggest carryover is at the Sunset Station, with $7,220 in the "in the money" progressive jackpot.

The contest costs $10 to enter, and each contestant picks one horse per race (plus an alternate in case of a scratch). Those whose horse finishes in the money in every race split the jackpot. All of Friday's entry fees will be added to the pot, so the prize pool will probably exceed $10,000.

The person whose selections accumulate the highest combined win payouts wins $1,000.

In addition, there's a $4,000 carryover from Sunset Station's Del Mar contest. Race and sports book manager Fred Crespi is making that money available only to the 24 people who played in every contest during the Del Mar meet. Only those players' first five entries are eligible for the bonus.

"I want the winner of the bonus to have handicapped the card instead of just playing 50 entries and stabbing for longshots," Crespi said.

o The Poker Palace has a new free weekly handicapping contest based on head-to-head matchups set up by race and sports book director Mark Marion. The contest runs each Wednesday through Sunday with players picking five matches per day (25 total in the five-day stretch).

First prize is $1,000 (split evenly in case of a tie) with a $100 bonus for going 5-0 on a Saturday or Sunday. In addition to the contest, Marion has a horse racing parlay card called the Marion Card, which allows bettors to wager on head-to-head matchups.

"Head-to-head matchups brings racing back to its roots: My horse can beat your horse," Marion said.

More information, including on a free Sunday contest, can be found at marioncard.com.

Palms ready to tee it up

The Ryder Cup has been canceled, but golf bettors can still get started handicapping the 2002 majors. It's no shock that golf-odds guru Jeff Sherman has made Tiger Woods the favorite for April's Masters, but it is surprising that his odds are 3-1. "People don't see him as invincible as they used to," Sherman said.

Sherman made a name for himself at the Regent Las Vegas, but has left the Summerlin resort to become a supervisor for race and sports book director Marc Nelson at the soon-to-be-opened Palms. The resort, located across Flamingo Road from the Rio and Gold Coast, was scheduled to open in December, but now will open Nov. 15.

Because Palms owner George Maloof's family owns the Sacramento Kings, the Palms won't be able to take NBA bets. The Palms will be marketed toward both locals and tourists (similar to the Rio), including local bettors who focus on golf and NASCAR.

Phil Mickelson is the second choice in Sherman's Masters odds at 8-1, followed by David Duval at 10-1, Vijay Singh and Sergio Garcia at 15-1, and Ernie Els and Davis Love III at 20-1.

If a bettor thinks a player will win a major but is not sure which one, he can bet on Sherman's "odds to win a major" prop that he had at the Regent. Woods is 1-2 to win a major next year. Phil Mickelson, despite being the "best player to never win a major," is 9-5 to get off the schneid.

An improved Regent

The Regent may have lost a bookmaker, but it has improved in other areas. A common complaint among horseplayers is that football bettors invade their space during the fall. The Regent has expanded its book (outside the main seating section) with a viewing area that has a 60-inch screen and eight 35-inch televisions.

One Regent promotion is a drawing at halftime of the Monday night football game. Players enter by signing the back of a losing parlay card ticket and dropping it in a drum. The Regent will draw three tickets and winners will be awarded 20 times their bet (maximum payout of $1,000), 10 times their bet, or five times their bet. Winners must be present.