07/18/2006 11:00PM

Taking bets on top college games


School might be out for summer, but with the arrival of all the preseason football magazines, football fans and bettors have been hitting the books for the start of the college season, which is a little more than a month away.

No Vegas books have posted opening-week odds for Aug. 31-Sept. 2, but there are still plenty of wagers available for those who have done their homework.

The Las Vegas Hilton has posted "Games of the Year," which includes some of the biggest rivalries in college football, plus other marquee games. Five games are already posted for Sept. 9: Ohio St. -1 at Texas, in a rematch of their pivotal early-season battle last year; Notre Dame -15 vs. Penn St.; Georgia -1 vs. South Carolina; Colorado -4 1/2 vs. Colorado St.; and Clemson -1 vs. Boston College.

There are three to eight games listed per week throughout the regular season. Most major conferences will have their teams play 12 games, making it less confusing to handicap the over/under regular-season win totals available at the Hilton. In the past, only a few teams would play 12, while the rest would play 11.

The over/under win total for Notre Dame and Oklahoma is 10 1/2, the most of any school, though you would have to risk more money if you want to bet the under. The under on Notre Dame is -200 (risk $2 for every $1 you want to profit), and the under on Oklahoma is -145. This suggests the Hilton oddsmakers know that if they put the number at 10, they would get almost all money on the over, so they raise the line on the under to balance the action.

Teams at the 10 mark are Ohio St., Auburn, West Virginia, and Louisville. Several of the other top programs are at 9 1/2, meaning the wagers could be decided in their season finales. These teams include Texas, Florida, Southern Cal, LSU, Florida St., Virginia Tech, Miami (Fla.), and Iowa.

Plaza adds special Del Mar bet

Several Las Vegas race books were considering adding special wagers during the Del Mar meet, and the Plaza was the first to step up. Unlike books in the past, which offered odds on who would win the jockey or trainer titles, the Plaza is going with a daily jockey proposition wager.

Like the New Frontier, which has a matchup of four jockeys vs. four other jockeys for the most wins during the meet, the Plaza will use groups of jockeys. Instead of two groups, though, the Plaza will have a three-way prop, and it will be for just that day's races. Lou D'Amico, the Plaza's race and sports book director, said the Plaza will use three to four jockeys in each group and adjust the odds based on their number of mounts and the morning-line odds of those mounts. The odds will not always be equal for the three groups and will fluctuate based on betting before the first race starts.

The team with the most wins on the card is declared the winner. In the event of a two-way tie, the odds will be halved; if there's a three-way tie, all bets will be refunded.

"We're always looking for anything to increase handle during the summer and get people to come downtown," D'Amico said. "We're looking to have some fun with it. It's like a bet within a bet. People can bet the races one by one but also have a bet going all afternoon."

The Plaza will do the same prop each day during the Saratoga meet.

Sports book notes

The biggest fight this weekend will be held at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, where Carlos Baldomir will put his welterweight title on the line vs. Arturo Gatti. Despite being the challenger and considered past his prime, Gatti is between a -200 and -210 favorite at local sports books; Baldomir is available at +170 to +180. The "will go/won't go" prop is set at 12 full rounds, with the "will go" favored at -200.

* The Belmont Stakes was considered a good betting race because of the lack of a huge favorite. On that basis, this Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway could very well be the definitive "good betting race," as Station Casinos has no drivers at single-digit odds. The co-favorites are Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, and Greg Biffle at 10-1. Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, and Denny Hamlin are next at 11-1. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch, and Brian Vickers are all at 12-1.

Internet marketing conference on tap

Internet gaming takes the spotlight here on Sunday through Tuesday at the Wynn Las Vegas with the third annual BoDog Marketing Conference. BoDog founder Calvin Ayre has built his company into one of the stronger online brands and holds the conference to teach others to build their online business - for a price, of course.

The conference costs $695 ($795 at the door) and has seminars such as "Branding: When Everyone Knows Your Name," "Information Rage: Score with Public Relations, Blogs and Forums," "Guerilla Marketing: Big Bang for Little Bucks," and "Bring 'em back: How to Build a Loyal Player Base."

BoDog's keynote speaker is Magic Johnson. Last year, the speakers were Mike Ditka and Reggie Jackson.

It will be interesting to see the discussions that come about in light of the Internet gambling bill that was passed by the House of Representatives last week. The bill could ban Internet gambling in this country if it passes the Senate.

Also sure to add spice to the conference is news of the arrest on Sunday of the chief executive of the online gaming company BetOnSports.

Full details on the conference are at bodogconference.com.