Updated on 09/16/2011 8:25AM

Two tournaments overlap on dates


LAS VEGAS - Tournament players who plan their trips months in advance so they can hit as many events as possible on the circuit will notice there's now a conflict in the schedule.

The Super Tournament at the Suncoast (formerly the Suncoast Invitational) was already slated for Jan. 16-18. The Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will take place Jan. 17-18 at Bally's Las Vegas.

In the weeks leading up to finalizing the deal to bring the National Handicapping Championship to Bally's, John Avello, director of race and sports at Bally's and Paris, contacted Coast Casinos race book director Bob Gregorka about the two tournaments sharing the same dates.

"What I told John was that the people who have already qualified for the NTRA tournament will obviously play in that one, but we don't think it will affect us adversely," Gregorka said Wednesday while finalizing plans for the Championship at The Orleans tournament, which was to begin Thursday. "For the most part, we're going for a different kind of player."

Gregorka said the Suncoast tournament was renamed because Coast Casinos wants to start a tradition with the tournament the weekend before the Super Bowl. Other changes are a reduction in the entry fee from $1,000 to $500, a reduction in the number of contest tracks from six to five (with two alternates in case of inclement weather) and races from 12 to nine, and an increase in the added-money the casinos kicks in from $50,000 to $75,000.

"From surveying our players, they've said 'show me the money,' " Gregorka said, "so we're doing away with frills like the opening cocktail party - which wasn't heavily attended the last time at the Suncoast - and the early bird contest, and instead putting those expenses into more prize money for the players."

More tournament news

Other Nevada tournaments on the 2003 calendar: Winter Challenge at the Reno Hilton, Feb. 6-8; Champion-ship at The Orleans, April 3-5; Pick the Ponies XXII at the Las Vegas Hilton, April 30-May 2; Summer Showdown III at the Reno Hilton, June 20-21; Gold Coast Tournament, Aug. 21-23; Summer Stakes III at Bally's Las Vegas, Aug. 1-2; Brawl in the Fall at the Reno Hilton, Sept. 4-6; Championship at The Orleans, Oct. 9-11; and Pick the Ponies XXIII at the Las Vegas Hilton, Oct. 22-24. The Bally's and Reno Hilton tournaments are DRF/NTRA qualifiers.

* The early-bird deadline is Monday for the last tournament this year, Pick the Ponies XXI on Oct. 23-25 at the Las Vegas Hilton. Early entrants only have to pay $400 instead of the standard $500 entry fee.

Tark the Shark likes Del Mar

What has former UNLV and Fresno State basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian been doing with his free time since retiring from coaching last spring?

"I went to Del Mar a dozen times during the summer; I love it there," Tarkanian said last Friday after taking part in the Stardust Invitational football handicapping tournament. "That's a tough place to make money. I lost 10 of the 12 trips."

Tarkanian didn't fare much better with his football picks. He went 2-5 against the spread - winning with the Jaguars and his "loyalty play," UNLV. Rudy Ruettiger, whose life story was told in the 1993 movie "Rudy", defeated Tarkanian by going 3-3-1, including a best-bet winner on - who else? - Notre Dame.

This week's matchup in the $10,000 single-elimination, winner-take-all tournament pits handicapper Wayne Root vs. gaming writer Buzz Daly. When Root joined Vegas Insider prior to the season, Daly wrote an article in his "Player's Choice" newspaper that was critical of Root (and a week later gave Root space for a rebuttal), so it should be a spirited show.

I love baseball on TV . . . and Twins

After almost not fielding a team this year, the Twins are in the American League Championship Series. Last winter, some Las Vegas sports books didn't post odds on the Twins (or Expos) to win a pennant or World Series title until certain they would be playing, while others posted odds with a disclaimer that all bets were action. Some lucky bettors have odds of 50-1 or 60-1 on the Twins.

But they're not the only unexpected semifinalists since all four underdogs won last week in the divisional series.

The Angels, who knocked out the Yankees 3 games to 1 after losing the series opener, were installed as the 9-5 favorite to win the World Series earlier this week. The Twins were the longest shot on the betting board at 4-1, which is surprising since they have home field in the ALCS as well as in the World Series (if they make it). That was an overlay.

The Twins won the first game of the series 2-1 on Tuesday night. That was only the third game of the postseason to go under the total. In the divisional series, the over was 15-2, despite the fact that pitchers such as Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Tommy Glavine, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, and Barry Zito took the mound.

If totals rise because of this offensive explosion, the under would be the way to look, especially with games certain to be closer as the playoffs progress.

In the National League, the Cardinals and Giants were to begin their series Wednesday night with the Cardinals a -130 favorite to beat the Giants and a 2-1 choice to win it all.