Betting Eight Ways From Sunday

Bobby Curran
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Friday - February 03, 2006
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Contemplating a Super Bowl Party, complete with betting pools? You’re not alone. And while many people hold those soirees at their homes, increasing numbers head to Nevada, either Las Vegas or Reno, where the party options are quite amazing.

First you have to go to the sports book. I went to the Club Cal Neva book inside the Eldorado Hotel and sat down with Darryl McFarland, supervisor of the operation.

“The Super Bowl is absolutely huge for us,” says McFarland. “Statewide the game accounts for about one quarter of annual sports gaming revenue.”

And no wonder. The betting propositions are remarkable. Forget the idea of picking a team, either taking or giving points. It’s all about the exotic bets, and by far the most popular way to bet them is parlays, choosing two or more elements to increase your payoff.

“People love parlays,” says McFarland. “It’s the chance to get a big payday for a small wager. Last month we had a man bet $10 on a fifteen-team parlay. He hit it, and collected $180,000. The odds might be long, but it does happen.”

Just to decide what to bet on is a mind-boggling dilemma. You can bet on who wins the coin toss, or who will be the last team to snap the ball in the first half.

Think there will be a lot of kickoff returns? The under-over is 8 1/2.

Who will score Seattle’s first touchdown? If you pick Shaun Alexander you get 4 - 1 odds. Matt Hasselbeck is 20 - 1.

If you like, wager on whether Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger will throw for an even or odd number of yards.

If you think there’ll be a safety in the game you can get 6.75 to 1 odds.

Which team’s coach will be the first to throw the challenge towel?

All of these are available for wagering.

And, yes, it is confusing. “Last year, the lines at the betting windows two hours before kick off stretched across the hotel floor,” says McFarland. “There’s a large number of amateurs and they need help.”

His best advice is make your bets before game day. Another thing you notice here is all the signs around the sports book refer to the “Super Game.” The Super Bowl name is proprietary and belongs to the NFL.

McFarland has seen a great deal. After graduating from UNC-Chapel Hill, where he polished his love of sports, and 14 years as an accountant in San Francisco, he decided he loved sports and Reno enough to move up and change careers.

“I love talking to people about sports,” says McFarland. “I’m excited about the hockey game we’ve got on here tonight.”

But as much as he loves it, Super Bowl Sunday is nightmarish.

“It’s crazy here, and you’re glad when it’s over,” he says.

With your bets made, where are you going to watch the game? Like many hotels, the Eldorado has something for everybody. You could try the $40 drinks and food package at the always-popular BuBinga Lounge.

Or for a “stadium-style” celebration, go to the Eldorado Showroom. The $25 admission includes stadium food, soft drinks and a souvenir hat.

Or stop in at the Brew Brothers pub, where they’ll carry the game on large-screen televisions.

And high rollers receive a special invitation to the convention center, where gourmet food and drinks are served to the hotel’s best customers.

“At every level, there is some place fantastic to come and watch the game,” says Eldorado publicist Julia Peava. “People get so excited about the game, and there’s nothing like watching it with a big group of fanatics.”

The hotel even opens an official NFL shop right on the casino floor, with all the authorized Super Bowl merchandise for two weeks around the game.

For a truly super Super Bowl, give some thought to spending it in Reno.

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