Caesars Taking Bets on WSOP Prelim Final Days
Company Testing Waters in the Activity's Inaugural Year
The World Series of Poker has truly become a sporting event.
This year, the Rio Race and Sports Book is taking wagers on those who make the final day of events. When Daniel Negreanu entered the final table of the $1,500 pot-limit hold’em with just 18 big blinds, his odds of winning weren’t great. However, given his experience, gamblers were given a line of 6/1.
Negreanu should’ve been 8/1 or 9/1 to win his fifth WSOP bracelet, according to Howard Greenbaum, Regional VP of Specialty Gaming for Caesars Entertainment Corp.“We gave him more respect than just his chip count,” said Greenbaum, who sets the lines.
When Michael Mizrachi recently reached the end of a stud event, his experience in tournaments was also accounted for. “Mizrachi could have one chip left and still be in it,” Greenbaum said.
Greenbaum, who has more than 20 years of sports betting experience, compared the final-day betting to the action on preseason baseball. Not many people know about it yet, so the handle has been small so far.
In order to offer wagers on the prelims, the WSOP needed Nevada Gaming Control Board approval. The lengthy process was completed this spring.
“[Regulators] were cautious,” Greenbaum said. “We don’t want to damage the good name of Nevada.” In November 2011, wagers were allowed for the first time on the Main Event final.
Obtaining accurate end-of-day chip counts is necessary this year. In the past, players would count themselves. If chip counts were off slightly, no big deal.
All chip counts must now be verified by a supervisor and then sent up to the Sports Book. Tournament directors can also be called upon for information on how a certain player is performing, all to set a better line.
Players are not allowed to wager on themselves. Dan Pemberton, Director of Specialty Games at the Rio, and the man who actually takes the bets, said when players come up and try to bet on themselves, he sometimes drops the odds.
“Their confidence is extra information I can use,” Pemberton said. “I guess it’s their tell.”
Pemberton receives Greenbaum’s odds early in the morning, and then has freedom to adjust them until the first hand of the final day is dealt.
There’s also a bet limit ($1,000-win cap). When asked what would happen if Phil Ivey came in and wanted to lay a massive wager on someone, Greenbaum said there would be a limit on him too.
“These bets are suppose to be fun,” Greenbaum said. “We don’t want that big exposure and liability. We want to learn about this before opening up the limits. Maybe one day it will be like a football game.”
Chip dumping has concerned Caesars when considering such wagering. However, since the bets are small, there isn’t much incentive. It’s much better to just win the tournament.
The largest bet Pemberton has taken so far is $300.
Follow Brian Pempus on Twitter — @brianpempus
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