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Top-10 sports bets that should be on your bucket list

13 February 2012

By Aaron Todd

Last week, I had the good fortune of watching the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl. Sure, it was great on a personal level, as I've been a Giants fan since I was a kid. But it was also great on a financial level, because my good friend and colleague Vin Narayanan had bought me a "New York Giants to win the Super Bowl" futures ticket as a gift during a trip to the The Venetian Resort-Hotel-Casino in Las Vegas in October. The Giants weren't so hot at the time, so the payout was 18/1. Not a bad payday to watch your favorite team win a championship.

I've never personally bought a futures ticket at a sportsbook, and it made what was already an exciting Super Bowl even more exhilarating. (I'm sure Roger Goodell will love reading this, considering how much he enjoys the concept of betting on NFL games.) But it got me thinking about sports betting, so I've created a top-10 sports betting bucket list.

10. Make in-game bets
The aforementioned Narayanan wrote about the in-game betting options at The Venetian late last year. His description of the experience piqued my interest. Next time I'm in Vegas, I might give it a shot. Many online sportsbooks also offer in-game betting, and for those of you living outside the U.S., you can look into it at bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook, William Hill Sportsbook & Racebook and Paddy Power Sportsbook.

9. Bet on every MLB game on the slate
I stole this idea from my friend Eric, who has done this with a group of friends. Since MLB teams usually play six or seven days a week, there are often 15 games on the docket (excluding days with double-headers, when there might be more). And with time-zone differences, plus the possibility of day games, you can spread your action over a long period of time. I'd love to do this with a group of friends at Lagasse's Stadium, the sportsbook at The Palazzo Resort Hotel Casino, especially if we could gather up enough dough to pay for a luxury box, which offers a private room with lots of screens to watch the games and a pool table to pass the down time, which there can be quite a bit of in baseball.

8. Entertainment bets
The Grammy Awards took place last night, and there were plenty of betting options available to those who wished to back their favorite artists. And with the Oscars coming up soon, if you think you know what movie will win Best Picture, you can place a bet on that, too. The Artist is the odds-on favorite everywhere, but make sure you shop your lines. Bodog Sportsbook and Racebook offers the film at 1/5 odds, while Paddy Power offers it at 1/10. However, if you're going to pick one of the long shots, Paddy Power might be the place to go. Personally, I'd take The Help at 20/1. You can also bet on elections, the winner of reality television shows and many other non-sporting events.

7. Watch the Kentucky Derby
I'll admit I don't know much about horse racing. But I do know that the Kentucky Derby is a spectacle. I'd like to be a part of that. I'd buy my wife a ridiculous big hat, have a couple mint juleps and drop a few bucks on the horse with the name I liked best. Sure, I'd probably end up a loser, but it would be a pretty fun day.

6. Make a futures bet on your favorite team
Despite my good fortune with the Giants in the Super Bowl, I have never actually placed a futures wager myself. That's going to change. Next time I'm in Vegas, I'm going to put $10 down on the Toronto Blue Jays to win the World Series. And yes, that's the baseball team I root for – I grew up near the Canadian border, and when I was younger, they were actually pretty good. Sure, I know the odds will be long, but it will make the season more interesting for me. And if they pull it off, I'll have all the more reason to celebrate.

5. Fantasy sports
Fantasy sports are different from traditional sports bets in that you select players and not teams. The performances of those players determine whether you win or lose. Traditional fantasy sports competitions are contested over a league's entire season. But there are sites where you can create a daily or weekly lineup. For American sports, the best sites are DraftDay and FanDuel, while you can set lineups for European soccer leagues at Telegraph Fantasy Football.

4. Saratoga
Okay, I said I'm not much of a horse racing fan, and in the scheme of things, the races at the Saratoga Race Course aren't as big as the Triple Crown or the Grand National. But there's something about Saratoga that makes it special. It attracts some big celebrities through the course of the summer, and it's a destination for most of the top horses as well. Betting at Saratoga is a great way to see top-tier racing throughout an entire weekend.

3. Participate in a confidence pool
This isn't something that you can really bet on at a sportsbook, but it is fun and it's great for people who are intimidated by point spreads. These leagues tend to work best for the NFL, but they can work for any sport, really. You pick the winner for every game on that week's schedule (for sports that play more frequently, you may need to do it on a daily basis), and you rank how confident you are that you're correct. The more confident you are in any given game, the more points that game is worth to you. The great thing about confidence pools is that, depending on how the league is structured, you can have a winner each week, as well as overall winners on the season. You also may end up rooting against your own pick. If you have three points on a game and everyone else has more than 10, it's actually in your own best interest for your pick to be incorrect.

2. Visit a betting shop in the U.K.
One of my greatest regrets about my visit to Ireland four years ago was that I never made my way into a betting shop to have a flutter. There were Paddy Power shops at just about every corner in Dublin, but I never stopped in to back a team. The next time I make my way across the pond, I'll be sure to stop in at a William Hill, Ladbrokes, Paddy Power or BetFred shop. I don't know much about soccer, but I'll pick a team, head to a pub, grab a pint and cheer like crazy.

1. Stay in Vegas during the NCAA basketball tournament
The two biggest events for Vegas sportsbooks are the Super Bowl and the NCAA men's basketball tournament. While the Super Bowl takes place over a period of three or four hours, the NCAA tournament takes place over three weekends in March and early April. The first slate of games is the most exciting, with 48 games tipping off over four days as the field gets narrowed from 64 teams to 16. That's a lot of action, and a lot of people make trips to Vegas just to bet on the games. That sounds like a fun atmosphere to be around, and I'd love to take part someday.
Top-10 sports bets that should be on your bucket list is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Aaron Todd

Home-game hotshot Aaron Todd has covered the gambling industry since 2006. While he is happy to play Texas Hold'em, he'd rather mix it up and play Omaha Hi/Lo, Razz, Deuce-to-Seven Triple Draw, and (his personal favorite) Badeuci.

Since graduating from St. Lawrence University, Aaron has worked as a journalist covering the gambling industry and as a communications specialist in college athletic departments.

A native of a small town in New York just south of Ottawa, Aaron lives in Needham, Mass., with his wife and three children. Write to Aaron at aarontodd@casinocity.com, and follow him on Twitter @CasinoCity_AT.