Meanwhile…on the South Side: Placing Bets on White Sox in Brave New World of Illinois Gambling

I don’t get to Las Vegas very often and I’ve lost touch with the friends who used to go on a regular basis. For a pretty good stretch, however, I placed bets on the White Sox to win the division, the AL pennant, and the World Series. In British parlance, my bets were flutters, small stakes on a bit of whim. I did win big, relatively speaking, when all the bets landed in 2005. I think I collected a total of $700 or so.

I could have gotten my gambling fix in by going the online route, but that style of wagering just doesn’t appeal to me. If I’m placing a bet, I want a window with an old guy having no patience for me, working in front of a massive display of every game being played that day in bright colors. Without that tableau, I’m just not interested. On top of that, it just didn’t seem worthwhile in the era of the rebuild? If the team isn’t trying to win, the odds go from long to pointless.

But now that the White Sox are entering a period of resurgence, the fates have blessed me with a new opportunity to scratch my gaming itch. That’s because, as you may have heard a few thousand times already, sports betting is now legal in Illinois. Even more exciting is that one of the few places in the state that has a sports book is a mere eight miles from my house. It may not be Caesar’s, but it is heck of a lot easier to get there.

Figuring out the bets is a little easier than in years past, though that also makes it a little harder. The easy part is that all of the potential wagers are posted online on something called Betbuilder.  And I do mean ALL potential wagers, which is a little more pressing now that there’s no live action for baseball or the NCAA tourney. You can bet on cricket, cycling, and more soccer matches than I knew existed. Even for a dilettante like me, this is both exciting and overwhelming.

The difficult part is the use of American odds. I’m much more familiar with fractional odds, like the ones you see at a horse racing venue: 4/1, 10/1 100/1 and the like. Though the math is about the same, the format of American odds is based on a $100 bet and uses a +/- system. One basic rule is that if the odds are negative, or minus, the payout is small. The higher the number on a plus bet, the longer the odds and the larger the payout.

So if the the Cubs are listed at -200 to win the NL Central, you need to place a wager of $200 to win $100. Conversely if the Cubs were +200, then a bet of $100 would win you $200. At the time I wrote this, the Cubs were +250 to win the division and +2500 to win the World Series. If you’re more comfortable with fractional odds, there is a handy converter.

So where does that leave me and my betting renaissance? I may not be Eddie Olczyk, but I got the White Sox +325 to win their division, +1500 to win the American League, and +3500 to win the World Series (a much higher potential payout than the +2500 showing in some spots). Could be a big year for me if magic strikes again. Maybe I’ll put $20 down on Luis Robert winning AL Rookie of the Year (+225) just to be on the safe side.

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