Las Vegas Women Are on a Roll : Gambling: Two baccarat dealers have parlayed $80 into $103,107 by picking NFL winners.
Young Choy knows little about football. When asked this week if she knew the name of Kansas City’s professional football team, she grinned and answered confidently, “The Redskins.”
Choy might not know her Washington Redskins from her Kansas City Chiefs, but she knows a good bet when she sees one. Choy is one of eight bettors, six of whom have let fellow Las Vegas baccarat dealers Sean Rowland and Patty Harris, both women, make weekly picks on NFL games.
The results have been remarkable.
Using the selections by Rowland and Harris, they have won 11 in a row, parlaying their $80 investment into $103,107. If they cashed in today they each would take about $13,000.
But they have no plans to stop.
Rowland, Harris, Choy and five co-workers put $10 each into the pot at the start of the season, agreeing to bet one game a week after missing the first week. They also agreed to let Rowland and Harris handle all bets.
The group, six women and two men, is hoping to reach a total payout of $1.36 million, and says it will not cash in until after the 16th week of the regular season. Rowland said there will be no bet the final week because they mistakenly thought the season lasted 16 weeks, not taking into account each team’s bye week.
Art Manteris, race and sports book director at the Las Vegas Hilton, said the odds against picking 15 winners in a row are about 30,000-1.
In a high-rolling desert town where big-time winners are as common as floor shows, Rowland and Harris have captivated the public. Come Saturday evening, the eyes of the sports betting world will be focused on the women, who will announce their Sunday pick.
They will be followed by television cameras and bodyguards.
Including Sunday’s, they have four picks to reach the million-dollar mark. If they falter before reaching their goal?
“Hey, if we bomb, we’ve lost 10 bucks,” said Rowland, 40, who has lived in Las Vegas since 1965.
Asked Harris, 36: “Where else can you go for $10 and have this much fun? Not even Disneyland.”
As the stakes increase, so does the excitement, the women said. But they do not feel added pressure from the exposure generated this week.
The women, who also place individual bets on NFL games, have a system when selecting for the group.
Rowland said they study the betting sheets at the beginning of the week to narrow the choices to five teams.
“We base our bets a lot on our feelings,” she said.
Then they read the daily statistics to determine which team should do best. They eliminate all but two teams, then select a finalist on the Saturday before the game.
The group started betting at the Gold Coast casino, but switched to a sports book that would handle bigger action when their winnings topped $7,000. Nevada state gaming laws prohibit them from betting where they work.
Last Saturday, Binion’s Horseshoe took their $56,000 bet on the Atlanta Falcons over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Rowland said that owner Jack Binion happily agreed to accept their weekly bet, no matter how large the pot.
Most major casinos have a $20,000 limit, but the women did not want to split the bets.
Through the excitement, there have been anxious moments. Week 9 was close.
The women picked the Denver Broncos minus six against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh missed a late field goal, which helped Denver cover the spread by one point.
In Week 6, they took the Detroit Lions against the Minnesota Vikings. The Lions won by four, covering the three-point spread, when they scored two late touchdowns.
Three weeks later, the group went with the Washington Redskins against the New York Giants. The Redskins trailed, 13-0, before rallying for a four-point victory, beating the two-point spread.
Since word of their run hit the Vegas streets, the group has been in demand. One partner, John Millen, said he was offered a $5,000 buyout. He refused.
Rowland, who has been on national television, was guest of a local Las Vegas radio talk show. A caller from Oklahoma proposed. Rowland, who has a 19-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, chuckled.
The next caller was her boyfriend, Cecil Lynch, who also proposed. She did not laugh, she accepted.
This is Vegas, after all.
Harris said she has become a serious football fan and has a split-screen TV set so she can watch two games simultaneously on Sunday afternoons. Rowland laments that she has to work Sundays, missing most of the action.
Last Sunday, she was in Honolulu on vacation where she spent the day watching football in her hotel room.
“It’s fun,” she said. “You become a participant.”
Next year, the women hope to start a 900-line telephone betting service. Rowland thinks bettors will trust their judgment “because we’re betting our own money.”
It is difficult to say whether they will gain a big following. But no doubt Young Choy will lay down another $10.
A look at the series of successful bets that have parlayed $80 into $103,107.
WEEK BET SPREAD RESULT 1 $80 Houston (+2) vs. Cincinnati Houston, 30-7 2 168 Kansas City vs. Houston (-4) Houston, 17-7 3 319 Washington (-4) vs. Cincinnati Washington, 34-27 4 606 Tampa Bay vs. Detroit (-5) Detroit, 31-3 5 1,151 Minnesota vs. Detroit (-3) Detroit, 24-20 6 2,187 Miami vs. Kansas City (-6 1/2) Kansas City, 42-7 7 4,155 Chicago (-3) vs. Green Bay Chicago, 10-0 8 7,894 Washington (-2) vs. New York Giants Washington, 17-13 9 14,998 Pittsburgh vs. Denver (-6 1/2) Denver, 20-13 10 28,496 Chicago (+3) vs. Minnesota Chicago, 34-17 11 54,145 Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta (-6 1/2) Atlanta, 43-7