Morning Cheat Sheet
Clinton the Odds-On Favorite
As the presidential road show hits Las Vegas this week for a Democratic debate, the bookmakers have already weighed in: New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is the odds-on favorite both to win her party's nomination and then to go on to capture the White House next fall over former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Of course, given how the Washington Redskins keep confounding expectations, only so much weight should be placed on the judgment of bookmakers. But nonetheless, the smart money these days is being bet on the two New Yorkers as the odds grow longer for Sens. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), both once deemed by Las Vegas to be more likely to win than they are now.
The odds set by various gambling Web sites vary, but the order generally does not. Clinton is judged the most likely to win the presidency, followed by Giuliani, then Obama. From there, it gets a little messier. Different bookies have different assessments of the chances of McCain, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) and former senators John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), but group them in the same basic tier. Most sites then put New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and Sen. Joe Biden on the Democratic side and former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee on the Republican side at about the same level, roughly 50 to 1 shots. The rest of the field, guys like Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Reps. Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) and Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), generally are brushed off at 100 to 1, or worse.
Somewhere there's probably a Washington Post lawyer who would want us to note that we are not encouraging gambling. No, no, no. This information is being provided strictly for informational purposes. And we know nothing about the reliability of any of these Web sites because of course we don't have enough throw-away cash to bet on sports much less politics. End of disclaimer.
For those willing to game the system, though, different sites offer different payoffs for the front-runners. As of November, Clinton is a 1 to 3 shot to win the presidency according to Sportsbook.com and Linesmaker (meaning you bet $3 and win $1 if she wins plus the original $3 back), a 1 to 2 shot according to the William Hill bookmaker and a 10 to 11 according to Bodog. That means Sportsbook has the greatest confidence in her victory but bettors who agree would get a bigger payoff by going with Bodog. A still bigger payoff is offered by Vegas Sportsbetting, which rates Clinton at +200, which means you would get $200 by betting $100, but Holly Wagers puts her at -250, which means you bet $250 to get $100 if she wins.
The sites all rate Giuliani likely to win the GOP nomination but behind Clinton for the presidency. He is a 9 to 4 shot on Bodog, 9 to 2 on William Hill and 5 to 1 on Sportsbook and Linesmaker. In other words, Bodog would give you $9 for every $4 you bet, plus the original bet back, if Giuliani is elected president. A 5 to 1 payoff, obviously, would be the most profitable for Rudy fans. Sportsbook has Obama at 7 to 2, while Bodog puts his chances at 5 to 1 and William Hill at 7 to 1. Rating the rest of the field, Bodog offers 6 to 1 for Thompson, 8 to 1 for Romney, 14 to 1 for Edwards and 16 to 1 for McCain. Others give McCain, Edwards or Romney a better chance.
Probably no one inside the Beltway thinks Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) will win, but Sportsbook is giving him 6 to 1 odds, the same it gives Edwards and better than Romney. Of course, a number of these sites are offering odds on President Bush, former president Bill Clinton and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, although none of the three is constitutionally eligible to run next year -- the first two being term-limited and the third not being a natural-born U.S. citizen. And even Dick Cheney is a 10,000 to 1 chance on Sportsbook. So it's true, some people will bet on anything.
-- Peter Baker
Posted at 10:26 AM ET on Nov 13, 2007
Morning Cheat Sheet
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