The single biggest sporting event in the US every year is the Super Bowl. It has become so much of a part of the American culture that there is a petition to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a national holiday. I will never argue against taking a day off from work, but this petition is just another example of how the Super Bowl has become so big that it loses some of its appeal to me. Like a cool little bar that becomes over crowded, when something becomes too popular it takes some of the fun out of it. People like my wife, who don’t even like watching football, get all amped up and want to go to a Super Bowl party. I really don’t know why. It is not like I want to throw a big party for the season finale of American Idol after not watching the show, ever. Anyway, I don’t care for the Super Bowl that much because half of the people watching only care about the halftime show and the commercials. The one thing that saves the Super Bowl, gambling but even that has gone crazy. About half of the total handle on the Super Bowl is prop bets. That means there is just as much money bet on things like the color of Beyonce’s hair and whether or not Ray Lewis will cry during the National Anthem as there is on the actual outcome of the game. The best part for the Vegas sports books is they jack up the juice on bets like the flip of a coin. As far as I know, your chances of winning that bet are 50/50 but you have to lay -115 to bet either side. Forget about how bad you are getting screwed on the price of the bet, is betting on the flip of a coin really that much fun? How do you handicap that? Most prop bets are complete sucker bets that are decided by dumb luck. And if you do bet on the game, you have 2 weeks’ worth of buildup for 1 game that will be over is 3.5 hours (4 if the lights go out). So even though the Super Bowl is the most bet on sporting event every year, remember that most of the bets are just plain stupid.
If you are saving up for a trip to Vegas and you are thinking about coming out Super Bowl weekend, don’t. The prices are jack up through the roof and it really isn’t that great anyways. The January weather in Vegas can still be pretty cold and there is only one big game to bet on your entire trip. So if Super Bowl weekend in Vegas is really not all that is cracked up to be, then what is the best weekend of the year? The 1st weekend of March Madness. Even though the Super Bowl has the biggest handle for a single sporting event, the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament as a whole generates more gambling action than the Super Bowl. And the best part is there is no bullshit betting on who is going to call the first timeout or make the first left handed layup. It is nothing but non-stop betting action for 4 days. Plus, you don’t have these fools who don’t follow college basketball trying to tag along with you for 4 days of being a degenerate. March Madness in Vegas is great but there are some things that you should know before making the pilgrimage.
The first year I lived in Las Vegas, a friend from back home flew out to join me for the 1st weekend of March Madness. We put in our bets for the first round of games on Wednesday night and it was a good thing that we did. The first game started at 9:10am so we got to the Stardust sports book around 7am. The place was jammed, body to body. We heard rumors that some people slept in their chairs overnight just to reserve a place to sit. After realizing that there was no way that we would be able to enjoy ourselves in the Mecca of sports books, we left and drove to the Mirage. That place was worse. We couldn’t even get close enough to see the boards no less a TV. We started to panic. We had been waiting for months for this weekend but we were totally unprepared for how crazy this weekend was in Las Vegas. By mid-morning we found a couple of chairs in the sports book of the California Hotel in downtown Las Vegas. If you have never been in the Cal’s sports book, you aren’t missing anything. The place is a total dump but we were happy because we could see the games and we could get to the window to place bets without having to wait in a 45 minute line.
Thanks to CBS’s piss poor coverage of the tournament, there was a couple hour breaks in the games so that they could show the news and wheel of fortune. During that time we relocated to the Santa Fe Station Casino in the far northwest part of Las Vegas. It is a nice local casino which, at the time, had a below average sports book, but again we were able to have seats and easy access to the betting window. Santa Fe Station is far enough away from the strip to avoid most of the tourists but even a local casino gets busy for March Madness.
Today, most sports books reserve tables for casino VIPs or they charge high prices to reserve a seat for the day. If you want to enjoy March Madness on the strip, you better bring some serious cash. Tickets to the games are actually cheaper. If you are cheapskate, like me, you need to arrive early at a local casino far away from the strip. Even then you might still have some trouble getting a seat. Also, 4 days does not sound like a long time but I can tell you that it is grueling. I have spent the 1st weekend of March Madness in the sports book 3 times now and I can tell you by Sunday morning you don’t even want to get out of bed. You smell like the bottom of an ash tray, you are pissed at the number of bad beats you had the previous 3 days, you can’t get the taste of $1 hot dogs out of your mouth but if you really like to gamble on sports you will find a way to drag yourself back to the sports book 1 more time. Currently the NCAA will not allow Las Vegas to host any NCAA tournament games because of the legalization of sports gambling. I won’t get into the hypocrisy of the NCAA because that is an entirely different subject, but Las Vegas doesn’t need to host any NCAA tournament games. Las Vegas already has ALL of the games. If you really like college basketball, it is an experience that I recommend you try at least once in your life, but don’t be surprised if you go home and you have no interest in watching the regionals of the final 4.