A New Vegas Dilemma: Could a Person Survive 11 Straight Days in Sin City?

vegas line

At the supple age of 23 I started making an annual pilgrimage to Las Vegas every March with a group of close friends. When we planned that first trip, we were just kind of taking a shot in the dark.

“The first weekend of March Madness seems to have the most—and usually the craziest—games, let’s try that.”

And for the next seven years, we assumed we had nailed it from the very beginning. Who wouldn’t want to be in Vegas—in a sportsbook full of giant TVs, free drinks and other degenerate gamblers diehard sports fans—while the most mind-blowing playoffs in all of sports was going on.

Forty-eight do-or-die games in four days. Simultaneously bouncing back and forth between your bets and your bracket. Waking up at 8:30am (games start at 9:15am on Vegas Standard Time) even though you didn’t go to sleep until 5am. It was the perfect weekend.

And then, because of a wedding that several of us in the group had to attend last year on that very weekend (a wedding that damn well better last a lifetime), we changed the tradition and visited the Mecca of bad decisions on Conference Championship Weekend instead.

And…it…was………AWESOME.

Do you know how many games there are over the four-day period on Championship Weekend?

167.

That’s not a typo.

Do you know how many fewer people descend on Vegas for Championship Weekend compared to that first weekend of March Madness?

67% fewer. (rough estimate)

From a crowd standpoint, you’re pretty much never waiting for anything during Championship Weekend, but during March Madness, your waits look like this:

  • At least 20 minutes for the cab line when you first arrive at the airport
  • Another 20 minutes to check into your hotel room. Nothing is more frustrating than standing in that concierge line while getting a constant whiff of that sweet gambling smell from across the hall
  • Showing up at the sports book at the ungodly hour of 7am just to secure seats for the 9am tip-offs
  • Up to a 30-minute line every time you want to place a new bet or cash in a winning ticket
  • Getting laughed at by the host when you show up at a restaurant with 10 guys and without a reservation at 9pm on a weekend night
  • And yes, another 20 minutes or so for the cab line to finally escape your hotel on that Sunday morning

When you consider the amount of games and the emptiness of the city, Championship Weekend becomes a no-brainer, right?

We all agreed. So we returned this year for that same weekend. And though most of us walked away losers from a betting standpoint, we were basically stroking each other’s hard-ons the entire time over how smart we were to have finally figured out the right weekend.

This group has progressed in nine years from “the single, immature college guys who party way too hard all weekend” to “the slightly more mature (and less single) guys who party way too hard but are also dangerously addicted to sports gambling” to “the old married men who look strikingly like those people addicted to horse race betting.”

Part of me wonders if it’s just that progression into grumpy old man status that’s got us wanting the less crazy weekend.

Fast forward to this past Thursday and instantly my smugness over choosing the right weekend disappeared quicker than you can say “buzzer beater.” I was one of the many chumps stuck at his desk while the first set of Tourney games was under way. Sure, thanks to the beauty of technology I could watch all the games on my computer, but it just wasn’t the same.

First Dayton and Harvard pulled off incredible upsets, then Uconn, St. Louis and North Dakota State all won crazy overtime games in the span of forty minutes, and finally Texas escaped Arizona State’s upset bid with a ludicrous buzzer-beating layup.

Yep, there aren’t nearly as many games over the whole day as Championship Weekend, but these games mean more. There’s no question of whether or not the teams that are NCAA Tournament locks are taking it easy and resting guys. Every close game is ratcheted up 10 notches in intensity because someone’s season (and possibly many players’ careers) will come to an abrupt end.

When last night ended with the ultimate tease in Manhattan’s near upset of Louisville followed by New Mexico State’s jaw-dropped heroics to take San Diego State to overtime, I started chain smoking cigars, googling “underground blackjack tables Los Angeles” and walking around in public double-fisting 24oz light beers. It just felt right.

Several of my Vegas cohorts wouldn’t dare go back to the original March Madness weekend for our trip, and that’s fine. I love everything about basketball in Vegas so much that I’m perfectly OK with going back for Conference Championship Weekend ever year. The only decision left for me? Do I move the planned date of asking my girlfriend to marry me from “as soon as a 16 seed beats a one seed” to “immediately” so I can use the bachelor party next year as an excuse to be in Vegas for the 11 days spanning both these incredible basketball weekends?

I doubt there’s enough medicine in the world to get me back to normal after a trip like that.

The nostalgia will be even sadder on Friday, as I root for Duke to lose from my office…a group of 300 strangers cheering like crazy for whichever underdog is facing Duke was always my favorite part of March Madness weekend.

That settles it. Next year, I rent out a place in Vegas for the entire month of March.

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Poll Question of the Century: NFL Sunday or Opening Day March Madness

After moving my annual Vegas trip from the opening weekend of March Madness to the weekend before—Conference Tournament weekend—I promised myself I wouldn’t care about the big tournament as much as I usually do. The ability to order a bucket of beers at 9AM while making the twenty-foot walk from your cushy leather sports book seat to the betting window to put money down on each game will make you care, regardless of who’s playing. So I figured for the first time in eight years, this opening weekend would be a little underwhelming.

As I write this, we’re only five hours into the Thursday games, and I’m ready to admit I couldn’t have been more wrong. After trying to half pay attention during the first couple games and busy myself with other tasks, I slowly but surely turned my living room into a sports book as best as I possibly could: watching two games at once, betting website up on my computer, brackets everywhere and a fridge full of beers. The only thing missing is access to a blackjack table (though if I really get the itch, my betting website will take blackjack action).

I’m all in on this tournament, which brings me to perhaps my most interesting poll question of all time: Which is the more exhilarating full day of sports: the first Thursday/Friday of March Madness or a late-season NFL Sunday?

Here are some considerations before we get to the vote:

  • Yes, March Madness is the playoffs so you could call this an easy vote. But that’s why I’m saying a late regular season slate of NFL games. Think late December with a bunch of division games (Minnesota vs Green Bay this past year, for instance)
  • The NFL is the greatest sport on earth (also the greatest form of entertainment)
  • But March Madness produces so much insanity every year
  • 16 games per day during these first days of March Madness. Never more than four going at the same time. The day begins at 9AM and ends around 9PM (12 hours of entertainment)
  • 14 games per NFL Sunday during non-bye weeks. Usually about eight morning games, five afternoon games and one night game. The day begins at 10AM and ends around 8PM (1o hours of entertainment)
  • With the Red Zone Channel you really can see everything important in football and not move from your couch the entire day
  • With CBS and its affiliates (TNT, TBS, TRU), you can pick any of the basketball games you want
  • With both sports, you can add a “second TV” to your viewing experience by watching games on your computer
  • For some people it probably boils down to “Sunday versus a week day.” Shame on you for not using one of my many excuses to leave work for these next two days

I’ve made my case. If I had to choose, I’d go with NFL Sunday only because football is such a superior sport. Your turn to vote.

Read My Vegas Memories While I Go Create Some More

Today is the start of my 8th annual March Madness Las Vegas trip. Since I haven’t been able to focus on anything else all week (aside from rainbows), why not run through some random thoughts, stories and tidbits about the past seven Vegas experiences. If you’ve ever made the trek out there with friends, chances are you’ve also seen some of this stuff first hand. Let’s see if we can organize them into categories:

MISCELLANEOUS

  • Anyone who’s been paying attention to my yearly Vegas trips will note that this week is not the start of the NCAA “March Madness” Tournament. For seven years, we’ve descended on Vegas for that opening weekend of basketball games. Sadly, it’s the end of that streak, at least temporarily. Due to scheduling circumstances and a few people’s desire to “check out conference tournament weekend,” we’re going a week early this year. 
  • My friends who are on the upper end of the basketball nerdery spectrum (BNS) assure me that this year could be even more fun because there are a lot more games being played each day compared to the first weekend of March Madness. They need to remember I don’t really care about the basketball. I care about the experience. As long as it’s not a drastically different atmosphere, I’m in.
  • Someone in our group pointed out earlier this week that the weather in Vegas right now is in the upper 80s. This led someone else to question if it’s ever been that warm for any of our seven previous trips. Our email thread died out when no one could even remember ever being outside during any Vegas trip.
  • If you’re new to the blog or you just didn’t have the patience to read the 3,000 words I wrote on The Vegas Experience last year, now’s your chance. I especially recommend that the guys who are joining me this weekend give these posts another read. It’ll get you psyched for the trip. Here’s PART ONE of the Vegas Blueprint. And here’s PART TWO.

THE MOST DANGEROUS THING IN VEGAS IS YOUR OWN HOTEL ROOM

  • In Part Two, I quickly mentioned that you should shower every morning in Vegas because you don’t want to return to the room in the afternoon or evening if you can avoid it. I wanted to expand on that thought some more. I actually think the most dangerous thing you can do in Vegas is go back to your hotel room alone…specifically for that mid-afternoon or early evening visit. You’re there to take a shower, or change, or most likely to sit on the toilet in peace and quiet. But then the bed starts calling out to you. A nap sounds good, and you start to question how much longer you can put up with all the bullshit down at the casino: breathing pure cigarette smoke, losing your vacation fund in a three-minute debacle at the Craps table, stuffing yourself with free drink after free drink just because it’s there. When these thoughts creep in to your head, your only option is to run out of the hotel room, even if you’re in the middle of showering. Obviously a nap during a long weekend in Vegas actually sounds fantastic, but I’ll warn you that the funniest, most outrageous thing that will happen all weekend will happen while you’re up in the room. Don’t succumb to the midday nap. It’s powerful, but with the right amount of Vodka & Red Bull drinks, you can avoid it.

FLYING

  • Speaking of napping…in a long list of ridiculous stuff that I’ve done in Vegas, here’s the one that gets the most laughs. In year one of this annual trip, me and my two brothers flew back to San Francisco from Vegas together. For some reason we booked a flight with a layover in Los Angeles (not the point of the story, but a pretty terrible logistical move when all you want to do is get home as quickly as possible on a Sunday leaving Vegas). On the flight from LA to San Francisco, I was sitting in the middle seat between my happily-sleeping brothers. I started feeling nauseous and sweat immediately began to soak through my shirt. I woke one of the brothers up and asked him what I should do if I feel like I have to puke. He handed me one of those paper bags that’s in the back pocket of each seat. I told him it wouldn’t be nearly big enough to hold what I had brewing. He fell back asleep. I continued to panic. Finally I decided to get up and walk to the bathroom, if only to get some circulation going and distract myself. I went into the bathroom, sat on the toilet and the next thing I knew the plane is landing in San Francisco. I passed out for roughly 40 minutes on the airplane toilet, only waking up because of the normal turbulence that comes with landing. I have no idea how many people might have knocked on the door during that time. Even though every return flight from Vegas is miserable, none has ever approached that year one level.
  • Another quick flight story from two years ago. It’s Sunday morning at 5AM. My brother and I have a 7AM flight out of Vegas. We weren’t staying in the same hotel room. I’m in the lobby when I realize it’s well past the time we agreed to meet. I call his phone 30 times and get his voicemail 30 times. I call the cell phones of the guys who he was staying with. I call other people in our group just to see if they know where he is. No one answers. I go to the airport alone. The whole time I’m laughing to myself at what an idiot my brother is for falling asleep and missing his flight. I sit down next to my gate in the airport with about 30 minutes until boarding begins. I wake up some time later thinking only a few minutes had passed. After all, there were still a ton of people sitting nearby waiting for the flight to board. Then I hear over the PA system “Final boarding call for Southwest flight 1461 nonstop to San Francisco. Paging Ross Gariepy. Ross Gariepy please report to gate C7 immediately?” I quickly realize that the people sitting next to me aren’t on my flight; they’re on the next flight leaving that same gate. I got to experience walking down the aisle of the plane with 180 pairs of pissed off eyes staring at me. Apparently they had been waiting for me for quite a while. If only they knew I was sitting 15 feet away from the gate the entire time (How much better would this story have been if my brother had shown up for the next available flight a couple hours later and found me passed out near the gate of the original flight?).
  • OK, one more thing about the airport in Vegas. In our seven years of doing this trip, we’ve had two instances of someone going to the airport more than 10 hours before their scheduled flight home. In both situations, the person basically said to themselves “I’m done with Vegas for a long time. I need to get the fuck out of here now. Not tomorrow morning, right now.” I bet Vegas gets more people who show up and try to get on an earlier flight than any airport in the world. If you have bad luck long enough in Vegas, you get to that moment where you have to decide between removing yourself from the situation or taking out a cash advance on your credit card.

CLUBBING

  • Have you ever dreamed of being in a dance club and having strangers crowd around you while screaming “he’s on fire”? Me too. I always thought that moment would come because I was tearing up a dance floor and all the people would stop to watch me. What actually happened a few years ago was this: I was smoking a cigar at the club while waiting in line at the ATM. A woman standing in front of me turned around abruptly and her elbow hit the tip of my cigar. The cherry of the cigar flew into the air and landed inside my polo shirt (I swear this all happened in slow motion). My shirt and chest caught on fire. I started shaking my shirt out. Smoke started billowing out of my shirt. A bunch of girls screamed “He’s on fire!” Not the way that moment happens in my dreams.

“THAT’S GAMBLING”

  • You only understand what I’m saying here if you play Craps. For some of us that go on this trip, our first impression of our buddy’s best friend from the east coast was seeing him play the Don’t Pass Line on a Craps table while six of us in his group were playing “normal style” at the other end of the table.
  • This same guy once threatened to “take his money elsewhere” when a pit boss wouldn’t let him jump into a Craps game at a reduced rate. He was arguing to be allowed to make $10 bets instead of $25. You can imagine how nervous the casino was to lose him as a customer.
  • We’ve spent about 28 nights in Vegas over the seven years and only one time did an “everything we touch turns to gold” night happen. I don’t remember the year, the night or the exact people who were there, but for a three-hour stint at the Mandalay Bay, our group couldn’t lose. You probably think I’m getting ready to say that we walked away with a combined ten grand that night, but no. What happened was we were all split up so by the time we got back together and realized it was one of those nights for the group, it was too late. If you’re ever in one of those situations and don’t know if the hot streak is over, go throw $100 on black or red in Roulette. As soon as you lose, it’s over. It’s worth the hundo just to see what might be.

But seriously, take a few minutes and re-read my blogs from last year’s Vegas trip. It’s the only way to get a full tour of the four-day March Madness experience.

Opening the Kimono on Work Jargon

When I wrote the corporate-slacking masterpiece back in April titled “How to avoid working while giving off the impression that you’re working,” I made reference to “generic work speak” and even referenced one of my favorite corporate expressions.  Here’s what I said: “…bonus points for using ‘it is what it is.’  People will get off to you saying this.  Business people like this phrase more than they like sex.  The same goes for ‘at the end of the day.'”

What I should have done was write a separate blog post dedicated to all of these ridiculous work expressions.  Lord knows there are hundreds of them, not just the two I mentioned in my post.

Well it looks like someone did my work for me as Forbes published this article on their website way back in January: Jargon Madness.  Of course they went with the ultra-annoying angle of putting all of these funny phrases into a “March Madness-like bracket” for people to vote on.  That’s one of my least favorite trends going right now…March Madness bracket of the 64 hottest women on the planet!  March Madness bracket of the 64 best Will Smith movies of all time!  March Madness bracket of your favorite March Madnesses of all time!  Make sure you vote!

Anyway, I think Forbes did a decent job with the 32 expressions they selected, though I’ve never heard someone use “Tiger Team or “Swim Lane.”  I think Forbes made those up.

And how do they leave “At the end of the day” off this list?  Am I just crazy and people don’t say this all the time?  If you haven’t heard it, “at the end of the day” is the long-winded, douchey way of saying “ultimately.”  As in, “At the end of the day, I think this is a deal that works out for both parties.”  It’s supposed to make you sound slick I guess?  My hope is that any business person who reads this starts laughing at himself the next time he’s on the phone with a client and catches himself using it.

Some of my other favorites from the Forbes list:

-Hard Stop: As in, “I have a hard stop at 4PM so we gotta be done by then.”  Does anyone ever have a soft stop?  Just say, “I have to be done by [insert time].”

-Price Point: As in, “Our price point for that service is $500 per hour.”  Just say “price.”

-Lots of Moving Parts = It’s complicated.

-Bleeding Edge: Apparently it’s not good enough anymore to be on the “leading edge” of what you’re selling.  Someone invented a phrase to describe how you can be leading that leading edge…bleeding edge.

-Open the Kimono: As in, “On this call we’re gonna open the kimono so you can see what’s really going on.”  It sounds so dirty, and you could just tell the person you’re going to reveal all of the information they need to make their decision.  Opening the kimono makes me think I’m about to see a Japanese person’s genitals.

Final thought: How did “It is what it is” not advance to the finals and win the championship?  “Leverage” was a better choice?  Why does the general public screw up every important vote?  Oh well.  Like they say…it is what it is.

The Vegas Blueprint – Part Two

(If you missed Part One of the Vegas Blueprint earlier today, be sure to click here and read it first.  Now on to Part Two.)

Friday

Surely I don’t have to rewrite all of the nonsense from Thursday’s blueprint.  Friday is almost exactly like Thursday in terms of timing and pacing of the games.  One big difference is that the amount of people in the sports book will double on Friday.  And this will annoy you.  If you’re unlucky enough, you’ll even get the loudest, most illogical fans standing next to you rooting for their shitty basketball team.  Like this guy for instance:

On Friday, you’ll get a little more risky with how you approach the alcohol situation.  You’ll buy multiple bottles of liquor, mixers, plastic cups and a bag of ice from Walgreen’s.  You’ll effectively open up a mini-bar underneath your table.  Don’t hesitate on this because it will be GLORIOUS.

Friday is also the only night you’ll interact with a restaurant waiter all weekend.  This is the night to do a “nice” dinner with the whole group.  At least that’s the intention…unfortunately a few members of the group will be bitter about all the money they lost earlier in the day and will decide to go to bed at 9:45pm.  Even worse, two guys won’t realize that they should just go to bed because they’re blacked out, but instead they’ll go to dinner.  They’ll proceed to light a cigar at the table (not legal), cram into a booth with strangers to take pictures of a “unique” sign on the wall while the strangers are trying to enjoy their meal (not cool), and try to light an electronic/fake candle at the table with actual matches (not safe).  If you can identify who these people are ahead of time (hint: they are the ones calling your Asian blackjack dealer “Jerry Wong” even though his last name isn’t on his badge), figure out a way to ditch them before dinner.

After dinner, you’ll want to gamble.  You spent the entire day making $10 bets on basketball teams you’ve never heard of.  Now is the time to throw down unnecessary $150 bets on a single hand of blackjack.  Go for it; you deserve it.  Or…you could take a cue from the guy who disappeared after dinner and texted you, “I’m taking a giant dump because of that dinner.  Might just call it a night after I’m done,” and you could go to bed, knowing you still have two full days to go.  Easy excuse to use your bowel movement as a reason to call it quits, and you’ll once again get some great sleep.

Saturday

This is the toughest day to wake up on time for the morning games.  Over the last two-and-a-half days, you’ve drank more than ever, you’ve drastically altered your eating patterns, and you’ve expended an enormous amount of energy doing nonstop calculations in your head.  If you’ve listened to anything I said, you already made your bets on the Saturday morning game the night before.  Sleep in and watch the opening game from your bed.  After all, this is the last you’ll be sleeping in Vegas.  But force yourself to get downstairs for the second game (Oh, and did I mention that you should shower each morning so you’re not tempted to go back to the room anytime during the day?  Going back to the room during or after the games is a death wish…your bed will grab you and not let go.  Stay away).

While Saturday’s events play out a lot like Thursday and Friday, there are less games and overall less energy in the sports book.  This is why you’ll want to know a couple of guys who can’t come to Vegas for a full weekend because they’re afraid to ask their wives.  Luckily, you were smart enough to convince them three months earlier to fly down on Saturday morning, not bother to get a hotel room, and fly out first thing on Sunday.  These people will inject the energy into your group that you need to finish off the weekend.  Think about the boost you’ll get from seeing two guys trying to cram four days worth of outrageous Vegas activities into 20 hours.  These are the guys who will have a bottle of bourbon under your table in the sports book by 10:15am.  These are also the guys who will be so eager to place as many bets on the basketball games as possible that they accidentally have two bets that are in direct competition with each other.

Saturday night is your own personal time.  I can’t tell you what to do here.  Some guys realize they’ve been staring at sweaty men on TV for the last four days while standing in a room with pretty much all dudes, and they decide to go look at some breasts in their final hours.  Other guys have that same four-day experience, and decide to go on a man date to the top of the Stratosphere in those waning moments before the 6am death plane comes to take them home.

The one thing I’m sure of on late Saturday/early Sunday is that if you’re done with your tit show or platonic soulmate date and there are still a few hours to kill before heading to the saddest airport in the world, choose the unneeded meal at Denny’s over two more hours of blackjack.  Even making yourself sick by overeating bottomless pancakes is less painful than dropping $200-$300 right before you step on the plane.

And finally, here are some Do’s and Don’ts that didn’t fit anywhere else:

-DON’T book a hotel and count on the poker discount for your room rate unless you have people in the room who are happy to forego the basketball watching in order to log enough poker hours (at the Venetian, six hours per day per room is what you need to qualify for a heavy discount).

-DON’T go back to the cashier and double your bet if you accidentally put down less money on one of the games than you wanted.  Take it as a sign and enjoy losing only half your intended bet when your team  those fuckers from Duke inevitably lose .

-DO try to make a couple small bets that are extremely unpopular with the rest of the people at the sports book.  When the team you bet on makes a run in the second half, you will be the only person out of hundreds screaming with delight.  The looks you’ll get from the crowd is worth the cost of the bet itself.  This doesn’t mean pick a few underdogs…the ‘dogs actually are pretty popular most of the time.  Through various websites, you can find out which side of a game has most of the betting action on it and then go with the opposite.

-DON’T storm off from your group when you lose a bet on Friday afternoon.  Even if it’s your 10th consecutive loss, remember that this is a marathon.

-DON’T switch over to betting on the horse races no matter how much they entice you.  You don’t know horse racing, you’ll never know horse racing, you’ll continually come close to winning but will never actually win…you are here to lose your money on BASKETBALL.

-DO accept free drinks from the hot promo girls, even if it’s something that automatically makes you puke, like Jameson.

-DON’T try to be sneaky and hide your mini-bar at the sports book from the security guards.  The casino probably has 140 cameras trained on you at any given time.  If they really didn’t want you drinking your own alcohol, you wouldn’t be.

-DON’T write a 3,000 word blog post on an extremely successful blogging site about all the ways to get by on the cheap in Vegas unless you want thousands of other people to steal your idea and ruin the secrecy of it all.

The Vegas Blueprint – Part One

(Editor’s Note: This is Part One of a Two-Part Series on Vegas.  Check in later today for Part Two.)

If you’re reading this post expecting a genius idea on how to take down Vegas, you’ve come to the wrong place.  The blueprint isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme.  As a matter of fact, you’re almost guaranteed to lose money if you follow it.  If you’re looking to make money in Vegas, go read Bringing Down the House or something, jerk.

The blueprint also isn’t for anyone who goes to Vegas planning to spend a lot of money.  It’s not for people who enjoy the dance clubs or going outdoors at any point.  This blueprint is not something you should follow if you’re in Vegas with your wife because SHE WILL DIVORCE YOU.

This blueprint is for people who go to Vegas looking to have an incredible weekend while only enduring a slow bleed of their money.  It’s for people who have no interest in buying expensive drinks or eating fancy dinners (actually one nice dinner is acceptable).

Let’s cut to the chase: this blueprint is specifically for anyone who comes to Vegas for the first weekend of March Madness and wants to hang out with my group of friends.  Because honestly, I’m not sure any other type of person can endure this schedule.

Let’s jump into it:

The Objective

To withdraw just enough money on the Tuesday before the trip (known as Transaction Tuesday) to be able to gamble for four days, pay for everything you eat and drink with cash, basically not use a credit or debit card at any point, and return to your home city with just enough money to pay for the cab from the airport to your apartment (and by the way, if you get to your home airport with an absurd amount of one dollar bills because you didn’t “make it rain” in the strip club as much as you thought you would on Saturday night, be sure to use those on the cab ride…nothing sets off a spouse’s suspicions quite like a wallet full of one’s).

The Daily Schedule

Let’s say you’re like me and you arrive in Vegas on Wednesday evening.  You’re also taking the first flight out of Vegas on Sunday morning; yes, that would be the 6am “everyone looks like a Zombie” flight.

Wednesday

This is your only day without basketball so you want to maximize your gambling with the casino games (Poker, BlackJack, Craps, Casino War, etc).  This is also the “calm before the storm” time.  Just 24 hours from now, Vegas will be overrun with middle-aged men who have more money to blow than you, meaning all of the casino games will be out of your price range.  Take advantage of the “cheap” tables tonight.

Plan to meet up with your group as soon as you arrive, poll everyone on their plans for the rest of the night and then play some poker (especially if you have to log a certain amount of poker hours over the weekend to get your discounted room rate – more on this later).  This first poker stint should go well because it’s the first thing you’re doing in Vegas…you always win during those first few hours, and then Vegas has you right where it wants you.  When you finally leave the table, you’ll be surprised that it’s already 10:30pm.  At this point, your only food option is the food court in whatever hotel you’re in.  That’s fine.  Take a 20-minute break and grab a sandwich with your friends.  Gambling over these four days is grueling; you need your energy.  Once dinner is finished, some genius in your group will suggest playing Paigow Poker because “it’s a game where you constantly push your bet (that means you tie against the casino and don’t lose your money) and you’re basically just getting free drinks for as long as you play.”  Go ahead and follow this guy’s lead.  When you’re 30 minutes into playing Paigow, check out his stack of chips.  While the rest of your table has actually pushed most of their bets like he promised, his money will be close to gone.  That’s just how it works.

Now it’s past midnight and you’ve got a solid six to eight drinks in you (which, by the way is the least amount of alcohol you’re gonna have in you for the rest of this trip), and you’re wondering what to do next.  After six years of getting this part wrong, I finally have the right advice: GO TO BED.  I know: it’s Vegas, your first night, the partying is just beginning for many visitors, you’ve got an erection because you’re up $300 for the trip already.  Trust me.  Get a solid night’s sleep on this first night.  You want to be fresh for the next three days of non-stop basketball and the disgusting amount of drinking that goes with it.

Before we move on to Thursday, there’s one more thing.  Sometime on Wednesday evening, take a close look at the first couple basketball games that tip off on Thursday morning.  The first game begins at 9:15am, and unfortunately every person in Vegas feels the need to bet on the opening game.  That means if you save your bet for Thursday morning, you’ll be fighting a line of 500 other people who had the same idea as you, and chances are you won’t get the bet down in time.  Make your bets on the first two or three games on Wednesday night and then laugh at all the idiots who are standing in line for over two hours the next day.  You will kiss me for this one piece of advice.

Thursday

Oh, hey there…good morning.  Did you get a good night’s sleep?  Feeling fresh, rested and ready to take on the world?  You’re welcome.  Are you ready for 12 straight hours of basketball?  Because that’s exactly what you’re doing today (and Friday and Saturday).  Every sports book is different as far as the layout, the seating options and the amount of people.  No matter where you plan to watch the games, it’s great to have someone in your group who doesn’t drink and goes to bed early.  This person becomes the guy who gets to the sports book by 7am each morning to reserve as many tables and chairs as he can.  If you don’t have someone in your group like this, try recruiting one through craigslist or facebook.  And then feel free to offer him beers all day long as a thank you for reserving the tables…he won’t take you up on it, and you get to feel like a nice person.

Even though there’s not much else to say in terms of your itinerary for this day, there is plenty of advice on how to maximize your fun during the games.  You need to think about the flow of the games and how that’s going to affect the line you’ll stand in whenever you want to place a bet.  It’s a good rule of thumb to always be placing bets on “the next three games” that are coming up.  It’s obnoxious to stand in line all day, so don’t be the idiot who makes only one bet every time he goes to the cashier.  I can’t advise you on how many bets to make or who to bet on, but I can advise you to keep the bets small.  Personally, I’d rather have five $20 bets on five different games than have one $100 bet on a single game.  That hundred dollars in the first scenario will provide you with six hours of entertainment.  The other scenario gives you only two hours of entertainment, and is of course a lot more stressful.  This is also a good time to point out one other gambling theory I have.  A blackjack player who knows the rule book inside and out and is sitting at a $10 per hand table can still easily lose $200 in thirty minutes.  A person who’s never heard of basketball can take that same $200, walk into the sports book and be entertained for 12 hours.  And their odds of winning some of those bets are just as good as the blackjack player’s chances.  How would you rather spend your day?  As far as the group dynamic goes, you actually want a couple of loose cannons who can’t sit still as part of your crew.  These are the guys who will make a bunch of basketball bets in the morning, then go sit at a poker table for seven hours, but then come hang out with you to watch the end of each game.  You want these people because during commercials they’ll entertain you with fun stories like how they were bored with basketball, bored with their poker table, so they just spent 45 minutes jumping between roulette, blackjack and craps.  These people literally have money spread out all over the casino so there’s bound to be some absurd stories (bonus points if these guys also like to start trouble at the poker table by asking the casino to “go to the video tapes” to review a move from an opponent that they thought was illegal).

The final thing to mention about this day is around alcohol consumption: do it.  It wouldn’t be Vegas if you weren’t drinking from sunrise to sunset.  The problem is that many of the casinos have started to make it unreasonably expensive to spend an entire day at the sports book and pay for alcohol.  In the past, they’ve given out drink tickets when you go place a bet.  This allows the people who are actually gambling to receive a complimentary drink or two, and it keeps the non-gamblers from getting freebee’s.  It used to be a “$20 bet for every one drink ticket,” but this year they told us it was $500 bet for each ticket.  Alternatively we could pay $6.50 per Bud Light and order them straight from the bar.  Well to those options, I say, “no thank you, and fuck you.”  Here’s what you do…buy your alcohol from the outside and bring it into the casino.  In Vegas, you’re allowed to bring open drinks into any casino and continue to drink it.  Directly outside the main entrance to the Venetian is a Walgreen’s.  Within three minutes of discovering the casino’s policy on drink tickets this year, we had our first 20-pack of Bud Light hidden under our table at the sports book.  We saved $90 for each 20-pack we bought compared with the price at the Venetian bar.  That money was funneled right back into our betting for the weekend.  And if your brain is as slow as ours was, it’ll take you until about 7pm that night to realize you can do the same thing with a bottle of liquor.  Go to Walgreen’s, buy a $25 bottle of Jameson, a bunch of plastic cups and start pouring shots at your table while watching the games.

Now you’re asking, “what the hell am I gonna do after the games end and I’m borderline shitfaced?”  Good question.  This is one of several times over the weekend where you’ll be tempted to play blackjack at a $25 per hand minimum table just because those are the only tables close by.  Force yourself to take the five minute walk over to Casino Royale where you can find $10 craps and blackjack.  Bring the Jameson with you and drink it right out of the bottle while sitting at your table.  That casino is seedy enough where you’ll just look like any other gambler.  Call it a night when you start making a plan to steal one of the gondola’s and ride the Venetian’s canals at 2am.


(Part Two is located HERE.  In it, we discuss Friday and Saturday, pulling an all-nighter, and a list of Do’s and Don’t’s for a successful Vegas trip.)

March Madness: More Than Just Basketball to Help End Relationships

Well, it took four long weeks, but it finally happened…I’ve been published on another blog/website.  I’ve sold out and given this other publication a chance to post my material before I even posted it on WBFF blog.  Entrepreneurs like me start a business for one of two reasons: either to be acquired for a ridiculous amount of money, or to take the company public, also making ridiculous bank.  My exit strategy with the blog has always been to reach that coveted 45 views per day benchmark and then sell.  We’re not there yet, so don’t worry, the blog’s not going anywhere.  But with my posts now in high demand, it’s only a matter of time.  The post below was published on caughtinsouthie.com last week, and you can either read it below or click on the following link to see it on that site: http://www.caughtinsouthie.com/feature/march-madness.  Either way, I hope you enjoy it.  If you don’t, I don’t care since I just got published on another website.)

As a rule I try to never feel bad for anyone.  Who wants to feel bad for someone else?  It just makes you feel awful…ruins your day, really.

But I gotta admit, at this time of year, I truly feel bad for women.  Specifically women with husbands or boyfriends, or even those weird girls who hang out mostly with dudes in a platonic way.  You see, it’s this time of year, the February/March timeframe, where these women think they’re gonna recoup all those lost hours with their men from the 10-month disaster known as Baseball & Football season.  I can understand the thinking… Football season ended after the first weekend of February, and everyone knows baseball doesn’t start until April 1st.  So that’s about eight weeks for couples to spend all their time together: taking cooking classes, doing couples’ massages, tripping on mushrooms together, whatever.

The obvious problem with this arrangement?  These eight weeks are actually when some of the best sporting events of the year take place.

Let’s start with the biggie: March Madness.  Now some people might say, “wait a minute, the tournament doesn’t start until March 13th this year.  What do you mean it’s eight weeks long?”  Well, for the irrational sports fan, March Madness really begins in mid-February.  That’s when the college hoops schedule somehow creates intriguing matchup after intriguing matchup.  And these teams don’t just play once a week.  So this week, for example, there are about 31 interesting college basketball games over seven days.  Ladies, when you get home on Wednesday night and your guy’s watching a “random game” on TV, think twice before you touch that remote control.  This game could give him that extra insight he needs to determine if Team X is gonna lose in the 1st round of the March Tourney or the 2nd round.  March Madness is a strange phenomenon.  For instance, I have absolutely no loyalties to any of the big basketball programs.  Sadly, I attended BU (not the Baylor version, the Boston version), and they make the tournament once every five years.  But for some reason, I can get fired up for a Duke/UNC or Kansas/Missouri game like I’ve had season tickets for 40 years.  This past Saturday I actually went to a bar for the 1pm KU/Mizzou game, and I felt nervous…even though I had no clue who I was rooting for.  It’s unhealthy; it’s inexplicable; but it’s completely necessary (a big factor in play for me is that I’m so sick of seeing the winner of the March Madness bracket turn out to be someone who picked the teams based on mascot, uniform or perceived sexiness of the team.  It’s my life’s goal to win that damn pool).

Let’s explore what else is going on this time of year.

Well, ladies, your dude plays fantasy sports right?  Guess what?  We all just got our automated emails from espn.com last week saying it’s time to activate our league for the 2012 baseball season!!  That’s right, it’s officially fantasy baseball season.  The regular season might not begin for another five weeks, but in that time we need to refresh our memories on all the players that changed teams in the offseason (when we weren’t paying attention because we were too busy managing our fantasy football teams), read numerous magazines and websites offering advice on who to draft, and then, when we don’t trust those websites’ rankings, we create our own formula for ranking players.  Then we need to do the actual draft (which will definitely go through dinner time on a weeknight).  If you happen to be with someone who wants to watch spring training games, forget it.  Break up now.

Other than college basketball and baseball, add in the final regular season push for hockey and professional basketball, where we might be hanging on every game to see if our team will qualify for the playoffs.  And then finally, multiply it all by some more football.  What?  More football?  That’s right.  For some fans, it’s actually their favorite time of year.  You’ve got the scouting combine where NFL teams are evaluating college players (they actually broadcast this stuff…you could watch a herd of 300lb guys run 40-yard dashes all day long if you really wanted).  You’ve got free agency beginning on March 13th (oh no, our players might leave to play for another team!), and finally, you have the NFL draft at the end of April (which means we spend most of March and April watching the same two guys on Sportscenter argue about who each team might pick in the draft).

And while I’m feeling bad for women in general, let me give a special shout out to the wives/girlfriends of Boston sports fans specifically.  Our teams’ season always goes longer, and it always seems to end with us going on a bender…either an ecstatic “our team is the greatest” bender or (as in the case of the Patriots this year) a “how in God’s name did this happen AGAIN” bender.  No matter the result, it seems like the Boston sports schedule never has a break.

Ladies, you’ve got it rough.  No one’s doubting that.  So here’s what I’m gonna do for you: I’m officially giving you permission to force your man to watch whatever TV shows you want.  You wanna watch “My Bridezilla’s a Teenage Mom who also happens to be a Real Housewife of Miami?”  Fine.  He’ll watch it with you.  Just as long as there’s not a game on.