Saturday, March 17, 2018


Yesterday I saw parts of nearly all the games.  It was not like being in Las Vegas for a number of reasons. 

I did not hear the incessant ringing of one armed bandits while I watched, either downstairs or when I decided to recline in the bedroom.  I did not consume a single malt beverage yesterday-very non Las Vegas like.  When I went out for a short drive, the street where I live was not filled with people holding cards on which pictures of very scantily clad stormy daniels wannabes could be seen. For  dinner I did not sit at a buffet and devour more calories than the entire population of say, Guam, consume in a year. And I did not lose my shirt betting on games that are essentially a flip of the coin. 

But otherwise there were similarities. I kept a chart of the spreads and the over unders.  I did not pick teams because what is the point. Nobody in my household would be paying out if I had a winner.  Still I looked at the odds and followed the games.

An interesting thing occurred. If you read the book you know I argue that betting on college basketball games can be fun, but it is not going to bring anyone any real money except in very rare instances. All the games are presented as even propositions. That is, if you wanted to bet on Duke today you have to give up 9.5 points to Rhode Island. At last glance this should not be a problem, but going into the contest it is tossup. 

To prove that point, yesterday the favorites won 7 games by beating the spread, and the dogs won 7 games by getting within the spread. One was a push (a tie) and one game was a pick-em.  And, guess what--8 games made the over, and 8 games came in with the under. 

Now it doesn't always work this way. I can remember one time in Las Vegas--relayed in the Madness of March--where a well oiled gambler opined, "the dogs, the dogs, the dogs, the dogs," and this night he was right as nearly every dog beat the spread.  But typically it is even.

And that is why the lights are on in Las Vegas, and in some casinos they give free beer.  The casinos are raking it in.

I make the point in the book that when people go to Las Vegas this week, they do so for a lark. It is fun, a vacation. Earlier this year I was contacted by someone who heads a facebook group of people who travel out. He wanted me to send him a couple of autographed books that he raffled off to his buddies. I did so delightfully (and am now an august member of the group).  I am not there as I have written, but I can just imagine the fun.  The amateur bettors are hunkering down now because in ten minutes or so the six night games to be played in the next 7 hours are about to begin. 

The reason I went to Las Vegas during March Madness the first time in 2001 is because it was billed as one of the 100 things to do before you die. If you are a fan, trust me. It is. Go. 

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