Legions of college hoops fans are going to descend upon Vegas next week for the opening weekend of March Madness. Here’s a handy set of pointers on how not to make a complete ass of yourself when you get there.
Written by Kyle Magin
1) Don’t: Be a chump at the sportsbook. I’ve covered this in the past, but don’t get to the betting window after standing in a long-ass line without having all of your plays formulated and your cash ready to go. Everyone is trying to get their bets in before the next wave of games tips off. Everyone is a little hungover from last night. The book is pulling a double and handling the highest volume of betting he’s seen all year. His dogs are killing him and I can assure you he doesn’t get paid enough to wait around while you scan the overhead board for Duke, or to fix your ticket really quick when you realize you only bet the first half. Approach March Madness betting in Vegas like you would approach getting on a packed blackjack table. Assume everyone here knows what the fuck they’re doing and act accordingly. Grab one of the million golf pencils and betting slips available and write down your bet when you see something you like on the overhead board or one of the handy printouts with all the day’s lines. If you can’t or don’t want to pull off a simple transaction at a relatively quick pace at the window itself, that’s fine. Go online and download an app like William Hill’s that will allow you to place your bet from the comfort of your hotel room with the blackout shades. Just don’t subject the rest of us to your lollygagging.
2) Do: Hit the sportsbook at Paris. Caesars’ most effeminate hotel/casino offering is, not-shockingly, the least-packed sportsbook on the strip. No joke, last time I was there, I saw three female college English professors I know enjoying baguettes in the book area after attending a lecture on Onanism in Canterbury Tales or something because their conference room’s lunch tables were overcrowded. I was standing in a short line in my jersey and dope cargo shorts and they asked if there was ‘some sports thing’ going on. It’s definitely the place to get your bets in if you like elbow room and need a damn second to think about the over/under. The on-screen experience isn’t what it is at Caesar’s proper or Wynn, though, so high-tail it out once you’ve collected your tickets.
3) Don’t: Chase. It’s the oldest piece of advice in the book, but don’t overspend your gaming budget trying to make up for a close loss or to get back to even. Stop and look around you. Every bright light, every marquee, every swimming pool, every golf course, every gold chandelier Steve Wynn’s decorator crafted specifically to cater to paunchy Chinese whales has been paid for by people chasing. You likely decided how much you could afford to part with on approach to McCarran. That was the last clear thought you had; stick to it.
4) Do: Hit the pools. Fellas, we’re looking at temps in the low 80s during the day next week. There will be some point when there’s a lull in the action and none of the tips really appeal to you. Get outside. You’ve likely had a shitty winter with no snow or a shitty winter with too much snow. You can sit inside whenever. You can’t have water spit on you by a gilded angel under a faux-Hellenic dome rising from a wading pool whenever. You can’t ogle off-duty showgirls working the swim-up blackjack table crowd for drinks whenever. You can’t have a two-day running battle with the pool waitstaff about whether you bought that can of Corona from inside or from them whenever. Lather up, put on your shades and melt your disgusting paleness away to a point where people only notice your disgusting beer belly.
5) Don’t: Do the club scene. Look at yourself. You’re wearing a backwards hat, the jersey of a guy who’ll never see a dime for making you buy it and those aforementioned dope cargo shorts. The last fucking thing you need to do is to dress up in a standard-issue pastel button-down and shiny jeans to go see an overpriced EDM show with every Green Valley senior who can score a fake or dates the bouncer. You’re here for sportsbro Vegas, not traditional bro Vegas.
6) Do: Head to Fremont Street. This place, Downtown Vegas, with the corny overhead school flags and normally-priced beers is where you belong. A goofy cover-band is fading right from a Cyndi Lauper set into Enter Sandman on the outdoor stage. The C-section crowd is pole dancing at the entrance to a casino un-ironically named “The D.” The overhead LED show set to Prince music will get the crowd hype. Tables cost $5 to get in on and the dealers will tell you when to split. You’ll probably see a family with a stroller at 1 a.m. because Las Vegas was invented by the same guy who wrote Labyrinth.
7) Don’t: Come in on Thursday. Look, unless you’re going to land and get to your hotel before the games start tipping off Thursday morning, coming in on the tournament’s opening day is for chumps. The taxi lines will be ungodly long, the Kentucky fans will already be passing out off their ‘shine by the time you get to the book and you’ll have missed wave after wave of betting action. Get in on Wednesday night, enjoy one evening of loss-free revelry (losses from the book, anyway) and get ready for the full experience Thursday: Waking up early, maybe banking a run for the 7,000 debits you’ll take against your health in secondhand cigar smoke, shitty food and drinking, hitting Denny’s for breakfast and getting a reasonable spot in line to get bets down on the early tips. Then take on the day at your own pace—walk the strip, hit the pool, catch the games you want to catch and head out at night without feeling like you need to pack all of that into 3 hours.
8) Do: Get out on Saturday. Look, due to our nation’s insane insistence that most everybody show up to work on Monday, Sunday is stress-filled. You’re probably looking at a few straight days of losing or you’re just ahead and want to stay there. Since Vegas is designed to funnel money from your pockets into Sheldon Adleson’s, you’re going to do nothing but piss money away on the Lord’s Day. You’ll be thinking the whole time about when you need to cut yourself off to be able to drive home way too late at night once you land. It’s going to take you an extra 45 minutes to find a cab, because it’s Vegas on a Sunday, and the TSA line at McCarran will be out the door. Best case scenario? You catch an early a.m. flight out of town and barf in the seat pocket with your plane stuck on a tarmac that’s never cooler than 108 degrees. Get out on Saturday and give yourself two nights to dance with the devil that is alcohol withdrawal syndrome at home, in your own bed.