Apr 18
by Don

I still owe you all more from our March Madness trip, but 44 was kind enough to drop a top ten list on us and who am I to refuse such a gift. So without further ado…

1. This year our approach was better (and more profitable) because we got some outside help. We bought a pick pack from an expert on VegasInsider.com and we also religiously read Chad Millman’s blog on ESPN which is full of sharp money tidbits. We combined their opinions with our own and the mix worked really well. When I got back I totaled up all my bets for the trip and realized I ended up $1500! That mainly happened thanks to a big 3-0 run late on Sunday, the last day of the trip, when I had several parlays in play (thanks Cornell, Xavier and Duke for all covering!). Unfortunately I blew most of my winnings at blackjack, but what can you do.

2. I like money line bets on the underdogs, particularly with the lower seeds in round two. This year the money line paid off very nicely on many second round underdogs, such as Northern Iowa, Cornell, Washington, etc.

3. Conversely, in doing some reading after the fact, I also like the concept of parlaying the money line on a few heavy favorites in the second round. I didn’t place a bet on that this year, and I’m lucky I didn’t, because most people bet Kentucky-Kansas on a money line parlay in the second round and lost a bundle when Kansas was upset. But, in most years, that bet would have worked really well. I will definitely be looking at the odds next year and will strongly consider a second round money line parlay on 2, 3 or 4 of the number one seeds to win outright.

4. This year’s trip was the best we have ever had, because we kept the group small and we all had the same mindset of focusing on the games and our handicapping. Most March Madness (MM) trips get derailed by day two or three, because there are too many late night distractions – night clubs, strip clubs, all night blackjack marathons – and the focus on good handicapping goes away. You can see this easily by going to the sportsbooks before the first game tips off each morning of MM and looking at the crowd. On the first day of MM, the books are packed and everyone is focused on the games. By day three, the books are very quiet before the first games, and the crowd shows up around the start of the second set of games, looking crazy hung over and with no clue who is even playing, much less who to bet on. We fell into that trap in years past, but not this year. Our focus this year helped us come out on top.

5. The Mezz at Planet Hollywood was a nice place to watch the games, but I was really jealous of those who got a secured seat an Emril’s Stadium in the Palazzo. That place is MM heaven. I hope we’ll be there next year. We’ll see.

6. Thanks to Don for tricking the staff at Paris into putting a rollaway bed in our room. 44 and Hollywood appreciated not having to sleep in the same bed this year.

7. All time classic MM moment, one I will never forget: Northern Iowa’s Farokhmanesh taking that three point shot to kill Kansas late in the game when up by only one point and with 30 seconds still left on the shot clock. The Mezz went crazy. Everyone literally freaked out when he took the shot. It was an incredible sportsbook moment. Especially for those of us who had Northern Iowa on the money line!

8. Every year I am tempted to suggest we bring the girls along. I know if Don and I brought Lori and Goldie, it would get us out of some trouble when we got back home. Leaving the girls home alone for 5 days isn’t a popular decision. But frankly, as reinforced this year, it is a necessity. We did the trip “right” this year, because we really focused on the games and we used our dinners and free time each night to handicap the next day’s games. There is no way bringing the girls along would be compatible with this type of trip. Sorry Goldie.

9. There is something about the first and second half lines that make them seem more exploitable than the full game line. I think this is partially due to the fact that very little attention is paid to those lines, so I get the impression they can be beat. I didn’t have a particularly good record betting first halves this year (although Hollywood did), but I want to continue to explore that angle as a possible way to beat the books.

10. Based on my observations of the MM games this year, I am working up a special formula called the “Explosiveness Quotient” that may factor into my handicapping next year. Stay tuned….

Overall, it was simply an amazing trip. There is nothing like MM in Vegas. I can’t wait for next year. I guess the only question at this point is whether there will be 64 teams or 96 teams to bet on!

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