Mar 29
by Don

So we have our home base of operations established and get up early for Thursday’s action.  We bounce downstairs and over to Planet Hollywood about 1.5 hours before the first tipoff.  It is critical to get our bets in and find a good spot because this first game is our beloved Gators and this will most likely be their “one shining moment” as they are a slight dog in their first round game.

We go up to the “Mezz” and see an incredibly snaked line of bettors waiting to place their bets for the morning action.  We make a quick executive decision to head back downstairs to the actual sportsbook as sure they would have more people working and actual pros manning the booth and not temps who just got a crash course in sports wagering.  So we bounce only to see an almost equally intimidating line there.  Oh well, we are here and we need to get these bets in.

The line moves slowly, but we are make some progress.  I strike up a conversation with this Michigan State alum and he is chatting me up about this year’s team when his buddy comes over and says, “Hey man your dad is up at the front.  Let’s go.”  I didn’t even have time to process what he was saying when Sparty looks at me and says “let’s go!”  So we proceed to the front of the line and cut about 200 people who have been waiting for God only knows how long.  When I get there Sparty and his friend were already smoothing things over with the people at the front by saying that it was his dad and what not and how it was all good somehow.  Glorious.  I had left 44 and Hollywood behind without even a word, but when you have a chance to jump the line, you jump.   They understood.

So after the euphoria of the moment passed, Sparty finishes his thoughts on this year’s team and how he has watched every game that they have played this year and that there was no way they would cover the spread.  He says that this team is all IZZO and fairly light on superstar talent.  Every game is a grind and the 14 point spread was way too much, no matter even if they are playing a middle of the road team like New Mexico State.  He predicted that they would win, but it would be 7 or less and in no way would it be double digits. I thought that he made a lot of sense so that only confirmed that little bit of action I was already going to bet.

That’s what great about this weekend.  Everyone comes out and is a small expert on the team that they follow.  If you can get some real intel as to the feel of a team and not straight homerism then you are ahead of the game.   Well my man came through because MSU only won by 3.  Nice.

If someone was to ask me about Florida I would have said that we have virtually no inside presence and have to have an up tempo game to have success.  They will hang tough, but will probably drop this game because they just don’t have enough consistent firepower to beat a good opponent who has balance scoring.  True to form, Florida put up a great fight and took BYU to double overtime before losing 99-92.  No shame in that.

Mar 24
by Don

There is nothing more insane than the first weekend of March Madness.  Seemingly tens of thousands of people (almost exclusively men) descend upon Vegas for a smorgasbord of basketball, booze and b… umm fine dining?  Well that’s what we do anyways and this year was by far the best.

44, Hollywood and myself head off to Paris for what looks to be a great weekend of sports betting.  We had a few great meals, some crazy parlays, and no luck at the black jack tables.  This only tells half of the story.  So let’s get into it shall we?

The flight in was a good one.  44 was able to get on my flight out so we basically spent the time game planning.  Now every year 44 claims that he has done some “research” and has the answers to what ails us, namely poor betting.  Well this year we go in a total different direction, we want professional help.  Once airborne, 44 breaks out his trusty laptop and proceeds to search for a handicapper that we can believe in.  This may seem strange, but we were looking for a guy who had a good story, one that we could relate to, believe in, basically a smarter version of ourselves.  We found one in Keith Fredrick.

Keith seemed like a good guy who has been having tremendous success and we were hoping to jump on the train ourselves.  This was a critical addition to our normal pre tourney banter of, “who has seen X play”? and “where is school X even located?”  You can see that we needed the help.

44 and I get to Paris and look forward to setting up shop there.  A couple of years back they had turned their theater into a defacto MM put complete with huge big screen TV’s, food, and a mobile sportsbook.  This is critical since the first games are early and we will probably need to roll out of bed to place our first bets.  Standing in line to check in we over heard a couple of guys (not hard actually since they were screaming) lamenting the fact that Paris has sold out this year and has booked a conference this year so there will be no MM seating in the theater.  This poses a slight problem since we were looking to have our early action local, but you roll with the punches.

We get settled in and go grab a quick bite next door at the Mexican restaurant in front of Planet Hollywood.  There 44 spots a sign that says that Planet Hollywood has a huge viewing area for the tourney on the “Mezz”, so after lunch we bounce to check it out.

The “Mezz” is great.  There are 8 huge projection screens set up with a ton of betting stations.  This is mint since we are right next door and can make this happen with no problem.  Now we just wait for Hollywood’s arrival and we are set.

Day one ends with more anticipation than excitement as the only black jack session we have nets me a couple of hundred bucks and spanks 44 for six.  So we head back to home base and regroup for tomorrow will most certainly be epic.

Feb 25
by Don

I was just thinking recently that I know of 5 different people who are currently in Vegas or are going to in the next month. All random to each other and all happening now. Something must definitely be going right with the country because no one last year was even thinking about going, let alone actually doing it.

This is great. So to add to the mayhem; myself, 44 and Hollywood will be making our triumphant return to Vegas for March Madness this year. It should prove to be a smashing good time as always, but this year we will be adding some additional new West Coast members to the group. Hollywood swears by them and well really it can’t be any worse than our trip in 08. We had 3 different people in our group lose their minds at one point or another during the trip and it was frankly exhausting. None of that this year, but we will see.

So get ready for more posts as the run up the MM10 is on… My Vegas is most definitely showing.

Jan 20
by Rolka Nation

Howdy my dear, degenerate gamblin’ friends.  Your ol’ pal Pittsburgh Gil here had quite the proud moment earlier this month.  As you well know, I call Pittsburgh my tried and true hometown.  Pennsylvania legalized the opening of a minimal amount of state-governed casinos a few years ago and the Pittsburgh entry, The Rivers Casino, opened this past August.  While excited that a casino now exists in downtown Pittsburgh, my interest was not overly high.  I would try to check it out on my next visit home but I wouldn’t go out of my way to and I certainly wouldn’t plan a trip around it.  Why you ask?  Simply put…slots only. 

I do enjoy a limited amount of slot play, but table games are the bee’s knees and I never frequent a slots only casino.  Slots are a good temporary distraction after a couple of hours rollin’ the dice or taking blackjack hits.  In that capacity, they’re fine.  But they’re no main event!  It would be like going to a live WWF event in 1988 with a 2-match card consisting of Leaping Lanny Poffo vs. Mr. Perfect followed by The Killer Bees vs. The Bushwhackers.  Fun?  Sure, to a degree.  But without Hulk, the Macho Man, or the Ultimate Warrior…what’s the point?

Well loyal readers, problem solved!  This past Thursday, January 7th, the PA State House passed Senate Bill 711 and, after Governor Ed Rendell’s signature, table games are now legal in the state of Pennsylvania!

On the surface, the benefits of this are vast.  First and foremost, the legalization of the games and the revenue they’re planned to generate will prevent the Governor from having to layoff about 1,000 state employees in order to balance the state budget.  Secondly, it will of course create jobs.  The Rivers Casino alone is planning approximately 80 tables games which will require the hiring of an additional 300-350 employees.  And finally, interest in the casinos should skyrocket to a new level, especially to the table game enthusiasts such as myself.

The Rivers already has about 3,000 slots and initial reviews have appeared very positive in terms of the facility being a fun, flashy Vegas style environment.  That’s great but many (not all, mind you) customer testimonies have complained about those slots being too tight.  While there may be a shred of truth to this, I”m a believer in that most people who take the time and effort to go online and write a review of an establishment do so because of being stung by a bad experience.  Those people may have valid points, but most people who have pleasant ones tend to not write these reviews.  Therefore, a collection of reviews tends to look overwhelmingly negative at times when, in fact, it’s an inaccurate picture of experiences by all customers.  But hey, even if true, the addition of table games makes this irrelevant anyway.

With its perfectly located downtown spot, I can’t wait to make it back home to check out The Rivers.  I will detail an ideal gambling-oriented Pittsburgh trip in an upcoming post, but we’ll be rollin’ craps, dealing blackjack, spinning the roulette wheel, and buying into poker tourneys in Pittsburgh sometime between July and September when the tables open.  Bring it!

Jan 15
by Rolka Nation

First things first.  I’m sure you were all on the edge of your desk chairs wondering if I would take up the Venetian on its free suite offer.  Well alas, I have decided to pass.  Too many factors were going against on this particular one including funds and too short of notice to find a travel mate.  I was still pondering going solo, but no dice this time.  You win this round, sensible head!

Ok; on to the good stuff.  You may recall a few months back that I wrote a piece on maximizing your Vegas fun for as little bread as possible.  If you’re new to the site or want a refresher, click here.  The pointers outlined in that post were of the general variety and can come in handy for any Vegas trip.  But let’s get more specific shall we?  Countless hours of hardcore Pittsburgh Gil-style research has resulted in these gems for your perusing pleasure:

– Deuces Wild!  Now through 3/1, enjoy $22 nights, $2 Blackjack, $2 beer, $2 tequila, and $2 hot dogs and nachos at The Plaza and Vegas Club downtown.  You must have a 2 night minimum stay and most Sun-Thurs nights are available.  I have not been to The Plaza but apparently the Rat Pack show there is great fun.  I have been to the Vegas Club casino and enjoyed the layout and decor.  This is an outstanding deal.

– $1 Blackjack on The Strip!  Hard to believe these days; but true.  The Sahara is currently dealin’ out $1 BJ along with dollar beers, shots, and hot dogs near the NASCAR Cafe area of the casino. I’ve also read reports (although unconfirmed) that they open additional $1 tables on the main floor during the week.  While there, see if you can finish the Cafe’s 6 pound burrito and score it for free along with unlimited lifetime rollercoaster rides.  Don’t stay here though.

Rubbin' is racin' sound bite

– Free Grub!  As you all know, Ellis Island is my favorite off-the-beaten-path spot in Vegas.  Part of the reason why is because they always have great promotions.  Currently, play an hour at the tables and get a free entree in the great restaurant.  Play 2 hours, get 2 entrees!  Tables are limited here but usually include 1-2 $5 single deck BJ games.  Excellent promo.

– Free Booze Center Strip!  Planet Hollywood is offering a cool promo that runs through May.  Book a room for as low as $69 (many, but not all Sun-Thurs nights) and pick out your very own free bottle of wine, champagne, or liquor delivered right to your room.  That definitely meets my approval, especially considering the quality of resort at that price.

– Gambling AND Chicken Wings!  Not just a cheesy chain eatery, but also a cheesy Vegas hotel.  The Hooters casino resort is currently offering a sweet package that runs all the way to August.  Rates as low as $20 a night during the week and just $49 on the weekend can score you an upgraded room, $100 of slot promo play (which is pretty lame actually), 2 tickets to their comedy show (which is also probably lame, but can’t say for sure), and 2-for-1 breakfast.  I normally would not recommend a deal at a kitschy off-strip joint (and here is yet another reason why you shouldn’t actually stay at Hooters), but I actually kind of like the casino here for novelty’s sake and its easy walking distance to MGM, NYNY, Excalibur, etc.

– Half Price Hugo’s!  I never knew this service existed until recently.  You’ve probably all heard of or seen the Tix4Tonight booths spread over town where you can pick up vastly discounted same night show tickets.  Well, they have the same concept for restaurants now also.  Visit any of the Tix4Tonight locations, make a reservation for that night through them, pay $2 for a buffet or $3 for a nicer place, and get a voucher for half off your entree!  At the high-end joints, that can equate to $20-30 saved.  At least 30 restaurants and buffets are offered including some at Harrah’s, Mandalay, Caesar’s, and Bally’s.  And the crown jewel that is Hugo’s Cellar is also available here.  Go there and get an amazing meal, like I outlined here , for a mere $18 with this offer.  Note:  I have read that the half-price vouchers are for the entree ONLY so if it’s a steakhouse or similar, you’re on your own for the sides.

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