Wish I Was There: March Madness/Regional/Final Four

A relatively close view of the PH Madness on the Mezz setup

Kelly Lamrock shares advice from his previous March Madness trips…

I love everything about sports watching in Vegas. I love the energy of a sportsbook when everyone’s got action on the game. I love how you’re never far from a draught beer and a TV for score watching. I love how American bettors predictably fade the Raptors too much early season and help a contrarian bettor pay for dinner, and how Canadians can beat the house on CFL betting. That might just be me, but the fact is that sports are better in Vegas.

Which is why it’s killing me that I’m not for March Madness. The 48 games in the first four days, with point spreads flipping on every basket and every team one bad game away from going home, are electric in Vegas. The next best thing to being there is to offer a few March Madness tips. I can’t tell you how to fill out your bracket — that’s for a different site – but I can offer some thoughts on how to have fun win or lose.

Sports Books: Sure, you can shell out big bucks for a viewing party. It’ll be great. You already know about the Westgate’s superbook. But where I can help is with a few books off the beaten path. These aren’t swanky or well-known, but they will do the trick.

I love the book at The Linq. Those red fake-leather seats are roomy and comfy. The TVs have a solid layout, with an emphasis on the variety of games. That matters when you’ve got multiple games going on. Their bar service is faster than any book I’ve had, and if you are a good guy and know your betting etiquette (see below), you’ll get coupons for free drinks.Plus there are gaming tables nearby. Excalibur is underrated. There are lots of seats, and they don’t skimp on opening windows for fast betting. There are lots of good video poker bars nearby where the TVs are plentiful too. And don’t underestimate the low roller joys with Casino Royale. They have a nice wooden bar with a William Hill betting area, and $1 Michelob’s and White Castle sliders aren’t a bad way to watch that late game. Planet Hollywood has some neat nooks for private TV watching, and Blondie’s remains one of my favourite places to watch a game.

Betting Etiquette: Those odds sheets are your friend. There are going to be lots of people waiting to bet. Know your bets before you hit the window. Tell the guy up front how many games, if they are straight bets or parlays, and have the numbers of the games in your head. Just go right down the list – “Game 308, straight bet –$80 on Villanova giving the points.” Tip the guys – they are working hard. Nothing wrong with a quick question if the line moves, but remember when the window is busy, these guys aren’t there to give advice or explain what the over means. Keep it moving. If you need an incentive, remember that I’m 6’5” and might be right behind you waiting to bet that juicy halftime line in the two minutes before it’s off the board. Don’t make me angry.

The O’Sheas Leprechaun, Lucky (Brian Thomas) and his lovely assistants

Socialize. Hey, everyone is there from all over the country, and you all know what you have in common. Strike up a conversation with the fan next to you – ask about his alma mater, his betting strategy, her bracket, her worst beat. The energy of the book is what makes it special, make it more memorable by making it a truly collective experience.

Remember The Golden Rule. Ok, one sports betting tip. Remember that you’re not trying to outsmart the sharps who run the book. You can’t. You just want to outsmart the public. The house wants even amounts of money on both sides, so they pocket the vig without risk. That means if the public has blind spots – public teams, fading stars, an atypical big win or blowout loss in a team’s last game – you can bet that you’re getting more points than you should to go against it. Know the emotional biases that sports tourists have and run the other way.

Most of all – have fun. Go ahead and put a sentimental twenty on your favourite team. Bet some underdogs and root with the room for drama. Have a drink for me – and put ten on ‘Nova to repeat.

[Photos: Gennadius]

About the Author

Kelly Lamrock
Kelly Lamrock didn't see Vegas until he was 40. Now, he goes several times a year. When home in Atlantic Canada, he's a lawyer, international consultant, and former Attorney-General. When in Vegas, he is consumed by the search for the best craft beer, the perfect sportsbook, and a post-show cigar. He loves Vegas because, as Jerry Seinfeld says, "wherever you're from, Vegas is pretty much the opposite of that."

4 Comments on "Wish I Was There: March Madness/Regional/Final Four"

  1. Great article!

  2. Actually, that isn’t really the most efficient way to place a bet. You should be saying the team # (e.g. on the betting sheet, Villanova will have a number next to it–say that number when making the bet). Also, if you are betting a -110 game (which most straight bets will be), make your bets in increments of $11. This will make the bookmakers’ jobs easier when paying out winning tickets–they won’t have to count up any change. An $88 bet will win $80 while an $80 bet wins $72.73. For example, your bet should have just been something like “865 for $88”.

    This website (http://www.vegasinsider.com/college-basketball/odds/las-vegas/) shows the numbers for every team (same at all casinos) and updates the lines at every book in real time. If you wanted to bet Kansas tonight, you’d walk up and say “812 for $88”. If you wanted Purdue moneyline, you’d walk up and say “811 moneyline for $80”.

    I used to be a bookie :-)

    • You’re correct about the betting amounts, but the Kelly is right about going up to the window prepared with the number and what you want to bet. If people really want to make it simple, they should simply say “To win $80”, then they would just have to pay the window whatever they ask. Unfortunately, most people go up with a certain amount to risk instead of a certain amount to win, thus if you asked them for $88, they would then not have the correct amount of money.

      We covered this here at VegasBright just under a couple of years ago. I think this is still a good article and quite relevant. :-)


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