March Madness

Finally, a New York Times article hits all the right notes!  Matt Villano describes the "action at Ceasars Palace's' sports book on the first weekend of the NCAA Mens' basketball tournament in March .

While I missed this recent weekend in Vegas, I was there for the first weekend of the NFL division playoffs in January, spending the greater part of two days in the Venetian Hotel's sports book with a very good friend from college, and our kids, (and very occasionally, our wives who peeked into the room). Given that my friend now lives in Seattle, and I in Chicago, the Bears Seahawks playoff game was not only about the money we had wagered, but also the ability to give grief to one another after the game. My team, the Bears, won by 3 points in overtime, but I also won by taking Seattle and 9 points with my bet. My friend's team, the Seahawks, lost, but he bet the Bears to cover the 9 point spread, and also lost his bet.  This is Vegas: Go Bears, but win by no more than 8!

At the Venetian, a group sitting behind us were alumni and college administrators from Columbia University, who make  Las Vegas a regular stop every year for  this weekend, much as the March Madness crowd pinpoints the opening weekend for the college basketball tournament to sequester themselves in the sports books.

Villano describes the frat house environment for the games: the drinking, smoking, minimal attention to clothing or personal hygiene and near total obsession with the games (48 of them over 4 days!)  . 

The NFL weekend is pretty tame compared to this- only 4 games in two days (though I suspect the wagering per game was good bit higher for football than for the college hoops action).  But maybe the regulars at the NFL weekend did not mind the slightly more relaxed schedule that weekend. After all, the adult film industry was holding its award show that weekend, and the "talent" were all around the hotel before and after the awards show.  Talk about offensive holding.