Last week, for the second year in a row, I went to Vegas for the opening weekend of the NCAA Tournament. I could not recommend putting this on your bucket list enough. It is a sports fan and gambling addicts heaven. Four straight days of games upon games. Sports books filled to max capacity. People from around the world coming to Vegas. The sheer level of bullshit spread around, like how the MEAC is a stronger conference than people give it credit for is worth the trip.
Even if you’re not a sports fan or into gambling it is worth going for the spectacle. It is the busiest weekend of the year for Vegas and a people watching delight. The Strip can get a little overwhelming this weekend as prices skyrocket and a lot of sports books will charge you to be able to watch the games. A little tip, if you’re really invested in watching as many games as possible, then check out downtown Vegas aka Old Vegas. It is easier to get around, less crowded, and the drinks and food are amazingly cheap. $2.50 20oz beers made me feel like I was back in South Bend, IN for the weekend. Downtown isn’t as sexy as the Strip, but during the day it is a much more enjoyable experience having done both during this weekend. Plus there is a bus that takes you right into the strip at night and since the PT means that all games are over by 9pm that still leaves plenty of night to get into some crazy adventures.
It is such an exciting weekend that I’m already thinking/planning next year’s trip. Anyone interested in joining let me know. But it is not an itinerary that I’m making, no the more pressing issue is creating a March Madness Gambling Manifesto. As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn from losing a three team parlay are doomed to repeatedly lose money.” Or something like that.
Here it is, Part One of my March Madness Gambling Manifesto.
1. Don’t do more than Two Team parlays unless it all money line bets on heavy favorites.
I only won one big parlay, a six-teamer involving Louisville, MSU, Michigan, Villanova, Wisconsin, and Syracuse all on the money line. I put down a $100 to win $41. And as Louisville was down 2 with two minutes to go I realized that the risk was not worth the reward. Thank God for Luke Hancock and his huge balls.
2. Take the Points in Round One. I still call it round one. Fuck that Round 2 BS.
It is very difficult for any team to win by 20 or more points. I realized this last weekend. The favorites tend to be giving way to many points to these teams that no one has heard of before. These underdogs usually come out aggressive and surprise these heavy favorites, which leads to our first addendum.
2a. Take the points in the first half of the first round.
As I said these dogs come out really aggressive. Even the favorites that did cover typically did it by running away in the second half, ala Wisconsin who beat American by 40 points, yet was up only 10 at half.
3. Take the favorites in Round 2
Everything flips in the second round. A top seed that might have struggled in the first round and failed to cover ends up not giving enough points to a team that is still not in the same class. Ala Florida over Pitt, Louisville over St. Louis, Virginia over Memphis, and Michigan over Texas.
4. If the game is close at halftime, then take the 2nd half over.
The free throw game typically ends up pushing these games into the over. Plus in close games a lot of threes get exchanged towards the end of the game.
4a. If the game is a blowout at half, then take the under.
The team ahead will rest its players toward the end of the game and the team behind will end up doing the same in order to get Seniors into the game. The last few minutes end up being a sloppy, slow dribbling showcase.
5. Bet big on bad lines.
There are three lines that I knew were bad and I really wish I bet more money on them. One was Wisconsin -4.5 in the second half against American. They were up 10 at half, but had a bad shooting half and had only scored 28 points. UW has been much improved on offense this season and they usually score at least 70, which means they were due for at least 40 in the second. Anyone who watched American’s anemic offense could see there was no way they were going over 20 points in the second half, let alone 30. It was basically like stealing, yet I only put $30 to win $27.30. My lack of balls cost me money I would later need.
The other two were Witchita St. giving only 16.5 to Cal Poly, by fart the worst team in the field, having gone into it’s conference tourney at 10-19 before winning three straight and then the play-in game. Every other one seed was giving at least 20.5 this was just total disrespect to the Shockers.
And third was Iowa St giving only 8.5 to NC Central. A team that is capable of dropping 100 in any given game should be giving 10.5 at least and really should’ve been closer to 15. I won a lot of money on these three teams in various bets, but it should’ve been so much more.
6. Stay away from games you’re unsure about.
The atmosphere of the opening weekend makes you feel the pressure to put some action on every single game. Fight this urge, it will cost you money. I put three different bets on Oklahoma, one in the first half, one in the game, and a third in a parlay to cover the spread and the over. I did all of this because I had North Dakota St in my bracket and realized I did not know anything about them. But I knew even less about Oklahoma. This game had stay away written all over it, yet I bet big on it anyway. Stupid.
7. Put $5 or $10 on the money line for every 14 and 15 seed, unless you’re absolutely positive that the favorite will win.
7a. Cap the total you bet on these dogs at $50.
The odds are very high for all of these teams and the trend seems to be that one of them wins each year. This year it was Mercer at +2000. If you hit on one of them it more than makes up for the losses of the rest. It is a low risk, high reward bet.
8. Parlay NBA favorites on the money line.
8a. Just make sure to wager the same amount of money on each bet.
I made three such parlays last weekend. One for $30, another for $50, and a third for $100. I picked 11 of 12 games right in these bets, but guess which bet had the one losing team. Yep, the $100 one. Even worse, the team that blew it for me was none other than the hated Miami Heat when they lost to the Pelicans last Saturday.
I started betting on NBA games cause watching a bunch of teenagers miss free throws, make dumb turnovers, and shoot forced/ill-advised shots that all cost me money was driving me crazy. I needed to put some money on professionals whom are much more reliable and consistent. I highly recommend mixing some NBA bets in there, it will help with the stress.
There you have it. My March Madness Gambling Manifesto, so far…