Table of Contents
By Alex Lauzon from the “Course of Life” podcast
Chasing Winners on the Vegas Strip
I did it. No, surely I didn’t take down the house or hit the jackpot that changed the course of my weekend as we all hope upon arrival in Vegas, but I survived 72 hours on the strip playing everything under the sun and I even brought back some of the money I came with. As for the sports wagering, I unintentionally was treated to a plethora of action all week that would have any degenerate gambler in heaven for a brief period of time. That is until a loser hits you in the face.
In the early days of Las Vegas, sportsbooks were a distant afterthought to the dozens of more popular games on the casino floor or the endless rows of slots at your disposal for easy money-wasting. Now, as we’re seeing record sports wagering numbers from states that have recently legalized it, the secret is out and Vegas is way more sportsbook-friendly than you last remember it. So I took it upon myself to operate a self-guided tour of the Vegas sportsbook scene in search of winners wherever I could find them.
The Array of Books
Fate and our logistical plans had me staying at the Westgate, home of the infamous Las Vegas Superbook. You’ve probably heard of it by name, but seeing it with your own eyes gives it a whole new meaning. The Superbook is laid out with hundreds of the comfiest chairs you can imagine, but the real star of the show is the 220 FOOT WIDE LED video wall display. The left 20% is packed with every horse race track’s action you imagine, and the rest is filled with every Live sport under the sun. A TV is never out of place or showing the wrong game, and it’s managed like the most efficient sports bar you know. You’ll never ask for a channel, you’ll just head to the window and keep playing. For a sports fan heading to Vegas, the Westgate may not have the panache of a strip hotel but it was the viewing experience you crave. I once counted seven different sports being projected at the same time – glorious.
If you’re staying ON the Vegas Strip, the nicest books I visited were at Caesars properties – both the Linq and The Caesars Palace sportsbooks are loaded with TVs for any-time viewing, and much more centralized to the casino floor action to give that big game energy and feel to any wager. For the Downtowners and Fremont Street fanatics, the play these days is clearly the CIRCA. It’s home to Stadium Swim, a wonderful combination of mega outdoor sportsbook and Vegas pool party all in one venue. Once your wagers get red hot you can cool yourself down in your own private swimming area – it’s Vegas luxury at its finest for sports fans.
Early Bird Gets the Worm
If you’re not used to west coast living and the time difference, consider this your warning before touching down next time in Vegas to cash some winners. Baseball matinees and horse races get going at 10 am PT, so plan accordingly with your recklessness the night before if you have your eyes on some daytime plays to boost your itinerary. Furthermore, this trickles over into the evening, where “primetime” games get going in the 4:00 hour. What I found is a good rhythm of two betting windows to get accustomed to; the 9 am walkup for early day plays, and then a 3 pm visit to secure your wagers for the night. Then you let the Vegas night take you wherever it chooses.
Thrill of Victory, Agony of Defeat
When you make sports bets in Vegas, they just hit differently. It has to be a mixture of the intense watching atmosphere and the physical act of walking to the window and holding your ticket that gives it that extra juice. So when winners hit they are beautiful, and the losers seem to sting about 20% harder than your normal loss on the couch at home.
My Vegas high was the very last wager I placed on Kentucky Derby Day – figures, right? I walked away a winner as Up to the Mark got it done in the Kentucky Derby turf classic, aka the race before the big one. The moment the horse crossed the line was pure euphoria. As the collective groans and sighs hit across the room of players that had EVERY other horse, your celebration seems to ring twice as loud throughout the room. Head to the window, we’ve got a winner!
As for the losers, they came in droves across every sport, but not enough to ruin the trip by any means. What I will say is it’s a lot better in Vegas to be immediately losing a game like the Devils did 6-1 on the ice – I didn’t even waste my time watching periods two and three of that as the strip was calling. In the end, the only redeeming quality of a losing bet is you get the satisfaction of ripping up the ticket once it’s decided. There’s always another play to make around the corner.
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