Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Ban Steve Wynn!! (Then figure out how to address his [very real] Vegas Legacy)

News hit yesterday that Nevada was considering banning former Casino Mogul Steve Wynn from the Casino Industry, for life.

As I understand it, this is NOT the same as putting him in the notorious 'black book' but making it impossible for him to ever receive a gaming license again.  He can walk into a Vegas Casino, he can just never own one, or be in management of one, again.

I'm OK with this.  In fact, I would support doing this.  Even IF things are as Mr. Wynn says and all of the sexual dalliances were "consensual" that doesn't take into account the boss/worker dynamic.  Where a person with whom your future employment lies asks you to do something you don't want to do, even without the implicit threat that you'll be fired, the prospect is always hanging over you like the sword of Damocles.  It's an impossible choice, a choice that's unfair to the salon attendants or the other workers that have come forward.

So yes, ban him for whatever years he has remaining.

Then let us all figure out just how we're going to address the issue of his Vegas legacy.

Because that legacy, as much as many want to deny it now, is real. The Mirage, Treasure Island and the Bellagio were all the result of the vision of Steve Wynn, as are the Wynn and the Encore now.  And it can be argued that the Mirage is the most important casino on the Strip, immediately after the Flamingo.  The Bellagio Fountains are the number one most important attraction on the Strip, and the most iconic.

Those are Steve Wynn's, like it or not. And his turning out to be a bad guy (shocker!) doesn't mean that we can wash that history away and pretend it doesn't exist.  Especially in Las Vegas, where all-around bad guy Bugsy Siegel is worshiped as a visionary, given statues and has restaurants named after him.

Moe Dalitz was named "Man of the Year" by several organizations for Chrissakes.

So, yeah, Sin City is going to have to figure out how to honor the legacy of yet another allegedly "bad guy". They should be used to it by now. The problem is I don't think society is going to romanticize the sexually-assaulting/rapey CEO's in future times like they romanticized the leg-breaking/shoot-em-up/cold blooded killing mobster. Mario Puzo ain't likely to write "The Executive" like he did "The Godfather".

So this is the first time that Las Vegas is going to have to come to terms with its history being written and forged by someone who is going to remain viewed in a negative light by most of the people who visit. People say they yearn for the days "when the mob was in charge" of Vegas, I don't think we'll see such yearning for "when the sexual assaulters were in charge".

That legacy is still there however, still glowing on the strip, volcano erupting, fountains putting on a show, only the pirate show at TI is no longer active.

How do you tell that story separate from the recent events and remain true, but still not leave out the bad stuff?  Las Vegas is going to have to figure that out.

Their track record for doing so is not, to be generous, all that stellar in this regard.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

College Football: The Week 7 FIVE

Last week was an awful, brutal, no-good, very bad week.

Last night started the comeback when I went 3-0 for the App State vs. U La La game.

App State +3
App State ML
u70

So, that's a good start.  I've got a few lines that I want to discuss for this weekend, and a couple of big games that I'm not touching but should make the viewing interesting at least.

1. Virginia (+2) @ Miami (FL) Miami has been somewhat of a disappointment this year, while Virginia has been a little bit better than the prognosticators thought.  People always seem to overrate Miami's home field advantage (I adjust them down 1.5 points on the normal 3 pt scale) Virginia's only loss is by 15 to a pretty good ND team, while Miami has lost to a really good Florida team, an OK UNC team and an awful Virginia Tech team.  I think Virginia pulls the upset here and I LOVE them at +2

2. Eastern Michigan (-1) @ Ball State This line opened at EMU +2 and I jumped on it. I think that's where the value was.  EMU always plays close games and I think they have more physical talent than a Ball State team that's in an identity crisis.  My numbers show them as a slight favorite. I think they get the mild, mild, no spice, upset here.

3. Cincinnati @ Houston o51.5 There's been a lot made about Cincinnati's defense of late, and they looked great against UCF, but Houston seems to have found something with their backup QB and removing some poison from the roster and I think you're going to see both teams score early and often. Cincinnati is a 7.5 favorite and, while I'm not enamored with that line (If anything I'd take Houston to cover) I do like the over here a LOT

4. Syracuse @ NC State u56 This week's candidate for "Conference Rock Fight" of the week, after last night's game, is this game against two teams that struggle offensively when they play good teams.  The Wolfpack's offense ran up some silly numbers playing bad teams, and then came crashing to the ground against.....Florida State.  I'd be surprised here if either team broke 20 on their own.

5. Mississippi State (-7) @ Tennessee This game is a "run away" game for me, but it will be interesting to see if the Vols show up to play. The Bulldogs are not a good team, they're benefiting from the SEC overate factor this year, but the Vols have been abysmal.  I think they're playing for Pruitt's job on Saturday.


Red River Shootout:

Oklahoma (-10) vs. Texas (Game played in the Cotton Bowl) 75.5

This is one of the best rivalry games in the country and it's usually pretty close. Historically 10 points is a LOT of points either way, especially since we're not entirely sure what Oklahoma is, but I'll be tuning into it despite not wanting to get anywhere near the betting window for it.


Florida @ LSU -13.5    55.5

Probably the game of the week (Sorry Aggies) and a game that I just cannot see LSU winning by more than a touchdown.  That said, I've been wrong about Florida almost every week this season so it's a pass for me, but this is another game I'll be watching.  Death Valley in the evening is one of the better college football environments there is.


Teams in which I have a rooting interest:


UNLV @ Vanderbilt -14.5     57

I think Rebel head coach Tony Sanchez is on death watch here, and I think a Vandy blowout will just about do it for him.  Freshman QB Kyle Oblad is starting, but I think Vandy is going to run them into the ground.

Michigan -22.5 @ Illinois     49

After last week's rock fight against Iowa Wolverine head coach Jim Harbaugh said he thought the offense was "hitting it's stride".  They scored 10 points in that game which could mean that "It's stride" is little more than cowering in a corner peeing itself.  Nothing matters for the Wolverines except for Sparty and tOSU now so let's just get this win and move on.


Good luck to you however you choose to bet, or don't bet. 

Friday, October 4, 2019

Pro-Football: The NFL 3 & OUT

The NFL lines in Vegas, and other books, are notoriously tight.  The new way of thinking is that not even the sharpest of bettors can make a sustained profit betting into them.  Despite this, they still take a ton of public money.  While I call this blog "The Public Money" that doesn't mean that I want to bet like the public. Nor do I necessarily want to bet like a "Sharp", a term in sports betting that I believe is becoming very misused.

As the legalized sports betting model matures, talking about the market is expanding at a rapid pace, with little history, or fact-checking, or even independent observations, to fact-check it.  I've a feeling that there are bettors being called "sharp" who really aren't, who might have had some small-sample sized runs but who really aren't all that sharp at all.

At times, I think someone might be considered 'sharp' by a commentator because they've taken a position against "the public".  A REAL sharp would understand that, many times, the public gets it right and betting with them is not all that bad of an idea. The myth that there's a "sharp" side and a "public" side to every game is just not all that accurate.

On to the games.

1. Chicago -4.5 (In London) The old adage is that if you take the favorite, you're on the "Public's side". I disagree with this. I think being "sharp" means getting the best of the line, and making a smart bet.  The public is going to be all over the Bears here, but they're going to be betting them at -5.5 (currently) or even at -6.5 which is where I think the line might settle. -4.5 was available at the open, and I snagged it. I'll be surprised if the game finishes even close to this.  However, if the line moves across a key there will be a decent arbitrage opportunity coming back on the Raiders.

2. Arizona Cardinals vs. Cincinnati Bengals u47. When we last saw the Bengals they were laying an offensive egg against the Steelers on MNF. Admittedly, they get in easier against the Arizona Cardinals but neither team does much in the way of scoring.  Think 17-16 or something along those lines. The bottom line is these are two bad teams teeing it up on Sunday.

3. New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins o42 - It's not that I think the Redskins can score on the Patriots, I honestly think the Patriots might cover this line on their own.  Still watching though to see if it moves down any more than it currently is.  If it moves up, I'm out on it and will look elsewhere.


Other games of interest:

Atlanta vs. Houston o49 - Two not very good offensive teams but the problem is what offensive strengths they have, play into the weaknesses of the other's defense. I can make a strong case for this game being a track meet, but it could also be one of the worst games of the week.

Baltimore vs. Pittsburgh u44.5 Currently I think this is a tight line that might take some money and loosen up a little oddly enough. I think the public is still in love with the Raven's offense and the Steeler's performance against Cincy might bring in the Sunday money.

Buccaneers vs. Saints o46.5 I could make a case where points are plentiful in this one. A pretty strong case.

College Football: The Week 6 FIVE

Continuing with the new format:

FIVE things I'm considering this week, or find interesting.

1. Iowa +5.5 - If you're reading this, you missed this line and I'm sorry. It's already been bet down to +3.5 as the sharps confidence in Michigan has rightly taken a nose dive.  I've downgraded Michigan on offense AND defense and given Iowa's numbers I think this is a FG game, at best.  You might still find some value in Iowa ML (currently at +145) but the prime opportunity in this game has been scrubbed from the market.

2. Auburn -3 Yet another "SEC game of the century" that I think is going to result in a blowout.  The line has "crept" up to -3.5 and I really don't think it's going to move much further.  My guess is that you'll see some people taking the hook and backing Florida.  My thought is that the Gators are still overrated this year and while I do believe their current QB is an upgrade over Franks, I think Auburn has to much and wins this by a couple of TDs.

3. Vanderbilt +7.5 Currently sitting at +7, I think the Commodores have a real shot to pull an upset over Ole Miss here.  The Rebels program is in deep rebuilding mode after the Freeze era, and they're just as likely to pull a stinker of a game as they are to play competently and win.  I think Vandy keeps it close, with a real chance to shock some people.

4. Texas -10.5 I'm not entirely sure why this line has not moved since it opened, but I think the analysis of this game is pretty simple. The Longhorns are a much better team than West Virginia right now and I believe that the final score will reveal this.

5. Illinois +14 What attracted me to this line?  While undefeated, Minnesota has not beaten a team by more than 7 points all year, not even South Dakota State. While I operate under no illusions that Illinois is good, I do think they're at least as good as SDS and should be able to keep this fairly close with a defense that can contain the Golden Gophers and an offense that could possibly even score a little.

Last week I went 2-2 on the FIVE, deciding to NOT take Arizona when the line did not move the way I thought it would.  It was a middling day and I'm hoping for something much better this weekend. 

One thing though, as the season matures and the books get tighter and tighter with their lines, I'll probably be moving to totals almost exclusively soon.  I still think there are cases where the books just spit the bit a little, especially with the smaller teams, but often at the middle-to-bottom of the Power 5 conferences as you see today.

For the NFL I'm (almost) ALL totals now, which you'll see in an upcoming post.

Good luck however you wager the games, I have nothing on board for the two games this evening, nor did I have anything on the two last night.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Planning a Vegas Trip: What stays, what goes?

It's always a problem.

Mrs. TPM and I have a Vegas trip coming fairly soon, and we're already having the problem of trying to fit too much into too small of a time frame.

Details: We're planning for 5 nights, 6 days which includes a hotel transfer after night 2 to another location, on the other side of town.  We'll be checking in to Golden Gate on Wednesday, and then moving to Silverton on Friday until we leave on Monday, late afternoon.

Usually this is pretty easy, we've done it a Million times before, albeit usually our movement is from either Downtown to the Strip or, more likely, from the Strip to Downtown.  Given that I've all but abandoned the Las Vegas Strip, except for The Cosmopolitan, Venetian, and TI, the logistics of this trip are slightly different.

Plans: We have several, including:

1. Play at Golden Gate and The D
2. Play Video Poker at 4 Queens
3. Plat slots and Video Poker at El Cortez
4. Eat at The Smashed Pig
5. Eat at Grotto
6. Eat at Evel Pie
7. Visit Oak & Ivy to try their new Fall Cocktail menu
8. Visit the new "Whiskey Liquor Up!" bar (???)
9. Go to the SDSU/UNLV college football game on Saturday evening/
10. Spend Saturday at a sports book.
11. Visit the Conservatory at Bellagio
12. See the Bellagio Fountains
13. Get some play in at The Cosmopolitan
14. Watch the Vegas Golden Knights play on Friday
15. Visit Crown & Anchor
16. Watch the Golden Knights play at Born and Raised on Sunday
17. Watch the NFL Sunday at a Sports book
18. Visit South Point
19. Visit M Resort
20. Have Bloody Mary's at the Venetian
21. The Hog & 2Cent Group Pull

Tentatively. our plans are as follows.

Wednesday Night: (We arrive in Vegas at 2:00(ish) PM)

We'll take our limo to the Golden Gate, get checked in, and immediately go out and grab a bite at the BBQ Project Food truck. I might also grab some coneys at All American Coney, before we head out toplay VP at The Long Bar, 4 Queens, and probably El Cortez before heading over to Oak & Ivy prior to swinging by Downtown Grand on the way back, before finishing the night at Golden Gate.

Thursday:  

Tentative plans are for this to be our Strip day.  Prior to that, we'll have lunch at Grotto and then we'll head first to the new Sahara and the STRAT to take advantage of some free play and birthday deals, then over to Bellagio to see the Conservatory. After that we'll stop and grab tacos and secret pizza at Cosmo. We'll then watch the Thursday Night College and Pro football games at the Cosmo Sports Book while I'm playing VP.  We'll play some slots, and then head back to downtown to finish the night with the Hog & 2Cent group pull and more VP at the Long Bar at the D and Golden Gate

Friday:

Here's where some things are going to have to go.  We considered scheduling our limo ride for 1PM from Golden Gate to Silverton, before heading over to Crown & Anchor to watch the Knights play Colorado. Unfortunately, that's not going to work.  So we've rescheduled our limo to 2:30, which will allow us to stop by Evel Pie before hand, and will also allow the limo driver to stop by the Bellagio Fountains so we can see them.  Once we get to Silverton we'll go watch the end of the Knights game at one of their bars.  Then we might head over to M Resort and possibly grab dinner at the Italian joint there.

Saturday:

The plan is to still watch College Football at a Sports Book, but we might go over to Green Valley Ranch to do so before heading to Sam Boyd Stadium around 6:30 for a 7:30 kick-off.  We've never been to Sam Boyd, so this will be both our first and last time visiting.  After that we'll get a ride back to Silverton where we'll spend the rest of the evening playing slots and video poker.

Sunday:  

The original plan was to visit South Point for NFL football, and we still might, but given how packed it gets we might divert over to M Resort before going to Born and Raised to watch the Golden Knights play on Sunday.  Ourside of Born and Raised, food plans on this day are iffy, but we'll figure it out.

Monday:  

The bittersweet leaving day.  Our car will come at 2:00PM so we'll spend the morning having Bloody Mary and Starbuck's therapy at Silverton, grab some lunch from there, and then head out to fly from home.

Due to work schedules and other issues, this will be our last Vegas trip of the year, and will probably be the last one for at least six months. I doubt we go back again until Mid-April of 2020, if then.  So it's going to be a while before we visit the Venetian, I get a Scotched egg from Crown & Anchor, and several of the things we WANT to do we're just not going to have the chance TO DO.

Such is life on a Vegas trip.  There are so many things to see and do that you have to pick and choose them as you go along.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Casino Game Shaming: It's Time for This to Die.

In the final analysis, gambling, is a losing proposition on almost every game in the casino.  Yes, there are some games where, if you spend the time developing your skill, you might be able to squeak out a .5% advantage over the house (counting cards in blackjack for example) or, you MIGHT be able to find a "full-pay" video poker machine that provides you with a less than 1% edge if played PERFECTLY. You might even be an above-average poker player who sits down to a table and has an edge over suckers, or a "sharp" sports bettor who has a solid algorithm.

You might.

Each of these things takes many hours of practice and no small amount of skill. Hours and mathematical skill that, quite frankly, not all of us possess.

For the average gambler, in any given casino, the hard facts are this:

You're playing a negative expectation game and your money is really a fee for entertainment. In the long run, you're going to lose.  They don't build these casinos on the backs of winning gamblers after all. Going broke owning a casino is more an example of horrible business acumen than it is a sustained run of bad luck. Winning in a casino is mostly luck. (and a little math)

That being said, your goals on any gambling trip should be:

1. To have fun.
2. To make your bank roll last for you to have more fun.

With that in mind, let's talk about the return of an old gambling trend that needs to die out immediately:  Game shaming.

You see it pop up on gambling forums, Twitter (where everything bad seems to metastasize) and other various forms of social media.

Take a picture of you making a side bet on BlackJack?  Shame on you.  There will be legions of comments, twitsponses and "experts" telling you this was a bad bet.

Video yourself playing video poker and you make an incorrect hold?  Jerk. You will be told that you suck at gambling and you should never play again.

Play the Big 6 Wheel because you enjoy it?  "You realize that game has the worst odds in the casino right?"

The fact that there are bad games in any casino should not surprise you.  Triple Zero Roulette anyone? What should surprise you is that there has developed legions of "fun police" whose sole job it is to scour the Internet for people playing games, making bets, or holding cards with which they do not approve and actively scolding them for it.

And, you know what?  It's time for this to stop.

The first (and most important) reason is this:  When people scold you for playing bad games what they're really saying is that you don't like the things they do and that makes them angry.

The money you are putting down on a table, or playing in a machine, is YOUR money, not theirs. If they don't want to play those games or make those bets then let them do it with their money, not yours.

If you want to make the side-bet on blackjack, then make the damn side-bet on blackjack. If you want to play $20 on the Big 6 wheel, then play $20 on the Big 6 wheel. As long as you know the odds and understand the holds involved, then have at it. If other people don't like it then they're free to play the games they do like on their own dime.

I've been guilty of this. Specifically, calling out people for playing a bad pay-table on VP.  But, after thinking about it, I've stopped doing that. Because sometimes you just play the pay-table that's available, and you live with it. If you get lucky and hit 4OAK then it really doesn't matter if the pay-table is 9/6 DDB, 9/5 DDB, 8/5 DDB or even 7/5 DDB (which is ALL OVER the Las Vegas Strip at the quarter level.)

What matters is that you're having fun.

This doesn't mean that I won't TELL people the correct hold, or talk to them about pay tables, IF ASKED. Of course I will. But if they don't want to know then I don't want to tell them. I congratulate them on their win, or having fun, and I move on.

I LOATHE 3-zero Roulette and would never play it myself. I feel the same way about 6:5 Blackjack. But I've NEVER chided someone in person, or online, for playing the same.

And neither should you.

It's OK to call out casinos when they put these awful games on the floor.  The 4Queens casino, which I like and enjoy playing at, got rightly roasted online when they installed a 3-zero Roulette machine and advertised it as "giving the players more chances to win". You SHOULD call out a casino every time they make the odds worse. If you care about those things you should refuse to play the games. I, for one, will not play 6:5 blackjack and I'll inform the casinos, in person and on-line, that I won't.

But what I won't do is call out individual players for playing these games.  Especially if they'r having fun.

Because gambling should be FUN.  Unless you're a pro, and that's a different matter altogether.

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