from ESPN.comA few scenes from Las Vegas, the day after the game that mattered most:
Even at 8:30 in the a.m., practically midnight in Vegas, the Peppermill on Las Vegas Boulevard is packed. Enlarge
If I lived in Vegas, I'd eat at the Peppermill every day. In fact, while I was in Vegas, I did eat at the Peppermill every morning. Back in the day, the Mill was across the street from the Stardust. But after the last blue hair checked out and the Boyd Gaming bosses imploded the joint, a new megaresort was supposed to go up. It is halfway done and might never get any further. Stupid economy. Same is true on a lot of the plots surrounding the Peppermill. So now the little diner looks like some kind of holdout against half-built encroaching skyscrapers.
Before the Super Bowl, my buddy Matt and I ate there and talked in-game betting strategy. On Monday morning, I met with RJ Bell, the brains behind the sports betting info site Pregame.com. I love this site. Used it constantly during the football season. One of his contributing handicappers, VegasRunner, met us, too. He's a young guy from Philly with a street-smart way about him. He kept calling our waitress "sweetheart" and "baby," but with just enough warmth and familiarity that he didn't seem smarmy, and she seemed to appreciate the attention.
Over stick-to-the-spoon oatmeal and omelettes as big and fluffy as pillows, we talked about the game. VR won a very big bet off a Saints future play he made before the season, when they were 22-1. We talked about the gamblers who made seven-figure bets on the Colts' money line and how they must be feeling. Then we decided if they could afford to bet the money, they could afford to lose the money, so screw them. We talked about what separates successful, career wise guys from degenerates who go on good runs and still end up broke (discipline, being dispassionate). And we talked about how some of the books got killed on the Super Bowl props. I asked VR whether he was going to relax Monday, and he said, "It used to be that way. But now I've got to think about Kansas-Texas and West Virginia-Villanova for tonight. The Super Bowl is over, but the game never ends."
Then he picked up the check. He was the big winner.
I'm walking through the lobby at the Bellagio. In the middle is a giant stallion made of something shiny -- glass or diamonds or cubic. I can never get close enough to touch to find out for sure. Tourists are always surrounding the horse, taking pictures in front of it. All weekend, fans in football jerseys were walking around town, as if being in Vegas was the next best thing to being in Miami. Right now, a half-dozen Who Dats in Saints black and gold are clutching the horse, screaming and taking pictures.
I don't think they've been to their rooms since the game ended.
I'm stuck in my room, waiting for calls. I can see the pool. The weather is chilly, and one person is swimming. I try to change my flight from Tuesday to Monday, but the only option is a red-eye with a $500 change fee. Drat.
I hit the deli at the Hilton sports book and have lunch with the bookmaker there, Jay Kornegay. He eats half a steak sandwich but is disgusted. It's not the food. The day before was tough. There were a lot of Saints money line bets, meaning for New Orleans to win straight up. And on Sunday, a lot of money came in on New Orleans to cover the spread. And then there were the props. All the props the sports book needed to win it lost, like the under on two field goals of more than 33.5 yards and the under on Peyton Manning passing for more than 298.5 yards. Plus, handle was a bit down from the year before, because a lot of the Hilton's biggest bettors from the East Coast canceled their trips. Stupid snow.
As Kornegay wipes his fingers, on the TV over his shoulder Drew Brees is being interviewed from Disney World by ESPNEWS. The castle from the magic kingdom is in the background. At a table nearby, two guys -- white, mid-20s, baseball hats turned backward -- stuff sandwiches into their mouths. They're the only other people in the deli. On the table are college football future sheets with all the odds for which team will win the 2010 national title. "I think Notre Dame is a good value bet," one of them says.
When Kornegay puts down his napkin, he smiles and says, "Well, I guess it's on to March Madness."
Late afternoonBack in my room. Waiting on calls. I watch "SportsCenter." It shows fans in New Orleans lining up along the side of the road to greet the team. And it shows the odds for which team will win Super Bowl XLV. I'm tired of football right now, so I take a nap.
Vegas veteran wise guy Fezzik celebrates his $200,000 win of the Hilton's season-long handicapping contest by taking a bunch of Hilton bookmakers out to dinner. He invites me to come along. There are 11 of us at an old-school Vegas steakhouse that serves up portions as big as a hotel marquee.
Over the seafood platter appetizer, we talk about all the props the Hilton lost when Saints cornerback Tracy Porter picked off Manning and returned it for a touchdown: the longest touchdown in the game, whether Manning will throw an interception, there will be a defensive touchdown. Plus, it meant Manning got the ball back, giving him a chance to go over the 298.5 passing yards prop.
Over dinner, we talk about the greatest Vegas movies of all time, broken down into three categories: drama ("Casino," the original "Ocean's 11"), comedy ("The Hangover," "Honeymoon in Vegas"), gambling movie ("California Split," "Let it Ride").
And then, after our platters are cleared, Fezzik asks, "So, the Super Bowl futures are out. Who is everyone thinking about?"
The season has begun.
---RJ Bell: Best Bets | Free Picks | My Posts |My Blog |@TwitterCalled a "True Insider" by ESPNPick Virgins: $25 FREE! Buyers: 10% rebate!I am a Pregame.com Director of the Boards!
The Monday after Super Bowl XLIV, ESPN's sports gambling writer Chad Millman had breakfest with Vegas Runner and RJ Bell of Pregame.com at the old-school Peppermill (on the Vegas strip, across the street from where the Stardust used to be).See more Pregame.com pictures
Cool little article...I love listening to that guy Fezzik talk about games. I still have to give him shit when I thought the Miami/Florida State OVER play was a great bet at the start of this past college football season and he talked me out of it. Although he more than made up for it with the North Texas +17 and NT moneyline plays against Ball State and Cal over Maryland in that weekend as well. Thanks for posting the article RJ.
Good stuff RJ and VR....they only deal with the best...and that is what pregame is. BOL and keep showing the world where to come and learn...laugh...and make money.
Chad has been a real friend to Pregame.com!
All of our Super Bowl press has been compiled . . . we are very excited about all the new members - each one makes us smart . . . www.Pregame.com/press
RJ_BellChad has been a real friend to Pregame.com!