I’ve always been an online sports bettor. In my times in Vegas, I rarely went to a sportsbook and placed a bet or used a mobile app. I almost exclusively bet online, at offshore sportsbooks, even when visiting Sin City.
This past trip. I wanted to get more into the Vegas sportsbook experience. I went to several sportsbooks throughout my trip, but I ended up at the Cromwell for Sunday’s afternoon action. However, that wasn’t my plan from the start.
Waking Up Early
I’m usually up early on Sunday mornings during football season. I don’t get much sleep on Saturday evenings with all the sports betting and daily fantasy sports that I play each week. That’s when I am at home, and the first NFL action begins at 1 PM EST. In Vegas, it’s a bit of earlier wake-up, since the games start at 10 am.
That’s one thing that would drive me insane if I lived on the West Coast. Football, that early in the morning, it just doesn’t feel right.
Finding A Sportsbook
The co-worker I met in Vegas warned me that most seats would be filled in the sportsbooks by the times the games started. I should have taken him a bit more seriously because that’s precisely what happened when I went down to the Planet Hollywood sportsbook to sit down and place a few wagers. The place was packed. There weren’t any good seats.
I meandered along the Strip, checked out the William Hill “sportsbook” at Casino Royale, but that wasn’t much more than a kiosk and about 20 seats, that were all filled. I was running out of time to get some action down, so I popped into the Cromwell and saw some empty chairs in front of a big wall of televisions. The sportsbook was small, but I had a lovely seat with some giant TVs in front of me.
Getting Some Bets Down
I walked up to the kiosk to place a bet but was reminded that it would be better if I had a Total Rewards card. This is because betting tickets are tied to the Total Rewards card, so if you lose your ticket, there is still a record of the bet. I was already signed up for Caesar’s rewards program but didn’t have my card. I went back over to get a new card and to also hit up the ATM on my way back to the betting counter.
I had a few bets online but was especially interested in the L.A. Chargers at Jacksonville at +5.5 and the moneyline at +200. I also liked the Packers at Chicago at +4.5 and the moneyline at +190. My trip over to get my card and to grab some cash ended up costing me a half-point on the Chargers as they were now +5 instead of +5.5.
Still, it wasn’t near any key numbers, so I decided to plunk the money down. I joked with the guy at the counter that he cost me a half-point by recommending I get a player’s card. We both had a good laugh, and I took my tickets and sat down.
The Book Atmosphere
The Cromwell was a small place, and I had been informed that the sportsbook addition was a newer part of the casino. However, I got a seat much closer than I could of at any of the other sportsbooks I visited. I didn’t reserve a seat, which is something you should consider doing if want a place to watch the games on Sundays.
I was told to move twice as I was sitting in a reserved seat. Luckily, three seats weren’t reserved that day. Once again, I emphasize to get there early or reserve a seat at Vegas sportsbooks on Sundays. If not, you will have a bad view or not get a seat at all.
Anyway, after placing my bets, I got a few drink tickets. Which, by the way, are given to players who place wagers of at least $100 ($110 to win $100) at most sportsbooks. I got back to my seat, and the early set of games were set to kickoff.
Why Vegas Wins
I’m not a professional sports bettor. I was a professional poker player and sports bettor for a long time before I began writing gambling content, but these days I do it as side income that is worth in the low five figures for me, per year.
I am also relatively modest, but outgoing and enjoy talking to strangers, especially those with a common interest, such as sports betting. It shouldn’t shock you that the crowd at the Cromwell Sportsbook was nearly 100 percent men.
I was chatting with a few people in my section about the bets they had made that day. Few, if any, had placed a straight wager on an NFL side or total. Most had parlays of 3+ teams, and some had NFL games tied to pucklines that won the night before. They also bought points in spots where it didn’t make any sense.
There was a group of guys from Chicago who also bet a bunch on their hometown Bears. We had a little friendly back and forth as the Packers took control of the game and ended up not only covering the spread but winning outright
Anyway, sportsbooks win money, and the vast majority are losing bettors. I know this. However, I was still shocked at how -EV the bets were that everyone around me was making. The bets with the highest edges and the least chance to win in the long haul were the ones that everyone was betting.
They hit all of the NFL betting mistakes mentioned in this article, and then some. Indeed, it’s difficult to win money betting sports, but losing your shirt by playing right into the sportsbook’s hands is a different story.
Still, It Was A Good Day
I won most of my bets that day and four out of the five I placed at the Cromwell, including a halftime bet on the Packers, only losing the Chargers moneyline. In the end, I remembered that gambling and sports betting, first and foremost, is entertainment for most people.
Few people there looked like degenerates that were down to their last few dollars. The people I talked to were successful businessmen to a tradesmen, and all of them seemed to have their head on straight, except when it came to sports betting.
I was playing against a lot of square sides during the day, so when everyone else was shaking their heads or cursing a touchdown, I was cheering and vice-versa. I also tried to throw in some nuggets of sports betting wisdom, such as, “betting 6-team parlays might not be the ideal way to wager on football”, but for the most part I just focused on drinking some beers and having fun, and so did everyone else.