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My Sports Bucket List: Reviewing the Madness of Las Vegas for the First Weekend of March Madness

A panorama shot of Cosmopolitan Hotel's Brera Ballroom set up for the NCAA March Madness viewing parties.

A panorama shot of Cosmopolitan Hotel’s Brera Ballroom set up for the NCAA March Madness viewing parties.

I once told a fiancée that I could never get married during the month of June. Me…in a church…on some weekend during NCAA March Madness? Total deal-breaker!!!

(And yes, folks, to this day, Flaming Bag of Poo remains single. This may come as no surprise to Poo’s readers. But that should come as a welcome relief to all NFL cheerleaders and Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover models–there’s still hope for you!)

Sports Illustrated cover girls still have hope.

Sports Illustrated cover girls still have hope.

I even have a buddy who joins our March Madness group in Las Vegas each year, even though the tournament usually falls on his wedding anniversary. (Yes, folks, he’s now happily divorced.)
That is the power and madness of March Madness.

Planning one day to meet your friends in Las Vegas to watch the men’s college basketball tournament??? First, you better follow Flaming Bag of Poo’s Tips For Enjoying NCAA March Madness. Consider this your March Madness scouting report (Vegas style).

First tip: Don’t go the very first weekend of the tournament!!!

Second tip: Do go to the very first weekend of the tournament! (Well, at least once.)

Why the paradox, you ask? (Flaming Bag of Poo’s readers are smart enough to know the definition of a “paradox”.)

Because it’s not easy. Nothing is ever easy in Vegas.

(Except for making the drunken Midwest chick who broke off from a bachelorette party because she was getting jealous of the obviously less-attractive bride who managed to land a doctor for a groom.)

drunk-young-woman-las-vegas

For as long as I can remember—and when the drinks are flowing, you can’t remember long—I head out to Las Vegas for March Madness.

march-madness_616

During the second weekend for the “Sweet Sixteen” and the “Final Eight”, I knew every Las Vegas sports books like the back of my hand.

• Thursday & Friday’s “Sweet Sixteen” games start at 4:15pm PST, so arrive at the sports book no later than 2:30pm PST to grab a seat.

• Saturday’s “Final Eight” games start at 1:30pm PST, so drag your hungover butt to the sports book no later than 11:30am.

• Sunday’s “Final Eight” games start at 11:30am PST, so drag your remaining troops to the sports book by 9:30am while the casualties tried to get some sleep before the 11:00am hotel check-out.

I even had my prime casino spots for that second weekend of the tournament. (But Flaming Bag of Poo won’t list them, because I don’t want you getting to the sports book ahead of me and my crew!)

But for 2013, the second weekend coincided with Easter weekend. We assumed that all the fun Catholic sports chicks would stay home for Easter, so we decided to check out the first weekend of the tournament for once.

The first weekend of March Madness is supposedly the second busiest weekend of the year. Everyone wants to be inside a sports book. Hence the problems.

1. Expect a sausage fest. sausage display

2. Expect casinos to reserve all the best seats for actual VIPs and high rollers.

3. Expect restaurants and casinos to charge ridiculous prices to watch the games at their “parties”—and then find out that the entrance fee doesn’t even guarantee you a good seat.

4. Expect to stand…for all twelve hours worth of games.

5. Expect to arrive a couple hours before the first tip-off just to find a place to stand.

6. Expect douche bags to arrive earlier than you and attempt to hold seats for all their other douche bags buddies who slept in.

7. Expect really slow, really long, lines for the sports book betting windows because the newbies are asking the attendants how place parlays and first-half betting.

8. Expect more smoke than most firemen experience on a daily basis.

9. Expect a sausage fest! (Yes, Poo knows he has mentioned this before. But seriously, where were all the hot girls who claim to fill out their brackets just as much as guys?)

sausage display

I found the previous year’s schedule of fun March Madness viewing parties in the Las Vegas Sun.

Las Vegas Sun

http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/mar/19/events-guide-march-madness-viewing-parties-2013/

This proved quite handy, since many events’ tickets sold-out before visitors arrived into Las Vegas. I bought tickets to Cosmopolitan’s “Hoops & Hops” Saturday viewing party in the Brera Ballroom. I kept telling my buddies that Cosmopolitan would have a good demographic…considering the bevy of beauties that always stay at Cosmopolitan.

For Thursday and Friday, we tried other casino sports books. We arrived in town 9:00am Thursday right before the first tip off. We went straight to the biggest sports book—Las Vegas Hotel & Casino (LVH) off-strip. Formerly the Las Vegas Hilton. They even had a 1,500 seat theater showing the games.

Ridiculous. So packed. Standing room early this early? The line for betting was more than 150 people long. The theater was full. Tons of dudes, with a handful of women wearing sports jerseys thinking that makes them look slimmer. We left LVH before the first TV timeout.

Throughout the next 24 hours, we tried unsuccessfully to find a good sports book to sit down and watch the games. Everywhere was standing room only. Even on Friday when we hit the sports books before 7:00am. Venetian, Mirage, Mandalay, Caesars, MGM Grand.

Venetian sports book - at midnight.  Because during the game, from this same spot, you could never see the TV screens over the crowd.

Venetian sports book – at midnight. Because during the game, from this same spot, you could never see the TV screens over the crowd.

We finally went off-strip to Rio, where at least the drinks were free that day. I was nice to a VIP sitting alone in his booth, and he let me sit at the edge of his booth while my other buddies stood. The Rio waitresses there are really nice, but they were few and far between—unless you were a VIP. The screens at Rio are barely better than my home living room.

Hoops Hops signage3

While picking up our “Hoops & Hops” tickets at Cosmopolitan Will Call on Friday, we heard that the general admission tickets wouldn’t guarantee you a seat. So we made plans to get up extra early on Saturday and wait in line.

This is how we looked after a two-hour nap in between the poker room and getting in line at Cosmopolitan.

This is how we looked after a two-hour nap in between the poker room and getting in line at Cosmopolitan.

How early you ask? (OK, I’ll reveal this secret tip, since I have no plans to do this again next year.) Flaming Bag of Poo and his buddies were at the front of the line outside the Brera Ballroom by 5:30am.

The guys behind us in line for "Hoops & Hops".

The guys behind us in line for “Hoops & Hops”.

(Yes, waiting in line early did result in our choice of prime non-VIP tables inside, so it was totally worth the effort).

Brera signage

When you're the first one to get inside, you get a chance to take these really cool shots of the set-up.

When you’re the first one to get inside, you get a chance to take these really cool shots of the set-up.

View of the central bar.

View of the central bar.

I tip my hat off to Cosmopolitan’s “Hoops & Hops”. For the $40 general admission fee, Cosmopolitan provides the best venue for the tournament.

Hoops Hops 6

Hoops Hops 03

A readily accessible bar.

Hoops Hops 01

Although we weren’t big fans of the choice of craft brew beers (3???). Nor the limited selection of food.

Hoops Hops menu

But Holsteins isn’t too far of a walk across the Cosmopolitan casino, and you could phone-in your order and bring any Holstein food or drink (much better beer selection) back into the Brera Ballroom.

“Hoops & Hops” even had a basketball hoop to shoot from!

Flaming Bag of Poo's textbook form!

Flaming Bag of Poo’s textbook form!

The seats, couches, and stools were all very comfortable. They offer six huge screens—plus at least 20 more good-size screens.

Hoops Hops board

And if you wanted to splurge for one of the VIP couch areas, you had at least three screens to yourself—plus a gaming system if the basketball games were blowouts.

Hoops Hops 04

Viewing the VIP area beside the basketball hoop.

Viewing the VIP area beside the basketball hoop.

Fortunately, there was also a Cantor betting window right outside the ballroom.

Cantor betting line

Flaming Bag of Poo's NCAA betting tip - take the offensive-minded favorites to cover the first-half spreads in their first game.

Flaming Bag of Poo’s NCAA betting tip – take the offensive-minded favorites to cover the first-half spreads in their first game.

And the women?!?!

Negatee-VO! A bigger flop than Georgetown against Florida Gulf Coast. Cosmopolitan didn’t even supply “Hoops & Hops” with hardly any female servers. None scantily clad.

The home team at the Cosmopolitan.

The home team at the Cosmopolitan.

Who wants to order cocktails from male servers that look like they moonlight at Chippendales?

Steerhead

Perhaps Flaming Bag of Poo’s expectations were too unrealistic for the first weekend in Las Vegas. Yes, it was madness. But not a good madness.

Maybe again? Maybe never!

This guy had never placed a sports bet until we corrupted him that weekend!

This guy had never placed a sports bet until we corrupted him that weekend!

(03/28/13)

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About Flaming Bag of Poo

An un-safe place where sports, entertainment, and pop culture converge. Flaming Bag of Poo...A rather unique blog. Because sometimes you're on fire. (But most of the time, you just plain stink!) ------ Creator of the blogs FLAMING BAG OF POO and I SELL UNICORNS.

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