In case you didn’t hear the big news earlier this week — the old miser dropped out of the stadium deal. That places the NFL’s Oakland Raiders-to-Las Vegas move in serious jeopardy.
So, what’s next?
Sheldon Adelson, the cantankerous fat cat who supposedly pledged $650 million from his vast fortune estimated at worth more than $32 billion — for him, what amounts to an old set of golf clubs sitting out in the garage — backed out of an agreement with Raiders’ owner Mark Davis and the City of Las Vegas, the third partner in the complicated business deal. Adelson’s involvement (actually, his money — nobody really cared much if he showed at the meetings) was essential to the construction of a new stadium, expected to be built near The Strip and could have been ready just in time for kickoff for the 2020 NFL regular season. Adelson’s role in the agreement was like the rich family uncle who everyone despises. But you don’t want to piss him off because there might be something in the will, later on. Without a new stadium, which required Uncle Adelson’s money to build, the Raiders deal was, and remains, dead.
Adelson cutting and running when his help (money) was needed most reveals a pettiness not even his most vocal critics would have expected. To be clear, Adelson’s financial contribution could have been a remarkable testament to his appreciation to this city and its people. For many, even his detractors, it might have transformed his spotty reputation from a casino mogul and political reactionary who’s not particularly well-liked by many in this community into something of a local civic hero. Yet, when time came to buy into the game and write out the marker, Adelson scootered away from the table faster than a busted gambler at one of his craps tables.
Now, the partnership is $650 million short. More pressing, the clock on the stadium deal is ticking and could go kaput, as early at March 1st. Somebody needs to step in and reach deep into their pockets — and fast. Reportedly, the MGM-Grand folks were open to stepping in and riding to the rescue as our savior. However, negotiations quickly collapsed. Unless David Copperfield can magically make a half a billion in cash appear, that deal’s not happening. Other powerful casino interests could be interested. But the last time anyone checked, Caesars Entertainment had $17.43 in the bank.
What’s puzzling to me is — why do football stadiums cost so much goddamned money? Does Las Vegas — or any other city where are schools desperately cry out for renovation and roads and bridges need improvement — really need to squander $2 billion on a mega-sports arena that hosts on the average just ten ball games a year? Assuming the Raiders were to remain in Las Vegas for the next 30 years, that would come out to about $6.7 million per game, and that doesn’t even include the cost of upkeep and maintenance.
Inexplicably, stadiums have become the new cathedrals of modern civilization. Sunday worship isn’t much of a church thing anymore. Now, it’s a football thing. What the Sistine Chapel and Notre Dame were to the peasantry centuries ago, today the Superdome and Jerry’s World assume that same spiritual and financial ambiance. Indeed, churches have lots in common with the NFL. Both cause brain damage and then demand that taxpayers pay for everything.
Here’s my idea: Screw Adelson. Screw the MGM. Let’s slum it and build the stadium for $1.35 billion. Wouldn’t that work? Wouldn’t that be enough? Must every pro football stadium look like a giant UFO? Can’t we throw down some seeds, water the grass, construct a few grandstands, and enjoy the game? Didn’t natural-grass stadiums filled with real fans minus all the sky boxes and sponsor-driven hoopla work pretty damn well for six decades? Didn’t pro football become America’s true national pastime because games were played in authentic arenas like Lambeau Field, the Orange Bowl, and Yankee Stadium? Sure, no one wants to go back to the olden days of leather helmets. But can’t we forget about retractable roofs, faux rubber grass, and VIP sections?
How about this. Let’s offer to build the Raiders a new stadium for $1.35 billion. Two billion minus $650 million equals $1.35 billion. That’s the budget. We can tell Mark Davis — hey, you wanted a Tesla. We’re offering you a Buick. Take it or leave it. Right now, given that they call the Oakland Coliseum home, the Raiders are driving a shitbox. How to cut down on costs? Easy. Since Trump’s border wall with Mexico isn’t up yet, we can use cheap migrant labor. We’ll cut on the number of stalls in the ladies restrooms. They’re going to bitch they’re aren’t enough stalls, anyway. We can remove the escalators because most sports fans are fat and lazy. They need to exercise more. We can charge $15 for a beer and $30 for a parking spot. Oh wait — stadiums are doing that already.
An NFL stadium doesn’t need to resemble the Johnson Space Center. Yeah, I get that Las Vegas weather is hot as fuck much of the time and perhaps an enclosed facility may be necessary. But, the weather here isn’t any more uncomfortable than the steam baths of Miami or Jacksonville or Houston or the frigid weather in northern cities. If Bills and Bears fans can sit in the freezing cold in subzero temperatures and watch those shit teams, Las Vegas football fans should be able to risk a mild case of sunstroke. 250 miles to our south, the Phoenix Cardinals played in an outdoors stadium for nearly 20 years and there weren’t more than a handful of deaths, and pretty much all of those were from eating the nachos.
According to Forbes’ latest figures, the average NFL franchise is worth about $1.5 billion. For teams who also own their own stadium, the values are considerably higher. Assuming Mark Davis will own half of the new Las Vegas stadium, it follows that the value of the team would probably double and surpass the $2 billion mark. That should be anough money to live on for a while, even in the Bay Area. Besides, he sure as hell isn’t spending much money on haircuts.
If he still short on cash and needs a few bucks, given those figures and that level of collateral, Davis could probably get approved for a bank loan. If he needs a co-signer, then give me a call. Unlike Sheldon Adelson, I won’t back out of the deal. I’ll even throw in my old set of golf clubs.
In the Super Bowl, I’m betting $1,600. to win back $1,454. on the UNDER 59.
This is the highest betting total in Super Bowl history. Fifty championship games have been played since 1967, with some of the best offenses of all-time. Yet no betting total has ever been this high. All things considered, the value looks to be with the UNDER 59.
The public appears to be betting the OVER in droves. The total opened at 57.5 in many sports books (YMMV), then went up to 58. All around Las Vegas today (eve of the Super Bowl), there were lots of 58 and 58.5 numbers frozen in place. Many people I spoke with expected the betting public might continue to chisel the number steadily upward, but enough sharp money should have resisted the total going too much higher than where it’s stabilized over the past 12 days. When I suddenly saw a 59 flash at Red Rock (Stations) today, I pounced and made this a larger-than-average wager.
Of course, betting against a tidal wave is tricky. There’s some evidence this total could climb higher. In that case, I could be sitting on a stale number by tomorrow afternoon. This is always the risk on takes when betting as a contrarian. I’ll feel pretty awful if this total closes at 60 and I’m sitting here holding the shit basket.
There’s also some value in the UNDER 29.5 First Half Total. However, I’ll hope the extra 30 minute time frame will reduce variance (two halves at 29.5 each) and the ticket will get cashed. I did want to note the First Half Total does look to be equally as tempting.
For this ticket to lose, 60-plus points will need to be scored. That’s 30 points per team. Many Super Bowls have turned into routs, of course, which is always the danger here in the big game. If one team jumps to a big lead, the ball starts flying all over the field and crazy stuff happens. However, recent Super Bowl games have played at a more modest pace and points haven’t lit up the score board.
The intangible in this game should be the Patriots’ defense. If they come to play, it’s probably a win and easy cover and the UNDER cashes. I greatly respect Bill Belichick’s abilities as a head coach (that should go without saying, although his politics are fuck). But New England has also be a dreadful Super Bowl favorite under his reign, as the Patriots have failed to cover in most games. That brings up the old saying — Good teams win, but great teams cover. Remember that, Patriot fans.
I began posting NFL plays publicly on the internet about 20 years ago. I’ve posted thousands of plays over that long span. Since I’ve started writing on my own here at my own site, I’ve enjoyed 3 winning seasons and 1 losing season. This year, my winnings were pretty modest — just $1,384 in profit spread out over 17 weeks (or 13.8 percent in profit). Most of the winnings game from betting teaser wheels. I’ve not handicapped the NFL particularly well in recent years. However, I’ve somehow managed to still make money both in 2015 and 2016. There’s no pretending here. However, given all the talk and trash that’s floating out there (touts), I’m pretty proud of being ahead overall after thousands of NFL plays posted at my site.
Accordingly, I could rest on my mini-laurels and wrap up another winning season by betting small. It would be easy to run out the clock and declare victory. However, I won’t play it safe here. I’m risking the prospect of a losing season overall by wagering $1,600 on this game. Hence, I could end up in the red for the year (regarding posted plays here — not counted are hundreds of wagers such as halftimes and so forth which do not get posted because there’s no time). However, I really like this UNDER play and if it hits, I’ll end up $3,000 to the good for the season, which is a return of about 30 percent.
Best wishes to everyone. Thanks for reading.
SIDE NOTE: Look for my continuing series on “Gambling for a Living,” coming up next week. I have several more chapters to write, which will include a recap of this year’s NFL regular season.
I woke up this morning to the majesty of contrasts that is the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, better known simply as “Red Rock Canyon.” Everything within sight, from the desert cactus to mountain pines, was covered in white snow.
Most Las Vegas visitors, and even many locals, may not know about the natural splendor nestled in the mountains due west of The Strip just a half-hour drive away. Red Rock is an oasis for the mind and a vacation for the soul. It seems light years apart from the fabricated latticework of 1.5 million people, continuing to crawl with an alarming expansion beyond the sustainable resources necessary to ensure a healthy balance between what we build and the natural world around it which cradles our city like a protective glove.
Red Rock is a vast “pause button,” ready to be hit any time, a temporary escape to a quiet place still mostly unspoiled by sprawling urbanization, except for a few roads and the occasional traffic sign. In a city blanketed with casinos, cookie-cutter tract homes, and look-a-like strip malls, Red Rock has become our common escape, even if just for a few fleeting seconds with an affectionate gaze in the westward direction of the snow-capped mountains. Like a seductive temptress, we long for our next encounter with beauty.
Note: Here’s a short article I wrote last year about my hike in the canyon, along with several photos. [CLICK HERE]
Sadly, each time I’ve driven into Red Rock in recent years, commercial development looks to be creeping closer and closer to the park. Now, when driving up Charleston Blvd., which eventually leads directly into the heart of Red Rock Canyon, it’s shocking and sad to see the extent to which homes and shopping centers have stretched to the valley’s outer boundaries and very nearly into the canyon area itself, which is now seriously threatened. Towards the north, specifically the Lone Mountain area, commercial and industrial development has been even more aggressive. Lone Mountain was once on the outer fringes of the west side of Las Vegas. Now, it’s been engulfed by a freeway, thousands of new homes, and a monochrome of dust and blowing debris which seems to swirl around constantly.
South of the Red Rock area, there’s a controversial proposal by developer Jim Rhodes to convert prime land currently occupied by a gypsum mine to construct more than 5,000 additional homes, which is likely to bring in another 10,000 cars and unforeseen disturbances to the area, such as noise and pollution. A city where air quality is marginal at best and often covered in a thick haze on bad days chokes on its own exhaust fumes.
A few nights ago, a meeting was held here in Las Vegas where many critical issues important to our region were discussed. I was stirred into action by the presentation of Justin Jones, who’s a board member of the organization known as Save Red Rock. I learned that this non-profit is fighting to protect one of Las Vega’s last natural resources, not just for us, but for future generations. Jones stated if we don’t take action now, it might be too late in the future. He also noted that big-money developers have filed a lawsuit against Save Red Rock, purely in an effort to silence opposition, thus squashing citizen advocacy and democracy. Fortunately, many people with the local community, Democrats and Republicans alike, are now speaking out and making their voices heard. But that might not be enough given the power of developers who look towards Red Rock as a potential piggy bank.
We aren’t opposed to responsible development. Indeed, there are plenty of attractive neighborhoods in our city where new homes can be built and new businesses can be created. That’s something every community needs to remain vibrant In fact, many established parts of Las Vegas are desperate for investment of this kind, and even offer generous tax incentives. So, why allow unbridled expansion into one of the most gorgeous areas of Southern Nevada, when so many other opportunities exist for local development and revitalization?
If you’re interested in learning more, please visit the website SAVEREDROCK.ORG. There’s also a petition you can sign for an upcoming public hearing with country commissioners (in February), which will show your support for protecting the natural majesty of this critically important and precious public recreation area. Consider signing the PETITION HERE.
Once Red Rock is gone, it’s lost forever. We must act now. Please help and also tell your friends and neighbors. We need your voice, your signature, your support, and most of all your action. Please do it now.
I’ve been asked once or twice or perhaps a hundred times if I’m a compulsive gambler.
That’s a fair question. Yes, I do fit the classic description. I’ve spent most of my life gambling. Check. I’ve lost vast sums of money at various times, sometimes even seriously harming my financial standing. Check. I’ve spent absurd amounts of time inside casinos. Check. I blow many hours on sports handicapping and watching ball games on which I’ve bet money. Check. I’ve driven across town to get down on the best number, and I’ve driven hundreds of miles to play in poker games. Check. My personal reputation is heavily tinged by gambling. Check. All this and more, it seems, makes me fit the description of a “compulsive gambler.”
However, what I’m about to reveal might be shocking. After nearly four decades spent gambling, and having experienced just about all the highs and lows that one could possibly imagine (keep in mind there are some stories I’ll never tell) — ideally, I’d love to be in the position where I didn’t have to gamble at all. I’d much rather read a good book or go on a hike than watch a basketball game. If I had enough money to live comfortably for the rest of my life, I don’t think I’d bet on sports again. What would be the purpose? Sure, I might still play poker purely for fun occasionally since the game is just as much a social engagement and a gambling exercise, but that would be the extent of it. I’d have no interest in playing table games or other forms of gambling. In short, gambling doesn’t excite me. I could take it or leave it. And, to be perfectly honest, I wouldn’t mind leaving it.
That might seem like a bizarre thing to say by someone who’s made various types of gambling his life’s mission. I stumbled into this career quite by accident and given all that I now know and who I know, I’d be foolish to throw all that knowledge away and start anew into something else. But if I had my way, and had a real choice in life, I’d probably spend most of my time doing something else, something completely different, rather than gambling.
So, the answer is no — I’m not a compulsive gambler.
Coping often requires that we deceive ourselves into thinking we have choices in life when usually we don’t. And the older you get and longer you live, the fewer choices you’ll have. Age is an alarm clock and we never know when the bell will ring and our time is up. Late in life, choices become extinct and you’re stuck with a fate over which you have no control.
This isn’t a discussion of free will, and more precisely, whether or not we have it. Put more plainly, we’re all chained by common habits. We become dependent on jobs. We’re wielded to family members and responsibilities. We’re rooted in our communities. We’re expected to act and behave a certain way, especially by all those around us. Break the mold and do something different, and then eyebrows raise and whispers begin. Too often, we’re discouraged from breaking molds. Indeed, most of us are trapped in what writer Henry David Thoreau famously called “lives of quiet desperation.” Misplaced values cause us to attempt to fill this void of quiet desperation with money, material possessions, and accolades. But as studies have shown, those superfluous things don’t necessarily make us happy. There’s absolutely no correlation between society’s common definition of success (mostly measured in wealth and fame) and personal happiness.
To have any long-term chance of winning at gambling decisions must matter. Making decision (or choices) is the difference between games of skill and games of chance, although many forms of gambling include both.
So, in lives with so few choices left, gambling does become a convenient de facto substitute. When many gamblers say they feel alive again, what they’re often really expressing is the freedom of making their choices and then seeing the outcome within minutes or even seconds. That choice and the prospect of a win can be exhilarating.
Games which provide a long-term possible positive outcome include poker, blackjack, sports gambling, and horse racing. Some could argue there are advantage players in video poker, also. In each of these forms of gambling, the player must make choices. Those decisions determine the outcome of the wager, at least in part. Hence, the gambler — to some extent — controls his own destiny.
The 2016 World Series of Poker ends, which means now I have the entirety of all my days and nights totally free, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. The next eight weeks get spent mostly lounging out in the back yard, drinking white wine by day and red wine after sundown, and betting baseball from noon until midnight. Baseball is the only thing going in the doldrums of summer, aside from the occasional Euro or South American soccer bet that captures my gaze. The refresh button on the portable laptop pops a spring and breaks off from being punched too many times. With thousands of dollars riding in action daily, baseball updates on ESPN.com and MLB.com become what the stock ticker represents to a Wall Street investor.
Averaging 10 to 15 wagers a day, seven days a week, which is nearly every waking hour, that means there’s a pitch being thrown somewhere in the country at any minute which has some bearing on my financial standing. After awhile, it all becomes a blur, a mental fog. One becomes numb to the inevitable bad beat of a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth in a game where you held a comfortable 2-0 lead and the bases were empty and you’d already circled the game with a bold “W.” One also becomes desensitized to the wins just as much, that occasional +230 flash in the pan underdog which cashes and reinforces the dangerously false self-deception that you’ve finally got this baseball thing figured out and can coast to an easy living the rest of your life.
Given my volume of wagers, there’s also the inevitable mistake. Since I began betting on sports full time, on more than a few occasions I’ve mistakenly clicked the wrong box on one of five online betting apps I use. That means, I thought I bet on one team when I actually bet on the other. That’s happened more times than I care to admit, and don’t tell me it evens out because it doesn’t. Years ago, I once bet $3,000 on a Seattle Seahawks halftime line which seemed like a lock. I almost never lay points in the second half, but this time I accidentally clicked my offshore account for $3,000 on the ‘Hawks laying -2.5. The other team covered easily, and that sloppy mistake ended up costing me a swing of $5,700. That’s the worst brain fart I can remember.
I’ve also double clicked bets, which means when I thought I was laying $400 on a ball game, I was actually risking $800 because my fat fingers turned the keyboard into what amounted to a bingo sheet. Earlier this year in college football, I took Rutgers for (what I thought was ) one unit, which was very much competitive up until kickoff and ended up losing 79-0. A double click made the defeat all the more costly.
But the worst betting mistake I can recall making was the “no bet” on a ghastly baseball game that lasted an ungodly 19 innings. Given my distaste for the game, the only thing worse that following a baseball game is sweating a ball game that goes into extra innings. I’d bet the under in the Cleveland-Toronto game played in July and despite a marathon match which extended even beyond a double header, more than 6 mind-numbing hours in all, the teams combined for 2-1 pitchers’ duel where my under was never in any serious danger. Dull but easy money, or so I thought.
Upon checking my account balance the next day, the ledger came up exactly $400 short. What the fuck happened? Apparently, I’d put in the bet but then failed to hit “confirm.” So, I sweated a 19-inning baseball game for absolutely nothing. That was like getting sucker punched. I don’t know why, but breaking even on the game was worse than losing.
All these capping and clicks ends up being profitable. But that the end of each month, I’m still short of what’s needed to pay the bills. Hence, my betting bankroll continues to evaporate and instead of being able to wager more money on games and eventually step into the class of 55 percent winners and a steady income because I”m now betting $1,000 a game, I’m now having to downshift back to $300 per game because a cold streak could wipe me out.
What I need is a big win. I need to find the right opportunity.
During the NFL offseason, the insufferable St. Louis Rams move west back to their old home in Los Angeles and become the first professional football team to play in the nation’s second-biggest city in the last 20 years.
Many bettors chose to skip preseason football. Even so-called sharps ignore it. I’m glad. That leaves more opportunity for those of us who take these “meaningless” football games quite seriously and invest lots of time studying lineups and motivation. I could explain more as to why preseason football is actually easier to handicap than the regular season or playoff games (which means they are sometimes more predictable), and will do so another time. But for now, just go along with me that I’m really smart and know what I’m doing.
The Rams are scheduled to open up their 2016 schedule with an exhibition match versus the perpetually over-hyped Dallas Cowboys. They’ll play in the ancient but refurbished L.A. Coliseum, which according to media reports gets sold out instantly, despite this being a preseason game. Most NFL stadiums are half full with bored fans during the preseason. However, 92,000 excited local supporters of the new team are expected to turn out and welcome the Rams back to Los Angeles.
There’s more compelling reasons to love the Rams in this opener. Head Coach Jeff Fisher has just been inexplicably resigned to a contract extension. He’ll be fired three months later. But entering the 2016 season, there’s reason for optimism. Fisher appears to be popular with his players and has the support of management. The Rams are coming off a lackluster 7-9 season. But this appears to be a great spot for them since they’re facing the downtrodden Cowboys, who went 4-12, their worst record in 26 years when Jerry Jones first bought the team.
I figure the Rams will make a definitive statement in this game. They’ll play hard. No way that Rams ownership wants the team to come out on a perfect August Saturday afternoon and lay an exploding lump of dog shit in the first game back in Los Angeles — in front of 92,000 paying customers eager to gobble up plenty of new merchandise. If ever there was a “phone call” from upper management down to the coaching staff and players saying, “win this game, or else….” this was it. This was the game I’d been waiting for. This was the right opportunity.
The opening line comes out at Rams -3 over the Cowboys. The number quickly gets bet up to -5, then drops back down to -3.5
I get nervous laying points in preseason football games. So, the more viable alternative seems to play the Rams on the moneyline. What that means is — I just have to win the game. No points are involved. So long as the Rams beat the Cowboys, I win money. And so, given this rare opportunity where one side seems to have so much the best of it and all the motivation to win, I decide to fucking fire.
Laying the round number of $7,000 to win back close to $3,800 (in profit) means that I’ve got a swing of $10,800 on a single preseason football game. That’s quite a step up from betting $100 a game on baseball back in April, or the ultimate in degeneracy depending on one’s perspective. The spread even dips down to -3 for a short time, and I contemplate firing more on the game. However, one can never be too cautious in gambling.
It’s announced that Dallas won’t even suit up several of their starters. Star quarterback Tony Romo won’t play. Dallas, which suffered a rash of killer injuries last season, announces though head coach Jason Garrett, they just want to “say healthy.” Lots of scrubs, which is the term used for bust outs who will get a couple of weeks in training camp before ultimately being cut back to civilian life and a life of anonymity, will see plenty of action. Then, right before the game, the Cowboys suffer another setback when the second-string backup quarterback gets hurt and won’t play. Dallas’ first round draft choice, running back Ezekial Elliott also suffers an ankle injury and will be out. Meanwhile, the Rams appear healthy and hungry. This is looking like the lock of the century.
Come the time for kickoff, the Cowboys field a goulash of starters which includes an unknown starting quarterback drafted in the fourth round who has never taken an NFL snap. His name is Dak Prescott.
Many years ago, I parked my car at New York’s JFK Airport and flew to Europe. A planned one-week trip rolled into 16 days and by the time I returned to the lot, my parking fee had mushroomed into more than $300 (Note: I’d arrived late for the flight due to traffic and was forced to park in the closer, more expensive zone).
I wondered to myself back then — what would have happened if I insisted the parking ticket had been lost? There’s a special line for cars and drivers with lost tickets, but I’ve never challenged the system nor forsaken my obligation to pay what was owed. Still, I’m naturally curious as to the protocols of how airports know how long you’ve been parked, and what to charge you for a lost parking ticket.
To be more clear for those who are unfamiliar with the issue, most big airports have multiple parking lots. The closest lots, near the terminal, are always the most expensive. Parking at Las Vegas McCarran comes to about $4 an hour. There are even zones with parking meters. However, Las Vegas also offers satellite lots, which charge up to $9 per day. However, the satellite parking requires you to take a shuttle bus back and forth. This adds another 20 minutes or so (each way) to the trip, plus a tip for the driver if you’re carrying bags.
I always park in the discounted parking lot when I travel (unless I’m running late, which happened in New York). Over the past ten years, I’ve flown perhaps 60-70 times and many of those trips were for weeks at a time. I’ve paid thousands of dollars parking fees. However, many times upon exiting, I’ve wondered what would happen if I declared a “lost ticket.”
The math seems to make this a +EV move. If I’m parked for 10 days, at $9 per day, that’s $90. But what would happen is I feign confusion, declare my parking stub to be lost, and try and get a cheaper bill? With thousands of cars parked for varying amounts of time, how would the airport know how long your car has been present? Would it be possible to insist on a 4-day trip rather than 9 days, thus saving $54?
I’m not advocating that anyone try this. Furthermore, it’s dishonest. To me, $9 seems like quite a reasonable fee to pay to park for a day. However, my experience in New York 20 years ago still bugs me. Plus, I could really use that $300 that was forked over to the Airport Authority.
Has anyone ever challenged their parking time? Has anyone ever successfully shaved a few days off the fee by declaring a “lost ticket?” I’m specifically referring to airports where there is no maximum. I realize a lost ticket at some lots requires the driver to pay the max. What about long-stay parking lots?
I’d like to hear stories, which can be posted here or on Facebook.