Friday, February 7, 2014

Was That Bruno Mars Wearing #18 for Denver?

“I have no idea who the f Bruno Mars is, but I hope he starts at QB for Denver in the second half.”  --Tweet I sent Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 4:55 PM, PST.

“Okay. If you don't like this halftime, you can unfollow right now.”  --Tweet sent by Chris Hanson, Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:16 PM, PST.

“Just did.”  --Tweet I sent in response the above Tweet, Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 5:19 PM, PST.

If you like this blog, you really should be following my Twitter feed.  And if you don’t like this blog, why are even reading this far?

I don’t tweet that much, because let’s face it, keeping my thoughts to 140 characters is a bit of a challenge for me.

But sometimes I do tweet.  Especially during a Super Bowl.  Especially during a really, really bad Super Bowl.   I advise you all to check my Twitter feed for last Sunday.  If you’re not on Twitter, you can see most of my tweets on my Facebook page.  But you won’t see some of the responses, and those are really good.

I’ll get back to my “debate” with Chris Hanson in a bit. 

This past Super Bowl Sunday was unique for me in a couple of ways. 

For the first time I ever, I bet on the game.  I mean a real Sports Book bet, not just some office football pool where you buy a few squares in grid.  Of course I had done the football squares thing before.  But I mean a real bet in a real sports book where you have to give up some vig for the privilege of risking your money.

And for the first time ever, I attended a really big Super Bowl party to watch the game.  In the past, I’d always watched the game alone or in a real small, private gathering of just a few people.  Last year was the first time I’d watched the game in a public place—in a Vegas poker room.  The story of last year’s events was told here. But that wasn’t a SB party—it was a poker game where a football game (and a power outage) broke out.  This year, I’m talking about a real party, where the whole purpose of the event was to watch the game.  No poker or gambling of any kind was taking place at this event.  No gambling, that is, except for all the people there who had wagered on the game.  I estimate approximately 99.99999999997% of the people at the party had bet the game.  That percentage might be a bit low.

I want to give a really big public thank you to Mark, the Poker Room Manager at The LVH.  Mark invited me to attend the VIP “Big Game” party at said LVH.  The LVH has one of the biggest and busiest Sports Books in Vegas (maybe it is the busiest?) and that’s saying something.  I think there were four different big game parties going on there.  So it was incredibly nice and generous of Mark to offer me free entry to this incredible football bash.

I had arrived in town a few days before the game, believing that Super Bowl weekend is a pretty good time to be playing poker in Vegas (again, see last year’s post).  The VIP party at The LVH was just an awesome bonus.

Once I accepted Mark’s offer, I realized I had to do something that I think is actually rather ill-advised.  I had to bet the game.  I mean, it just seemed to me that if you’re in Vegas for the Super Bowl, and you’re going to watch it from one of the biggest Super Bowl parties in town, you really have to bet the game, right?  Right?

That’s what I thought, anyway.  Now I just said I think that this is ill-advised.  I mean betting on sports in general.  I know that many of my readers and my fellow bloggers are totally into sports betting.  In fact, some of the blogs on the blog roll on the right side of this page are partially or mostly dedicated to sports betting.  Check out the fine blogs of Lucki Duck and ~Coach for example.  And if you want to find out what I think about sports handicappers who are not fine gentlemen like Lucki Duck and Coach, see the post here.

But honestly, it seems –EV to me.  A straight up bet (as opposed to a parlay) has the house edge of 4.54%.  That’s pretty high.  When I played table games instead of poker, I stuck with games where the house edge was less than 2%, like Craps, Blackjack, and Pai Gow Poker.  The house edge in sports betting is close to the over 5% edge the house has in roulette—a game I always avoided like the plague.  It’s hard enough overcoming a 2% edge.  Double that edge?  It’s like pissing in the wind.

But I hear you say that, if you’re smart, if you know the sports, you can pick the right winners and overcome that edge.  And to that I say, bullshit.  Here’s what I know about sports:  No one knows anything.   Upsets happen all the time.  You know…that’s why the play the games.

Just to take one recent example that for some reason comes to mind, for a certain recent big game, a lot more people bet on Denver than bet on Seattle.  What morons!  Most of them not only bet on Denver, but they actually gave 2 to 3 points in doing so.  They weren’t even worried that Denver would squeak out a 1 point win (even though the winning team doesn’t really care whether they win by one point or 50).

Can you imagine anyone that stupid?  Can you believe anyone could be stupid enough to have bet on Denver and given the points? 

Anyway, in all my many visits to Vegas over the years, I’ve made about 3 or 4 sports bets previously.  Just for fun, just for the heck of it, just because every now and then I actually thought my gut feeling about a game was especially accurate.  And because I thought the line was wrong.  The last time I bet on a game, it was when the Lakers—then actually a title contender (seems like eons ago)—were underdogs at home in the opening game of the strike-shortened season.  I figured I wouldn’t likely have an opportunity any time soon to bet my favorite team when they were dogs at home.  During this time, the Lakers were never dogs at home.  Never.  It was too good a bet to pass up.  In fact, they had the game won until they totally collapsed in the last minute and lost.

But they lost by only point and they covered.  I won my bet.

Fortunately, that didn’t convince me to start betting sports.  I knew it was just a fluke.

I didn’t have any special feelings about the Super Bowl, but as I said, it just seemed like betting the game was the thing to do.  I didn’t want to be the only person at the VIP party that didn’t have skin in the game.

So, who to bet on?  I couldn’t see myself betting on the over/under.  Sitting there screaming, “Score, anyone, score!” didn’t appeal to me.  I had to pick a team.

Since I was basically betting for the hell of it, and not because I am such a football expert I thought I was smarter than everyone else betting and handicapping the game, the logical way to bet was on the team I liked more.  Now I hail from Los Angeles, but my favorite team, the Lakers, weren’t playing. I’m not sure they would have fared any worse than Denver did, but that’s neither here nor there.

And there hasn’t been a pro football team in L.A. since around the time of Red Grange and the single wing.  I don’t really have a favorite football team.  I usually pick teams based on players I like.  I also pick against teams based on players I don’t like.  Or coaches.  Or for totally irrational reasons.

Take the New England Patriots, for example.  I always root against them.  Because of a certain basketball team that will remain nameless, I root against all teams from the Boston area.  Period.

Besides, their coach is a known cheat who should have been kicked out of football years ago.

And their quarterback has a bunch of Super Bowl rings and a drop-dead gorgeous wife so he doesn’t need me rooting for him.

So if the Patriots had made it to the game, I would have bet on the team playing them.

Unless they played the Seattle Seahawks.  Because, you see, I totally hate the Seahawks.

I have nothing against the city of Seattle.  Never been there.  And the fact that this city invented ridiculously overpriced coffee doesn’t affect me, since I hate coffee.

But they have a coach I do not care for.  You see, before he took the Seattle job, Pete Carroll was coach at a certain University in Southern California.

I hate that school.  I don’t have a pro football team to call my own, but I do have a college team to root for.  And that is UCLA.  I root for UCLA in all major sports.  I am a Bruin, through and through.

Pete Carroll went to that other school and turned their program around.  They were floundering and he went there and took them to a national championship and made them perennial championship contenders, and for that, I will never forgive him.

As far as I’m concerned, Seattle is USC North.  Reason enough to loathe them.

And let’s not even start on that loudmouth, boorish Richard Sherman.  I prefer athletes who win with grace and dignity. It’s a dying art.

I couldn’t think of any reason to not like Denver.  How can anyone not like Peyton Manning?  He’s talented, classy, incredibly hard-working and dedicated.  And what an amazing story, coming back the way he did from career-threatening surgery to have maybe the greatest season a QB ever had?  And I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I’m old enough to remember watching his father play for the Saints.  Great QB on terrible teams.

So Denver was the pick. I’d seen their two playoff games and was impressed.  And I thought the officials helped Seattle beat the 49’ers. I thought they were a little lucky to even be in the Super Bowl (remember the roughing the punter call that wasn’t called?). 

And besides, Denver was favored anyway, so obviously Denver was the better team, right?  Now I don’t think in the few bets I’ve made previously I ever gave points before.  I hate doing that because as I said, the teams don’t care about beating the spread, they only care about winning.  But it was only 2-1/2 points and I figured a one or two point win (by either team) wasn’t very likely.

I even started listening to sports talk on the radio driving around town, and every “expert” thought Denver would win.  One guy I heard several nights in the row said Denver would win by at least two touchdowns.

What could go wrong?

I wasn’t about to go crazy with the bet.  Nothing too big.  Just a few bucks.  Having money on the game would enhance my viewing experience, right?  I wouldn’t just be cheering Denver on because I wanted them to win and Seattle to lose.  I’d be cheering because I had a financial stake in the game.  I’d be with (at least) half the crowd at the viewing party cheering them on.

My understanding was that you have bet 10% more than you want to win, the 10% being the house juice.  Ok, fair enough.  I could risk $55 to win $50.  But when I went to the book to make my bet, I was surprised to be told that the money was coming in so overwhelmingly on the Broncos that even with the points, it was -$120.  Huh?  I didn’t quite understand.  But the bottom line was that I had to bet $60 if I wanted to win $50.  Ok, ok, I thought about it for a few seconds and then went ahead and made the bet.  What’s another five bucks?  Especially since I was going to win the bet anyway.

Game day came, and I headed to LVH and saw Mark.  We had a nice chat about the Vegas poker scene and how things were going in his room (very well).  He gave me my pass and I headed for the party.

It was a nice set up.  A big convention hall (banquet-style seating) with TV’s everywhere.  Food and drink galore.  Hot dogs, chicken wings, sub sandwiches, Philly cheesesteaks, etc.  At half time they brought out some delicious brownies and chocolate chip cookies.  And all the beer, booze and soft drinks you could ask for. 

Everything was perfect.  Until the game started.  And went to shit in the first 12 seconds—before Peyton yelled out “Omaha” even one time.  You know, being with a big group of people to watch a big game is no fun when the team you’re rooting for is getting the crap beaten out of them.  Even worse is knowing that the sports book ticket in your wallet is only good for toilet paper.

Yeah, I think it’s worse being in a big crowd when things go wrong like that, putting lie to the expression, “misery loves company.”  The table I was at was all Bronco fans, so we were miserable together.  But the table next to us was all Seattle fans and they were having a grand ol’ time.  It was sickening.  I would much rather be alone and not have to hear those clowns celebrating my sixty bucks going up in smoke.  Or knowing that Pete bleeping Carroll was going to be a Super Bowl championship coach.  Or knowing that Richard Sherman was probably going to swallow Erin Andrews whole after the game.

Or realizing that, on this day, I could have done a better job quarterbacking the Broncos than Peyton Manning did.

If I had been home, I would have able to have found something to distract myself.  I probably would have worked on a blog post with the game on in the background, just in case a miracle happened.  As it was, I was kind of stuck there.

I turned to Twitter to read comments and post my mini-rants.  Which brings us to the three tweets I opened this post with.

Chris Hanson is a poker guy that I don’t think I’ve ever had any direct contact with before.  We just follow each other because we’re both into poker.  So let me set the stage.

During halftime, I did everything in my power to ignore the halftime show.  I hate Super Bowl halftime shows.  I hate them.  On general principle.  I don’t like mixing music with sports.  I just don’t.  I think a rock concert has no place at a football game.  If you like music, go to a concert.  If you like football, watch the damn football game.  There’s no natural connection between the two and they don’t mix.

If a time machine could bring us the Beatles, circa 1965, to perform today, I’d say no to having them do halftime at the game.  Let them do their own concert in a huge venue somewhere, but keep them the hell away from the damn Super Bowl.

I made a comment as such during last year’s game, and someone (I’m thinking it was JT88Keys) called me a “curmudgeon.”  To which I replied, I happily admit to it!

As far as I’m concerned, the entire downfall of our civilization can be traced back to the decision to put a freaking concert in the middle of a Super Bowl game.

If it were up to me, we’d go back to having some crappy High School band entertain the five people left in the stands who aren’t in line at the bathrooms at the game.  And for those of us watching on TV, they should have nothing but their brilliant analysts telling us what happened in the first half and what to expect in the second half.  That’s what I want at halftime.

Of course, in this game, the analysis would have taken all of five seconds (“Denver is sucking moose shit through a straw today, Howie”) but that’s a bad example.

The only halftime show that is non-football related I would find tolerable would be Kate Upton dancing naked, center stage.  But I’m afraid they would call that a “wardrobe malfunction.”

So as always, I ignored the halftime show.  I had some vague feeling that I kinda/sorta knew who Bruno Mars was, but I couldn’t imagine enjoying his performance unless he looked exactly like Kate Upton and was naked.

So I buried my face in my celphone, read my Twitter feed, and tuned out the sound coming through the speakers in the convention center.  And enjoyed reading tweets about the game and making my own.  That was a lot more entertaining than the game.

So after the halftime show, I came across the tweet from the aforementioned Mr. Hanson praising the show I had worked so hard to totally ignore.

I couldn’t resist.  I was pissed about the game, and now Mr. Hanson was throwing down the gauntlet. He had demanded that anyone who didn’t like the halftime show unfollow him. So, reflexively, I clicked “unfollow” on Chris’s twitter account.  I amused myself doing it.  Then I did something I really can’t believe I did.  I sent him back a tweet that said, “Just did.”

Heh heh.  I didn’t expect to hear back from him.  Clearly I was in a bad mood.  But a few seconds later he did indeed respond.  “What don't u like? Would u rather it be The Who? Tom Petty? Enjoy the cold.”

OK, ok, I couldn’t really critique the performance, since I had essentially missed it.  I responded that I don’t like music at halftimes on principle, and he said I was in the minority in that. I replied that I’m used to that.  Then I said I was with the majority in picking Denver and that wasn’t working out so well for me.  He agreed with me on that.

And of course, I immediately went back to Chris’s Twitter account and re-followed him.  No hard feelings, I trust, Chris?  I just hope Chris was as amused by the whole “feud” as I was!

And then the second half started and any hopes for a miracle comeback by the Broncos were dashed by a kick-off return for a touchdown by Seattle to open the half.

At which point I sent out this tweet:  “If the Denver owner doesn't fire every coach and every player on his team right this minute, he should be arrested.”

And you pretty much know the rest of the story.  I suffered through most of the second half because, if I was gonna lose my Super Bowl bet, at least I wanted to give my best possible effort to eat $60 worth of food.  Now, I hadn’t bet life-changing money on the game, but it was just galling to me to lose a bet because I am so normally against sports betting and I made a rare exception in this case and I was getting bitten in the ass by it.

I can’t really say I had a good time, but that was certainly not the fault of The LVH.  They put on a fine party, and again, many thanks to Mark for the invite.  I would definitely like to visit the alternate universe where Denver won and covered and it was an exciting game and then I would know how much I would enjoy watching a Super Bowl at a big Las Vegas viewing party.

The only consolation I can think of is that there’s no chance that Pete Carroll will be returning to coach USC anytime soon.

But I did learn a valuable lesson.  Just because you’re in Vegas for the Super Bowl, and just because you’re going to watch the game at a VIP party in Vegas, that’s still no excuse for doing anything as stupid as betting on the game.

And ever since the game, whenever I’m in a poker room and I hear someone mention an “Omaha” game, I throw up a little in my mouth.


  1. Omaha!

    Funny post. I about bet my first sports bet choosing Denver to win. Fortunately the prop bets looked more interesting.

    I agree about the halftime shows. Gimme the commercials and commentary - No Music.


    1. Thanks,TM...but not for the Omaha reminder. I'm in favor of the entire state of Nebraska seceding from the Union.

  2. Great post, and totally devoid of sarcasm (which is good, because I'm not a big fan of it)... :D I'll obviously talk to you when I return to Las Vegas, but I'll also let you borrow the book that I referenced in my blog recently (if you're interested). Among some of the great things about sports betting are that you have the right to choose any game that you want, you can bet either side of it, and you get to choose the amount that you wager. You nailed one of the great reasons given to bet on a specific game when you referenced your Lakers bet - "I thought the line was wrong..." And as far as "upsets happen all the time..." Well, so do suckouts... ;) Have a good one!

    1. Sarcasm? Me???

      I never use sarcasm.

      Never, ever, ever, ever, ever!

      Not sure what book you a Sports Book (sorry)?

      The difference between sports betting and poker is: if you like the sport (football, baseball, basketball, whatever) you can enjoy the game for the sport itself without ever risking a penny. You can't possibly enjoy poker unless there's money at risk.

  3. Rob for Super Bowl Halftime Producer!!! Only if he can book Kate :)

    Who's with me!

    1. Yeah! Let's see if anyone is talking about Bruno Mars after my halftime show!

    2. It does seem like that idea has its merits... :)

    3. It does, doesn't it? I really can't imagine one person in America who would object. Oh, except for Kate.

  4. I don't think I referred to you as a curmudgeon. I just tweeted at you in support of young Mr. Mars. I think he is a great musician.

    1. I don't remember you tweeting to me about this recent Super Bowl. But I was talking about LAST YEAR. I had tweeted that music has no place in a Super Bowl (same point I made in this post), you said, and I quote: "The word curmudgeon comes to mind." I replied "I cop to it."

      You can check your Twitter feed from 2/3/13.

      As an aside, it was a royal pain to scroll through all your tweets to find that. You tweet much too much, Jeff. You need to tweet less and blog more. :)

    2. Ahhh...I probably did say that. I tend to refer to myself as a curmudgeon quite a bit too. I've kinda turned into the guy that yells at the kids to get the hell off my lawn.

    3. Yeah, cuz they're slackers!

  5. "I don’t tweet that much, because let’s face it, keeping my thoughts to 140 characters is a bit of a challenge for me"

    Truer words were never spoken. x 100,000

    1. That joke was put in just for you guys's benefit.

    2. Thank you, Captain Obvious. However, it did get you trafiic on twitter and your blog, so it is all good, right? Muhahahahaha.

    3. I used to be Sergeant Obvious. Thanks for the promotion.