NCAA basketball contests and Hammerin’ Hank all good

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It’s that time of the year again when many of the competing sports books make a major push for potential guests with the lure of a contest.

Handle-wise, there is no bigger event than the NCAA Tournament in Nevada, so it benefits every book to try a get the biggest piece of the overall pie.

Contests are a great way to get return visits during the busy time. Station Casinos, William Hill and Aliante have all stepped forward with great offerings to help add a little more excitement to the Vegas Tournament experience.

Station Casinos is guaranteeing $50,000 to the winner of their popular elimination contest called Last Man Standing. You pick one game a day against the point spread throughout the tournament. Winning moves you on until there is only one person remaining.

The entry fee is $25 and if buying three, you get one free. All entry fees that go over the $50,000 guarantee will be returned to the winner of the prize pool. Last season the winner took home over $57,000.

William Hill’s Three N’ Out contest is similar to Station’s, but they add an extra twist that allows contestants three losses before being eliminated. For a $25 entry fee, contestants must choose one side against the spread or a total on each day of the tournament, or until only one entry remains.

Contestants can enter up to 10 times and if the total entry fees exceed $25,000, then 80 percent of the additional fees will be added to the prize pool.

Aliante in North Las Vegas is giving away $5,000 as prize money to those who pick the most ATS winners using every game throughout the three week tournament with a mini-contest for the first two rounds. The entry fee is $20, and there is no limit. All fees are returned in the prize pool. It’s a clever little contest where chances of winning may be greater just because of not having the large contestant pool to go against like Station or William Hill.

What I like most of all about all the contests is there is something for everyone no matter where you live. There should be at least one more chain of books announcing a contest this week.

Hammer time: Sunset Station sports book director Chuck Esposito will be giving March Madness from all over the city a treat as he is running a NCAA Tournament hoops seminar on March 19 with ESPN handicapper Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg.

Beginning at 5 p.m. next Wednesday night, Goldberg and Esposito will review every team and region, and also take questions from the audience. No matter how much you think you know about each team, you’re likely to get some interesting takes that may have been overlooked.

Smart Kenny: I always knew Kenny White was one of the smartest guy in the sports betting world when the sports book I used to work for paid for his services while he ran Las Vegas Sports Consultants. His own personal lines were always aggressive, but used it as only part of the consensus with the rest of his LVSC crew.

But for the past couple of years of working with him on The Linemakers, I’ve found a new respect for his genius, just because all his aggressive numbers have been right. With the information he shares, bettors have been doing very well following him.

White will be giving all his information for free daily on video shoots in the South Point sports book during the entire Tournament.

Vegas a busy host: The Pac-12 (MGM Grand Garden Arena), Mountain West (Thomas & Mack) and Western Athletic Conference (Orleans Arena) will all have their champions crowned in here this week. The WCC just finishing up at the Orleans.

Ironically, it is the NCAA who is part of a lawsuit to stop legal sport wagering in New Jersey. Meanwhile, these four conferences will all have their players staying at hotels that have sports books with odds posted on the games.

These conferences have all been coming here for a few years and I’m proud to say there hasn’t been one instance of a scandal, or some of the things cited in the lawsuit against New Jersey such as corruption.

Between the compliance policies in place by each casino and sports book, along with security’s No. 1 detail of preventing minors from the casino, everyone has done the job they are supposed to and passed with flying colors, which should be considered a boost for New Jersey‘s case.

Spring is here: One suggestion I have for all my college basketball friends is to take a step back before going forward with your annual plan. Knowing you’ll be locked in to hundreds of games Thursday through Sunday for the next three weeks should send an immediate alert to the brain that someone in your life is going to be left out.

For that companion in your life, I have a great recommendation that will buy three weeks of good graces.

The Bellagio atrium just opened their Spring Madness bouquet (it’s really not called that), and it is inspiring and helps build some forgiveness from the one you need it from.

I took a visit Sunday night with my special girl, Karen – the person who puts up with me the most, and I think I got about four weeks of smiles that will carry me in good favor at least through opening day of baseball.

That’s the thing about all the roses and carnations lined up in a portrait. The scents and visual beauty take you away like the Calgon commercial led us all to believe was the truth in the 70’s. It really is an intoxicating experience and if I had any spiritual being in me, I would camp out in the atrium, cross my legs and start repeating some words that felt right.

The best thing about the Bellagio atrium, beyond all its spiritual uplifting, is it’s free. There aren’t too many things in Las Vegas that are free, but this place is so awesome I might even be willing to pay $5 for entry.

So do yourself a favor, before the month that you’ll need the most favors called upon: Go to the Bellagio with your girl and smell the roses.

Micah Roberts is a former Las Vegas race and sports book director, one of The Linemakers on SportingNews.com , and longtime motorsports columnist and sports analyst at GamingToday. Follow Micah on Twitter @MicahRoberts7 Contact Micah at [email protected].

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