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It’s about that time of year again when you start making plans on where you’re going to be spending your fall Saturdays and Sundays to watch and wager on your favorite college and pro football teams.

Before using permanent ink to set your plans, let me share with you a recommendation for the Fiesta-Henderson race and sportsbook as a candidate to capture your patronage.

The spacious, but quaint book gives you the best of all worlds for your viewing pleasure. It has the look and feel of a big sportsbook on the Strip, while also giving you the comfort of being in your favorite local pub. You can view the all games with ease from anywhere in the area, especially the four big screens that can be seen from the food court.

There are dozens of seats at the bar right behind the book (12 TV’s), which actually serves a proper Guinness pint, or set yourself up at any one of the comfortable table tops set right underneath the sports screens (32 TV’s).

Then there are seats at any of the race tables that have individual televisions (90) where you can watch and listen to your favorite game as well. Signs posted say “race only,” but they’ll budge to accommodate guests on busy football days.

The big difference between the Fiesta, which is part of the Station Casinos chain, and some of the local bars is you can view all the games with no issue of having TV limitations. You also get the advantage of betting all the games, including half-times and a few in-progress games.

There’s also horse racing (they offer wagering from your seat with IPT’s), which is always fun to throw a few bucks on for instant action while the games are going on. You can also get a phone app to play all the options from your seat, both race and sports. And if you sign up for the sports app, they’ll give you $50 in points to use at any of the restaurants.

All that should be enough to entice, but there’s so much more.

The Fiesta offers drink specials on game days that can’t be beat by any local pub. All the beers are only $3.50 to begin with, but whenever there is a football game on they’ll offer Budweiser and Bud Light for $1.50 each or a bucket of five for $5. You’re not going to find deals like that at any sportsbook on the Strip. And if betting the games, they’ll give you a ticket for complimentary drinks.

That should be enough to be sold as a regular fall destination, but there’s also one big area where they excel.

Above all the outstanding amenities the book has to offer, an overlooked part is the guest service provided by the entire team, ranging from the supervisors to ticket writers and bartenders. I spent Saturday there playing horses and felt a warmth from every team member I came in contact with. They greeted me with a smile, so it instantly made me smile. That’s all it takes.

It may sound like a small thing, but it really is quite large and why I find myself sometimes at dive bars watching games with a willingness to settle for less simply because of guest service. When you feel wanted, it’s a good feeling and makes returning easier.

While there I ran into an old friend, Vic Sharapan, who was a big bettor at the books I worked for back in the day, and he kind of had those same sentiments of why he watches all his sports and horse bets in action at the Fiesta book.

“Laura and her staff have been so good to my friends and me that we keep coming back,” said Vic, a die-hard Pittsburgh fan. “It all starts with her, and she’s been able to keep a continuity with the staff with little turnover, so we keep these relationships, and that’s important to us. It’s not like that at other places. And when she’s gone for the day, her back-up Chris doesn’t miss a beat and keeps things flowing the same way.

“Overall, it’s just a great place to watch games, which is why I bring all my friends here every weekend, and that friendliness is also extended by the bartenders in the book like Brenda and Rick and my host Jane, who is so kind and helps us with anything outside the book we need.”

The Laura that Vic was talking about is manager Laura Travell, who was the assistant manager at Green Valley Ranch before getting her Fiesta Henderson manager post in 2007. She’s a stickler for all the small details, which is why she’s been so successful under the Station umbrella of 19 books, but she also knows one of the main things that can separate her book from the dozens around the city – that also offer great viewing presentations – is guest service.

“We strive to be the ‘Cheers’ of the race and sportsbook world,” said Travell, referencing the 80’s TV show “where everybody knows your name.” “We have a great team who all work very well together and I’m so proud of them.”

Well done, Laura, and continued success while keeping smiles on all your guests’ faces.

Between great drink prices, outstanding viewing experience and the service, you can’t go wrong this fall at the Fiesta-Henderson race and sportsbook.

And while there, please don’t forget to sign-up for Station Casinos’ free Gridiron Challenge, a weekly football contest (no points, just pick the winner) where you can get your share of $750,000.

Fantasy draft in style

One of the best things about fantasy football is getting together with all your friends for the draft. Winning is nice also, but that confident happiness as the draft goes on where everyone feels they’re going to win the top prize really is the best part.

So why not make that moment more special than ever for your crew. Gordon Ramsey Pub & Grill inside Caesars Palace can help make it your best draft party ever this year as they’re taking reservations to occupy their VIP room, which has free Wi-Fi and access to all their great menu items. You won’t find better sliders or fish and chips in town plus their beer selection is outstanding. For reservations call 702-238-8539, and hurry because the time slots are filling up fast.

Twitter: @MicahRoberts7

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