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The Madness starts on Tuesday, March 13 in Dayton, Ohio but the excitement has already reached a high pitch. Just watch some of these games.

I’ve concluded any team can lose. The top 20 or 30 teams all have real good players and one will most likely get in the groove and be Cinderella.

Which one? I see Missouri as one tough nut when the big show starts. Don’t dismiss Vanderbilt who had Kentucky on the ropes but let them off the hook. I look for Vandy depending on the draw to go deep into the tournament.

March Madness brings back some real good memories of past years when Vegas was all about gambling, before the big corporations took control. There were several books in town and all had their own separate lines. If you wanted to know, it was necessary to do some work and travel the streets.

Back in the 70’s and 80’s it was different and so much fun checking out all the different lines. Everyone had a nickname, a subject I will be doing a column on in the near future. My good friend Jerry Zimney was called “Shoes” because he would walk up and down the Strip just searching for different numbers he could bet.

“Shoes” did his work and wasn’t in the middling business. When making his line he looked for the right number. “Shoes” would go through two or three pairs of sneakers every six months.

Jerry has slowed down in his old age and just takes what he can find at Arizona Charlie’s while playing nickel keno machines. He has come a long way, but is still a top notch basketball handicapper who garners respect.

“Shoes” doesn’t win like he did in the past, mostly due to the Internet’s easy access to trends and stats. Before the net you would do all your own work and get the credit. The other thing was the three point play, which really has changed the game.

Another guy who did his work and won some serious money betting hoops before the three point play was a guy nicknamed “Joe the Plumber.” Joe never did any plumbing but when basketball season started he would put on his PJ’s and never leave the house until the madness was over.

I remember he would send his wife “Louise the Plumber’s wife” into the Stardust to make his bets. We just couldn’t wait and as soon as she left we were out getting down ourselves.

“Plumber” would hit around 70% winners but when the three point play came into existence it basically put him out of business. I think he had enough put away to purchase some new pajamas.

As for his wife, I think I saw her one time playing slots at the Mirage but I could be mistaken. It looked like the same dress she wore everyday coming into the “Dust” making Joe’s bets. Those were the days, my friend, we thought they would never end.

Even with the three pointer there are two games I really like this week.


West Virginia goes into South Bend to play the Irish who somehow got an OT win over Villanova last Saturday night. This is a good spot for WVU to get the dog win.


Wisconsin comes to Iowa City and catches the Hawkeyes off a huge win against Indiana. The Badgers are 5-0 ATS in this series when seeking revenge. Bet WISKY on the money line.

So where are the best handicappers? Vegas, of course.

We had another of our horse players hitting the Rainbow Pick Six at Gulfstream at Chuck Esposito’s Sunset Station Race book. Davis Bao parlayed $72.90 into well over 200k.

After the big win Bao headed to the Oyster Bar for dinner saying he was going to pay off his home mortgage and his car. I probably would have headed to the crap table or the megabucks machine and then off to San Diego. Good job, Davis.


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