In Big Dance,
‘need’ matters

Feb 27, 2007 3:16 AM

NCAA conference tournaments are designed to generate revenue for the member schools. The best team, however, doesn’t always win the tournament.

The league champion is usually an automatic selection to the Big Dance and that team doesn’t have the same incentive as the bubble team who needs to win to get in.

Proceed with caution when wagering on the league tournaments. Bet on the team that needs it, not necessarily the one who already has its bags packed.

March is a great month for sports, but I’m looking forward to April a bit more.

By the weekend, college basketball will be knee deep in conference basketball tournaments leading up to the NCAAs, otherwise known as the Big Dance or March Madness.

It’s a great two plus weeks in sports books throughout the state. The sheer volume and diversity of public opinion almost guarantees a lucrative month to all Nevada sports books.

With that thought in mind myself, first lieutenant Eric St. Clair, along with other key employees at The Rampart set out to somehow get a great deal of volume for our small book on Rampart Boulevard in Summerlin in 2002.

We devised a free no point contest for the public which consisted of seeing how many of the Sweet 16 teams you could select. The prize scale to the best of my knowledge was 12 winners out of 16 teams would earn $25, 13 worth $200, 14 netting $500, 15 getting $2,000 and all 16 coming to $5,000.

We allowed one entry per person and IDs were required for all entries. The people had to show up at The Rampart in person to sign up.

It was simple and sign-ups were to be rapid as all employees would be working on the Wednesday prior to the opening day of the Tournament. My hope was for about 500 contestants and hopefully we could fill the casino or part of it for the following five days.

The cards were to be distributed all day Wednesday and people could enter up until the first game Thursday morning. We began distributing the cards and entry forms at 8 a.m. at our book, which barely had 40 seats if you include the bar stools.

For the next 12 hours the lines for signups never let up and only got longer. It looked like New Year’s Eve throughout the entire property for the entire day.

We had almost 2,000 entries and I’m sure our volume was unbelievable. People who signed up decided they might as well make a wager or two while they were here. I later learned that we were on many Internet sites and at least two of them predicted that we would suffer losses of over $1 million.

I remained confident that we would be okay, knowing it was double tough to pick straight-up winners in this Tournament. The first day, only one higher seed team was eliminated. After the second day, only two higher seeds bit the dust.

I rationalized that all of the higher seeds would win until Saturday and Sunday when their competition became so much stronger. I admit that after Friday’s games I started looking on the Internet to see if the Devil’s Advocates gave us much of a chance to survive.

Saturday’s games began with a few minor upsets, but I was feeling pretty good going into Sunday’s games. One matchup featured a No. 1 seed being beat on Sunday, and I was certain that everybody had that particular team. I no longer sweated the $5,000 prize.

All who knew me noticed my hair had gone from brown to gray over that fun-filled weekend. We ended up paying out about $600 or $700 total, but I was real macho. I bought a jar of brown-out for my new gray hair and bragged to everybody that the contest was a "slam-dunk."

Have a great week!