My wife hates watching football. However, she likes football season. Why? Because it means jalapeno cheese chips, buffalo wings and free-flowing drinks week after week with friends. I love all that too. And I make it even more fun (and hopefully profitable!) by joining a few inexpensive football contests at the beginning of each NFL football season.
Many, but not all casino sportsbooks have multiple screens featuring the biggest NFL games from week to week. This year I’ll probably be splitting my time between the M Resort and Green Valley Ranch (only because it’s closer to where I live). However, there are numerous bars around town dedicated to particular teams (more on that next week!) so if you’re in Vegas and want to be surrounded by like-minded fans enjoying a cheap drinks and cheap appetizers euphoria, it’s not hard to find the right venue for your inner sports fan/significant other.
Football contests have always been a way for casinos to spike the amount of traffic coming through their doors every week-end from September to January. In this economy, I believe it’s really going to be worth keeping up on the deals they’ll be offering. Cheap drinks and cheap (or even free!) appetizers will likely be the norm for the coming 17 weeks. Saturdays are for college football fans and Sundays are for NFL football fans. The seasonal football contests are a way to make sure both sets of fans keep coming back from week-to-week whether they win or lose because the final tally of wins (and in at least one case losses) is the big money draw for those fans who like to put a little money on the line.
As a local, the only football contest in a Las Vegas Strip casino I’m going to mention is the one at The Palms, basically because they’re just about the only one that caters to locals. However, I will heartily recommend any Monday night game at the Bellagio, Mandalay Bay, Planet Hollywood, or Ceasar’s Palace. The week-end tourists are gone, it’s a little less crowded and the seating and big-screen technology is state of the art.
I’ve done the Station Casinos “Great Giveaway Football Contest” for the past three years and although it attracts thousands of players I intend to do it again this year. I like it because there are NO POINT SPREADS! The entry fee is only $25. If you buy two you get a third free. The prize pool for the most weekly winners is $20,000 (whoever wins the tie-breaker is guaranteed $10,000 or a new Ford F-150 truck) and the prize pool for the most weekly losers is $10,000 (tie-breaker winner guaranteed $5,000).
At the end of the season, First Place wins $100,000 or A HOUSE (!!) valued at $200,000. Only in Vegas, huh? There is also a sliding scale of cash prizes to the next 199 top winners. Same for the end of season Most Losers. The nice thing about the Station contest is there is also a $200,000 prize pool for those who end up with an equal number of wins and losses at the end of the season (I’ve done this twice). So with three cards every week, you can play one for winners, one for losers and alternate the third to try to stay somewhere in the middle. If you don’t win anything all season but play every week, you get your $50 initial bankroll reimbursed in the form of free slot play. Not bad.
Even better, Coast Club members automatically earn THREE FREE ENTRIES entries each week in their “Pick the Pros Football Contest” and the picks can be done online. Again, no point spreads. This one doesn’t have an end-of-season reward, just weekly winners. So join Coast Club if you haven’t already!
The Palms has a beautiful, beautiful sportsbook. Packed on the week-ends, it’s an oasis during the week. Their “Pigskin Payoff Football Contest” has a $25 entry fee, limit three but if you buy three ($75) you get three more free. No point spreads. Weekly winners with a guaranteed $300,000 end-of-season grand prize pro-rated to the top 50 finishers. (For those who live in the central, north or western part of town, the Palms contest costs the same but has fewer players than the Station contest so there’s a better chance of winning.)
The M Resort offered it’s first ever football contest this year: $3,000 entry fee, field capped at 30 entries to pick three college and three NFL games against the spread each week. Too big a bankroll for me, but a very small field of players and all $90,000 will be paid out in prizes. Unfortunately for any high rollers out there this contest filled up in less than a week and it’s already closed. However, the M is doing something I’ve never seen. They are offering lines on every single game of the season, all seventeen weeks, right now. So if your favorite team is playing your least favorite team in November you can bet on it now. It’s straight bets only and no parlays allowed, but getting the Bears at home at -3 1/2 against Arizona in Week 9, for instance, is a real good bet that won’t be around on Sunday November 8, 2009!
Next Thursday, September 10, 2009 the NFL season begins with Tennessee playing the Steelers. Next week I’m going to talk about what I think are some good over/under bets for Regular Season Wins for a few teams and some home-team fan bars around town.
MLB bets: (okay, here it is, my first 9-0 weekend (I hope!))
Last Week: 7-4
As always, good luck and remember to play responsibly!