The Girl's Guide to a Football Weekend in Las Vegas
There may be no better time to visit Las Vegas than autumn. The weather is great – warm enough for the pool by day but cool enough when the sun goes down to slide into your skinny jeans for a night out on the town. With school back in session, there won't be as many families traveling, meaning there will be plenty of deals on rooms to be had. And it's football season.
On football weekends, the entire city buzzes with the extra energy only diehard football fans bring to bear. On Saturdays, college football fans up and down the strip wear their school pride on their chests and backs. On Sunday mornings, even the blackjack dealers are decked out in NFL jerseys. Prime seats in front of the big screens fill up early at the sports books and bars. You can watch football while gambling, and you'll hear cheers throughout casino every time a team scores.
Even if you're not a fan of the game, if you're heading to Vegas this fall chances are you'll be traveling with someone who is. You may be tempted to get in a little shopping or spa time while your man is watching the big game. But why not book that massage so you're done by kickoff, slip into your favorite team apparel and join him? If you choose the right place to watch, you'll score big points with your guy and still have plenty of time before and after the game to enjoy all the nearby amenities. Who knows, if you get lucky on your football parlay, you may even win enough money for Vegas-style shopping spree!
Where to Watch Football in Las Vegas
There is no better place to watch football than a sports book, especially if you want to wager on your favorite team. (See below for a football gambling primer.) A sports book is the part of the casino where gamblers can bet on almost any sporting competition, from football to horse racing to golf. With comfortable armchair seating and walls of large screen TVs to keep track of all the games, they're also the perfect place for sports fans to cheer on their teams. Most sports books have cocktail service (complimentary if you're betting) or full-service bars, and many have snack bars or an adjacent deli.
While you can find a sports book at any of the big Vegas casinos, these sports books will satisfy any fan of the game while providing easy access to all the great shopping, shows, and dining the Strip has to offer:
Caesar's Palace: The sports book at Caesar's Palace is old-school Vegas located in the heart of the Strip. The room cavernous and dark with 250 seats, lots of standing room, and TVs everywhere. Food is served there or Bobby Flay's Mesa Grill is located nearby. Book a pre-game aqua massage at Qua Baths and Spa if you must, but try to get to the sports book early enough get a seat around one of the coffee tables with its own flat-screen TV. Have your guy hold your seat while you sneak over to the Forum Shops at halftime.
Mandalay Bay: You may want to stay here for the upscale resort experience, outstanding dining options, and awesome pool, but there's no need to leave to watch football. Mandalay Bay has an excellent sports book housed in a huge, open room with seating for 300 and multiple jumbo TVs. Allow enough time before kick-off on Sunday morning (remember, NFL games start at 10:00 a.m. Las Vegas time) to have gospel brunch at nearby House of Blues. After the game, explore the world of exotic marine predators at the resort's Shark Reef Aquarium.
MGM Grand: The sports book at MGM Grand has a stylish theater-in-the round feel with seating for 104 and nearly 100 TVs. Four elevated skyboxes are available to give private groups a luxury box experience. Enjoy cocktail service during the game and choose among the resort's numerous options for post-game dining, including restaurants by celebrity chefs Tom Colicchio, Wolfgang Puck, Emeril Lagasse, and Joel Robuchon.
Mirage: The Mirage boasts a destination "megabook" with arena seating and lots of big screen TVs for watching the games. Bettors drink for free and food is available nearby at California Pizza Kitchen and Carnegie Deli. Resort attractions to check out before or after the game include the famous Mirage volcano, the tropical rainforest in the atrium, a giant saltwater aquarium behind the registration desk, and Siegfried and Roy's Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat. Mirage also is home to Cirque du Soleil's The Beatles LOVE.
What is your favorite Vegas sports book?
For a sports book that's also a full menu restaurant and bar, try Lagasse Stadium at the Palazzo. The restaurant features stadium style seating around a jumbo projection screen and several smaller ones, with private viewing rooms and patios available for larger groups. The menu was designed by celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse. As a big fan himself, Lagasse knows what football fans like to eat and serves a variety of tailgating and pub food. While you're there, take a peek inside the three-story Barney's New York at Palazzo or check out the Grand Canal Shoppes at the neighboring Venetian.
The sports book at New York-New York is tiny, but the spacious Sporting House Bar & Grill is located right next door. Place your bets at the sports book then head inside the Sporting House to watch the game on one of its 130 televisions. Sporting House offers a full service bar and a menu of reasonably-priced American bar food. After the game, if you're feeling adventurous, take a ride above and through the faux Manhattan skyline on the New York-New York roller coaster. If you prefer to remain grounded, catch the dueling pianos at the Bar at Times Square.
A Football Betting Primer
While you're there to watch the big game, you may be confused by all the electronic reader boards at the sports book. And what's with those sheets of paper your man is studying so intently? What do all those numbers mean? With some basic knowledge of common football bets and the betting process, you won't feel so left out.
Those sheets of paper, which usually are located to the side of the betting window, are the betting cards. They show all the teams that will be playing and the odds on all possible bets that can be made. Gamblers use these sheets to indicate the wagers they wish to make and then take the sheets to the window to place their bets.
The electronic readers boards display essentially the same information as the betting cards. Because the odds change constantly, the information on the reader boards is the most current and will apply at the time a bet is made, regardless of what the betting cards say. A bet is locked in at the time it is made, even if the odds later change.
Here's an example of one entry you may see:
So what on earth does this mean? Let's start with the easy part first: this tells us the San Diego Chargers are playing the Kansas City Chiefs. The bottom team listed is always the home team, so we also know the game is being played in Kansas City.
The line (also known as the point spread) tells us which team is favored to win and by how much. In this case, the Chargers are favored to win by 3 points, which is reflected by the -3 in the Line column for the Chargers. The line is used in placing a straight bet, the most common football wager.
In a straight bet, the team picked must cover the point spread. In the example above, if you pick the Chargers, they must win the game by more than 3 points. If the final score of the game is 21-17 in favor of the Chargers, subtract the line (-3) from the Chargers' final score (21). Because the sum (21-3=18) is greater than the Chiefs' score of 17, you win. If you bet on the Chiefs, they must either win the game or lose by less than 3 points for you to collect. If the final score is 21-20 in favor of the Chargers, add the line (+3) to the Chiefs' final score (20). Here the sum (20+3=23) is greater than the Chargers' score of 21. That means you win a bet placed on the Chiefs, even though the Chiefs lost the game. If the Chargers win by exactly 3 points, the bet is declared a push and all money is refunded.
The total is the total points expected to be scored by both teams in the game, also known as the over/under. You can bet on whether the total score of the game will be more or less than the total listed. A bet that the score will be more than the total is known as the "over," while a bet that the score will be less than the total is the "under." If you bet the over and the final score of the game is 21-20, regardless of which team wins, you lose because 21+20=41, which is less than the total.
The payout on a straight bet or over/under bet generally is figured at odds of 10 to 11, meaning a wager of $11 would win $10. When you cash your winning ticket, you would receive $21 (your original $11 back, plus an extra $10).
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If you bet the money line, you disregard the point spread and bet on which team will win the game outright. If you have a hunch the underdog will win the game, a money line bet can provide a big payout if you're correct. Betting on the favored team is not as lucrative because you'll win less than the amount of your bet.
In our example above, the "minus" sign in the money line column indicates the Chargers are favored to win, while the "plus" sign indicates the Chiefs are the underdog. The numbers following the symbols indicate the odds. The Chargers' odds are -160, meaning if you wager $160 and the Chargers win, you will win $100 for a payout of $260. (You don't have to bet $160; a $16 bet would win $10 for a payout of $26 and a $10 bet would win $6.25 for a payout of $16.25.) The Chiefs' odds are +140, meaning a $100 wager would win $140 for a payout of $240 (and a $10 bet would win $14, for a payout of $24).
Another football bet is the parlay, where you combine bets on several teams and/or totals into a single wager. For a two game parley, you could pick the Chargers to cover (win by more than 3) and the total to be under 44.5. If both those things happen, you win. If either thing does not happen, you lose. Regardless of the size of the parlay, if any of the individual bets lose, the entire parlay is a loser. In the case of a push, that bet is disregarded and the parlay is reduced by one team. A two-team parlay would become a straight bet.
A parlay is an exciting bet because of an opportunity for a big payout if you pick all the correct teams. The amount you win depends on the number of individual bets. The more teams combined into a parlay, the higher the odds and the bigger the payout. A two team parlay generally pays at odds of 13 to 5 while a seven team parlay pays at 90 to 1. If you bet $10 on a 7 team parlay and all 7 teams cover the spread, you would win $900.
The lingo you hear at the sports book betting window may sound foreign to you. Using the example above, here's a handy translation:
- "101, twenty dollars." This is a $20 bet on the Chargers to win by more than 3 points.
- "101, money line, ten dollars." This is a $10 bet on the Chargers to win outright.
- "102, ten dollars." This is a $10 bet on the Chiefs to win, tie, or lose by less than 3 points.
- "102, money line, one hundred dollars." This is a $100 bet on the Chiefs to win.
- "101, over, twenty dollars." This is a $20 bet that the total score of the game will be greater than 44.5.
- "101, under, one hundred dollars." This is a $100 bet that the total score of the game will be less than 44.5.
With this new knowledge, you may be tempted to place a wager on your favorite team. While having some money riding on the game provides additional excitement, you should bet for fun only and not as a get rich quick scheme. Remember that most people leave Las Vegas with a lot less money than they started with. If you decide to place a bet, do so responsibly. And good luck!