Congratulations to Annie S. for winning the 2016 Bracket Of Peril! She finished at the 94.7 percentile, despite not having the eventual winner, Villanova.
Of course, that means that nobody else picked Villanova either, despite the fact that they wound up #1 in Ken Pomeroy’s ratings. They were likely only picked by Villanova alumni and a couple of other weirdos.
Annie S., have fun with your big prize — a great big bunch of nothing!
I believe that this also makes it something like seven out of the last eight years that a top 21 defense has won the title — Villanova was #2 in defense. And #6 in offense somehow. Offense helps win games too.
The gambling on basketball didn’t go quite as well this year — the total was a few more losses than wins. Not a disaster, but it could have gone better. The over/unders didn’t go well. There were a few missed late free throws (two teams I picked combined to go 1-7 from the line late, blowing two covers in the process.) And so on.
So let’s see if I can make up my losses in real money with fake picks:
Because I may have messed up in my admin Group duties, this year we have an official winner, and an unofficial winner.
The official winner is JD, with 1160 points, good for the 90.4th percentile.
The unofficial winner is Annie S., who had an entry that didn’t get entered into the Bracket Of Peril — the root cause of which was likely A.J. Coltrane induced. Her offending bracket was good for 1210 points, with Duke winning the championship.
Thanks to everyone for playing! Maybe I’ll win one of these years if the teams I pick don’t spontaneously implode.
I told you to make something other than a Kentucky bracket! We had plenty of those!
Vegas, Day 4. Sunday. The last day of sports gambling before we fly out on Monday.
By Sunday morning I should be done placing bets. What that means is that I don’t have to focus on the games as intently, since I’ve already invested what I’m going to invest. It’s a good day to wander around so long as there’s a television nearby — we’ve been glued to seats most of the last three days.
-After breakfast on Sunday we walked a short distance to a “new to us” bar/casino. (Well, newly remodeled, and we haven’t historically hung out there.) The bar featured about 40 feet of big-screen TVs, end to end to end. That seemed like a good place to start the day, so we took five seats in prime real estate, inserted a not insignificant amount of cash into the video poker machines, and ordered adult beverages.
To backtrack a little bit: The casinos have “Player Cards”. When you’re playing a game you put your card into the machine. The casinos track what you play, how fast you play, how much you wager — basically they’re figuring out how fast you’re bleeding so that they can determine whether they want to keep you around as a customer. They’re also determining if you’re worth freebies, and what the form of those freebies should take.
What we hadn’t done was to insert our Player Cards. We didn’t have Cards for that casino and we weren’t going to sweat it.
I started with a high risk/reward game and won $110 on my 3rd spin. I was pretty pleased with that. My plan was then to switch over to a more “normal” game, and if played at all conservatively I could drink for free for the rest of the afternoon..
Within a few minutes a small, polite woman appeared behind us, asking if we wanted Players Cards. Now, normally we’d have to go stand in line for our Players Cards, but we’d triggered something that got us “special attention”. It could of been how and what we were playing, or how much cash we’d dumped into the machines to start with, or it could have been the fact that all we had left at that point in the trip was larger bills, and we’d been passing them back and forth like Monopoly money and the cameras had picked that up. (That’s one of the beauties of Vegas — it always feels like Monopoly money eventually.)
So we got our Players Cards and continued with what we were doing. Maybe an hour went by, then this happened for the traveling companion on my right:
That’s 1,000 bananas. He was dealt that hand. The odds against that are 1 in 650,000.
Then three hours later, I was dealt this:
That’s another 1,000 bananas. At the same odds. The two adjacent machines spit out a whole bunch of bananas in (relatively) rapid succession.
We’ve been going to Vegas for around 20 years and playing a ton of video poker, and neither of us had ever hit the big payout. When finally each won it was within three hours of each other. Wild.
At that point, everything else was gravy. We’d basically paid for the trip.
On the Sunday basketball gambling I went 6-2 (again), bringing my total for the trip to 25-22. That’s a winning percentage of 53.2%. Break even is at 52.4%. I beat the break even by not quite 1%. Squeak!
Basically it broke out to:
0-6 (Thursday morning)
7-2 (Thursday afternoon/evening)
12-4 (Saturday and Sunday)
I’m ok with that. Thursday was a historically good day for the sports books and a bad day for bettors. Taking out the disastrous 0-6 start I won 61%, which is pretty good. I’d like to think I learned a few things again, and that I’ll do better next year. And we had fun long weekend on the cheap!
Of course, it’s not Vegas without an Elvis sighting:
Day 2 was Friday. On Friday I went 6-10, bringing my total for the trip to 13-18.
The Thursday losses were a bunch of weird early morning upsets. Friday felt like a decent enough day, with good wins mixed in with assorted narrow losses — a rebound here, a missed shot there, and many of the games could have gone either way… Probably 8 of the 10 losses were in doubt until the end.
It felt like I was getting close, and that order was being restored. I went 6-10, but that’s about as poorly as it could have gone, and it could have just as easily have been 8-8 or 10-6. Of course, that’s the same rationalization that the degenerates use…
As a bonus, Friday was easily the best food day of the trip: We had a very nice Mexican lunch, and an excellent dinosaur-old-school steak-house dinner — the losing went down more easily with a perfectly cooked lamb shoulder and a nice Pinot Grigio.
That, and I didn’t have to sit through getting my head beat in all morning again, so that was nice.
…One sportsbook said Thursday was its biggest single-day win in memory.
“Epic day, absolutely,” Jay Rood, vice president of MGM race and sports, said of Thursday. “Tough day for the players coupled with the fact the books did well Wednesday, too.”
“Yesterday was amazing,” Dave Pemberton, director of specialty games for Caesars Entertainment, added Friday night.
Including the First Four games Tuesday and Wednesday, underdogs covered the spread in the first 10 games of the tournament. Favorites went 4-12 against the spread Thursday. No. 14 seed Georgia State and UAB pulled off upsets as double-digit underdogs, damaging brackets and destroying money-line parlays everywhere.
“We didn’t sweep the board [Thursday] but we were pretty close,” Jason Simbal of CG Technology’s sportsbook said.
I opened Thursday with zero wins against six losses. It got bad enough that I had to go to the ATM to continue.
Baylor by 9? Nope. Defeated. Iowa State as a 14-point favorite? Out of the tournament. Notre Dame didn’t cover, even though they had the #3 offense in the country going in. On and on it went.
Like most of the squares, I’d picked a bunch of favorites. Looking at my sheet prior to the first game it was obvious that it could potential trouble, but then even the picks I was extremely comfortable with failed.
About five hours into the massacre I got my first win — Arizona covered at the half. Fortunately I went 7-2 starting at that point to finish the day at 7-8. The three Over/Under bets and two halftime bets probably helped. I also won UCLA (+4 vs SMU) and Utah (-6.5 vs Stephen F. Austin). From the sound of it, I got off easy.
This is the one day that I skipped a game altogether. Kentucky was favored by 34 and I didn’t want to go anywhere near that one. (Kentucky wound up winning by 26.)
We arrived in the casino on Wednesday, early evening. The late, tournament “play-in” games hadn’t started yet.
The game that interested me was Boise St. versus Dayton. I’d seen both teams recently and felt fairly confident that I knew what they were — that I had a good idea of their styles, strengths, weaknesses, and true talent levels.
To backtrack a bit: We’d been enjoying adult beverages starting in the mid-morning. (Especially me.) Free cocktails in the VIP lounge at the airport. Free cocktails on the plane. I was well lubricated. I was ready to make a “fun” bet to kick off the weekend, and Boise St. – Dayton seemed like an excellent place to start.
We made our way to the sports book and were presented with something like this:
But the game I wanted to place a bet on said “SUSP”. Which I took to mean “suspended”. I didn’t know why the betting might be “off” on that game so I asked the attendant:
Me: “Is the betting off on the Boise St. game?”
Attendant: “Let’s see… no, the line is +4.5 for Boise St.”
That means that if I were to take Boise St. at say, $50, and they were to either win outright or lose by 4 or less, then I’d win $45.45 and pocket a total of $95.45, counting my original $50 I’d get back. Not bad. But then I’m thinking that if Boise St. is that slim of an underdog maybe I can make more money by betting them to win outright….
Me: “What’s the Money Line?” (Odds for Boise St. to win outright.)
Now that’s interesting! If Boise St. wins outright then I’ll win $87.50 and pocket $137.50. That, to my mind, is a good value bet in this scenario. So, quickly, and with confidence…
Me: “$50 on the Money Line please.”
Random Regular Leaning On The Counter To My Right: “Me Likey! They’re my team!”
And by that, he doesn’t mean he’s rooting for Boise St., only that he has money on them too. I take it as an encouraging sign that one of the degenerates approves of my taste in Boise St.
The game begins. Our favorite bartender is feeding me more adult beverages, and I’m feeling pretty good about things:
Boise St. led 29-17 with 2:09 to go in the 1st half.
The group name is Cheap Seat Eats. Password is TakeMeOut.
They made it easier to join this year. If you played in the group last year you can simply select “Rejoin Group”, and away you go. Up to three entries per person. Have some fun with it and make a non-Kentucky bracket too!
As usual, the winner gets a whole bunch of nothing!
Join soon, the tournament starts Thursday, with the play-in games on Tuesday.
Well, this year’s “Bracket of Peril” was definitely perilous for all of the participants. Not only did no one pick the eventual champion UConn, no one in the pool had more than one final 4 team, and that was a just about everyone and we all had Florida. Most of our fates were sealed during the elite 8 when everyone’s final 4 teams except for Florida were knocked out.
As a result of that, there were 2 players left standing, with the bracket hinging on the Florida-UConn game. The way it played out JD (sorry, we will only use initials, but you know who you are) had Florida losing the title game and TJ had Florida winning it. Basically, if Florida won the National Championship, TJ would have claimed the CSE title, otherwise we had a tie (I hate total points as the tiebreaker; it is like using rock-paper-scissors or penalty kicks to break a tie). As you know, Florida was upset by UConn, leaving us with the kiss your sister moment of having to crown co-champions in the 2014 Bracket of Peril.
There was much rejoicing.
Congratulations to JD and TJ for surviving, ending the reign of Annie S., and we look forward to you defending your title in 2015 when we introduce even more peril.
Until then, enjoy the accolades that come with winning and this picture of a grail-shaped beacon since we can’t actually afford a real trophy.