Dave and Chris have ruled out strippers during March Madness weekend. Too expensive. Besides, they’re married. And Chris abides by three guidelines during Vegas’ third-busiest time of the year:
"Don’t catch the VD. Don’t get arrested. Don’t do anything so that you have to see a bank examiner when you get home."
Chris and Dave — California radio talkers in their 30s — won’t disclose their last names because of dumb, vague paranoia. They’re drinking and gambling with four friends at the Las Vegas Hilton’s SuperBook. They brought $1,000 each for bets, which took how long to save?
"I’m married. It takes me," Dave says and joke-strokes his half-beardy thing, "about five years."
They’ve secured a good spot. The Hilton is a worthy mainstay, says Anthony Curtis, guru behind LasVegasAdvisor.com. But sports books are strong Vegas-wide.
"It’s idiot-proof" to pick a hotel book, Curtis says. "It’s gonna be good anywhere."
Curtis is drawn to the "electric" Palms and to Palace Station "for the last-man-standing tournament." Tourists are jamming up the bigs, from Caesars to The Mirage and on.
Some places dangle deals for $1 hot dogs and beer. The Orleans is advertising free basketballs for bets of $20.
The sleeper is Green Valley Ranch, Curtis says. It’s cool, classy and high-tech, plus "really good-looking girls are working there."
At the Hilton, Dave and Chris and everyone else guzzles for free at the book. Nonsmokers have taken over Barry Manilow’s theater to eye huge screens, but Barry’s got no betting boards in there.
These men of Madness are low maintenance, craving free drinks, double-bacon cheeseburgers and big-screen TVs, says Jay Kornegay, executive director of the Hilton’s book. They’re good tippers, "the best of the best," says cocktailer Betty Ghedini, who expects to earn vacation money for Vegas’ spiritual nemesis — evil, evil Disney World.
For dudes, Madness is better than Disney. They can bet on 48 games while squatting in one area for four days, away from wives and daughters, and hygiene.
Chris surveys men in sports caps and tucked-in gray shirts in belted jeans, and estimates 20 percent did not brush their teeth so they could rush to claim seats by 6 a.m.
And why bother? There are almost no women.
A rare girlfriend sighting is Jessica Bell, slouching in a plush seat her fiance Lucas Rogers took at 4:30 a.m., along with his first Bloody Mary of the day.
"My fiance’s not too happy," she overstates from under her Gophers cap. "I’m winning more than him."
How does he feel about this?
Female-free Chris and Dave are zero percent embarrassed. Assertively, Dave says, "We’re cheering for Kentucky."
"No we’re not!" Chris cracks. "We’re cheering for points!"
Chris sighs it would be nice to win a little: "We’re dumb enough to know we won’t win. But even a blind squirrel finds a nut."
Doug Elfman’s column appears on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. Contact him at 383-0391 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. He also blogs at reviewjournal.com/elfman.