March Madness for Less

For many sports fans, the NCAA basketball tournament is the biggest event of the year. And the best part of the biggest event takes place March 21-24, when the tournament field gets pared from 64 to 16. If you haven’t experienced being in a sportsbook for March Madness, you need to give it a try, especially on this opening weekend, when the games begin early and run one after another all day long for four days straight. The books air every one in real time and it’s an amazing scene, with just about everyone in the room having money riding on something.

If you want to have something riding, too, you might as well get a little something extra for your business. Sportsbooks giving away logoed souvenirs for bets include Arizona Charlie’s Decatur and LVH. At Charlie’s, a $20 parlay or $50 straight bet gets a hat, while at LVH a $25 parlay on a first-round game gets a T-shirt.

Of course, there are parties with price tags in the big casinos, but if you’re looking for free ones with good food and drink deals, they’ll be running at LVH, South Point, Silverton, Stratosphere, El Cortez, Hard Rock, Gold Coast and the Orleans.

While LVH will have its usual Hoops Central party, I kinda like what I’m seeing on the south side. Silverton is serving $4 PBR pitchers and $2 Coronas and Jager shots, along with $2 food specials throughout the casino, including pizzas in Mermaid’s Lounge (those usually go for $7) and tacos, taquitos and quesadillas in Mi Casa Grill Cantina.

A little farther south, South Point is holding its traditional big shindig in the Grand Ballroom, with drink specials that include $25 pitchers of Bloody Marys or margaritas, $4 shots and $2.67 bottles of Bud. By the way, those $2 Coronas and $2.67 Buds are predicated on buying them by the bucket. You get six Coronas for $12 at Silverton and six Buds for $16 at South Point; hence, the per-beer prices are $2 and $2.67, respectively. But the South Point Buds are 16-ouncers, making it exactly 16.67 cents per ounce on both deals (which brand do you prefer?).

Most of the other parties will have hot dogs and draft beers from $1.50 to $2. No complaints there, but the El Cortez does ’em at least 50 cents better, selling a dog or a draft for only a buck.

As for the Rebels, you diehards may have to temper your expectations just a bit, as the odds on UNLV winning it all are at about 55-1. That’s OK, they’re favored to win their first game, which means you’ll get to try at least two March Madness parties this year. There’s always a bright side when deals are in play.