Vegas on the Cheap: An Incomplete Guide to March Madness in Sin City

vegas-mgmBY ALEX RUSSELL

I’m hardly a “bro” in even the loosest sense of the word. I got a haircut today and my response of “none” to “what product do you use” was met with stunned silence. I say “And-1 Mix Tape” sometimes, but I’m pretty sure that might be the name of a guy in A Tribe Called Quest. I never say “epic.”

But I love Las Vegas, despite my lack of traditional bro qualities. (Brolities? Brahtributes? Broclivities?) It’s a fun town for a lot of the reasons some people hate it: the food ranges from amazing to disgusting, you can either drink at a fancy place or at Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, and you can do anything you want to do within reason.

I especially love Vegas in March. I imagine any event will bring out the dumb crazies in Vegas (people still watch boxing there, it’s a whole different world!) but the tournament does it everywhere. People go nuts in office buildings, so left with unlimited alcohol and essentially no rules, they’re even more fun.

This is only my third trip to Vegas. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I claim to have figured out the perfect way to the tournament’s opening weekend.

One quick word: the Thursday/Friday/Saturday/Sunday games will always be “opening weekend” in this format. I’m not against the expansion of the tourney and I don’t think turning the former “play in game” into “the First Four” is bad. We’ve immediately seen good teams get good shots as a result. It’s never going to stop the whining about getting “snubbed” but it will help. Hopefully Kentucky getting bounced in the first game of the NIT will help stop that. Even if it doesn’t, thank you, Troll Gods.

It may seem obvious, but Vegas is warm. It’s probably warmer than where you live, unless you live somewhere awful like Houston or the Sun. I live in Chicago. It sucks here right now. It’s the perfect time to leave for a week. So get off your ass and fly into McCarran.

This is assuming you’ve already booked your ticket. If you’ve waited, right now it’ll cost you about $900, or the price of 23 of the most popular coffee tables on Amazon. Pricing things in number of coffee tables really helps you keep your perspective in order. Cost of bread? Cost of gas? Go to hell. How much is a coffee table on Amazon, that’s how I want people to remember this period in our civilization.

Then you’ll need a room for you and yours. The debate about if this should be the year you spring for a nice room will come up. Let me solve your problem for you with this three question quiz:

  1. Have you ever slept in a thing that was not a bed or couch?
  2. Have you done it in the last five years?
  3. Does your job title include the word “president” and not the word “assistant?”

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS:

ANSWERS: YES / YES / NO

RESULT: You’re staying at whatever is cheapest on the strip, and you’re going to lie and tell people it was nice.

ANSWERS: NO / NO / YES

RESULT: Pay for all the rooms and enjoy your own private suite with the King of Bhutan. Careful, he went to Gonzaga and he’s really sensitive about it.

OTHER ANSWERS: Please see me after class. You drew a picture of a dinosaur, didn’t you?

Now that you have a flight and a room, you have to consider other expenses. How badly do you need to Instagram a $75 steak? How confident are you in your “system?” How much whiskey do you need in your room? Are you the sort of person that thinks the strip clubs in Vegas are “better?”

These aren’t questions I can answer for you. You’ll have to figure them out yourself based on your salary and how many times you’ve been struck in the head. Whatever you decide, go to Vegas in March one year. You can slum it in sports books and drink on the cheap, even in a nice place like Caesars Palace. Throw $30 on a game and pretend you know that scrappy point guard on Northwestern State is “so clutch, so money.” Bet against a powerhouse based on the line. Rejoice in one of the only things you might win. Gloat when a one seed covers.

When you get back to the real world and your bracket is in shambles because it turns out New Mexico is New Mexico, at least you’ll still have Vegas.

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