Lay The Favorite Movie Review

Lay The Favorite Movie Poster
Lay The Favorite

I don’t write movie reviews very often. Between my lack of patience to watch movies and minimal movies about casinos and gambling there’s little to write about. That said, I was stoked to see “Lay The Favorite” when I first heard about it. People seemed to enjoy the book and the story behind “Lay The Favorite” which is about sports betting and it was mostly set in Las Vegas – two things I like a bit too much.

I saw the trailer in 2012 but hadn’t heard anything about the movie until I saw it that it was available on Netflix last week. That was surprising with the big names like Bruce Willis involved as a main character of the movie.

Before I saw the trailer for “Lay The Favorite” I thought this movie had my name written all over it. The trailer didn’t look very good but the subject matter would make the movie interesting, right? Sure. Kinda. For a while. The premise of the movie  would be the same as the trailer, so how bad could it be?

Ex-private dancer Beth aspires to be a Las Vegas cocktail waitress, when she falls in with Dink, a sports gambler. Sparks fly as she proves to be something of a gambling prodigy–much to the ire of Dink’s wife, Tulip.

Lay The Favorite” set the story of a stripper (Beth) going to Las Vegas looking for a new lease on life and a little inspiration to find a little direction was fine. Beth’s introduction to sports betting was fine too. The movie was still moving at a nice pace and I was still focused and interested. Beth meeting Dink (Bruce Willis) and the initial story of her learning how to bet on sports was even good. The first 15-20 minutes setting up “Lay The Favorite” were okay. Maybe this wouldn’t be too bad.

I was wrong. This is where the movie fell apart for me. The movie stopped focusing on sports betting, Vegas and friendship and devolved into a wannabe rom-com. There wasn’t much rom and, besides a few funny lines from Vince Vaughn, there wasn’t much com. The movie focused too much on a love story between a 60-year-old and a 20-something year old.

I was so bored by the movie that I decided to do something I never do when I’m watching a movie – multi-task. I use movies as a way to escape for 90 minutes but I ended up multi-tasking through most of the second half of the movie. I haven’t read the book for “Lay The Favorite” but I imagine that the book went into more detail on the things I would be into – sports betting and moving to Vegas.

To get a real understanding of “Lay The Favorite” see what Netflix recommends I watch next. WTF?!

Lay The Favorite Netflix

Lay The Favorite” is the kind of movie that I’d watch again if I hit the end of my Netflix queue, which stands at 57 right now (meaning that I won’t). I’m glad I watched “Lay The Favorite” because I was curious to see the movie but that’s really about the only positive takeaway from the movie. Now we know what to expect the next time a movie starts with “Unskinny Bop”.

Here are some links for “Lay The Favorite”:

Gold Coast Renovations

I have a soft spot in my heart for the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast was one of the first casinos I stayed at when visiting Las Vegas and it’s still one of the places I recommend people stay when looking for a cheap hotel rooms near the strip. Gold Coast is about to become a better bargain with new hotel and casino renovations.

Contractors are putting the finishing touches on 400 refurbished hotel rooms at the Gold Coast.

The rooms, which are expected to reopen in the next two weeks, feature new wall coverings, carpets, blackout drapes and furniture, including armoires, dressers and desks.

The next phase of the renovation, scheduled to begin this summer, will include installing new carpeting in Gold Coast’s 87,000-square-foot casino and replacing all of its slot stands and chairs.

Gold Coast has cheap gambling with quick drink service and the renovations to make the hotel rooms more modern and clean this is definitely a great place to crash. There is nothing fancy about the Gold Coast casino but it’s a fun place to play with decent food options.

Gold Coast is owned by Boyd Gaming and its B Connected players club is connected with 6 other Las Vegas hotels and 7 others across the country so playing at Gold Coast will earn comps to use at a lot of different casinos. The B Connected app is an excellent combination of players club and hotel information.

I can smell a low limit Pai-Gow night coming up soon!

Photo: Wikimedia

More On Why The Vegas Strip Is Changing

I love the Vegas strip. There’s no place in the world like it. There never has been and there never will be. It’s awesome. That said, the strip has been changing a lot from when I first started visiting Las Vegas for bettor better and worse. Right now the center of the Vegas strip is where you’ll find plenty of construction for The Linq, The Quad and Bill’s but in the next few years the construction will be moving to the north end of the strip with Resorts World and SLS Hotel.

The Vegas strip change isn’t anything new. CityCenter, Cosmopolitan and even Wynn ushered in change over the past decade because their customers are changing. People don’t come to Las Vegas just to gamble like they used to. They come for the night clubs, fine dining and shows. In fact, people have been coming to Las Vegas for those things more often almost every year since 1990 and in 1999 when people began spending more money on things beyond the casino.


Gaming Vs Non Gaming Revenue

Revenue is the total amount of money spent and not profit. This chart only shows gaming and non-gaming revenue so let’s look at an approximation on gross profit. The house edge (ie. gross profit) on some of the worst bets in the casino is only 30% with the lowest house advantages being under 1%. Meanwhile, the markup on a bottle of wine in a 4 star restaurant can be 200% or more. Even a soda at a low end restaurant will be marked up over 1,000%. The markup on a bottle of vodka at a nightclub dwarves all both of those.

In todays, corporate run, Las Vegas every square inch of a casino has to show a profit. This information has to be reported every quarter and in order to show shareholders that the future looks bright they have to always show a profit. Sure the casino may lure you in but the real money is made on those awesome SW steak dinners or at a table in Marquee.

Even if the Cosmo only gets a percentage of the revenue from Marquee there is a nice chunk of money to be made their from small stake plus rent plus overflow spending at restaurants and bars.

Gambling hasn’t left Las Vegas. Far from it. While the chart above shows that 35% of the revenue earned on the Vegas strip is from gaming you’ll find that Downtown Vegas still earns the majority of its revenue from gaming.

Moving forward expect this trend to continue. If you’re a gambler you’ll probably find better gaming options and more people like you downtown. If you don’t mind worse gaming odds and don’t mind being around different people you will still be able to find fun on the Vegas strip.

Personally, I love the both the gaming and non-gaming Las Vegas and look forward to seeing what the future brings.


Slot Machine Myths

I wrote an article for Gaming Today offering some basic slot machine strategy this week. As I mention in that article there really isn’t much strategy involved with slot machines since they are programed by a random number generator (RNG) chip. While each spin is random and independent the pay tables are predetermined and there’s little you can do to change the outcomes.

Gambling is as much mental as it is factual. See Blackjack Myths for great examples of that. I’m not the most analytical person but I like to know the facts. Any gaming myth just gets in the way the facts.

While doing research for the Gaming Today article I came across a list of slot machine myths from Wizard of Odds that should be common knowledge but aren’t.

  • Slot machines are programmed to go through a cycle of payoffs. Although the cycle can span thousands of spins, once it reaches the end the outcomes will repeat themselves in exactly the same order as the last cycle.
  • Slot machines are programmed to pay off a particular percentage of money bet. Thus, after a jackpot is hit the machine will tighten up to get back in balance. On the other hand, when a jackpot has not been hit for a long time it is overdue and more likely to hit.
  • Machines pay more if a player card is not used.
  • Using a player card enables the casino to report my winnings to the IRS.
  • The slot department can tighten my game with the press of a button remotely. Thus, you better be nice to the staff and tip them well, or they will use a remote control to have the machine take you down in a hurry.
  • The machines by the doors and heavy traffic flow areas tend to be loose while those hidden in quiet corners tend to be tight.
  • Slots tend to be looser during slow hours on slow days of the week. However, when the casino is busy they tighten them up.

I tell myself that I’m not much of a slot player but that’s a lie. I play more slot machines than most of my casino going friends. Slot machines are in the mix whenever I visit a casino, especially when I’m alone. I prefer the new games with bright lights and loud noises.

The only myth that messes with my head is about the time of day. I know that slot machine jackpots aren’t set to go off at a certain time but it never seems as if anyone hits a jackpot at 7am. 7am is probably my favorite time to stroll into a casino to play the slots. I sip on some coffee and ease into a day at the casino….Ahhhhhhhhh.

Photo: Finger Lakes Racetrack

Tweet me @eastcoastgamblr


Play Ball! Not Slot Machines.

New York Mets Citi Field
Citi Field

Pitchers and catchers report to MLB spring training today! Baseball fans, like me, love this day. Not only does it signify that nice weather is around the corner but so is baseball season.

One of the newest baseball stadiums, Citi Field home to the New York Mets, was originally proposed to house a casino. Alas, that fell through.

The owners of the New York Mets reportedly wanted to take a gamble on owning a casino next to Citi Field, the home of their major league club.

Sterling Equities, the real estate company operated by Mets owner Fred Wilpon and family, pitched a casino adjacent to the major league stadium in September 2011 and offered the City of New York $100 million to acquire 62 acres for the site, the New York Post reported Tuesday.

It’s a shame that building a casino to go along with Citi Field fell through. It wouldn’t have been a full casino since casinos in New York City aren’t allowed to have table games yet.

This casino would just have slot machines and video poker but it would have combined two of my favorite things in the world baseball and casinos. It would give this Yankees fan an excuse to check out a new baseball stadium even if it meant sitting through the Muts.

There’s more on the potential of a Queens casino at the New York Post.



Super Bowl XLVII Breaks Casino Records

Super Bowl XLVII (or is that Big Game XLVII?) broke records in the Nevada sportsbooks this year for the most money wagered on a game.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board announced bettors wagered $98,936,798 on the 2013 Super Bowl, the most in the history of the state. This year’s game easily surpassed the $93,067,358 bet on the 2006 Super Bowl when the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10.

Sports books held 7.3 percent of the total handle, calculating to a win of $7,206,460. That’s the most since the 2007 Super Bowl, when Nevada made $12,930,175 on the Indianapolis Colts 29-17 victory against the Chicago Bears.

Sportsbooks also made more money than sports bettors. This should come as no surprise since they sportsbooks made money on 16 of the last 18 Super Bowls. Hey, it’s their job to make more money than gamblers.

The game itself was fun to watch and I had proposition bets alive until the end of the game. Alas my action was split (I was 2 and 2) and I contributed to the sportsbook fund. Since sports betting makes up less than 2% of all casino gaming revenues I’m happy to help keep the lights on…for a little while. With the new technology and increased popularity in proposition bets you can rest assure that casinos will continue to make more money on the Super Bowl in the future.

After enjoying with the fun and chaos of watching the Super Bowl on the Vegas strip last year I decided to stay home so I can actually watch the game. While the game was fun to watch and the Beyonce halftime show was awesome the commercials were lacking. My dudes at The Laugh Button take a look at the few funny Super Bowl ads.

I love football season but I’m happy it’s done. NFL Sunday’s stress me out. Now I have the sportsbooks back to myself. I wrote about upcoming major sporting events for Vegas Chatter today. Besides March Madness the sportsbooks should be relatively tame and that’s how I like it.


Wheel of Fortune And Michael Jackson Most Played Slot Machines

I look at a lot of gaming statistics but I don’t remember seeing information for slot machines that provided specific information to what games were played the most. That changed last night when I learned that Wheel of Fortune was the most played slot machine last year. Megabucks and Michael Jackson were tied for second most played slot machines last year.

IGT, which makes Wheel of Fortune and Megabucks, led the fourth quarter in sales with survey participants purchasing 34 percent of their games from the Reno-based company. Bally, a Las Vegas manufacturer that makes the Michael Jackson game, was second with 16 percent of sales. WMS accounted for 9 percent in sales but was the leading company in leased games.

This makes perfect sense. Wheel of Fortune is the favorite slot machine of many people in the casino that have white or blue hair. I love Wheel of Fortune too…it’s one of the survivors of the reel slot machine era. I just want to SPIN!

The Michael Jackson slot machine really isn’t anything special but it’s new and has his popular music and it seems to hit a sweet spot with people in casinos. It’s a flashback for the person in their mid 30’s-40’s and retro for younger people. I played this game once…once.

Megabucks also comes as no surprise as one of the most played slot machines since it’s essentially Nevada’s lottery. Most people just want to win jackpots. Much like the Michael Jackson slot machines I’ve only played Megabucks once. These games are boring and have bad returns. That’s a combo I don’t like.

I’m expecting similar results in 2013. There’s a new Michael Jackson Cirque Du Soliel show coming soon and promotion for the show can only help the slot machine. Older people in the casino will likely hang on to their old favorite Wheel of Fortune reel slot machine while people will always be lured into Megabucks because they’re all living the dream.

Best Craps On The Vegas Strip

Craps Table At Luxor
Craps Table At Luxor

As the year ended I looked at the best craps in downtown Las Vegas and didn’t find anything too surprising. Main Street Station has the best odds for a craps game downtown.

Most gaming on the Vegas Strip is worse than those offered in downtown Vegas but that’s not entirely true when it comes to dice. Craps on the Vegas strip is almost the same at every casino but there are a few locations that stand out being better than the rest. Here’s the breakdown.

  1. 100x – The Cromwell
  2. 10x – SLS Las Vegas, Stratosphere
  3. 3-4-5x – Aria, Bally’s, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Casino Royale, Cosmopolitan, Encore, Excalibur, Flamingo, Harrah’s, The Quad, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, MGM Grand, Mirage, Monte Carlo, New York New York, Palazzo, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Treasure Island, Tropicana, Venetian
  4. 2x – Circus Circus, Wynn/Encore

3-4-5 Craps is the norm on the strip and that’s fine. Regardless of the odds craps still has some of the lowest house edges in the casino. The difference between 3-4-5 and 100x odds is fairly small and not enough to make me go somewhere I don’t want. That said, if Cosmopolitan or somewhere nice had a 100x odds game they would likely find me at the table.

Note: If you know different odds at any of the casinos please leave a comment. This craps survey was updated 3/2018.

Photo – flickr jcnikon

Baccarat: Casinos Best Friend and Worst Enemy

Monthly casino gaming revenues take into account baccarat along with all other games you’ll find on the casino floor. Baccarat is a high roller game and wins and losses for players and casinos are drastic.

baccarat is showing the greatest strength in the casinos. “Baccarat figures are volatile,” said Lawton, who predicts baccarat win will increase 5 percent this fiscal year and increase an estimated 3 to 4 percent in the coming biennium.

Maddox said the Wynn properties market to the high-end players. He said the casinos “overly rely on 150 international customers willing to wager millions of dollars.”

I don’t write, or talk, about baccarat much because 1) I find the game boring and 2) when I was learning how to play the game in Atlantic City a friend and I were called Gweilo (AKA “White Devil”) by one of the Asian players at my table. I don’t need that in my life.

High rollers play baccarat since it has such great odds and fair returns on their money spent. Since big baccarat games (the game held in their own room and not mini baccarat on the casino floor) have such an impact on casino and overall state gaming revenue it comes as no surprise that casinos would focus on bringing in baccarat players.

Baccarat is basically an even odds game so the hefty wagers can swing casino revenue one way or the other in a day, let alone a quarter or year. Since the game is essentially a coin flip it’s no surprise that it’s expected to continue to grow in popularity.

Even though most baccarat players are high(er) rollers it’s interesting that Wynn Las Vegas only focuses on 150 players to make satisfy their baccarat income for any given month. These are the highest of the high rollers.

This is something to take into account when you’re a medium roller (like me) wondering why your $25 blackjack or $1 video poker play isn’t gaining much in return from the players clubs at casinos have baccarat (Not all casinos have big baccarat games). If casinos lose a few medium rollers it doesn’t directly effect their bottom line. It’s another story if they lose one of these 150 big baccarat players gambling millions of dollars on a weekend.

This is simply common sense but the reminder of how significant your play is to a casino allows you to manage your expectations and keep things fun at the casino. I know I can use the reminder after a bad weekend of gambling at Encore and Wynn.

Odds Of You Busting At Blackjack

I don’t like doing math but I’m curious about the facts when I’m in the casino. Earlier this year I shared some of the Myth’s of Blackjack and earlier this week I added another myth to that list when I found blackjack dealer bust rates.

Now I want to look at the rate that players will bust when playing blackjack. Here’s the breakdown based on hands greater than eleven.

Player Bust Rate

It should come as no surprise that the higher your card total, the greater the odds that you’ll end up with more than 21 if you hit. Blackjack Age offers one piece of advice when it comes to potential players bust hands.

You don’t want to take the chance of busting yourself when the dealer is more likely to bust than you are.

Nice and simple advice.

I practice blackjack strategy and counting with the ODDcase app for iPhone. It’s the best blackjack app around and the full version is only $1.99.

Photo Elmo’s World Trip