Vegas is a place of excess. There is really no other way of describing it. The lights are brighter, the food is better and the amount of money gambled can make sleeping at night a difficult experience. For me it was a relatively successful weekend. I won 8 out of 11 of my sports bets with the only losses being NC State (against VA Tech), the Colts (against the Jags) and the Seahawks (against the Rams). Those sports bets netted me a decent amount of money that I then conveniently lost playing blackjack, roulette and craps. Unfortunately I didn't win enough money to quit my job or even win enough money to come out head. I did have a great time and didn't lose very much money, which is better than a lot of people who visit Vegas can say.
Blackjack was the main game we played in Vegas. For those of you that don't know basic strategy in blackjack results in the house having a 52% advantage to the player's 48%. In the short term playing a hand of blackjack is close to a coin flip. In the long term that house advantage can add up, so that the casinos build bigger and bigger hotels.
There are two blackjack stories that I would like to pass along as I look back on the 2010 Minnesota Twins. The first one is my first time playing blackjack in Vegas. I lost my first 8 hands in a row with the first five being only one off (I had a 19 when the dealer had a 20 for example). Before I even had a chance to walk around I was down a decent amount of money. At that pace I would have hit my gambling limit before the Saturday morning college football games. It was not a good start that I was able to recover from later that night.
The other story is from watching my friend Brian at the blackjack table on Sunday night. He sat down and promptly lost 10 straight blackjack hands to this friendly dealer. The odds of that happening are less than 1%. Losing 8 to 10 straight hands in blackjack should not happen.
The Twins are now 0-9 in the playoffs since I moved up to Minnesota. There was the 2006 Twins with the Cy Young winner (Santana), batting champ (Mauer) and MVP (Morneau). They had home field advantage and promptly lost three straight to the Oakland A's. The Twins was 0-16 with runners in scoring position before a Rondell White single in Game 3 that resulted in Torii Hunter getting thrown out at home. The 2009 Twins led all three games against the Yankees and lost all three.
This Twins team was supposed to be different. They had moved into a new stadium that had provided the team with enough revenue to sign Mauer, Hudson Pavano and Thome.
They were a well rounded team that could absolutely crush right handed pitching. The regular season went about as well as expected as the Twins won 94 games and clinched the division with two weeks left in the season. They were able to rest key players and get their pitching staff in line. This year was going to be different.
This year wasn't different. The lost three straight to the Yankees. They lost from ahead and they lost from behind. The lost with another questionable call in another Game 2.
They lost because they couldn't pitch and because they couldn't hit. The lost to left handed pitchers and right handed pitchers. The same team that looked like they couldn't lose during the regular season suddenly became the Kansas City Royals.
This was not a successful year for the Twins. They sold out every game and Gardy might win the coach of the year award, but the time for just having success in the regular season is over. I would like to see a World Series game and the Twins are good enough to make it to the Series. I don't know if it bad luck or what, but I am starting to feel like MLB is like Las Vegas. Everyone knows the odds are stacked in favor of the house (Yankees), but that doesn't mean that in a small sample size (5 game series) that the underdog (Twins) can't win. As of now it feels like the string of blackjack hands where the dealer keeps getting a blackjack whenever you are holding two face cards. Maybe next year? Right?