Scenes from Sin City: Fans and bettors venture to Vegas for LSU-Alabama


Each week during football season, Covers writer Colin Kelly will be in the Las Vegas sportsbooks profiling bettors just like you, sharing their Sin City stories, big wins, bad beats, and all the fun stuff that’s supposed to “stay in Vegas.”
James Davis is a betting man. It’s so much in his blood that every year, he leaves his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan and takes up residence at a timeshare in Las Vegas.

“I’m here for football season. I’ve been here for three months,” Davis said Saturday night while seated at a table in the gleaming, renovation-almost-complete Superbook at the Westgate Las Vegas. “Sports betting – there’s nothing better. And this is the mecca of sports betting here.”

Petrina Lacey is not a betting woman. She’s the polar opposite of Davis, on her way through Vegas as she makes her way back home to Mobile, Alabama, after visiting her brother in San Diego. But as an Alabama alum – where she ran track – she didn’t want to miss the showdown between her beloved Crimson Tide and Louisiana State any more than Davis did.

Former Alabama track star Petrina Lacey cheers on the Tide in Las Vegas.

“It was very important,” Davis said of finding a suitable place to take in the clash of SEC titans, just as the game kicked off. “It was a priority, it was a must.”

With no wager, her interest was purely in seeing an Alabama victory. Davis, on the other hand, had $1,100 on LSU as a 7-point road underdog, and he dropped another $200 on LSU on the moneyline, at +250.

“I’m a ‘Bama fan, and I’m betting LSU,” he said. “The points have me on LSU, No. 1. And No. 2, you have to understand sports betting. There’s a lot that goes on, but basically, it’s LSU’s time. Alabama has had their time. It’s a much better situation for the SEC to go into (the four-team playoff) with an undefeated team this season.”

Lacey’s analysis was much simpler.

“I feel very good about Alabama,” she said. “Jay Coker has been improving every game at quarterback, and we’ve got the best defense in the nation.”

Well, sure, but when she was a teenager – which would have been the same time as Davis, since both are 42 – she was perfecting her 100 and 200-meter dash skills. And what was Davis doing?

“My senior paper in high school was on the probabilities of winning on sports betting in Las Vegas,” he said. “I was beating the bookies when I was 16.”

James Davis takes in LSU-Alabama at the Westgate Superbook.

As a scoreless first quarter ended, both of them still had reason for optimism – and reason for concern. With Alabama leading 13-10 at halftime, same story. But then the Tide rolled in, with Bama outscoring LSU 14-0 in the third quarter to take a 27-10 lead.

The Tigers never really threatened from there. Lacey’s analysis of Alabama’s defense was spot-on. And she wanted to place a wager, but there was one little problem.

“I really don’t know how betting works,” she said.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Lacey left the book even money, heading home Sunday. Davis was $1,300 lighter in the wallet. But he’s got a couple more months in Vegas to make it up. You can bet on that.

Colin Kelly is a Las Vegas-based contributor for Covers. Follow him on Twitter: @ColinPKelly29.

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