Scenes from Sin City: Newlywed UGA fans bet on their biggest rivals

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.”

Two weeks ago, Jessie Holland took fellow Georgia alum Chelsea Holland to be his lawful wedded wife – at a ceremony in Athens, Ga., of course.

The timing of the wedding was no coincidence. These Bulldogs fans and all their friends know that events like this can’t be scheduled once college football kicks off.

“Not during the season,” Jessie said. “Nobody would come to the wedding.”

The young couple now live in Phoenix and, after a St. Lucia honeymoon, couldn’t get back to Athens for Saturday’s season opener between their beloved Georgia and UL Monroe. So they did the next best thing: sped five hours up the road to Las Vegas to meet a bunch of friends who flew in from SEC country.

The Hollands got in late Friday night, but still made the early wake-up call to get a prime front-row seat at the Aria’s sportsbook, settling in at 8:15 a.m. for Georgia’s 9 a.m. kickoff.

Jessie and Chelsea Holland made the five-hour drive from Phoenix to Las Vegas.

It was Jessie’s first Vegas venture.

“I love it. That’s a 200-plus-inch TV,” he said, pointing to the big screen he was parked in front of. “And there’s 100 other TVs in here, so you couldn’t ask for a better place to go.”

Jessie wanted to get down on the Dawgs, but he couldn’t handle the number.

“The spread was 35.5. I didn’t want to do that,” he said. “If they’d had an Over/Under, I would’ve bet. But we’re just here to watch.”

What they saw was an effort to be expected of a five-touchdown chalk, as Georgia rolled 51-14 before foul weather forced the game to be called with about 10 minutes remaining. So it wouldn’t have mattered if Jessie had gotten his action down, as the book wouldn’t have paid, because the game didn’t reach 55 minutes.

But that left Jessie with more funds to bet later in the day.

“…you couldn’t ask for a better place to go.”

“One of our buddies is an LSU fan, so we’ll probably bet that game,” he said. “And Alabama-Wisconsin, definitely Alabama, because the spread is too small.”

As it turned out, LSU went the way of Georgia, except the Tigers’ home game against McNeese State never even kicked off, with bad weather plaguing the south. Alabama, however, was playing at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and rolled 35-17 to cash as a 12-point favorite.

So, odd as it sounds, Jessie had no issues backing an SEC rival, and winning.

“Making money trumps all,” he said. “I would love it if Alabama lost, but if I’m gonna bet the game, I want to win the bet.”

Chelsea quickly jumped in, though, with one big exception in backing SEC teams.

“But Florida is a different story. Never, ever, ever,” she declared”.

Still, regardless of who Jessie ultimately backed, the whole experience was a bit daunting for the 25-year-old Vegas rookie.

“It’s exciting, but it’s nerve-wracking too, because I don’t want to lose money,” he said. “I think a couple hundred dollars is extreme, but there were guys betting $1,000 at a time. But they were full-grown. They weren’t 25. The whole betting process, it’s overwhelming.”

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


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