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2018 Gambling Olympics Diary, July 5: Let the High-Stakes Tomfoolery Begin!

2018 Gambling Olympics Diary, July 5: Let the High-Stakes Tomfoolery Begin! article feature image


  • The inaugural Gambling Olympics takes place in Las Vegas on July 9-10.
  • Before the Main Event, some participants will compete in preliminary contests such as $3,000 Racquetball games and $2,000 pull-up competitions.
  • Matthew Freedman is covering the Gambling Olympics in person with live analysis and daily recaps.

The 2018 Gambling Olympics is a two-day, 12-person contest taking place in Las Vegas on July 9-10. The buy-in is $2,500, and the winner gets $10,000.

Before the Main Event, several participants will engage in a series of prop bets, some of which are already scheduled and more of which will undoubtedly arise from the moment. These props include:

Before, during and after the Gambling Olympics, we will provide extensive coverage via participant profiles, event breakdowns and live in-person analysis. Be sure to follow all the action in the Gambling Olympics section of the site.


July 5: Live Analysis & Daily Recap

In its infinite wisdom, The Action Network has assigned Matthew Freedman to cover the Gambling Olympics in its entirety in person so he can provide live analysis and recap the events of each day. Be sure to follow all the high-stakes tomfoolery.

9:30 a.m. CT: Hanging Out at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

So long, Cedar Rapids. See ya in a week. I just deplaned and now have a couple of hours to kill in DFW while I wait for my connecting flight to Vegas.

I’m scheduled to get into Vegas shortly before noon PT and then … who knows. There will be debauchery and degeneracy, of that I’m assured.

I also think that this afternoon/evening Peter Jennings will do the 3-point challenge and the Three Donkeys and Pete Manzinelli will do the basketball-focused Broathalon 2.0. Basically just a handful of guys in Vegas playing ball. It’s gonna be a great day,

10 a.m. CT: Random Thought About July 5 in DFW 20 Years Ago

I just remembered: Today marks the 20th anniversary of the first time I saw Pearl Jam. The concert was at Reunion Arena, where the Mavericks and Stars were housed.

Since I was just 15 years old and couldn’t drive, my older sister took me to the concert. Because she went to tons of live shows and was super outgoing and vivacious, she eventually became friends with all the security guards who worked at the various venues, so whenever we went to rock shows she could always get us close to the stage.

At the Pearl Jam concert, we were so close to the stage that after the show I leaned over the barrier separating the crowd from the stage and grabbed Eddie Vedder’s half-full water bottle. Pretty sure it’s still in my childhood room in Texas. Next to my wedding ring, it’s my most prized possession. I’m a totally normal person.

While that show is special to me, it’s also kind of famous for one reason: Dennis Rodman. The Worm himself — PJ’s No. 1 fan — was in attendance. For some reason, the band brought him onto the stage while they performed “Alive,” and during the prolonged outro guitar solo Vedder climbed on top of Rodman, sat on his shoulders and did his typical gutteral, “Uh huh, yeah” while Rodman jumped up and down.

Twenty years from now, people are going to say, “Oh, it’s July 5, 2038. I can’t believe it’s been 20 years since the first Gambling Olympics. That was epic.”

Let’s make history, friends, today and every day.

Noon PT: At McCarran International Airport

Vegas, I have arrived . . . and once again — for the third trip in a row — the airline has had issues with my bag. My wife and I got these stupid airline-specific credit cards because they come with perks, such as free baggage check, but ever since we’ve gotten these credit cards, the airline has either lost or misplaced our bags on every trip we’ve taken.

But it doesn’t matter, because I’m now in Vegas . . . and 45 minutes after getting the run-around I just got my bag.

Let’s rock.

2 p.m. PT: The Gym – Warmups for CSURAM88’s 3-Point Prop

I’m here at the gym with Manz, Jennings, Jonathan Bales and Adam Levitan. Pete’s warming up for his 3-point prop.

.@CSURAM88‘z jumper lookin wet here in pre-bet warmupz. has to splash 60/100 3z. @adamlevitan has the under 🏀🏀🏀

— The Manz 😎🃏💰 (@PeteManzinelli) July 5, 2018

Look at that form! Also, look at that sexy bearded man in the background with his laptop!

Pete has to make 60 of 100 shots from the high-school 3-point range in order to win the bet.

I’ll be honest: It doesn’t look good for Pete right now. There are four rims at the gym. All of them are bent slightly upward. He’s examined all of them and found the one that’s the least jacked up.

He’s not looking great in the warmups. His best spot is clearly at the top of the key, and he also looks OK from the right elbow and wing, but from the left elbow and wing he’s missing a lot of shots.

Well, actually now he’s starting to get hot. He’s taking five shots at each spot and then rotating around the arc. Here’s how he’s doing right now.

  • Right wing: make, make, make, make, miss
  • Right elbow: miss, miss, make, make, miss
  • Top of key: make, miss, make, make, miss
  • Left elbow: make, miss, miss, miss, make
  • Left wing: miss, make, miss, make, make

That’s 14 of 25, or 56%.

Next round of practice shots.

  • Left wing: make, make, make, make, make
  • Left elbow: make, miss, make, make, miss
  • Top of key: make, make, make, make, make
  • Right elbow: miss, miss, make, make, miss
  • Right wing: miss, miss, miss, miss, miss

Peter started so hot, but he finished ‘just’ 15 of 25. That’s 60%, but Pete was horrible from the right side, missing eight of his final 10 shots.

If I had to bet — and I’m trying to buy some of Levitan’s action — I’d bet on the under.

2:30 p.m. PT: The Gym — The Heart of a Champion

First sidebet of Gambling Olympics live stream. Mr. @csuram88 over/under 59.5 on 100 high school 3-pointers.

— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) July 5, 2018

On his first set, Pete is off. He’s especially struggling from the left side of the court, hitting only 3-of-10 shots. At the top of the key and right elbow he finds his groove, hitting 8-of-10 treys before going 2-for-5 on the right wing. His 13-of-25 mark comes out to 52%. He needs to shoot 62.7% the rest of the way to win the bet. To do that, he’ll really need to improve from the left side of the court.

In his second set, Pete goes 5-of-10 (50%) from the left but 9-of-15 (60%) from the center and right. He needs to hit 66% of his remaining 50 shots to hit 60 overall. If he’s to hit his mark, he needs to either make a few more from the left or to get unbelievably hot from the top and right.

In the third set, he does both. After being allowed one practice shot from the left wing, he misses two of his first five shots, but then he goes on an unreal 18-of-20 streak to close the set, hitting his last eight shots. He now has 47 baskets and needs to hit only 13 shots (52%) in his final set. As long as he doesn’t do any worse than he did in his first set, he’s going to hit 60% overall. Incredible.

Peter once again is permitted a practice shot from the left wing, and the he starts the fourth set. He hits 4-of-5 from the left wing, which to this point has been his most problematic spot. He’s now nine shots away. There’s no way he doesn’t get to 60. I’m so glad Levitan didn’t sell me any of his action.

He goes 4-of-5 from the left elbow. Five shots away . . . and he goes 5-of-5 from the top of the key. That’s 60. He just hit 60 — with 10 shots to spare, and that’s after he shot 54% in his first two sets. For good measure, he adds on five more baskets with his final 10 shots, ultimately hitting 65.


Result: 65 of 100, Jennings wins $1,000

3 p.m. PT: The Gym – Pull-up Preamble

Peter doesn’t get much of an opportunity to relish his sharp-shooting victory: He immediately has to compete against Bales (aka Hulk) in the pull-up challenge, which has bearing on the racquetball and Rock-Paper-Scissors contests that Bales and Jennings have agreed to do at a later time.

Peter could be in trouble. He is pouring sweat after his 3-point contest and looks spent. He used up all his adrenaline for that event. Bales enters the pull-up contest expecting Peter to get 15-17 reps, but Jennings might not be able to hit even that.

At the same time, Bales isn’t looking his best. He’s legitimately hungover, having partied last night with Joey Ingram into the early morning. Unfortunately, we have proof.

My 4th of July was betting @Joeingram1 he wouldn’t do this. He did, and we all won.

— Jonathan Bales (@BalesFootball) July 5, 2018

Right now a small matter of contention is who will go first. Bales is favored by 17 pull-ups. If he goes first, he’ll basically need to do as many pull-ups as he can because he doesn’t have a sense of how many Pete can do. If he goes second, he’ll know the number he’ll need to hit to win.

Bales and Jennings decide to flip a coin to see who goes first — but no one in our group has a physical coin on him, because this is the 21st century. #Crypto. (Although I will say Manz missed a massive opportunity to have them flip his physical cryptocurrency.)

In place of a coin, a credit card is flipped by Levitan. It has white and blue sides, and Bales calls blue. It lands blue side up. Jennings has to go first.

3:15 p.m. PT: The Gym – Pull-up Challenge

As part of the Gambling Olympics, pull-up competition between Bales and Jennings:

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) July 5, 2018

With Manz keeping count, Jennings grinds out 13 pull-ups. He almost gets a 14th, which Manz originally awards to him, but Manz admits that he was wrong. Peter officially has 13 pull-ups. Given that he had to go first and is just coming off the exhausting 3-point contest, his performance is understanding — but also mildly disappointing.

It’s time for Bales to go. In order to push, he needs to hit 30. To win, he needs 31 . . . and he just got 31.

It was never really in doubt. Bales probably could’ve done another five reps if necessary. Strong performance.

Result: 31-13, Bales wins $2,000

3:30 p.m. PT: The Gym – Debate at Lunch

The gym has a deli, so we grab lunch there, where Jennings and Bales have a 30-minute debate about when they should play racquetball.

Because Bales won the pull-up contest, when he plays against Jennings in racquetball Bales will need to risk ‘only’ $1,000 at even money that Jennings won’t be able to shut him out in the first set. If Jennings had won the pull-up challenge, then he would’ve been able to bet $1,200 on the shutout prop.

As it is, Jennings and Bales are betting $2,000 on the match as a whole. For first serve, they will have a best-of-seven Rock-Paper-Scissors contest.

Jennings wants to play against Bales today, right after lunch, because he’s under the impression that racquetball was originally scheduled for today on our extremely loose itinerary. Really, he’s probably just looking to take advantage of Bales while he’s less than 100%.

Bales is suggesting that they do it tomorrow, when they will have more time for it. (Our schedule for today is pretty tight, with the Broathalon slated for late afternoon.) Plus, regardless of whether Jennings knows this, racquetball is already on the schedule for tomorrow. 

Jennings says that he’ll give Bales first serve if they do it today. Bales says that the offer isn’t enticing enough. Jennings now says that if they play tomorrow then he should get to serve first. Bales laughs at him and says that whoever serves first has nothing to do with the day they play.

Jennings keeps on hounding Bales, who eventually agrees to play today just so that Jennings will stop talking about it. Peter takes this as a personal triumph … and then we all look at the clock and agree that we don’t really have time today for racquetball, not if Levitan is also to have a chance to play.

So . . . that was lunch.

3:45 p.m. PT: Liquor Store

What protein is to athletes, alcohol is to Broathletes.

4:45 p.m. PT: The House — Broathalon 2.0

The house where we’re staying has a basketball court, so that’s where this year’s Broathalon will take place. I’ve been appointed cameraman and referee. I’m wearing a sleeveless black-and-white striped referee shirt. This is my life.

shoutz to our ref @MattFtheOracle

— The Manz 😎🃏💰 (@PeteManzinelli) July 6, 2018

5 p.m. PT: The House – NBA Jam-Style 2-on-2

The four broathletes play three 2-on-2 games collectively with each unique pairing facing off.

  • Game 1: Bales & Manz vs. Jennings & Levitan. Manz calls a foul against Peter on the very first play of the game on a drive to the hoop. This is going to be a long f—king day.  Result: Jennings & Levitan win, 16-8.
  • Game 2: Jennings & Manz vs. Bales & Levitan. This one isn’t even close. Jennings & Manz have the clear edge in height. Result: Jennings & Manz win, 15-4.
  • Game 3: Jennings & Bales vs. Manz & Levitan. Jennings uses Bales heavily to set screens, and Bales chips in with two rare 3-pointers. Even so, it’s not enough. Result: Manz & Levitan win, 15-9.

In case you didn’t notice, Bales is the limiting factor. Also, this portion of the Broathalon has taken forever. The guys are just lying around on the court, totally exhausted.

Broathalon point standings after one event.

  • Jennings: 5
  • Manz: 3
  • Levitan: 1
  • Bales: 0

5:45 p.m. PT: The House – Skillz Competition

In this event, each guy takes a shot of his preferred hard alcohol, spins three times with a small dizzy bat, dribbles down the court, executes a bounce pass into a net, makes a layup and then drills a 3-pointer. It’s not a particularly easy event.

The guys go in order of present standings and finish with these times (in seconds)

  • Jennings: 39.94
  • Manz: 51.73
  • Levitan: 38.77
  • Bales: disqualified, stopped at 56.50

Levitan shows exceptional burst in dribbling down the court, and he hits the 3-pointer on his first try, as do Jennings and Manz, but they simply are no match for Levitan’s speed, especially Manz, who develops a cramp in the middle of his dizzy bat cycles.

Broathalon point standings after two events.

  • Jennings: 8
  • Levitan: 6
  • Manz: 4
  • Bales: 0

6:30 p.m. PT: The House – Knockout Blackout

This is four rounds of classic knockout, except that the loser of each round gets to assign a shot of hard alcohol to one of the other three guys. Each broathlete gets to lead off one of the rounds, but after him the order is randomly assigned by the spinning of the wiffle bat. I’m the one who spins the bat. So far, they want me to put more arm muscle into it. Being the ref for this event f—king sucks is such a privilege.

The winner of each knockout round is assigned four points (for this event only); the runner-up, three points; and so on. At the end of this event, the cumulative points will determine who wins.

Here are the four rounds, with the guys listed in the order they shot (with the points they earned in parentheses).

  • Round 1: Bales (2), Manz (4), Levitan (1), Jennings (3) –> Shot: Manz
  • Round 2: Manz (1), Jennings (2), Levitan (4), Bales (3) –> Shot: Jennings
  • Round 3: Levitan (1), Manz (4), Jennings (3), Bales (2) –> Shot: Manz
  • Round 4: Jennings (4), Levitan (2), Bales (3), Manz (1) –> Shot: Jennings

When Manz took his shots, he said he it was a reward. Jennings, though, openly said it was a punishment.

In total, the points for this event are as follows:

  • 1st: Jennings (12)
  • 2nd (tie): Manz (10)
  • 2nd (tie): Bales (10)
  • 4th: Levitan (8)

Because Manz and Bales tied for second, they have a tiebreaker round of knockout. Bales competes valiantly, but Manz is the better shooter and wins.

Broathalon point standings after three events.

  • Jennings: 13
  • Manz: 7
  • Levitan: 6
  • Bales: 1

7:00 p.m. PT: The House – Edward Horsehandz

I don’t use the term “genius” often (except for people who are my bosses), but Manz was in the realm of genius when he created this event.

The broathletes are ducktaping 32-ounce beers to their off hands and then playing Horse. Levitan doesn’t like beer, so we’ve ducktaped three shots of Crown to his left hand. It’s hilarious. He looks like he has a club for a hand. Within five minutes of being eliminated, each broathlete must finish his hand-strapped beverage.

This should be a classic game of one-handed drunken horse, but of course it isn’t, because #Manz. Because no one wants to be in front of Jennings, who is clearly the best shot of the group, they’ve decided to randomize the order (via wiffle-bat spin, FML) every time four letters have been assigned.

Here’s how the game plays out, with the guys listed in the order they shot (with the letters they earned in parentheses).

  • Round 1: Levitan (H), Jennings (H), Bales (H), Manz (H)
  • Round 2: Levitan, Manz (OR), Jennings (OR), Bales
  • Round 3: Manz, Jennings (S), Levitan (O), Bales (OR)
  • Round 4: Bales (S), Jennings, Manz (SE), Levitan (R)
  • Round 5: Bales (E), Levitan (SE), Jennings

Man . . . the awesomeness of this event I cannot convey in the round-by-round presentation of performance.

Each guy has easily finished his alcohol before the event ends. At this point, everyone is lubricated, which makes the debate that happens in Round 4 hilarious.

What debate?

Before the game started, Jennings and Manz say that they want to use the “Chance or Prove It” rule: The assert that it’s a standard part of horse. Bales and Levitan don’t really pay attention to what Jennings and Manz are saying, probably because at this point I’m in the middle of taping alcohol to their hands.

By the way, both Bales and Levitan say that I’ve taped their hands too tightly and am cutting off circulation. Bales in particular is complaining about his thumb. You never hear Rocky Balboa complain about his trainers wrapping his hands too tightly. Just sayin’. Champions don’t let themselves get distracted by s—t like that.

So whenever Manz gets his “E” in Round 4, Manz and Jennings start bringing up “Chance or Prove It,” saying that Bales needs to make his shot again in order for the “E” to stick. And Bales and Levitan start saying that they didn’t agree to the rule, which they think is unfair and will also extend the game.

They argue about this for a few minutes, and Jennings — in an attempt to show his authority on the matter — says this: “I’ve played horse all around the country.” Everyone laughs at him, as if he’s some sort of professional sharp-shooter who tours the horse circuit.

At one point Bales says something that Manz takes exception to, so Manz — 100% without irony — says, “That’s the most peDonktic thing I’ve ever heard.” When we all laugh, he asks us how we pronounce that word.

It’s pronounced the way it’s spelled: Pedantic —  although I suppose that telling someone how to pronounce the word “pedantic” is itself rather pedantic.

Manz and Jennings both benefit from the “Chance or Prove It” rule once in Round 4, and Bales and Levitan continue to complain about it, saying that we don’t have enough daylight to complete the contest because of “Chance or Prove It.”

And they kind of have a point. There are lights for the court, but we haven’t figured out how to turn them on, and we’re losing the sunlight. Finally, to ensure that we finish the event but not to appease Bales and Levitan, Jennings and Manz concede. From this point on, there will be no more “Chance or Prove It” . . . and then Manz gets an “E” that sticks.

In Round 5, Bales has a fairly quick exit, and then Jennings and Levitan engage in an epic 11-basket battle for first place. Jennings drains shots, and Levitan answers. Levitan hits shots, and Jennings replicates them without missing a beat. Finally . . . finally . . . finally, Levitan wins.

The sun has almost set.

Broathalon point standings after four events.

  • Jennings: 16
  • Levitan: 11
  • Manz: 7
  • Bales: 2

8:00 p.m. PT: The House – The Drunk Contest, Round 1

We are almost out of natural daylight and have a few options:

  • Do an abbreviated version of the contest right away.
  • Risk loosing the rest of the daylight by figuring out how to turn on the lights so we can do the full dunk contest.
  • Delay the dunk contest till tomorrow.

We opt for No. 3, and eventually Bales figures out how to turn the lights on. Let’s do this.

The guys lower the rim to about 8’0″ for the dunks (although Manz raises the rim to maybe 8’5″ or 9’0″ for his). And a quick word on Manz: For the entirety of the Broathalon, he has been talking about how he’s going to own the dunk contest. He’s also been working the ref as much as he can. For that matter, ALL the guys have been working the ref in advance of the dunk contest, telling me about how I should score certain types of dunks, whether there should be a penalty for attempting and failing a dunk, etc.

Eventually, we agree that there might be a slight penalty if a guy doesn’t dunk his first attempt, but that it might depend on the difficulty of the dunk.

Each guy gets two attempts per dunk. On top of that, he has a third discretionary attempt he can use whenever he wants.

There are two rounds, two dunks per round for each guy. At the end of each round, each guy’s score will be the average of his two dunks. In Round 1, all four guys will dunk. In Round 2, the two best dunkers from Round 1 will face off (and the two worst dunkers will compete against each other if doing so has any real bearing on the final point standings). Each dunk is graded on a 1-100 scale, and in each round the guys will dunk in an order based on overall standings.

Here’s how Round 1 plays out, with the guys listed in the order they dunk (with the points they scored in parentheses).

  • Jennings: 81, off the backboard two-hander. Solid first dunk.
  • Levitan: 69 –> 72: Levitan tries a one-hander off the backboard. He botches the dunk, but the ball still goes in after it bounces around on the rim and off the board. There’s debate: Is this a dunk or not? I score it as a nice 69. We let him do it again, but he forfeits his third attempt.
  • Manz: 91, “The Lambo Leap”: He puts a toy Lamborghini on the court and then jumps over it with a powerful dunk. Creative.
  • Bales: 94, 360-degree one-hander. Great dunk.
  • Jennings: 87, after Manz and Bales dunk, these other dunks don’t even matter.
  • Levitan: 86, doesn’t matter.
  • Manz: 92, “The ManzCoin”: Manz starts out with two attempts of another dunk called “Hi Haters.” After not getting it, he opts for a safer dunk on his third attempt. He puts on his ManzCoin necklace, makes a big point about how wonderful the world’s first physical cryptocurrency is and then he does a monstrous jam with his right hand as he slaps his left hand against the backboard. He starts pointing to the backboard and says, “You see that?! That’s a f—king ManzCoin up there.” Sure enough, stuck to the backboard, d–n-near irremovable, is a ManzCoin. That was an A-Manz-in dunk.
  • Bales: 82, Vince Carter dunk. He hangs on the rim . . . but it’s not that great of a dunk when the rim is only 8’0″ or so.

Manz and Bales advance to Round 2. Jennings is locked into first overall. Manz could get second overall if he wins the dunk contest and if Jennings defeats Levitan in Round 2. If Manz doesn’t win the dunk contest, then Levitan will finish second overall. Bales is locked into last place overall. At this point he’s competing just for pride.

8:15 p.m. PT: The House – The Drunk Contest, Round 2

Here’s how Round 2 plays out, with the guys listed in the order they dunk (with the points they scored in parentheses).

  • Manz: 91, “Making It Rain.” Manz throws a lot of (fake) $100 bills in the air while saying, “Making it rain,” and then Levitan throws him an alley-oop, which Manz jams home with two hands as the $100s flutter to the ground. Once again, Manz lets his creativity speak for him.
  • Bales: 90, “Really Making It Rain.” After Manz’s stunt, Bales goes inside “to get something.” Before his dunk, he gets into the camera and says, “This is Johnny Manzielli, and this is how you really make it rain.” He then pulls a wad out of his pocket, throws $10,000 of actual money into the air, and then throws down a big dunk. The dunk itself isn’t that impressive, and it’s clearly derivative of Manz’s move, but the dude just threw $10,000 in the air. That’s worth something.
  • Manz, 0, “Hi Haters.” I prefer to call this one “Icarus Flying Too Close to the Sun,” but whatever. Manz had two attempts to throw this one down, but he couldn’t do it. Here’s the dunk attempt: He talks to the camera about his haters and how pathetic they are, and then he throws the ball really high in the air, says, “Hi Haters,” pulls off his jersey to reveal a t-shirt that says, “Hi Haters,” and then catches the ball off the bounce as he’s running and jumping toward the rim, where he slams home a dunk. And he got all of that right . . . except for the dunk. Sadly, actually dunking the ball is the most important part of the dunk contest. I award you no points, and may the godz have mercy on your soul.
  • Balez, 83, typical thunderous two-handed dunk to clinch the dunk title.

Because it wasn’t necessary for Jennings and Levitan to compete in Round 2, they chopped the one point for third.

as howie day once said “even the best fall down sometimez (2yrz in a row), even the wrong wordz feel so rite (“get paid get laid”). congratz @CSURAM88 u fuckin lock box sharpshooter

— The Manz 😎🃏💰 (@PeteManzinelli) July 6, 2018

Final Broathalon point standings.

  • Jennings: 16.5
  • Levitan: 11.5
  • Manz: 10
  • Bales: 5

🥇: @CSURAM88
🥈: @adamlevitan
🥉: @PeteManzinelli
🎀: @BalesFootball
⏱: @MattFtheOracle

— The Manz 😎🃏💰 (@PeteManzinelli) July 6, 2018

Result: Jennings wins $1,500, Levitan wins $500

8:30 p.m. PT: The House – Jennings Shoots More 3-Pointers

The basketball court is covered with empty bottles of booze and we’re all stinky and hungry — and yet Jennings (not satisfied with his earlier exploits) starts trying to hit 3-pointers on the 8’0″ rim.

Levitan and I, idiots that we are, express a willingness to bet against him. At one point he owes us $200 collectively even though we’re using $20 as our betting baseline. A few minutes later, he owes both of us nothing.

Honestly, Levitan and I are lucky to escape with that outcome.

9:45 p.m. PT: The House – What’s for Dinner?

We shower and get ready to go out to dinner. Naturally, we’re slowed down by Bales and Jennings, who are washing and drying the clothes they want to wear. If they had just behaved like normal adult males and worn whatever clean clothes were in their bags, our night would’ve been different — and probably much more full of sleep.

Bales and Jennings are discussing what type of food we should eat: Something that used to swim? — or something that had legs? Jennings suggests that we go to “the best steakhouse in Vegas,” but it closes at 11:00 p.m. — which is f—king fine, since it’s only 10 minutes away from the house, which means that we can order our meals well before the restaurant closes — but Levitan expresses concerns about going to a dining establishment so near to closing time. What about the servers and cooks? What if they resent us? What if they spit in our food?

I will go to my grave maintaining that it’s fine for patrons to enter a restaurant and order food as long as they’re not arriving in the final 15 minutes — and I say that as someone who used to work at a restaurant.

Anyway, because of Levitan’s reservations, Jennings calls an audible and decides that we should go to a Japanese restaurant instead of the steakhouse. “The best sushi in Vegas,” he says. Fine. Great. Let’s f—king go already.

There’s just one problem: The four broathletes are a little drunk. I’ve just been named the designated driver. This is my life.

Around 10:05 p.m., we finally leave the house.

10:20 p.m. PT: The Japanese Restaurant

We arrive at the restaurant, which is situated with several other restaurants in a strip mall. The parking lot is almost entirely full. We go into the restaurant, and there’s a 45-minute wait — and PETE IS THINKING ABOUT STAYING, because “this is the best sushi in Vegas.”

Pete, unless the best sushi in Vegas is better than the best sushi in every other city in the world, then it’s probably not worth a 45-minute wait. When people think about Vegas, they think about sin. They don’t think about f—king sushi. As sacrilegious as this might sound, I can live without ever having had the best raw fish available in a desert city hundreds of miles from the nearest ocean. I’ll take my chances.

Bales talks to Jennings: “Hey, let’s go somewhere else. Levitan has his tennis match with Brandon Adams early in the morning. And the rest of us aren’t psychotic.” I’m paraphrasing.

So we leave the restaurant and start walking toward the car. Someone asks the inevitable question: “Where should we go?”


Seriously, at this moment we’re literally surrounded by restaurants. They’re all around us. Our car is actually parked in front of another restaurant that has a big red “Open” sign in front of it. And the guys are asking, “Where should we go?”

How about we go f—king ANYWHERE.

So, of course, Pete suggests the one place we absolutely should not go if we’re looking to get a quick meal in Vegas.

Pete wants me to drive to the Strip. He’s decided that we’re going to the ARIA, where there’s a restaurant called Lemongrass, which is open till 2:00 a.m. According to Peter, it has “the best Thai food in Vegas.” (Maybe he didn’t actually say this, but it feels like something he would say.)

Note to self: Next time in Vegas, don’t get dinner with the city’s unofficial ambassador of foodstuff.

10:40 p.m. PT: The ARIA MGM Grand Parking Garage

With Manz as my navigator, we find the parking garage for the ARIA and then spend about five minutes wandering around trying to find our way out. Once we’re out, we realize that we’ve parked in the lot for the MGM Grand. We’re maybe 20 minutes by foot away from the ARIA. People think that we’re smart, but we’re really not.

As we walk through the MGM corridors, a drunk guy with a woman hanging on his arm sees an official-looking hotel employee and calls, “Taxi, taxi!” Mind you, we’re thousands of feet away from the closest exit to the street. The employee acts as if the guy’s request for a taxi is totally normal. And, really, it’s probably not the first time someone has drunkenly asked him to hail a cab or assumed he’s a taxi driver.

11:00 p.m. PT: Lemongrass

I’ll say this: I can’t prove that Lemongrass doesn’t have the best Thai food in Vegas. It’s good. I mean, they screwed up Peter’s order — which feels a little bit like gustatory justice — but the food is good.

The problem with justice is that it sometimes strikes the innocent along with the guilty. We have to wait longer so our server can bring out the dish that Pete actually ordered. Side note:  “Panang curry” doesn’t sound all that much like “green curry.” In the meantime, Bales has texted a couple of friends, and they show up to the restaurant, and now they order food, so of course since we’re going to be here longer we order more alcohol and dessert.

It’s now 1:00 a.m., and Levitan looks like he’s about to fall asleep.

Finally the bill is brought, and Jennings and Bales play credit card roulette to see who will pick up the tab, which is in excess of $750. Bales loses.

1:20 a.m. PT: MGM Grand Parking  Garage

You haven’t lived till you’ve urinated on the second floor of the MGM Grand Parking Garage at 1:20 a.m. on July 6, 2018. Am I right, CSURAM88?

1:45 a.m. PT: The House

Levitan, Manz and Jennings go to sleep. Bales and I talk for about 15 minutes before he turns in. I stay up till 4:30 a.m. writing — because this piece isn’t going to write itself.

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