2018 Gambling Olympics Diary, July 6: A Low-Key High-Stakes Day
- 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 a $1,500 tennis prop.
- 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.
We saw a few props yesterday with the completion of these bets:
- 3-Point Bet: Jennings wins $1,000
- Pull-up Bet: Bales wins $2,000
- Broathalon: Jennings wins $1,500, Levitan wins $500
Today, we have one of the most anticipated of the preliminary events.
- Tennis Bet ($1,500): Adams & Levitan
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 6: Live Analysis & Daily Recap
Matthew Freedman is in Vegas to cover the Gambling Olympics in its entirety so he can provide live analysis and recap the events of each day. Be sure to follow all the high-stakes tomfoolery.
7:30 a.m. PT: The House
Three hours of sleep. Let’s f—king go. Today is the only day that matters. We are privileged to have this opportunity to grind. The gawds are smiling down upon us. The future is now.
I’m. So. Tired.
We leave the house at 8:15 and get to the Cosmo around 8:30.
8:30 a.m. PT: 14th Floor of the Cosmopolitan
The tennis court is on the roof of the 14th floor, just across the complex from the pool.
When we get to the court, Adams is already there warming up with his tennis pro. He looks good — but keep in mind that I know nothing about tennis. Absolutely nothing. I know. I don’t know how I have this job.
But he looks good. His serves are hard, as are his forehands. His backhand doesn’t look as strong, but it’s decent. He also seems to have good placement. He’s hitting the ball all across the court. If he can force Levitan to run around and get off his spot, Adams has a good chance to win this bet.
Levitan starts warming up with Peter Jennings on the second court. To be honest, Levitan looks better than I thought he would. He doesn’t hit with a lot of power, but he has decent ball placement, and he’s not making a lot of unforced errors. But his serve is inconsistent. He often hits the net on his first offering. And he doesn’t have a lot of spin on his ball.
Again, all of this is coming from someone who wasn’t entirely sure who Billie Jean King was until his wife made him watch “Battle of the Sexes” on Netflix last month. PS. Awesome movie.
Levitan and Adams practice separately till about 9:15, and then they take a short break before practicing together. Adams still looks good: He’s clearly the superior player. But Levitan has been able to make some shots against him. Levitan is live.
9:45 a.m. PT: 14th Floor of the Cosmopolitan — Tennis Prop
This isn’t an ordinary tennis match. For Adams to win, he has to go 6-0, 6-0 in straight sets. For Levitan to win, all he has to do is win a single game. Per Levitan:
I am certainly no great tennis player — I lost to a dude with a frying pan a year ago — but I love grinding on the court, play super hard and have one weapon. I’ve been playing about twice a week for the last five weeks or so to get ready. This match will be outdoors in the Vegas heat, which is certainly not good for me. I was extremely close to death during the third set of the frying pan match.
Levitan and Adams are playing for $1,500 straight up, and Jennings and a friend have scrounged up some more action (from an unnamed source) by risking $5,000 at -250. Jennings is feeling very confident in his bet.
Adams has the first serve and wins the first game:
After that, though . . .
. . . Levitan asserted himself with his serve, and Adams committed some unforced errors:
Within two mere games, Levitan wins the prop.
Result: Levitan wins $1,500, Jennings and friend win $2,000
10 a.m. PT: 14th Floor of the Cosmopolitan — Tennis Prop, Part 2
Adams and Levitan immediately decide to play again. This time, they are playing for $1,000, and Levitan has to take two games to win the bet.
Suspense is for suckers.
He wins the bet.
Result: Levitan wins $1,000
10:30 a.m. PT: Third Floor of the Cosmopolitan — Waiting for Lunch
After the second match, Levitan and Pete Manzinelli go to the pool to soak their feet — I’ve probably never typed anything more disgusting on this keyboard than that — and the rest of us head to the third floor, where we hang out in a lounge for an hour till Estiatorio Milos opens.
While we’re waiting, Adams talks about his World Series of Poker strategy, the players he’s backing, the legalization of sports betting, etc. Like most successful poker and daily fantasy sports players, Adams has a probabilistic way of viewing the world, and he also has informed opinions on a variety of topics. I don’t throw around the term “polymath” lightly — primarily because I don’t know what it means — but Adams has a scientific eye. At a minimum, he’s a math. Probably a polymath.
It’s no wonder he’s now favored to win the Gambling Olympics.
11:30 a.m. PT: Estiatorio Milos
Rumor has it that Milos is Adams’ favorite restaurant in Vegas. Or maybe just the Cosmopolitan. Or maybe just the third floor of the Cosmopolitan. Or maybe just the Mediterranean restaurant on the third floor. Not sure, but it’s good, and the lunch menu is affordable at $29.
While a few people order the Nova Scotia lobster pasta, Jennings and I get the Colorado lamb chops. The Shetland Island organic salmon also looked good. It seems as if it’s hard to order the wrong thing at this restaurant. Of course, Jonathan Bales — ever the contrarian — gives it the old college try when he asks for a tomato salad. What’s more, he for some reason seems surprised when the server brings him . . . wait for it . . . a f—king tomato salad, as if he’s expecting a dish that’s not 90% tomatoes. The name of the item on the menu is literally “Tomato Salad.” There should be no confusion about what he’s getting. Bales eats not quite half of it.
Whenever the bill comes, Levitan grabs it because he just won $2,500. Bales thanks Levitan for lunch, and Levitan responds with, “Hey, I’m always up for buying you three tomatoes.”
I hope they are the juiciest tomatoes in the world. I mean, everyone knows that when you’re in a high-class restaurant the one dish you must try is the tomato salad.
1:15 p.m. PT: Twilight Zone by Monster Mini Golf at Bally’s
If you ever find yourself in Vegas in early July and think, “Man, I would love to play some blacklight miniature golf right now,” you’re in luck. The Twilight Zone is open 365 days per year. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day, whatever: The Twilight Zone is open for business. It’s only $11.95 to play the 18-hole course, and there’s also a bowling alley, arcade and even a SyFy wedding chapel if you’re in the mood.
This is where the crew decides to go after lunch. I don’t want to brag, but Bales and someone who might (or might not) be named “Matthew Freedman” team up and take down Jennings, Levitan and Manz in a game of best-ball $20 skins.
It should be noted that terrifying orchestral music plays during crucial putts. Bales wins some glow-in-the-dark beads for a hole in one. And, best of all, the Twilight Zone is now accepting job applications.
Result: Bales and his “friend” win $20
5 p.m. CT: The House — A Low-Key Evening in a Hazmat Suit
After swinging by a few stores to buy beer, donuts, napkins and the other totally normal staples of an average 24-hour period, we return to the house for a low-key night, which means that Jennings, Levitan and Manz play a lot of games to prepare for the Gambling Olympics while Bales just sort of hangs out.
At some point I put on a hazmat suit because the guys think it would be funny, and my job is basically to generate laughs.
Why a hazmat suit? Why not! You never know when you might find yourself coming in contact with unsafe substances. Better safe than sorry.
The guys cycle through Acey-Deucey, Yahtzee and Connect Four as well as a dice game that Peter was taught by a former professional athlete (who absolutely must remain nameless and definitely is not Yao Ming). They also play a little Beer Pong.
Around 7:30 the guys go out to the basketball court for some fresh air. After about two minutes they’re casually betting on each shot. Even though only nominal sums of money are wagered on any given attempt, it’s possible that hundreds of dollars change hands.
8:30 p.m. CT: The House — Dinner & Rock-Paper-Scissors
A friend of Bales drops by the house, and around 8:30 we decide to order food. A debate arises: Should we use Seamless? Or the Bales-endorsed Grubhub? It’s not impossible that an impromptu Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament decides which food-ordering service we use. I could tell you who wins the (theoretical) RPS contest, but I don’t want to trigger any line movement with my 100% factual reporting.
The food arrives at 9 — and of course part of the order is wrong — but we eat it anyway because we’re hungry and totally lacking in discernment by this point in the evening. I mean, we did buy a lot of beer and donuts earlier in the day. That stuff’s got to be consumed before it goes bad.
9:30 p.m. CT: The House – Liar’s Poker
After dinner the guys settle in for a game of Liar’s Poker. Although they start out by playing for small stakes, the action escalates quickly in this no-limit game. By 11:30, Bales’ friend — who may (or may not) be someone competing in the World Series of Poker — has won hundreds of dollars from the group. Levitan in particular has gotten some bad breaks, which sucks for him . . . but watching Levitan tilt is a pleasure unlike any other. (Sorry, Levi, but it’s totally true.)
As I continue to work on this piece, the guys start to get ready for bed. By 12:30 everyone is asleep, although occasionally Bales will randomly wake up, come into the kitchen and indulge in a beer and maybe even a couple of shameful donuts: They’re just so good!
Finally at 2 a.m. I decide to call it a night. Hazmat suit removed, I head toward the room that I’m sharing with Manz. In the hallway Bales and I walk past each other moving in opposite directions. He’s going to the kitchen for more beer and donuts. That man has serious problems.