1. The M Resort-- The newbie on the scene won hands down. The M is on Las VegasBoulevard, but it's a 15-minute drive from the main drag. It's not thatbig of a deal. I've made the trek half a dozen times. You'll spend moretime stuck in traffic going from Mandalay to Caesars on a Saturdaynight. The book is nice, the chairs comfy and the food good. But thereasons it gets the nod from the wise guys are the high limits and thein-game wagering -- betting on spreads and odds that change with nearly every play-- which makes the book feel like the floor of a Wall Street tradingfirm during a game. "The best," Fezzik told me. "Not even close."
2. Hilton SuperBook-- "In this case," says Dave Cokin, a Vegas vet and radio host, "Ithink size does matter." The Hilton's SuperBook is the biggest sportsbook in the world. It also is consistently the first book to post pointspreads, so any small mistakes can be taken advantage of if you arepaying attention. Usually the Hilton opens a theater in the casino forspillover because, even with more than 300 seats, there isn't nearlyenough room to accommodate all the degenerates visiting. "The theater,"says Dave Tuley, who runs the Web site viewfromvegas.com, "is where Elvis played." If it was good enough for "The King" ...
3. MGM Grand-- This is the most theatrical of all the books, set up like the gamesare on stage and the bettors are in an amphitheater, one big audiencerapt with attention. It's got 47 TVs, including 36 60-inch plasmas andthree 16-foot by 12-foot monsters. And if you're lucky, you can get oneof 50 or so seats with smaller individual TVs. But what gets the MGM onthe list is the sports book skyboxes, the only ones in town. Granted,you'll have to bet like an NBA player to get one. But come on, it'sjust one weekend. What have you got to lose?
4. Mandalay Bay-- This is where you go when you've been to Vegas more often thanyou've been to the doctor in the past 10 years. You've done your timeat the down-market joints and need some comfort. Mandalay has seatsyou'd like to steal and put in your house to replace your bed. Andthere are lots of them, around 300. For a book that's been around alittle more than a decade, it still feels relatively new and, for Vegasat least, a little classy. Kind of like hanging out in the basementscreening room at your richest high school buddy's house.
5. Caesars Palace-- The classic Vegas standby. Tuley reminded me that, years ago, TheMag did an issue called "99 Things To Do Before You Die." No. 5 on thelist was visiting Caesars during the NCAA tourney. Honestly, it's notthe most respected book on The Strip according to wise guys, but forfour days in March, it will feel more like a tailgate than any otherbook. Lots of recently graduated frat guys choose it as their go-tospot for yearly trips to Vegas -- the same guys will step up toMandalay in five years -- so be wary of backward hats and fist bumps.Get a seat around the coffee tables with individual TVs. But you mighthave to stay up all night to do it. There's no sleeping in the book,and security guards patrol all night to make sure people follow therules.