THE 2019 KENTUCKY DERBY PRIMER

CHURCHILL DOWNSThe noble sport of horse racing reaches its peak each spring time on the first Saturday in May with the running of the annual Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, far and away the sports’ most glamorous and publicized event of the year.

Best of all, the Kentucky Derby is just the beginning of a series of three races during May and June.  Each race is longer than its predecessor and therefore becomes more of a question of endurance for horse and rider, not to mention the guy with a big bet down on a certain long shot.

The horses are 3 years old and called thoroughbreds. They are some of the most beautiful animals on the planet are there in Kentucky to strut their stuff while vying for the first leg of horse racings’ biggest prize, the Triple Crown.

All a horse and jockey has to do is win the Kentucky Derby, against some of the fastest horses in America, on a mile and a quarter track in what has become known as the ‘Run for the Roses’.  The winner is immediately rewarded with a huge wreath of bright red roses which is draped across the horses’ neck as photographers and journalist feast on the spectacle.  The winner’s circle at Churchill Downs is truly mecca for all whose lives are wound around those beautiful horses.

The best way to really get a feel for these magnificent animals and their caretakers is to get yourself a paddock pass and spend an hour or so just walking around the horses soaking up all the sights and sounds and smells of the area where horse racing’s finest are prepped for the big race coming up.

If you have never been to a racetrack early in the morning, and you can find one that will let you in, by all means go.  There is a peacefulness around a track early in the morning as horses are taken out for exercise and a feeling of serenity before the coming storm pervades.  Saratoga Springs track in upstate New York is one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on earth in the early morning.

After the Kentucky Derby, remaining contenders for the Triple Crown go on to the Preakness Stakes which is a mile and three sixteenth and run at Pimlico Race Course outside of Baltimore in Maryland and then on to the Belmont Stakes, the longest race at a mile and a half, in Elmont, New York to complete the cycle.

Few horses have done it, for to win all three races is something very special indeed.  Since it all began in 1875 only 13 horses have won the Triple Crown, and those are the stuff of legends like American Pharoah from 2015 and Justify the 2018 winner. Will 2019 yield number 14?

QUALITY PAY PER HEAD SERVICE IS WORTH MORE

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The Pay Per Head Service industry is becoming ever more popular with professional bookmakers each year, and for good reason.  Working with a quality PPH service can make you more money with less work and worry.  The savvy bookie will do his or her due diligence before choosing which company is best for them.

Often times in life, it’s the things that we think of as bargains that end up being way more expensive in the long run than it would have cost to go ahead and get the better quality product in the first place.  This holds true for Pay Per Head Services as well.  A quality PPH company can change a bookies life for the better, whereas a cheap PPH company can turn into a nightmare quickly.

If you look closely at the available price per head services being offered to bookmakers these days you will quickly begin to see them divided into at least four categories.  It pays to take some time and study the available options before making a commitment.

The first would be the smaller companies that are sincerely out there trying to do a good job at a competitive price but just do not have the infrastructure to keep up.

The key word in this industry is redundancy, and that takes time and costs money to set up.  The old expression, “God bless the child that has his own” goes double in the Pay Per Head industry.

Next there are the fly-by-night outfits out there promising the world at a super low price but knowing full well that they will not be there for you when the going gets tough.  They may mean well, however, if they are dependent on outside services to keep their business running, they are bound to suffer down time which is bad for their clients and completely out of their control.

What the prudent bookie will want to avoid at all costs are the companies offering a price per head service which also run a sportsbook.  Think about it. These companies are in direct competition with you for your clients and historically have a record of luring good clients away from local bookies with bonuses, specials and glitter.

Then we have the rarest of them all, the few Pay Per Head companies like Host PPH.com with almost 20 years in the business.  The folks at Host have taken the time and made the investments in state of the art equipment and a highly trained professional staff that dedicates itself to keeping their clients happy, out of trouble and making money.

Of course the quality companies are going to have to charge a little more in order to give you better service.  That holds true in almost any business. However, you will find, at the end of the month, you will end up with a greater hold percentage than you would have at the cut-rate shop…..and have happier clients as well!

Don’t take a chance with your business.  Remember, what the price per head company you work with puts up online for you will be representing you to your players.   These days players are looking for high quality, friendly ease of access to wagering with no hassles and no delays.  Provide that for them, do your payouts and collections with a smile, and they will keep on coming back for more.

 

2019 NBA PLAYOFF MERRY-GO-ROUND

NBA-HeaderHere we go again.  The top 16 teams of the NBA square off in a 6 week long annual festival of professional basketball in the USA called ‘The Playoffs’. Although basketball is now played almost worldwide at the professional level, the National Basketball Association Playoffs are considered to be the games in which the best team in the world is crowned champions.

It takes awhile. Each tier consists of a best of 7 series with travel days after two or three games so that each team plays at least two games before their own home crowd.  Normally they will play two games in the city whose team has the best overall record, then take a day for travel, play two game away, take another travel day and finish off the series at home, if necessary.

The powerhouses in the West should come as no surprise to anyone who follows professional basketball. The Golden State Warriors led by Seth Curry with an All Star supporting cast are once again the odds on favorites to win the NBA crown for 2019.  As a matter of fact, the Warriors are the only NBA team going into the finals with negative numbers at -250.

James Harden’s Houston Rockets seem to be the only other team in the West expected to be there for the final rounds of the playoffs this year.  Las Vegas oddsmakers are listing the Rockets as +200 to win the Western Conference Championship and just +380 to win it all. That places them third behind the Warriors and the Milwaukee Bucks with only the Toronto Raptors remaining under +1000 at +650.

Among teams making a strong showing at the beginning of the playoffs are the Boston Celtics who have just taken four games straight from Indiana to eliminate the Pacers for this year. The Philadelphia 76ers have so far looked very strong beating the Brooklyn Nets 3 out of the first four games and sitting pretty to advance to the next round.

The Toronto Raptors are also off to a good start taking 3 out of 4 from the Orlando Magic after losing the first contest by three points. As expected, the Milwaukee Bucks have taken 3 in a row from the Detroit Pistons and sit poised to advance as well.

The Warriors are out in front of their instate rivals LA Clippers though the Clips did take game two 135-131.  Golden State is expected to move on along with the Portland Trail Blazers who are 3-1 up on the Oklahoma Thunder after the first four games of the series.

What’s missing this year?  For the first time in 14 years the NBA Playoffs are proceeding without super star LeBron James.  Loads of pro star power still on the court, but no LBJ!

STADIUM FOOD ARRIVES AT THE CUTTING EDGE

nfl foodRemember back in the old days when ‘going out to the ball park’ meant eating hotdogs, popcorn and cotton candy.  You couldn’t even get a cold beer at most ball parks.  Sporting events were sort of like camping trips where everyone dressed up warmly and fans often resorted to bringing their own food and beverages, especially ‘beverages’.   

 Stadiums were mostly cold grey concrete structures everywhere under the seats and facilities were basic….at best.  Guys with strong arms used to carry Cokes….in glass bottles….up and down the rows of fans….they sold you a coke, poured it into a plastic cup and lugged the empty bottles away.  How times have changed!

 In the past ten years or so, America has gone ‘foodie’ crazy.  Chefs have become international celebrities and cooking shows can be found at almost any time of the day or night. This sudden food consciousness has given rise to a significant upgrade in the quality of food that most of us consume daily. 

 So the folks running Levi’s Stadium outside of San Francisco have raised the bar up a couple of more notches with what will be available to eat at their new beautiful stadium.  In fact, they have dedicated over 17,000 square feet of space in the new stadium to feeding the sports fans in style. 

 If you follow the food magazines, you have probably already heard of Chef Michael Mina.  The Michelin stared Chef has been featured in such prestigious publications as Gourmet, Food & Wine and Bon Appétit as one of the best and most original young Chefs in the country.   

 As it turns out, Michael Mina has been a huge San Francisco 49er fan for many years…as well as a season ticket holder since 1991.  When the team moved into its new facility the stadium managers brought in the popular Chef and gave him 17,000 square feet to work on with only one guideline…..”Make this place awesome”…..so he did just that.  

 Levi’s Stadium probably now has the most exotic, most varied….and most expensive…. stadium food of all the existing NFL stadiums today.  That was their goal to start out with.  Where else can a season ticket holder purchase a $5,000 a year tailgate pass that allows them to graze among several first rate restaurants there at the stadium and enjoy a wide variety of gourmet grub at each stop.  

Now $5,000 may seem a bit high for a single season pass, but, remember, the deal includes all that you can drink as well.  So, for some dedicated fans, it may turn out to be a bargain in disguise.

Actually, what transpired in Levi’s Stadium as the ‘cutting edge’ of stadium food has now become the norm in many upscale stadiums across the country, even to the point of holding food festivals and competitions before big sporting events.  Chefs everywhere are competing with each other weekly to see whose next presentation can be more outrageous than their last, which was already pretty outrageous!

So, Bon Appétit, and don’t forget the Tums!

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