LAS VEGAS — MAHJONG!!!

One of the great tile games and one of the GREAT betting games.

In case you were wondering, mahjong is the Chinese word for sparrows. Learned how to play mahjong back in the day from my mom, and still have a soft spot for those beautiful 144 tiles. The tiles, from an artistic standpoint, are gorgeous, and the names are ethereal. You have Flowers, Bamboo, Dragons, Seasons and Winds.

Not gonna be able to hold the tiles in your hands at the online casino, but man, you’ll be in for a blast. You’ll find single-table and tournament formats at numerous sites. And you can also find mahjong featured in the solitaire style of play where players must clear their board by matching identical tiles. In traditional and solitaire versions of mahjong, players can place bets similar to poker. Let’s go, or as the Chinese say, ZOU BA, baabbbeee!!!

HATS OFF TO LARRY!!!

That was one of my favorite songs back in the day by Del Shannon, and while the lyrics are pretty weak, I’ll give the melody a 10!

But the hats we’re talking about are from a new store on the Strip that isn’t your typical retail spot. It’s called Culture Kings, and if you’re into climbing, there is a 75-foot wall with towering, color-coordinated columns of 11,000-plus hats. ELEVEN THOUSAND!

The store is located inside the The Forum Shops at Caesars Palace. When you wanna try on a hat, one of the employees on a lift will grab it. The store also features a recording studio, slushy bar, live DJs, half basketball court, LED screens and a punching-bag game called “The King.”

You can easily spend a few hours, and in case you wanna get your song on, they have a state-of-the-art recording studio. And while hats are the main attraction, they also have watches, footwear, jewelry, jerseys and T-shirts. Not sure about the price points yet, but it’s a FREE get in!

WINNERS ONLY!!!

Sliding over to the ice tonight, just took a look at the Buffalo Sabres’ recent work, and OH MY. As in OH & EIGHT since the beginning of November. Montreal has been skating better, winning three of the last four at home, so we’ll drop a few loonies on le Club de hockey Canadien.

It’s a few days early, but gotta jump on a couple of World Cup matches. Start off with Uruguay over South Korea on Thursday. With Luis Suarez leading the charge for La Celeste and Son Heung-min questionable for the Tigers of Asia, gotta throw some chips at Uruguay to win its opening match.

Everyone is gonna have eyeballs on the USA/England fight on Friday, but we’re gonna start with Wales vs Iran. Gareth Bale and the Dragons slept through the first half of the opening game against the United States but absolutely dominated the second half. Thinking that Wales has more than enough to handle the Iranians, so gimme the DRAGONS!

We heard that the USA won the Revolutionary War, but in Qatar, the English appear ready to rumble and get revenge. The Three Lions DESTROYED Iran in the opener 6-2, while the Stars & Stripes struggled to a 1-1 draw with Wales. Lions ROAR!

Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his email... ben@americasline.com.

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