Best Place to Gamble

We got some Canes over here, whoosh, whoosh! Yes, it's a pretty lame cheer, but fans shout it loud and proud on any given Saturday in the Orange Bowl, and for good reason. UM is and has been a perennial football powerhouse since 1983, but gone are the days of the swaggering, trash-talking, fatigues-wearing hooligans who played for Jimmy Johnson. The NCAA violations, scholarship reductions, assorted PR gaffes, and the specter of Luther Campbell left a bad taste in the mouths of critics and fans alike. It's always darkest before the dawn, right? Even when things got really bad, they eventually got better: J.J. and his hair jumped to the NFL; their replacement, Dennis Erickson (despite winning two National Championships in '89 and '91), abandoned the team right before the school was hit with NCAA sanctions; Butch Davis exorcised the demons, cleaned up the program, and took the Canes to victory over the Gators in the 2001 Nokia Sugar Bowl. Then Davis bailed for the NFL, leaving the team and the fans in the lurch. Would the Canes revert back to their evil ways? After Athletic Director Paul Dee conducted a nationwide search for Davis' replacement, the UM players lobbied for Assistant Coach Larry Coker, who in turn led Miami to an undefeated season in 2001. In 2002, the Canes rocked the Nebraska Cornhuskers like a Category 4 storm in the Rose Bowl only to crash back down to Earth in a devastating loss to Ohio State University a year later in the Fiesta Bowl. Although the loss to OSU ended Miami's historic winning streak at 34 games and some egos (and ligaments) got bruised, rest assured that the Canes will reload and return to dominance. Whoosh, whoosh!There's no better place to undertake the vice of gambling than Dania Jai-Alai's "Cellar," a smoky crypt of simulcasts flickering on dozens of screens. Above it in the auditorium, spectators lend a classier air to the goings-on as they watch live games taking place in the fronton, the court on which this hoary Basque game is played. The Cellar, however, is a classic den of iniquity. It's here that paychecks are really lost or multiplied. Here, you can avoid the lines by placing bets on self-service terminals for everything from harness racing to jai-alai. Color touch-screen terminals allow you to open an account, establish a balance, and handle all your betting online from your own carrel. For the more mobile-minded, there're the palm-sized wireless terminals. They make trips to the Cellar's bar a whole lot easier.

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