My Hypothetical SuperContest is over.
It was a great run. There were some great bets, and admittedly some awful ones. There was world travel. There was a lot of love for RUSSELL HUSTLE BUSTLE WILSON. It is a series of articles that I am extremely proud of, and its conclusion left me extremely pleased with my ability to write about sports betting.
It also left me hypothetically broke.
For those of you that weren’t along for the initial run, allow me to summarize the process. In Las Vegas, there is a sports handicapping competition called the Hilton SuperContest. It costs $1,500 to enter and pays the top 30 pickers against the spread. Since I did not have any real money to enter with, I hypothetically entered the contest with $1,500 hypothetical dollars and played along from the proverbial sidelines every week. And the end of the process I finished 46-37-2, just a few wins short of making the money and well within the top 20% of entrants.
Again, I am proud of this result. If somewhere in the universe there was some man that placed a standard bet ($110) on each of my 85 picks over the course of the season, said man would have made $530 in the real world. It’s a result I am proud of, but not satisfied with.
I was thinking about this dissatisfaction walking through the Philadelphia International Airport earlier this week when everything changed. As I waited for a courtesy shuttle to carry me to my car parked in some hotel lot, I met a man. Well, not a man exactly. He was a Hypothetical Man, and we had the following exchange:
I turned, startled. “Yeah, that’s me. I’m sorry, have we met?”
“Oh man, no but this is CRAZY? I love your column dude. You killed it with that Hypothetical SuperContest. Your picks were ON POINT. I made a killing following your advice.”
“Thanks man. I can’t believe anyone reads my stuff, that means a ton to me, really.” I paused, then continued. “If you don’t mind me asking, how much did you make off my picks?”
“§530. I trusted your every move man.”
I smiled. “Well, at least someone is making money off my picks. I’m broke. I haven’t been able to gamble on a game with real money this whole season.”
“It’s not exactly real money…” he said, raising the tone of his voice ever so slightly. “It’s Hypothetical Money. It’s just what I use to gamble. I can’t waste any real US currency on some silly game of chance, so whenever I’m dealing with my bookie, I just use Hypothetical Money. He doesn’t seem to mind.”
I eyed up my newfound companion. What was this crazy jibberish he was spewing about a bookie accepting Hypothetical Money? Did he actually read all of my stuff? How did he recognize me without a bottle of Jameson in my hand? Before I could answer these questions, he piped up once more.
“You gotta keep picking games man. You’re my good luck.”
“I’m flattered, but I don’t think I have anything left. I’m broke in the real world, the Hypothetical SuperContest is over, and I’m going to have to find a real job soon that’ll probably take up a lot of the free time I spend writing this ridiculous column. I don’t have a real dollar to my name, let alone a Hypothetical one.”
“Well let me spot you!” my new friend interjected.
“You made me §530 Hypothetical Dollars this season. Let me just front you that money and let’s see how this plays out. At least through the playoffs.”
That could work, I thought to myself.
“That could work.” I replied.
The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a check. It was already written out in full. He handed me the check just as my parking shuttle arrived.
I was thrilled. §530 Hypothetical Dollars to gamble with. §530 Hypothetical chances at glory. I asked the man, “Will I see you again? How do I pay you back?”
“I’ll be here whenever you need me Tyler. I just want to keep reading. If you ever need more Hypothetical Cash, I’ll find you.”
“Okay.” I replied as I turned to flag down the bus.
“Happy Sundays.” He said, though his voice now seemed further away.
The shuttle pulled up to my stop. The driver rolled down the window and asked, “Just you?”
“I’m not sure, I think I might be giving a ride to my friend here.”
I turned to where the man was standing. No one was there.
tl:dr – I am going to pretend to gamble with $530 throughout the course of the NFL Playoffs and maybe beyond.
Wild Card Weekend
This is exciting. Free from the restrictions of the Hypothetical SuperContest, I can place bets with my $530 in Hypothetical Cash (§530) in new and creative ways. We can place prop bets and futures. We can parlay, tease, and over/under our way to bankruptcy or hypothetical glory. Don’t worry, I’ll teach you as we go. As always, we’re in this together.
This week things will stay pretty simple, with bets against the spread and maybe an over/under or two.
All lines listed are currently available via Sportsbook.ag. Home team gets the asterisk.
Eagles* -3 (-115) over Saints
A quick overview on point spreads for the uninitiated: The Eagles are “-3” in this game, meaning that they have to win by more than three points in order for me to win my bet. If they win by exactly three, the bet is a push and I get my money back. If the Eagles lose outright (not happening) or win by less than three points (hopefully not happening), I lose my bet.
A quick overview on “vig” for the slightly initiated: “Vig” is how Las Vegas makes money handicapping sporting events. It is most easily illustrated through a hypothetical: I am going to handicap a coin flip. I find two people, one who wants to bet heads and one who wants to bet tails. I place the “vig” at (-110) meaning that each bettor will have to bet $110 in order to win $100. They make their bets. The coin is flipped and lands heads. The man who bet heads wins $100 and also gets back his original $110. The house (me) gets the $110 from the man who bet tails and pays the man who bet heads, thus making $10.
The house always wins, and the man who bet tails is an idiot.
A quick overview on why I am picking the Eagles: They are my home team and even though I am trying to write in a professional voice the child inside me is ceaselessly screaming “NICK FOLES BABY LET’S DO THIS.”
I think that’s what they call a gut feeling.
Betting §23 to win §2o.
Chiefs -1.5 (-110) over Colts*
Every stat I can find on the Chiefs going into this game suggests that they are a sucker bet here. They lead the league in turnover margin, which is a highly variant stat that is more influenced by chance than skill. They had the weakest schedule in the first half of the season and have not been playing great football of late. They lost this exact game at home just two weeks ago.
Further, the storylines are set for a Colts win; they beat a bunch of quality teams during the regular season and seem to be peaking at the right time.
This bet is me seeing the world zigging, and choosing to zag.
Betting §22 to win §2o.
Chargers +7 (-110) over Bengals*
I don’t think defense matters all that much anymore. I think that the playoffs are about shootouts now and I think that as many times as he has burned me, I love standing beside Philip Rivers in a shootout. It’s always exciting at least.
Betting §22 to win §2o.
Speaking of shootouts…
Over 46 (-110) in Chargers/Bengals
An over/under bet is a bet placed on the number of total points that will be scored in a game. In this case, I am betting that there will be at least 47 points scored in Sunday’s game. Just a gut feeling. And I’m really excited to be free to gamble my Hypothetical Cash on bets unrelated to the point spread.
Betting §22 to win §2o.
Packers* +3 (-115) over 49ers
Aaron Rodgers getting points at home against a quarterback that I don’t really like for some unknown reason? Please take my money.
Betting §22 to win §2o.
Also, while we’re here, I want to make some long term bets while I still can. These are less intelligent, but lots of fun.
Eagles to win Super Bowl (+1800)
First, another quick lesson on “vig”: As we already established (-110) means you have to bet $110 to win $100. When the vig begins with a minus sign, the following number indicates how much a bettor must put down in order to win $100. Conversely, if the vig begins with a plus sign, then the number that follows indicates how much a bettor would win if he were to bet $100 on an outcome. So here, if I bet $100 on the Eagles and they won the Super Bowl, I would win $1800. Cool? Cool.
My Reasoning: They are my team, so I want to place this just in case. Also, the Birds are what I am calling a “coin flip” team this year; each game they play, they can either come up heads and play like one of the best teams in the league, or come up tails and get throttled by the Vikings. I think it’s possible that we hit heads four games in a row.
Betting §5 to win §90
Chargers to win Super Bowl (+3500)
The Chargers have “team of destiny” potential. They made the playoff in some ridiculous circumstances and sometimes everything just goes right for you. They have long odds and I don’t want Philip Rivers to win a Super Bowl without me getting a piece of the action. This is insurance against that more than anything else.
Betting §5 to win §175
Seahawks to win Super Bowl (+280)
RUSSELL HUSTLE BUSTLE WILSON has been my boy all year. No way I turn my back on him now.
Betting §20 to win §56
So there you have it. §530 entering the playoffs, §111 on the table this week and §30 down long term. This is going to be fun.