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17 Long Weeks
Inside the Mind of a Professional Gambler
By: Doug Upstone - StatFox
Published: 8/18/2009 at 8:05:00 PM
Fezzik is a professional gambler living in Las Vegas. He’s made a name for himself winning the 2008 Hilton Super Contest with 67.5 percent record against the spread on 85 wagers. Last year he also finished second in college football in Leroy’s contest, with 53-31 ATS record. He’s a featured guest on many Vegas sports betting shows since arriving in Sin City and has joined forces with Anthony Curtis at LVASports.com, which is populated by many of the industry's top gambling professionals. We sat down with Fezzik and picked his brain.
StatFox: You are a highly acclaimed professional gambler, explain what that means?
Fezzik: What it means is you make your living by winning at gambling. I would call myself an “advantage player”. I will also play poker and blackjack, anything I can get an advantage at. Primarily it’s sports betting, that’s the most lucrative.
SF: With the football season fast approaching, explain your typical work-week schedule in terms of preparation?
Fezzik: For me, you have to start on Sunday evening. Most professional gamblers I know are betting the halftime numbers on the late games and are preparing for opening numbers. For the very best players, there is no time to rest. They are not watching games to see how their bets turn out, though they may have them on, they are focused on the opening lines for the following week.
They are making their numbers for the following week on college and NFL games, so they are ready to bet as soon as the lines come up on Sunday afternoon. Because of their skill, they are able to get some really sharp bets. These bettors are not looking for in-depth analysis; they are searching for oddsmakers’ mistakes. They are looking for numbers they know are off by two points. Any number that is off by two or more points and they think is obvious that anybody who does serious work in studying numbers, they will just fire (bet), even if the limits are low. They are going to hit what they see as mistakes.
On Monday, they are looking at props for Monday Night Football, looking to play a middle if available or fading a public move on the side or total.
Myself, on Monday I start breaking down totals on college football for the following week, since those numbers don’t come until Tuesday.
Starting on Tuesday, everything to this point has just been my opinion. I will meet with a group of sharp bettors in Las Vegas and kick around thoughts and ideas, often focusing in on certain games and possible player injuries. This is the more intense handicapping day. If we are all in agreement, I’ll shop for the best number and bet more on that game.
Wednesday is supposed to be an off day, but it seldom is, even if the lines have stabilized by this point. It’s fairly typical for me to work until 3 in the morning Monday night and get up at 7AM on Tuesday. I try and sleep in on Wednesday’s to prevent further sleep deprivation. Wednesday is usually date night and Thursday I return to handicapping looking for more particular advantages. I should add, in between I make any number of bets on games, be it sides or totals. Thursday my attention shifts to the various contests I entered and study the lines for what I might play. For me Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are similar.
SF: In summation, you look to attack weak numbers early and if drastic changes occur, you will address those situations if they arise?
Fezzik: Exactly. Thursday is real good for checking weather reports, if I already like an Under and adverse weather is a possibility, I’ll fire on a game that coincides with my number at current value. I won’t play an Under because of bad weather if my numbers come out higher to start.
SF: What led you to this lifestyle?
Fezzik: Always a math geek, always good at numbers and probabilities, forecasts. I view it as day trading; it’s really the same as trading on the stock market, with the exception it’s probably easier to win at this.
SF: Would you recommend this to others?
Fezzik: No. Unless you are really good at math. Most people are not very good at math and those that are move on to make really good money at other lines of work.
SF: What does a professional gambler do for fun?
Fezzik: What’s nice about being a professional gambler is you can always gamble for fun. When I’m running around I might play in poker tournament that isn’t high stakes. I might enter a $100.00 poker tournament, just to play live poker, that’s fun. I like casinos, I like hanging out in sports books.
I do like to go hiking up Mt. Charleston here in Vegas, which is almost 12,000 feet. It’s great to go to Lee Canyon, which is about 9,000 feet. I was there recently and it was 80 degrees, when it was 115 degrees in Vegas. I’ll try to shoot out to Shakespearean festival in Southern Utah before the season starts. I like to play golf, though I’m not very good at it. Golf in Las Vegas is one of the best values in the summer time, playing great courses from $25.00.
SF: If you weren’t a professional gambler, what would you be doing?
Fezzik: I’m pretty sure I’d be in the financial services arena, probably pricing variable annuities or being a bond trader.
SF: Do you have a preference of college or pro football?
Fezzik: I like pro football better, but I was forced to focus on college football more, since the numbers are weaker and it’s easier to beat them. The marketplace dictates the college numbers are more beatable.
SF: Where have you found the greatest opportunities in sports wagering, sides or totals?
Fezzik: The totals are easily the weaker market. The average football better wagers less than $500.00 a game. Why would they bother to beat the most difficult thing to beat, NFL sides, instead of betting college totals? The answer is they are not very good at it as recreational players.
If you told me I could only bet $500.00 a game, I’d go bet WNBA totals and college basketball totals, clearly, which are easier to beat. The frustration is if I want to bet $2,000 on college basketball total, I might have to drive to four places, which is very difficult. The great advantage of betting a NFL side, I can wager $10,000 on a single bet at one location. If you are truly good at wagering in the NFL, you can bet your opinions forcefully and with volume.
SF: What are some of your favorite wagers for the upcoming season?
Fezzik: Do you want the ones still available or the ones that are long gone?
SF: You decide.
Fezzik: I got Seattle at +275 to win the NFC West. Denver and Tampa Bay are both likely to stink this year. If you were able to play Denver at Un7.5 this year, you have a tremendous bet. You have a good bet at U7 and a marginal bet at U6.5 wins and anything less than that is probably a bad bet. Tampa Bay Un7 is great bet; Un6.5 is good bet and Un6, garbage. It’s hard for people to hear that. They wonder how can it be a great bet at Un7 and be a terrible bet Un6? I tell them, it’s worth 100 cents to move one point on a an NFL total, if I told you a baseball team was a great bet at +200 but a bad bet at +100, you would nod your head and say that makes sense.
SF: The Florida Gators are ranked number one and the defending champions. They also have what appears to be a favorable schedule. Do you see them going unbeaten and finishing No.1 again or who else do you like?
Fezzik: Florida is the clear favorite and a monster with Tim Tebow back along with 11 defensive starters. If you give me the field against Florida, I’d take the field. In reviewing the numbers, Florida has about a 38 percent chance of winning the national championship, which is huge number. If I had to do a forecast, I’d say they would win 11 games. LSU has them at home on October 10th, which would seem the game the Gators could fall, but it will be tough to trip them up.
SF: Should the average football bettor be aggressive to start the season or be more cautious?
Fezzik: This is one of my pet peeves, since all the experts say to start slow. In my opinion, that is terrible advice. The very best wagers are made in May for the upcoming football season. The people that do their homework early and quickly, make bets like Broncos and Bengals as Pick (now Bengals -3), which is just a sick bet. That doesn’t guarantee a win, but you won’t find a better play for a variety of reasons. I see this closing at Bengals -3.5.
Last year in Week 5 on Sunday night, Pittsburgh was getting 5.5 points at Jacksonville and +6 was available at different outlets. Clearly, that is going to be a better bet than anything you find Week 10. Earlier in the year, the numbers are much further off then later in the year. For those waiting for perfect information, comes perfect lines or very tight lines. Your largest wagers should come early in the year, if you are prepared. And I don’t know any professional gambler that would disagree with that.
SF: Based on your accomplishments, what advice would you pass along to any sports bettor to give them the best chance to win?
Fezzik: I would simulate the first 200 bets and track how you are doing before betting. Keep track if you are winning or losing and write down why you would have made the bet. Next if you want to bet, I would bet peanuts; way less than you think you should bet. If you can have access to advantage player, I would frequent forums that cater to gaining knowledge. In blackjack, BJ21com, Stanford Wong’s website. I’m biased toward LVASports.com, where I’m a moderator on Anthony Curtis’ website. SharpSportsBetting.com and EOG.com are other great sites to go and ask questions and learn.
It’s hard to determine who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t. Don’t confuse the vast majority of the touts with a professional gambler. For the most part, handicappers can be successful, but they can’t share the great expertise and teach you anything.
A great example of this is touts have their Game of the Year late in the season, when as I just explained, some of the best opportunities are early in the year. They would never think to have a Game of the Year the first few weeks of the season, because they believe this would make them look foolish.
SF: The cappers that have Game of the Year’s early end up having eight or 10, to keep the customer on the hook.
Fezzik: I like John Kelly’s advice, which is “listen to everyone, follow know one”. Do your research, listen to what people like and why and go back and do more research.
SF: I think too frequently everyone is looking for the “hot guy”, whether they are a handicapper or somebody on winning streak in a forum. These guys tend to dry up in time.
Fezzik: A one year record is totally irrelevant to me. Give me someone’s five-year record or lifetime record that’s what’s really significant. Take a coin and flip it 80 times and you’ll be shocked how often you get 50 tails and 30 heads.
I wanted to emphasize this, I hear all the time, “this is the right side or the wrong side of a game”. Every game has a right side for both teams if you give me the right number. Not long ago I liked Winnipeg and Calgary Under 51 points in Canadian Football, but give me 48, sure I’d play Over, since I think the number should be 49.5. I can’t stand when people say “this is the right side of the game”. That is almost never the case. You give me enough points and I’ll take the lesser team in the right value spot.
SF: Do you play many parlays yourself?
Fezzik: There are three reasons to play parlays. Reason One- You are laying less than a $1.10 on each progressive side. Standard odds on a parlay are betting 5 to win 13 on a two-team parlay. If you win more than 13, you are effectively laying less than a $1.10 on each individual bets. You find a book that pays 14 to 5 on two-teamer, you would be playing badly not to be playing parlay. Why not play less than $1.10 if you are going to bet a lot of games?
Reason Two – If there is a correlation. An obvious correlation would be big favorites -200 or higher.
Reason Three – To circumvent the limits at a sports book. If you have $500 limit, you could parlay few games and parlay $300 bets and next think you know you have $1,100 in action. That’s an excellent reason to play parlays.
One thing I read is authors saying “If you hit 55 percent, your return on investment is higher playing parlays”. It’s a correct statement, but you won’t be making more money betting parlays, instead you should be betting more on straight bets.
SF: Anything else you would like to add?
Fezzik: Advantage players like me have different perspective on how to bet sports. If a person is wagering for recreational purposes, betting their own money and having fun doing what they want to do, that’s all good.
SF: Great insights, I appreciate it.
Fezzik: Thanks, Doug, it’s been fun.