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TV review: Showtime’s Action is four episodes of half-baked ideas about sports betting

Wednesday, 17 April 2019 11:45 EST

Do we really need yet another bit of TV to remind us that any production which attempts to appeal to everyone will end up appealing to no one? Apparently the producers of Showtime’s four-part documentary series “Action” sure thought so and got this series about professional gamblers/gambling in America greenlighted.

Episode 1 begins with, and screen time is ultimately dominated by, four gamblers at various levels of professionalism: full-timer Bill “Krack” Krackomberger, aspiring entertainment personality Kelly “@KellyInVegas” Stewart, hardcore hobbyist Todd Wishnev, and insufferable tipster David “Vegas Dave” Oancea. Later episodes add David Halpern, the self-described top NFL bettor in Las Vegas, and “The Illegal Bookie” are added to the mix.

NFLbets’ll get into just what an unseemly mess said mix is momentarily but, since the Action team saw fit to give so much screen time to Oancea, we’ll definitely devote some words to the obnoxious jackass. As a presentation of at semi-socially acceptable adults gambling responsibly (if on a high budget), Kelly and Krack are veritable plusses on the gambling world’s side. Halpern comes off as a hard partier, but we accept that he socializes in rarified air; and while Wishnev isn’t exactly aggrandizing the image of the high-level gambler, in the end he’s mostly harmless.

But “Vegas Dave”? This dude lives with his parents because the series makes clear that no one else can stand him, literally nearly dug his own grave several times on the way to running up $700,000 in debts, tried to scam his way into ripping off sportsbooks and spends most of his screen time endlessly bragging. In short, guys like Oancea have been selling trash TV since at least Barbara Walters’s heyday: Both the highly talented and highly flawed can make great TV; the combination is golden, producing the right alchemy of awe and schadenfreude.

Perhaps the presence of Vegas Dave helps keep Action as a production of any value to either the gambling industry, sports betting enthusiasts or even the general viewer, many other elements are at play. In an effort to follow the unquestionable “reality TV” format, time aplenty is devoted to the personal lives of the bettors. For example, the imminently watchable Kelly does little more in episode 2 than getting electrolysis for epilation; we see Wishnev working in his small Vegas apartment but have no idea what his job actually is.

Meanwhile, as part of the continued Sisyphean efforts to be all things to all viewers, Action also makes asides explaining the very fundamentals of betting; you know, like “Parlay” and “over/under.” Fair enough, NFLbets supposes, but the producers are still introducing stuff like this in episode 4? We’d argue that none of this should appear in this series at any time after about 15 minutes into episode 1. Unless this show *isn’t* actually about gambling.

But then … the changing shape of legalized sports betting in the US gets so much time that the bettors themselves are kept off the screen for quarter-hours at a time (in the case of Oancea, so much the better). A few high-powered cameos – human bowling ball Chris Christie, Cousin Sal and Jimmy Vaccaro among them – appear to indicate that Action will dish on the current state of gambling law in the US or maybe the history of sports betting.

Instead, we’re bogged down in stories of woe from Atlantic City, an increasingly irrelevant spot on the American sports betting/gambling map, with nary a mention of the biggest grower of and destroyer of that city’s casino industry, one Donald J. Trump. Several times are we told that states like Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and Mississippi have legalized sports betting, but no insight whatsoever is given into these operations, and NFLbets would be willing to bet that certain states are raking in well more in tax revenues for the state than the pathetic sportsbook operations in Atlantic City. (It can’t be that a tv program doesn’t want to show successful Native American-run businesses, can it…?)

Most egregious of all, however, was the insistence by sometime on the production team and/or Showtime to show “both sides of the issue.”

While aggrandizing full-time sports betting, the Action team felt it necessary to throw in the usual melodramatic stories about “people ruin their lives gambling” while aggrandizing a schmuck like Oancea victimizing those exact same addicts. We’re soberly told very early in episode 1 – and the point is frequently reiterated – that maybe 1% can make a living at full-time gambling, that breaking even is above average in sports betting, that every bettor bottoms out, that everyone loses far more often than he/she wins, yet almost everything we see is winning, at least until the Super Bowl. And even then most of this series’ protagonists land on their feet.

So in the end, who is the target audience for Action? Certainly neither the seasoned sports bettor nor the novice. “Reality” tv fans may appreciate the personal bits centering on these literal and figurative characters, but the newsy angles thrown in just wrecks all the glorious pretense of traditional “reality” shows. Simply put, the reaction to Action from many is certain to be apathy; this series represents at best a failed opportunity to present a meaningful deep-dive into the sports bettor’s lifestyle.

Odds this series ever gets a sequel: 50/1.

Never mind Thanos – can the Avengers beat 87.5% at Rotten Tomatoes?

Sunday, 07 April 2019 19:46 EST

NFbets content overseer and lead writer Os Davis is now on the MacGuffin Report, a weekly podcast devoted to movies, tv and streaming content (especially streaming content). This is just as much a shameless plug as a notice of qualifications to write on the “specials” proposition bet “"Opening Weekend Score on Rotten Tomatoes for Avengers: Endgame.”

The over/under on this prop is pretty much exactly what you’d expect: At 87.5%, such a Rotten Tomatoes rating would rank it 11th among the then-22 Marvel Comics Studios releases – dead center if you don’t include the 2008 Incredible Hulk, which for many reasons we shouldn’t. Said list with each movie’s Rotten Tomatoes score *to date* runs as follows:

ThanosBlack Panther (2018) – 97%
Iron Man (2008) – 93%
Thor: Ragnarok (2017) – 92%
The Avengers (2012) – 92%
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017) – 92%
Captain America: Civil War (2016) – 91%
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – 91%
Captain America: The Winter Solider (2014) – 90%
Doctor Strange (2016) – 89%
Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) – 88%
over/under for Avengers: Endgame opening weekend – 87.5%
Avengers: Infinity War (2018) – 85%
Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (2017) – 83%
Ant-Man (2015) - 82%
Iron Man 3 (2013) – 80%
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – 80%
Captain Marvel (2019) – 78%
Thor (2011) – 77%
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) – 75%
Iron Man 2 (2010) – 73%
The Incredible Hulk (2008) – 67%
Thor: The Dark World (2013) – 66%

But what do movie fans like? Actually, NFLbets does know: They like Marvel Movies! Geez, 18 of the above score a 75% or better approval rating at ’Tomatoes. Certain other studios would certainly like to see their superhero franchises snag such nice numbers., but such high scores across the board certainly make it damn tough to forecast where the next Marvel flick might land on the Tomatometer.

• Five of the bottom seven films on the Tomatometer list were released in 2013 or earlier, but two of the top four – Iron Man, The Avengers – hit screens in 2008 and ’12, respectively. And the studio’s lastest release, Captain Marvel, also landed in the bottom third of the table.

• The first Iron Man, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy have bettered all their sequels, but Thor, Captain America and Ant-Man were each topped by sequels; in fact, in the cases of Thor and Captain America, the *third* film in each series-within-the-series ranks best.

• As for the Avengers movies specifically, we’ve got two above the magic 87½ (the 2012 original and Captain America: Civil War, which was essentially an Avengers plus a few others not officially on that superteam) and two below (Age of Ultron and, perhaps significantly, Infinity War).

At this point, the reality should be getting quite clear, particularly to the NFL bettor: Betting against a Marvel movie is like betting against the New England Patriots. On top of this, notice that the prop covers only through opening weekend, and it seems more likely that positive reviews will be run up from the franchise’s most ardent supporters with prepaid tickets.

But, but … and NFLbets knows this is the Patriots and all, but just look at this trailer…

Dark stuff, right? Well, no kidding. After half the universe gets dusted – including many of the funnier and/or more popular characters in the Marvel Universe including Black Panther, Spider-Man, Doctor Strange, most of the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Wasp – by Thanos’s killer snap, things apparently get as broody as Zach Snyder’s desecration of DC Comics heroes.

And if there’s one thing that’ll dampen the general enthusiasm for any Marvel movie, it’s a dark tone. Consider the bottom of the above list again, and you’ll find the first two Thor movies, the darkest Avengers movie, the un-humorous Incredible Hulk, and the first two films featuring the ultra-earnest super-serious Captain America.

Now NFLbets knows that resurrections are certainly in store for essentially every one of the dusted characters (strictly pragmatically speaking, plans ae already in place for Guardians 3 and Black Panther 2 has got to be in pre-preproduction by now), so Avengers: Endgame may not go out on a completely bum trip. On the other other hand, old favorites like Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk *could* be killed off (at lest in their present incarnations) before the final reels – and the demise of any of those guys could be way more bummerific than seeing Henry Cavill’s Superman bite the kryptonite dust in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

We might also note that, while expectations for this film are damn high, Marvel Comics succeeds pretty much again and again (and again!) despite such weight…

The last question, then, is this: Will Endgame fare just slightly worse than Infinity War among the Tomatoes-throwers? NFLbets knows we might be betting against the Patriots, but in this case the competition is also the Patriots. We’re saying take under 87.5% in the Avengers: Endgame Opening Weekend Rotten Tomatoes Score prop.

Do you believe? Betting on the prop “Will the Cleveland Browns Win a Playoff Game?”

Sunday, 07 April 2019 14:04 EST

Making predictions for the upcoming NFL season this far out from the actual kickoff date is of course folly, but if sportsbooks are already taking bets on the flipping *CLEVELAND BROWNS* to make the playoffs, we can predict with some assurance that the 2019 NFL season is destined to be a weird one.

In the proposition bet “Will the Cleveland Browns Win a Playoff Game?”, the NO is listed at an incredibly short 1/7, while the YES is at an incredible 4/1. Thus will NFLbets immediately cut through the BS and advise NFL bettors to take the Browns to win a playoff game at 4/1 all day long.

NFLbets has been on the 2019 Cleveland Browns bandwagon since, what, Chris Jones came over from the Saskatchewan Roughriders to take a pretty damn low-level position with the team. The man is a Grey Cup winner and now he’s a mere senior defensive specialist – whatever that is – with the Browns? Nice.

After the Kareem Hunt signing, NFLbets was ready to cover the over on over/under for wins and was pretty confident about covering Cleveland winning the AFC North. After the Odell Beckham trade, we got more specific:

“…Cleveland should be a 10- or even 11-win team, so bet the over/under wins accordingly. We’ll also cover the Browns to win the AFC North, as we honestly believe that they’ll go a solid 5-1 against the North’s teams in rebuild and/or decline and should be getting three wins against the AFC East. By dint of their third-place finish in 2018, the Browns also draw the Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, this far out both looking like wins.

NFLbets’ll admit that covering Cleveland to win a playoff game is a risky proposition (so to speak), but you gotta admit there’s some solid value here. Even with opening day about four months away, NFLbets is penciling in the Kansas City Chiefs, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans for playoff spots. We’ll assume that the second-place finisher in the AFC South is also good for double-digit wins, so we’ll put the Colts/Texans in the no. 5 seed. As it stands, we’ve got the Browns to win the AFC North, holding off the Baltimore Ravens, enjoying Mike Tomlin’s final season in Pittsburgh and looking down the table all season at the Cincinnati Bengals.

So naturally the viability of this bet hinges on the New England Patriots.

Unless the New York Jets – right now a good two seasons away from actually winning the AFC East – pull off some shrewd moves and/or miracles in the draft and free agency, we’ll have to assume the Patriots (yawn) win this division again whether or not T.J. Hockensen becomes the next Rob Gronkowski. The question is just how many wins will be required; last season provided ample evidence that Bill Belichick has adopted Gregg Popovich’s foot-off-the-pedal strategy for the regular season. We’re thinking the Dark Emperor might decide that 10 (or even nine) wins is enough to take this hapless division, particularly if they go 6-0 against the division.

The conclusion seems pretty clear: The Browns will need to go into the playoffs at no. 3 (or even no. 6 if, likesay, the Ravens take the North) to get this prop cashed in. Ideally, of course, they’d want the no. 1 or no. 2 spot to get that first-round bye, but let’s not get too nuts over a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the Clinton Administration. (Besides, if you’re a Cleveland backer, do you really want to see the Patriots, Chargers, Colts or Texans in the playoffs, even in Ohio, even after the bye?)

And full disclosure here: Taking Cleveland to win the wild-card round game is very nearly a 50/50 proposition these days. In the past 10 years’ worth of NFL playoffs, the home team is just 23-21 SU (and 19-25 ATS!) in wild card games. On the other hand, the conservative NFL bettor can simply hedge by covering the Browns’ opponent, either plus or minus the points on the ’spread.

So, yes, some risk is involved in covering the Browns in this prop – but that’s why they call it gambling, right?

Betting on the Cleveland Browns in the playoffs – What a time to be alive!

R.I.P. AAF: League dictator seeks to take his football gambling app and go home

Wednesday, 03 April 2019 12:53 EST

RIP AAFWell, that stage of Johnny Manziel’s comeback attempt was short: Exactly 10 days passed between from Manziel’s signing with the Memphis Express to the decision by bailer-out/de facto league dictator Tom Dundon decided to take his AAF gambling app and go home.

Dundon, the Carolina Hurricanes owner, famously infused the Alliance of American Football with $250 million in February after just two weeks of the regular season. (In reality, as Deadspin reported yesterday in what amounts to an obituary for the AAF, Dundon paid league expenses week-to-week, short-shrifted some league employees and vendors, ending up spending “only” $70 million on the venture doomed to failure.)

Quickly realizing the AAF was hemorrhaging money, Dundon appeared to take inspiration from former success stories like the USFL and CFL USA, simply accelerating a hastily-crafted three-year plan. NFLbets is almost surprised Dundon didn’t simply start creating new teams to collect expansion fees from fools with too much money. Dundon declared that the AAF had to become a feeder league for the NFL immediately or else.

The NFL Players Association quickly reacted to this lack of a plan in the only rational way they could, i.e. by conveying the simple nothingness that could be achieved with no such infrastructure for an NFL feeder league in place.

Now that the AAF is little more than a stiffening corpse and memories fading fast, it is rapidly becoming obvious that Dundon’s investment of time and money into the league was all about development of the AAF gambling app, a joint venture of unspecified terms with MGM Resorts International.

The only official AAF app that’s currently available is actually pretty freakin’ neat. The “Alliance” app allows (or allowed) the user to watch plays in real-time on a video game-looking field on which helmets representing players act out the play. In-game competitions feature/d a pick-the-next-play game. Some nice stat-tracking enhances/ed the whole experience.

No options for actual, you know, *football betting*, exist in the current app, however.

Reportage by on the league’s closure – which oddly sees a future in which the league could survive this apparent death – notes that “MGM Resorts International entered into a contract with AAF to develop sports betting technologies. The contract would indicate whether MGM Resorts owns the intellectual property and licenses it to AAF, or vice-versa. If MGM Resorts owns the related intellectual property, Dundon might not own the AAF app or its data.”

Clearly big plans are/were afoot to expand the app from its decent start, and both parties in the deal are clearly aware that legalized sports betting is just about to blow up in the United States. New York and Arkansas are becoming the ninth and tenth states to legalize sports betting, while another 25 appear to be legislatively heading in the direction of legalization by 2025.

So even if MGM and Dundon can’t come to an agreement on the gambling app software (which seems somewhat strange, given Dundon’s deep in with the NHL and its owners), here’s to thinking the parties will be heading to court – hopefully to win a bit more than $3.

On the other hand, killing a professional football league just might make Dunston POTUS someday…

Wagering on Bill Cosby, Roseanne Barr, Donald Trump in “Death Matchups” proposition bets

Monday, 25 March 2019 13:30 EST

Betting on death matchup propsWhoa, My Bookie is getting dark. After a few years of offering a fairly straightforward slate of game lines, odds, proposition bets and futures, the folks there are finally dipping toes in to the waters of “Specials” betting. – and, as they say, things escalated rather quickly.

NFLbets admits a profound fondness for Specials are those props that usually have nothing to do with sports and are instead focused on celebrities or political elections. Most online sportsbooks will post offerings on now traditional proposition bet specials such as “Who will be the next Pope?” and “Gender of the next baby born in the British royal family.”, and some particularly controversial campaigns has helped build the notoriety and brand name of bookmakers such as Paddy Power.

It is, apparently, in the spirit of the outrageous that My Bookie has posted a series of proposition bets entitled “Death Matchups.” We’re not sure how to further lead into these props without just posting ‘n’ analyzing, so here goes. For all of the following, the proposition bet is entitled “Who Will Die First?” unless otherwise noted.

Betty White (5/13) vs Carol Burnett (2/1)

Now right from the start, isn’t this some bad juju? Likesay, isn’t it the law that Americans must adore Betty White as a national treasure? Besides this, Carol Burnett turns 86 in April 2019 – and she’s still playing comedy clubs. No bet here.

Charlie Sheen (1/2) vs Magic Johnson (8/5)

Los Angeles Lakers fans will likely be driving both sides of this prop, with younger Laker backers who never saw Magic play silently, malevolently cover Johnson here in hopes of dislodging him from the general manager position after one of L.A.’s most nightmarish seasons of basketball ever. The smart money here has got to be on Sheen though – why else that crazy -150 line? – as both TMZ and South Park have revealed that Magic has discovered the cure for HIV.

Regis Philbin (20/21) vs Bob Barker (20/21)

Well, this bookmaker ain’t appealing to Millennials here, that’s for sure. Barker turns 96 in 2019 and hasn’t appeared regularly on TV since 2007; Philbin is 88 in ’19 and last did morning TV in ’11. I guess the sheer numbers say to bet on Bob, but -105 ain’t a great payout.

Rosie O'Donnell (4/6) vs Roseanne Barr (11/10)

Now this one was definitely designed with politics in mind, but we’re really stumped as to why the odds on O’Donnell are so unfavorable; she’s just 57 in 2019 and has had no recent reported health issues. By contrast, have you seen Roseanne since her ejection from her own sitcom? She’s *taken up* smoking cigarettes, has little impetus to keep up her health with her career essentially over and is 9½ years older than Rosie. Call this a medium-term investment and back Roseanne Barr at 11/10.

Prince Phillip (5/7) vs Queen Elizabeth (1/1)

Look, yours truly has been losing bets on the death of queen Elizabeth since the late 1990s. We don’t care if she is 92, we’re not touching this one with a 20-imperial foot pole.

Jay Leno (6/5) vs David Letterman (5/8)

Jay Leno has blissfully been off the air for forever, while Letterman may or may not be on Netflix occasionally. These guys are basically both already in the talk show host’s afterlife anyway, right?

Donald Trump (10/11) vs Vladimir Putin (10/13)

Now these odds make no sense, either. Trump is six years older than his Russian BFF and prefers a diet of fast food. One look at the lean Putin shows that this is not at all the case, and Putin often makes a show of public displays of exercise and sport. Can you imagine Trump publicly participating in any form of exercise? This guy probably thinks a pushup is what must be done to the couch so as to get a better view of Fox News.

On top of this is Russian medical technology. Gods only know what the doctors have over there, but if they kept Leonid Brezhnev and Boris Yeltsin alive into their mid-70s despite basketball-sized livers, the well healthier Putin must be good to go for another, what, 25 years or so? Take Trump at 10/11 odds.

Rae Carruth (3/1) vs Ray Lewis (20/1) vs O.J. Simpson (1/10)

Wait a minute, is My Bookie taking some kind of shot at the American criminal justice system? After all, two of these three former NFL players were found “not guilty” in courts of law…

Will Bill Cosby die in prison?

Eighteen months ago, NFLbets would’ve been all over the NO at 5/2 in this proposition bet, but ol’ Dr. Huxtable (remember, ladies, he’s not a real doctor!) was indeed actually sentenced to a bona fide prison for a term beginning in September 2018 – but we’re not rushing to wager on YES at 2/9, either. After all, said prison term could be as short as three years, with Cosby scot free (until the next trial) in late 2021. Do you have enough confidence in the American incarceration system to believe that Coz will serve his full term in prison? If so, consider the names (and current residential status) involved in the above three-way prop.

Free for all: The sex criminals and deviants

Take a look at this lineup:

Jerry Lee Lewis (6/4)
Bill Cosby (1/1)
Woody Allen (5/2)
Roman Polanski (5/2)
Jerry Sandusky (6/1)
Harvey Weinstein (8/1)
Subway Jared (10/1)

Now that’s an interesting field. The best value bet may be Sandusky at age 75, though his current incarceration in a minimum-security jail rather eliminates the possibility of proper prison justice for this child molester. Speaking of child molestation, Jared Fogle might make a great bet here; he’ll likely spend the rest of his life in prison and has already been assaulted once by a fellow inmate. Unfortunately, Fogle is now in a minimal-security federal prison.

Cosby is the most compelling name on this list, as he’s the only one clearly seeing action. Coz had been equal with pervy film directors Woody Allen and Roman Polanski at 5/2 when My Bookie opened this prop. Some of this might be related to the fact that Polanski (86 years old in August 2019) and Jerry Lee Lewis (84 in September) have been culturally irrelevant for essentially the entire 21st century thus far. And on this entire list, Allen (84 in December) is the only one still actively working.

In the final analysis, NFLbets is going to go with the majority on this one: Take Bill Cosby at 1/1 in this death prop, and you won’t even have to feel bad about winning.

I’m really really sorry. I apologize unreservedly … for being a dumbass and betting on my favorite team

Tuesday, 19 March 2019 09:38 EST

Advisory: The following has nothing to do specifically with the NFL or NFL betting, but a lesson is reiterated which is of valuable use to the NFL bettor. If only I’d remembered at the time…

Sometimes we all do stupid s*** in Las Vegas. Last time yours truly was out there meeting with El Jefe and assorted sordid types that congregate there every so often, we made a bet. As a Denver Nuggets fan armed with irrational confidence and Nikola Jokic, the bossman bet l’il ol’ me on the relative fortunes of his team against the team of my boyhood fandom, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Through sheer embarrassment, the terms of the wager won’t be detailed here, but the bet involved relative numbers of wins, with a cap on a 10-win difference. The cruel fact that I’ll be paying the maximum has been evident for at least a month now, a bad four weeks filled with nearly daily trash-talking from El Jefe on the subject of my folly.

(Whatever happened to “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” anyway…?)

The prospect of an imminent fat payout apparently isn’t enough for El Jefe, forever, and he’s now demanding an apology appearing here on the pages of NFLbets. He claims that I called him “out of his mind” for backing the Nuggets in the bet, tossing in a characterization of the man as “congenitally insane” to boot.

This is clearly a distortion, NFLbets argued, as I’m clearly one of the most peaceable and uncontroversial folks you’ll meet. And why should I apologize when he’s set to win actual cash? Whereupon the conversation that followed went pretty much precisely like this:

Hey, NFLbets’ll admit that getting hung out a high window was deserved for forgetting an absolutely crucial tip for gambling success: <strong>Never play favorites when the goal is winning money.</strong>

Naturally on that dark day in Vegas was I deceiving myself into thinking that I was thinking objectively about the Lakers. I justified making my fanboy bet with arguments that only Laker fans who’d somehow managed to watch this team eyes uncovered for the past three seasons knew how good these young guys were/are: Brandom Ingram, though slight of build so fearless at driving the paint; Kyle Kuzma, the late first-round sensation with five different shots in his arsenal; Josh Hart, a sneaky sharpshooter coming in off the bench. Hell, I was (and still am) a defender of Ivica Zubac, a guy who came up playing on Team Croatia youth sides with Dario Saric and Mario Hezonja.

As for Lonzo Ball, a player who has attracted a disproportionate amount of vitriol from haters on all sides, the truth is that the lad’s shooting numbers are up while his defensive and passing sills are indisputably top level.

Adding Lebron James – even with ancient Rondo and a grab bag of C-listers joining him in lieu of a second marquee free agent – to this roster alone should have been worth a playoff spot, not to mention hitting the over on the preseason over/under line of 49½ wins. Hell, King James got the Cleveland Cavaliers well far many times with worse rosters than this, right?

Except a not-so-funny thing or 12 happened on the way to the 2018-19 NBA Finals. James Harden and Chris Paul managed to set a speed bump directly in front of the starting gate, getting Rondo and Ingram suspended for several games each after some grade-A trolling from the Rockets.

Then Lebron gets injured – Merry Christmas, Lakers Fans! – and as it turns out, Luke Walton’s miracle run at the helm of the record-setting Golden State Warriors taught him f***-all about coaching defense. As it turns out, having Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green at your behest isn’t actually a strategy. On this, Javale McGee’s 5-foot jumper was left behind in 2018 (if it ever made to, likesay, 2014-15, in the first place, that is), Zubac was traded for nothing and the other young ‘uns may as well have been traded with all the psychological good the Anthony Davis speculation did this team.

As this stifling snowball of death steadily rolled downhill into the fifth level of Lakers hell, well, let’s just say I saw a lot of Ls on the forehead from El Jefe – and said letter did not stand for “Lakers” or “Los Angeles.”

I should have, for I deserved it absolutely and thoroughly. NFL bettors, please remember the simple fact that it literally just does not pay to be a fan, and my frivolous, stupid loss will not have been in vain. So here’s your apology, boss, and I think I’ve learned my lesson.

Unless, of course, you want to go double or nothing on the Butt Nuggets advanced out of the first round of the NBA playoffs…

Browns land Odell Beckham Jr.; let's not get nuts betting them to win Super Bowl LIV just yet

Wednesday, 13 March 2019 12:47 EST

On February 10, the odds on the Cleveland Browns in the proposition bet “To Win Super Bowl LIV” were at 20/1. Two days later, the team more-than-somewhat controversially signed disgraced and waived RB Kareem Hunt; this budged the lines on the Browns little. But ink Odell Beckham Jr., one of the league’s most explosive, dynamic and beloved wide receivers? That’s shorten those odds.

Within an hour of the Cleveland-New York Giants trade announcement, the Browns’ odds to win the Super Bowl and the AFC Championship were experiencing more shrinkage than George Costanza in the pool, dropping to 14/1 in a hurry. As of this writing approximately 16 hours after the news broke, the odds on Cleveland have stabilized there but have dropped to an incredible 7/1 in the “To Win Conference” prop.

But as awesome as OBJ is, does his mere addition to a team with a looooooooooooooooooong history of mediocrity automatically better the Browns’ chances by 33%? Are the Browns really getting the *third-shortest odds* to win the AFC after the Kansas City Chiefs (now at 10/3, down from 3/1) and *freaking NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS?!?!??!???!?*

Welllllll, yes, actually. Why not? Even without Hunt – and, if this splashy trade is factored into the NFL’s consideration to return the halfback to active, Hunt and Cleveland will be united later, if ever, rather than sooner – the Browns have one serious-looking offense, with QB Baker Mayfield, RB Nick Chubb, WR Jarvis Landry and TE David Njoku awaiting OBJ’s plugging-in. The offensive line is middling at bets, but free agency and the draft have yet to go down; plenty of time to improve this area.

Despite the departure of Jabril Peppers in the OBJ trade, teh Browns defense should be just as good as last season’s top-10 passing D with the addition of Pro Bowl LB Olivier Vernon joining the likes of CB Denzel Ward, LB Jamie Collins and DE Myles Garrett (who looks scarier every game, it seems).

33 days ago, NFLbets noted: “The 2019 Cleveland Browns going over on wins? NFLbets’ll make that wager. To win the AFC North? Quite probably. To win the AFC? You miiiiiiiiight convince us. But to take the Lombardi Trophy? Come on now.

Today, we’ll update this to state that Cleveland should be a 10- or even 11-win team, so bet the over/under wins accordingly. We’ll also cover the Browns to win the AFC North, as we honestly believe that they’ll go a solid 5-1 against the North’s teams in rebuild and/or decline and should be getting three wins against the AFC East. By dint of their third-place finish in 2018, the Browns get The Tennessee Titans and Denver Broncos, this far out both looking like wins.

As for those odds to win the AFC, 7/1 may be too short. The NFL may be in a period of revolution, with younger talent (and teams) taking over for the old guard, but it’s tough to depend on a team like Cleveland with so much youth at key positons plus two mercurial WRs – if anything, we’re even more bearish on the Browns in the “To Win Conference” and “To Win Super Bowl LIV” post-Beckham trade. We’d stay away from these two props.

Now, covering the Browns in a “To Win Super Bowl LV” proposition bet? *That* would be worth serious consideration.

NFLbets is actually a little insulted by this “Men on Mars” proposition bet

Wednesday, 06 March 2019 09:18 EST

Men on Mars proposition betAt first, this seemed like another of those wacky sportsbook proposition bets that’s impossible to play because of ridiculously long odds, but then NFLbets started feeling insulted by certain apparent presumptions about bettors held by the given sportsbook, who shall remain nameless.

In the proposition bet “Will Humans Land on Mars by the End of Trump’s Presidency?”, the NO is getting odds of just 1/20 while YES is at 10/1.

So just another harmless piffle like “To Become the Next Pope” or “Day of the Week Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baby is born”, albeit with preposterously short odds on both available options. And as NFLbets prepared to write up this screed advising to bet the house on NO, it occurred that this information backing up our supposition is so easily found that everyone who visits the should load up on this prop as much as the bookie will allow.

Is the unnamed bookmaker assuming that no one will? Come on now – if the would-be bettor is looking at the online sportsbook website, he/she clearly has internet and has likely sought information by, likesay, typing a few words into Google. Barring placing a bet as a joke gift, there is absolutely no reason not to research this stuff before placing a bet.

Problem #1: Space
“Space,” as Douglas Adams once observed, “is big.” Trained in primary school to think of planetary orbits as tidy circles within a neat 2-D plane, many folks have trouble with the notion that when we speak of the solar system, an agglomeration of three-dimensional objects all moving in relation to one another mixed in with the occasional curvature of spacetime.

The end result of this is that getting a craft from Earth to Mars is less like shooting a cannon at a wide target, but instead akin to striking a basketball while it’s used in a pickup game with a glass bead: It’s possible, but for successful results, you’d better pick your spot correctly. Put another way, the stars – or, in this case, planets – must align. And much of the time, rather inconvenient obstacles, likesay the Sun, would get in the way of a Mars mission, or the distances between the blue planet and the red planet are too great for current fuel capacities of space vehicles.

Which brings us to…

Problem #2: Time
Two problems with time vis-à-vis a mission to Mars are in play here. First, there is the window of opportunity. If you believe Trump will lose in Election 2020, NASA, the Chinese Space Agency and whatever private companies who believe they can get a homo sapiens to Mars had better get their shite together quickly at this point: The next possible launch window is July to September 2020.

So let’s say you like Trump to lose in 2020. You’re essentially thereby ensured of cashing in by betting NO in the “Will Humans Land on Mars…” prop. Why? Unless NASA (or someone) invents Star Trek’s warp drive pretty damn quick, it will take 260 days for a Earth-launched spacecraft to reach the fourth planet. Mars-bound astronauts would have to launch on April 1, 2020, to touch down before Inauguration Day 2021, and that just can’t happen.

As a two-term president, Trump’s last chance to see humans land on Mars as U.S. president would come in late 2022/early 2023. This launch window begins in December ’22 and goes through February ’23; any mission launched in this time would put people on Mars before Trump is tarred, feathered and run out of Washington, D.C. leaves office in January ’25.

But you know what? In September 2007, then-NASA administrator Michael Griffin, the guy who should be more outwardly positive publicly about the chances of a Mars mission stated that yes, Americans will be going to Mars – probably in 2037.

Easiest money of the next few years at the sportsbook is this prop – we just wish it didn’t feel so insulting to the intelligence. Who in HAL’s name is betting on YES here…?

NFLbets also hopes that, when our species is technologically capable of getting to Mars, the results are a little better than this…

How to wager on the only proposition bet you’ll need for the 2019 college football season

Tuesday, 05 March 2019 13:28 EST

Betting on Clemson-Alabama againFrom a football betting perspective, you gotta love NCAA football. The BCS championship has become the most predictable in American sports, surpassing recent runs like the NBA's Warriors-Cavs or Warriors-anyone for that matter, not to mention Patriots-anyone in the NFL. And the college football playoff “tournament” has only assisted in helping out football bettors make money.

Take, for example, really the only proposition bet you’ll need this college football season: “To win the 2020 NCAA College Football Championship.” Here’s how the tables on this prop at two major sportsbooks look:


team sportsbook X odds sportsbook Y odds
Clemson Tigers +165 +230
Alabama Crimson Tide +200 +200


Aaaaand you can stop right there.

First off, under Nick Saban, the Crimson Tide have lost 15 games – including three to Auburn and two to Clemson – in 11 seasons while taking five national championships. And Nick Saban ain’t going anywhere.

Dabo Swinney, meanwhile, has been Clemson head coach for just 11 losses in the past seven seasons, got the Tigers to 15-0 in 2018 and may be considered the undisputed master of the college football playoff with a career record of 5-2. And Dabo Swinney ain’t going anywhere just yet, either.

Finally, just in case anyone’s forgetting, the last four national championships have been contested between these two.

So NFLbets feels that we don’t need to know about recruiting classes or even, apparently, the starting quarterbacks for these teams to exploit some advantageous lines here. If both teams again enjoy their customary dominant seasons, any underdog hoping to sneak in will have to get past both – and rarely these days do both Clemson and Alabama take a regular-season and a playoff loss each. Obviously, you’ll want to take Alabama and Clemson to win the 2020 College Football Championship in separate bets, and can certainly leverage the opportunity.

At sportsbook #2, the path to profit is simple. Covering Alabama at +200 and Clemson at +200 for, likesay, 100 Moneys (NFLbets’ preferred form of currency) each would net a profit of M100 if/when either takes the title.

At sportsbook #1, a little number-crunching seems to imply that the best bet would be to cover Auburn and Clemson at a ratio of 5:7. For example, covering Auburn for M50 and Clemson for M70 would net M95 or M135.50, respectively, in profit on a championship win.

But the best solution here is to shop around a bit and take advantage of the variance in offerings that still exists this far out from 2019 kickoff. Even in this small sample size, the enterprising football bettor can get both Tigers and ’Tide at 2/1 or better simultaneously – nice.

NFLbets usually doesn’t believe in making seriously wagers this far out from season’s beginning, but I this case, the odds on either Alabama or Clemson just might not get any better before their seemingly inevitable firth straight meeting in the championship game.

Betting on the Oscars: Longshots, underdogs and chalk at the 2019 Academy Awards

Sunday, 24 February 2019 18:14 EST

Ah, the Academy Awards: The Super Bowl of Hollywood (and sometimes other) movies! Sadly, however, betting on the Oscars isn’t nearly as accessible or available as odds on your typical sporting events, but online sportsbooks are offering lines in all the major categories at least.

First fact about the 2019 Oscars: It’s a weaker field that last year’s by far: The Shape of Water, Get Out and Three Billboards Outside Ebbing would all have beaten the 2019 lot and, while Wonder Woman was nearly completely shafted of nomination in ’18, Black Panther doesn’t seem too far out of place among this year’s lot.

The other sad fact about Academy Awards in general is that, in reality, few upsets happen. Yes, you do get the occasional Roberto Benigni but even upsets like Moonlight over La La Land aren’t as huge as we remember: After all, Moonlight was a mere 2/1 underdog.

The 2019 Academy Awards should be no different than usual, and the smart (but not big) money is all o the chalk: Covering Roma (at -225 to win the Best Picture award); Alfonso Cuaron (-400, Best Director, Roma); Rami Malek (-800, Best Actor, Bohemian Rhapsody); Glenn Close (-800, Best Actoress, The Wife); Mahershala Ali (Best Supporting Actor, Green Book); BlacKKKlansman (-400, Best Adapated Screenplay); and The Favourite (-225, Best Original Screenplay) pays +480. That’s quite a sensible bet if you can get it, in NFLbets’ estimation, but what if Oscar indeed throws a curve?

For hedgers on betting the 2019 Oscars, NFLbets has three. Note that we’re not necessarily recommending these bets (we’re a tad far afield, so to speak, from our preferred NFL betting) as “Picks of the Week” or anything like that, but rather putting forth some good value bets “for your consideration,” as they say.

• Olivia Coleman, +450, Best Actress, The Favourite. The thinking here is that Gleen Close has gone 0-for-5 winning on nominations and thus the tide is turning. Well, NFLbets says, “What if there’s a reason Close has gotten the goose egg in all the years since her first for the brutal and stupid Fatal Attraction (1987). One might be tempted to cover Lady Gaga at +2000, but Hollywood tends not to be especially bestowing upon singers in a musical role in their debut performance – at least since Barbara Streisand (for Funny Girl in 1969).

So we’re willing to throw a few Moneys on Coleman here, and why not? Oscar does love a British actress (or an American actress in a British part) and Coleman’s performance is incredible. Additionally, a win would made for a nice frisson of schadenfreude if Close loses number six.

• Yorgos Lanthimos, +275, Best Director, The Favorite
• Spike Lee, +1600, Best Director, BlacKKKlansman
. Cuaron is a darling of the Hollywood award set, having taken one directorial prize already for Gravity (2013) and twice received screenwriting noms for Y To Mama Tambien (1999) and Children of Men (1996). Second-favorite in this category is Lanthimos, whose lavish direction of The Favourite has gotten international acclaim from all questers – and Lanthimos too has gotten prior nominations, for Best Foreign-Language Film (Dogtooth in 2009) and Best Original Screenplay (The Lobster in 2015).

But the best value in this category is clearly the 16/1 on Spike Lee. Some Oscars go to the winners as a sort of lifetime achievement award: Paul Newman, Al Pacino and quite possibly Close this year are just a tiny sliver of readily available examples of the concept for actors – and even all-time master director Ingmar Bergman got once such nod (for Fanny and Alexander, 1983). Spike winning on his first nomination on the 25th anniversary of Do the Right Thing? Seems like these odds should be well shorter…

• Green Book, +250, Best Film. As Mickey Mouse as this Disnified take on racism in America is, it’s also the sole nomination in this category other than Roma getting better than 16/1 odds. What’s the case for Green Book? Likeable characters, acting nominations, a screenplay nomination – and the fact that no movie has ever won both the Best Foreign-Language Film and Best Film in the same year. Might the voters simply decide that maybe choosing Roma in one category is enough recognition? Green Book winning 25 years after Driving Miss Daisy did so inexplicably? Seems like these odds should be well shorter, too.