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309 posts В• Page 451 of 857

Gambling cowboy bureaucracy

Postby Kigahn В» 14.01.2020

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Moving through the cavernous room as though it belonged to him, he reached a bar table where his friend R. Bell was waiting and flashed a smile. Vegas Runner, 42, whose name is Gianni Karalis and who is known around town as V. He wore black slacks and a dress shirt and spoke with the quick, stat-supported assurance of a quant who graduated at the top of his class in the finance department at Ohio State University.

They looked up toward the front of the room, where a giant electronic board showed the Washington Redskins as 6. This seemed to make sense: The Redskins had a record and had lost their last five games. Most gamblers predicted a solid Redskins loss. The Falcons also had a woeful record. The benching of Griffin was assumed to be devastating, but his backup, Kirk Cousins, was highly capable. Plus R. The rules were simple. Competitors got one point for every game they called right and a half-point for every tie.

The purse was enticing, but so were the bragging rights that came with finishing high in the standings — the SuperContest is to sports bettors what the World Series of Poker is to card sharks.

Dogs and horses sprinted around tracks, men and women ran up and down basketball courts, football players launched themselves into one another. It was nearly impossible to focus on any one game, but occasionally someone in the crowd would jump up cheering or swearing in response to something that affected whether they would win money or lose it. There were hundreds of gamblers in the room. Jersey-wearing fans lounged in long rows of leather easy chairs; hunched-over men sat at wooden carrels, like those in a university library, and scribbled out columns of figures.

Breakfast was barely over, and the place was packed. Four years ago, the SuperContest was a small affair with a few hundred competitors, most of them serious gamblers in Vegas. There is no greater unifier in American culture than professional football, which is followed by 68 percent of men and 42 percent of women — Republicans and Democrats in equal numbers.

Game telecasts accounted for nine of the 10 most-watched programs in , and the previous three Super Bowls were the most-viewed television programs of all time in the United States.

The televised games are gladiatorial spectacles, overlain with obsessive strategic analysis. But in a world where everything — politics and exercise, diet and recreational time — has been transformed by the notion that slavishly crunched metrics can reveal deeper truths about our inclinations, lives and the future, every fan with a smartphone can now be an expert.

More than 33 million Americans participate in the data-fetishizing hobby of fantasy sports, up from 18 million in Though it is generally not considered gambling, the core activity is arguably the same: You fanatically absorb sports information from cable TV, sports radio, the Internet and anywhere else you can find it and make predictions, usually for money. Winners of fantasy leagues can receive cash payouts of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. One in five American men polled by researchers at Fairleigh Dickinson University and nearly one in 10 women said they bet on sports in Around the country, vastly more sports wagering is estimated to take place illegally, through unlicensed bookies in person or, increasingly, online and through offshore websites, which by law are not allowed to take bets from United States residents.

Experienced online gamblers, however, claim that they have never heard of the law actually being enforced. Sports betting is so widespread that several economists I spoke with suggested that gambling was fueling the rise in N. Todd Nesbit, an economist at Ohio State University, has found that fantasy-league participants watch 35 percent more professional football on television each week and attend 57 percent more games in person per year than nonparticipants.

When money is at stake, every game — even preseason ones, tedious blowouts and humdrum matchups between nonmarquee teams — becomes must-see TV. Betting gives games juice. Dennis Montoro, a year-old mechanical engineer living in Las Vegas, describes himself as a hard-working family man and says that he and his wife have put three children through college.

Montoro says he bets on football — and has done so for nearly 40 years — not with the hope of paying the bills, but simply for fun. Midway through the season, they ascended to first place. Because only the top 34 finishers would win money, the participants in the SuperContest were pitted against one another. When I met Kornegay in the casino during the 15th week of the N. Kornegay and I stopped in a secluded area where two bookmakers sat facing computer monitors and a dozen television screens apiece.

Pecking furiously at their keyboards, the bookies updated the odds for hundreds of available bets on football, basketball, hockey, golf, soccer and mixed martial arts. Leaving the two bookies, Kornegay led the way to his office, which had framed casino chips on one wall, more television monitors on another and chest-high stacks of paper on the desk.

After we sat down, Kornegay explained that the classic business model for a bookmaker is to carefully evaluate the two teams in any given game and then set the point spread such that a bet for either team will appear to the public to have a nearly identical chance of winning.

Once the game is over, the winning and losing bets effectively cancel each other out. Truly balanced action is extremely elusive in practice, Kornegay said, but his job is to juggle the odds on games so that the sports book is profitable over all.

Predicting which team might prevail in a football game and by what margin is a task of enormous mathematical complexity. The variables include numerical manifestations of individual athletic performances, coaching and the random bounces of a fumbled oblong ball.

The SuperContest rules require the casino to set the weekly point spreads and stick with them, but in standard wagering, the challenge facing sports books is eased by the fact that they can continually adjust lines according to incoming bets. A wager from someone who is known to be a well-informed bettor may also prompt a line move, on the assumption that he has chosen a particular team for a good reason.

Bell told me. To inexperienced gamblers, that sounds deceptively easy. Three out of five, for 17 weeks. Can you do that? In the world of sports gambling, there are two types of people: squares and sharps. Squares make bets based on hunches, hometown favoritism, emotion. Nearly everybody who bets is a square — about 97 percent of sports bettors lose money long-term.

Sharps are those few who can figure out how to beat bookmakers. You bet numbers. The prototypical Vegas sharp is someone like Steve Fezzik, who has made a living as a full-time sports gambler for nearly a decade. A year-old former insurance actuary, Fezzik won the SuperContest back to back, in and This season, he was foundering in the middle of the standings but was sticking with the approach that served him so well in the past: crunching player and team statistics and taking in dozens of hours of football per week.

He tweeted pictures of himself amid lapping surf, buxom women in bikinis and a bottle of vodka the size of a small child. Like Fezzik, Oancea watches football until his eyeballs fall out. He also has rules of thumb, including not betting against a premier quarterback like Aaron Rodgers, no matter what his numbers might indicate.

And once he reaches a decision, he sticks with it. Early in the N. Two-thirds of the way through the SuperContest, meanwhile, he was tied for third. Frohardt-Lane, who is 36, became interested in sports betting when he analyzed data on N. He spent almost all of his spare time developing elaborate computer simulations for predicting game outcomes, primarily for baseball but also for football, and used his analytics as a basis for betting. Emboldened, Frohardt-Lane was ready to quit his job in and gamble full time.

Instead, a friend persuaded him to take a job in high-speed electronic trading. Betting has been relegated to hobby status ever since. But sports wagering and financial trading have a lot in common, Frohardt-Lane said.

The teams are commodities. The line is the price. Just like an investor, the gambler must judge whether that price is correct based on future expectations. His analysis of the Oct. First, he fed dozens of statistics into his computer model, like the average yards per passing and rushing play for each team and fumbles and turnovers per game. His final step was to manually tweak the number to include other variables, like the fact that the Patriots were missing three defensive starters to injuries.

Frohardt-Lane thought the number was slightly more generous to the Jets than it needed to be, because the public would otherwise lean toward the Patriots, who have won three Super Bowls under the future Hall of Fame quarterback Tom Brady. This distinction is key.

When the collective perception of the point spread diverged from the expected reality as calculated by Frohardt-Lane, he had a potential winning bet. Two decades before he became Vegas Runner, Gianni Karalis was the child of recent Greek immigrants, lobbing a football between the rowhouses of South Philadelphia.

He started betting on football in fifth grade. Like other syndicates, the Animals wagered hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on individual games. The group employed computer algorithms and teams of handicappers — rooms full of Fezziks and Frohardt-Lanes — to come up with the best picks.

The syndicates also cultivated networks of well-placed sources. A stadium groundskeeper, for instance, might let them know that the turf was soggy and that the score would probably be low.

A locker-room janitor could leak information on which supposedly healthy running back was limping. Insider knowledge could trump dry statistical analysis. In extreme cases, syndicates got leverage over particular players who had problems with drugs or gambling and might be inclined to share information or even influence game outcomes.

Baba, for instance, whose real name is James Battista, was a primary recipient of tips from Tim Donaghy, a corrupt N. But Battista figured out how to make behemoth wagers. To do so, syndicates employed handfuls of movers, who in turn distributed bets among dozens of anonymous runners. In , the Animals sent V. Every morning, V. Syndicates are still active today, and in the past few years, V.

I visited V. It was airy, with an expansive view of the city through floor-to-ceiling windows, and had an L-shaped white sofa parked in front of a huge TV. Sometimes he even used computer programs to fire off 30 or more bets at the same time.

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Re: gambling cowboy bureaucracy

Postby Bacage В» 14.01.2020

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