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NFL Week #13: Analysis and Picks

Posted by on Nov 30, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments



That’s four winning weeks in a row.

That’s 54 wins, 20 losses over the course of this run.

On 231 overall posted picks this NFL season — that’s 55.9 percent wins.  Currently +28 games over .500.  See the full stats below.

I’ll take it.

As for the Westgate SuperContest (7 entries at $1,000 each), that’s an even better success story.  Scroll down read more about winning $25,000 in one of their mid-season contests after last week’s games.


One thing I’ve learned from many years in sports betting and posting picks is to always keep things in proper perspective.  We’re never quite as good as our best winning streak.  And, we’re never as bad as our worst losing streak.  Anyone who mistakenly thinks they’ve figured out NFL handicapping and will hit 60+ percent going forward is delusional.  Fact: We’re all just one losing streak away from being jolted back to reality — including the very best handicappers.  Of course, I’m enjoying this great run while I can.  But I have no illusions that 78 percent win streaks (I went 15-4 last week) will continue.

So, let’s now get to this week’s picks, with a short summary of each selection:




[All wagers are juiced to -110 unless noted otherwise]




Coach Bill Belichick may have hit the rock bottom point of his career after losing to the NY Giants last week in a dismal offensive performance by the comatose Patriots. No one could have predicted this franchise would crash so badly. However, I actually think this anger-disappointment could trigger a “nothing to lose” or “all hands on deck” or “what the fuck!” effort this week versus the ideal soft opponent, which doesn’t mean I’m taking the Patriots plus the points, because they can’t be trusted. But when we suddenly see a very low total on a New England home game at O/U 16.5 and the Patriots have the added advantage this week of playing against one of the NFL softest ice cream scooper defenses, this looks like an opportunity to fade the market. Perhaps the Patriots horrendous offensive statistics can even somewhat be forgiven given they were on the road last week and likely in a lame duck situation. With no expectations and their season looking like the the modly pork chop in the Golden Corral buffet at 9:35 on a Tuesday night, look for the Patriots to take some chances offensively and connect with some success against this horrible Charger defense that ranks DEAD LAST against the pass. Moreover, I’m starting to think Charger QB Herbert is one of the most overrated quarterbacks in the NFL — I mean has this guy ever won an important game? Herbert crumbles under pressure and could be good for a couple of turnovers. I wouldn’t touch this NWE team total at 17.5, but given we catch the win on the 17, I think the Patriots offense and perhaps defense can put up enough points to push this over the team total. This is the lowest team total on the Patriots all season long — time to go contrarian.




Initially, I was on the home dog New Orleans Saints….not because they’re the better team against the Detroit Lions but coming off a hugely disappointing loss at Atlanta last week yet still in first place I think perhaps the line could have overreacted here. But ———- then I looked closer at the New Orleans offensive situation. If anything, this line might be too low. Who is Derek Carr going to throw the ball to? He’s already struggling with his receivers when they’re at full strength but the last decent WR on the Saints might not play:

WR Thomas — OUT
WR Shaheed — OUT
WR Olave — questionable, on concussion protocol
RB Miller — OUT
Even Blake Grupe, the usually reliable kicker is listed as questionable

RB Kamara is going to come out of the backfield and catch 15 balls, but I’m not sure that this Saints team has enough weapons to keep up with the Lions as long as Detroit actually shows up and doesn’t shit the bed with a better effort than they showed on Thanksgiving Day hosting Green Bay. The extra layoff and coming off the loss should help motivate the Lions to put up a much better show. I would typically be concerned about the Lions mediocre defense, but New Orleans with its numerous injuries at skill positions just won’t have the weapons to exploit those weaknesses. We remain concerned with the last Lions’ loss, but let’s keep this in perspective that Detroit remains 7-2 SU and 6-3 ATS in their last nine games. The Lions gave up 37-38-29 points in their three losses…so when they lose, it’s because of opponent scoring (not their lack of production). The Saints are likely to have problems offensively. Even healthy, Saints offense has gone UNDER on team total in 8/11 this season, and now they aren’t at full strength. So, I’m comfortable laying points with the road favorite here.

UPDATE:  As of Sunday AM, Chris Olave has been cleared to play.




For many of the reasons expressed above, I’m also playing the UNDER in this game.  If NOR falls behind, they’re going to be forced to throw, but other than Taysom Hill, there’s limited receiving targets for Carr and company (could Winston enter the game?). Meanwhile, if Detroit builds a lead, I’m not sure they’re going to roll up points because New Orleans defense is better than average and being on the road in the Superdome can be a tough place to play. So, at 47.5 there’s certainly a value to go UNDER the total, especially since we’ve seen a propensity of UNDERs in the NFL this season. Add B. Grupe the Saints kicker perhaps not playing and NOR might not even bother with 50+ yard attempts, which also helps the UNDER.




Arizona at 2-8 SU looks to be a mess right now. Initially, when QB K. Murray came back after nearly a year off from injury, he sparked a good effort from the team but that spark of a honeymoon may be faded already. The Cardinals have collapsed, losing by three TDs to the Rams at home last week. Their defense is awful and even lackluster Pittsburgh should be able to move the ball and cover this line. As I mentioned last week in the writeup, the Steelers at 7-4 seem to have been winning with smoke and mirrors given they were out-gained in all their previous games. Then all the sudden they fired OC Canada and instantly the Steelers offense puts up over 400 yards for the first time in 56 games. So, whatever happened with the play calling, it apparently worked. Now this week, the Steelers will face an even weaker Cards defense at home. Some concern that the Cardinals do run the ball pretty well, but then that’s offset because Pittsburgh’s main strength is their run defense. Arizona is 1-8 SU/3-6 ATS in its last nine games, allowing a whopping 35 TD’s on 107 drives. In that same span, Arizona has given up 27.4 PPG–ranking third worst in the NFL. Steelers are 4-2 both SU and ATS at home this season. Last four games, Pittsburgh ran ball for 166-205-172-153 yards. I like betting on good defenses and offenses that run the ball well, especially versus bad teams.  Look for the Steelers to stay very much alive in the playoff race with a home win and (let’s hope) a pointspread cover, as well.



FIRST HALF: TENNESSEE +.5 at -120 ($240/200)


Some things in NFL betting are inexplicable. The 4-7 Tennessee Titans are a a Jekyll-Hyde team. They are awful on the road, but go figure — they’re undefeated at home this season. Yet, they’re getting point (+1) here as an underdog. Titans are 4-0 SU/ATS at home this season. There’s very little to inspire confidence with the Titans, statistically speaking. Nonetheless, there something in Nashville that simply inspires this team to play at its peak. Meanwhile, I’m not convinced the Colts are really all as good as their 6-5 record indicates, Indy’s defense is really bad, and there’s a decent chance that RB Jonathan Taylor will be out for this game. If that happens, the Colts are severely downgraded as an offensive threat. Sometimes intangibles in NFL handicapping are the most important determinate in picking a side. I’m not sure what it is about the Titans playing at home that compels such strong efforts, but I’m going to continue riding that streak especially since they’re an underdog. I’ll also play the Titans in the first half getting the half point.


FULL GAME SIDE BET: DENVER +3.5 at -120 ($240/200)

FIRST HALF: DENVER +2.5 at -115 ($230/200)


I got this early one in early this week, at Denver +3.5. That’s a bad number, which should have been +3 (at most). Getting the hook on the field goal was the key determining factor for me and I like them at anything +3 or greater. Like many teams this season, the Broncos have been winning “ugly.” Nothing flashy. Statistically, unimpressive. But Denver has won five straight. Their defense — giving up just 17-9-22-20-12 points, respectively — played as well as any team in the NFL over the past several games and they’ve also upset the Chiefs and the Bills on the road during that stretch. If anything the Broncos are still undervalued here. They also have their first winning record since QB R. Wilson joined the team. I also like what head coach Sean Payton’s doing, very quietly building confidence with his team that wasn’t there in the first month of the season. Houston looks to be the perfect road opponent because they won’t be taken lightly. I also suspect the Texans might not easily shake off last week’s killer loss, which basically knocks them out of the AFC South race. Even though the Texans have become a respectable team after so many years as a laughing stock let’s don’t forget that this is still the Texans and they don’t win games by wide margins. Last four wins were by thin margins of just 5-3-2-7 points. Most all of their games are nail biters and I expect this one could be very much the same. In a close contest, with two teams trying to keep alive in the playoff race, I’m counting on the +3.5 points to be in play here with a live ticket on the dog. Give me the Broncos in both the first half and the full game.


FULL GAME SIDE BET: LA RAMS -3.5 ($220/200)


I don’t understand the public thinking on this game. What year is this — 2012? I’ll explain in a moment. The 5-6 LA Rams have been on a mini-resurgence with two straight division wins and are healthy again. They earned a convincing victory on the road last week in Phoenix now they return home with their faint playoff hopes still very much alive and they face a team that got blown out last week in Denver. Moreover, in a shocking move, the Browns are going to start Joe Flacco at quarterback who hasn’t taken a snap in a year and spent three seasons tucked in a fetal position with the NY Jets. Flacco was awful then, and I can’t imagine sitting at home watching Popeye cartoons is going to help his mobility or his limited skills as a quarterback. Flacco may be the most uninspiring team leader I’ve seen in a decade. Credit him as the captain of the three-yard forward pass and now joining the Browns isn’t going to spark the same kind of enthusiasm that a young up-and-coming quarterback who’s unproven might rally the other players. We know what we’re getting with Flacco and it’s not good. Am I overreacting to Flacco? Maybe. But, this strikes me as a desperation move for a team that’s 7-4 and thinking they have to do something to jump start the offense. They’re in the same class now as the Jets and Bengals — otherwise talented and likely playoff teams, but without a QB.  LA Rams with an aggressive pass rush should be able to exploit Flacco’s notorious immobility and force pressure. Laying -3.5 looks reasonable fading a team that should have trouble scoring. Oh, and as to “what is the public thinking?”  The QB change for the Browns moved the line from LAR -4 to LAR -3.5.  Do bettors really think Flacco helps the Browns’ QB situation?




My “best bet” of the week looks to be the Jacksonville Jaguars even though they’re uncharacteristically laying a large number. This is the Jaguar’s first Monday Night home game in 12 years and Jacksonville tends to beat the teams they should beat. Jaguars won/covered seven of their last eight games, so we are catching them playing their best ball. Meanwhile, Cincinnati is a three-legged dog without J. Burrow under center (out for the season). I’m not sure I’d lay this number if it was a Sunday day game but on Monday night this is a prime showcase opportunity for the Jaguars who many predicted would take a big step as an NFL contender in 2023 and now here’s their chance on a national stage to do exactly that against an outclassed opponent. I expect Jacksonville to shine in this spot and run up the score if they can as the team all but locks up the division title with another win or two. I’ll lay the -8.5.


2-TEAM/6-PT. TEASER: JACKSONVILLE -2.5 / PITTSBURGH -EV at -130 ($390/$300)


Reasoning listed above in write-ups. Note that teasers are unplayable in Las Vegas now because they’re juiced to -130 and even -140 in some spots. So, I just don’t play them much anymore, but here’s a rare exception. I’ll tease the Jaguars using the Wong basic strategy from -8.5 to -2.5 and combine with the Steelers from -6 down to PICK. Both of these home teams are playing against struggling opponents and should win so it’s well worth the risk even with the higher vig. I miss my “teaser wheels” — otherwise I’d tie the Jaguars to the entire board if I wasn’t having to lay minus 130.

PLAYER PROP: KICKER KOO [ATL] OVER 6.5 PTS. at -125 ($250/200)




I’m back this week with three kicker props this week, which is fewer than usual. There’s a number of problems with other kickers that I won’t get into (okay, injuries-weather-outdoors-matchups), but I do think the Jets-Falcons game could be a back and forth battle of field goals and I also like the rising Rams to put up some points on the Browns at home in the dome.




I’ve got one (maybe two) player props so far, which is Kamara (New Orleans RB) catching more passes than the number and also getting more receiving yards. But still awaiting the send out, which is usually Saturday night. The reason is Carr (or perhaps Winston) won’t have many trustworthy receiving targets due to injuries so look for a lot of dumping and short yardage where the always-reliable Kamara is going to be the safety valve for the Saints offense.  I expect he gets a lot of four- and five-yard gains and will go OVER on his receiving props.  Tomorrow’s rushing total is already posted at 51 yards — I have no opinion on that.







This year, the Westgate SuperContest attracted 1,301 entries. I have seven entries–costing $1,000 each (total investment–$7,000). All seven tickets are in excellent shape at this point. The contest will pay the top-20 spots, with $200,000 going to first place.  There are also mid-season contests, and I just won one of them, good for $25,000.


On the season-long contest, right now, I’m tied for 10th place.  I also have two tickets in the top-25 and three tickets in the top-50 and five tickets in the top-150.  CLICK HERE FOR OFFICIAL WESTGATE STANDINGS

Overall, the seven entries are a combined +95 games over.500.  Here’s the breakdown.


Here’s this week’s contest picks, along with the W-L records on each ticket:

[Note that these contest lines differ from above because they’re based on the close as of Wednesday night at Westgate]


TICKET 1 (37-19-4)
DET -4
TEN +1
CAR +5.5
LAR -3.5
JAX -8.5

TICKET 2 (37-21-2)
PIT -5.5
DET -4
DEN +3.5
LAR -3.5
JAX -8.5

TICKET 3 (38-21-1)
PIT -5.5
TEN +1
DET -4
LAR -3.5
JAX -8.5

TICKET 4 (35-22-3)
PIT -5.5
CAR +5.5
LAR -3.5
DEN +3.5
JAX -8.5

TICKET 5 (35-24-1)
PIT -5.5
TEN +1
DET -4
LAR -3.5
JAX -8.5

TICKET 6 (33-24-3)
PIT -5.5
TEN +1
DET -4
LAR -3.5
JAX -8.5

TICKET 7 (35-24-2)
CAR +5.5
DET -4
TEN +1
DEN +3.5
JAX -8.5




Here’s my latest article at on the $9.4 million Circa contest:  Click Below.




131 — Wins
103 — Losses
3 — Pushes
Starting Bankroll: $10,000.
Current Bankroll: $12,720.
Net Gain/Loss: + $2,720.
Last Week: 15 wins – 4 losses (+ $1,975.)

11-Year Comprehensive Record (2012-present):

This Week’s Picks and Results — Completed


Full Game Total: Dallas / Seattle UNDER 47.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)….LOST


Stats and trends say the 8-3 Cowboys should win tonight and cover in a blowout hosting the 6-5 Seahawks. After all, the streaking Cowboys are undefeated at home and have dominated weaker teams this season as 7 of their 8 victories were by 20+ points including last week’s breezy home victory hosting Washington. Meanwhile, Seattle has nosedived into a tailspin since losing to the Rams two weeks ago and have dropped 3 of 4. The Seahawks looked downright awful at home on Thanksgiving Day losing to the 49ers by double digits. This decline could be in part because of QB Geno Smith’s elbow injury, but we’ve seen this happen before with the Seahawks who start their seasons well under Pete Carroll but then fade later in the season—and that’s precisely what’s happening now. The trouble is this spread, which opened at -7.5 and is up to -9 and even -9.5 in many places which is we have to sorry about oddsmaker and public overreaction at some point. I don’t believe in “due” being applied to handicapping, but the Cowboys (and any good team) always hit speed bumps along the way and will simply go through the motions and put up a subpar game when it’s not expected. Even the best teams don’t blow out every opponent by 20+ each week. So, this potentially does look like one of those trap games for Dallas who could be fat and happy and underestimate the struggling Seahawks. Seattle does has everything to play for with playoff hopes quickly fading, yet no one expects them to come into Dallas and win tonight on Thursday Night Football. Accordingly, I lean to take Seattle plus the points but then my confidence level simply isn’t there enough to pull the trigger as Dallas has been so dominant on both sides of the ball and I just don’t know what state of mind the Seahawks are in at this point. It’s also worth noting that I do think there’s something to this Cowboys team that we haven’t seen in the last 10 or 15 years where games like this are intentionally used to build team confidence. Dallas builds a lead and then keeps the pressure on, whereas in the past the Cowboys and a lot of other teams would just be content with a victory. Based on those 7 blowouts when Dallas was still throwing the ball late in game with big leads, this year’s Cowboys don’t just want a victory–they want to make a bold statement to the league, and I do think that’s resonating through the locker room and will create perhaps a different team than we’ve been used to seeing with the Cowboys customarily being bounced out early in the playoffs. No, I’m not a believer yet, but there is this possibility. Where I think value does exist is on the total as we’ve seen these NFL primetime games go UNDER overwhelmingly including 77 percent of the Thursday-Sunday-Monday night games completed this season, In all my years, I’ve never seen anything like this with so many low scores and oftentimes these games aren’t even close to hitting the OVER. Much of this lack of scoring league-wide is because of collective transition at the quarterback position for so many teams, combined with improving defenses and in my estimation a more balanced enforcement of penalties which used to overwhelmingly favor the offenses and frankly I’m glad to see lower scoring, so-called “boring” games because there easier to handicap (embrace these games and quit complaining, people! — SEE NOTE BELOW). To be clear, D. Prescott and G. Smith do not file the profile of “UNDER” quarterbacks, but there’s possibly something to these night games that results in less scoring (thought it could be random variance).  We’ll see.  My UNDER wager is a combination of my suspicion that Dallas may not quite hit on all cylinders tonight offensively and they won’t be scoring into the 40s like they’ve been doing in all of these home games against big underdogs I also think Seattle will continue to struggle offensively as I’m not sure that G. Smith is fully recovered from a elbow injury while the fading Seahawks have really had trouble moving the ball and scoring the last few weeks. So, the total at 47.5 looks like a solid UNDER. I’d have this at 43.5 or 44 — and so catching the OVER on the 47 is a win for us. Hence, my final determination is a lean slightly to the Seahawks +9.5 but no action, and a standard bet on the UNDER 47.5. I’d also bet UNDER 47 for a smaller amount if that’s your only option.

[* Added: A few thoughts about scoring patterns in the NFL. For years, the public has loved betting OVERs. Why? Football fans like points. They want exciting games. And so the league fed this public appetite by making the game more pass friendly, giving many advantages to quarterbacks and receivers. Well, fuck that! Trouble is, so-called exciting, high-scoring games are horrible for handicapping and for most bettors. It’s much more difficult to predict outcomes with higher variance, which is often the case in shootouts. However, this season scores are lower, points are down, and totals have dropped considerably. The average points scored is 43.3 per game which is down to pre-2010 levels before NFL instituted several rule changes designed to help offenses and increase scoring (Note: The highest scoring period was three seasons ago when NFL games averaged 49.6 PPG, the highest in history. So, scoring is down by a full touchdown per game in just the last few seasons). Why is this happening? The most important is the league is filled lots of new young QBs and also higher than usual numbers of unproven offensive coordinators. To date, 11 rookie QBs have started games this season–that’s the most ever in the Super Bowl era, and its only Week #12. UNDERs have hit about 60 percent across the board, but where we really make money is betting UNDERs in primetime games — TNF SNF, and MNF. NFL Betting Trends: Primetime UNDERS are now 31-9-1 —— 77 pct. in 2023 regular season.]



Last Week’s Picks and Results — Completed


Full Game Bet: Dallas -12.5 (Risking $330 to win $300)…..WON
Full Game Bet: San Francisco -7 (Risking $220 to win $200)…..WON
Two-Team Teaser: Dallas -6.5 / San Francisco -1 at -120 (Risking $360 to win $300)…..WON
Full Game Bet: Chicago +3.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)….WON
First Half: Chicago +1.5 at -105 (Risking $210 to win $200)….WON
Full Game Bet: Denver -1.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)….WON
First Half: Houston +.5 (half point) at -120 (Risking $240 to win $200)….LOST
Full Game Bet: Pittsburgh -1.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)….WON
Full Game Bet: Las Vegas +10 at -115 (Risking $230 to win $200)….LOST
Player Prop: Kicker Grupe (NOR) OVER 6.5 points at -130 (Risking $130 to win $100)….WON
Player Prop: Kicker Koo (ATL) OVER 6.5 points at -135 (Risking $135 to win $100)….LOST
Player Prop: Kicker Gay (TB) OVER 6.5 points at -125 (Risking $125 to win $100)….WON
Player Prop: Kicker McLaughlin (IND) OVER 6.5 points at even (Risking $100 to win $100)….WON
Player Prop: Kicker Santos (CHI) OVER 5.5 points at -135 (Risking $135 to win $100)….WON
Player Prop: Kicker Carlson (LV) OVER 5.5 points (Risking $220 to win $200)….LOST
Full Game Bet: Indianapolis -2.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)….WON
Full Game Total: Indianapolis/Tampa Bay OVER 44.5 ($220 to win $200)….WON
Team Total:  Indianapolis OVER 21.5 at -120 (Risking $240 to win $200)….WON
Player Prop: Pittman WR (IND) OVER 69.5 receiving yards (Risking $220 to win $200)….WON


[Disclaimer:  Weekly picks have been posted here at my website since Sept. 2012.  All NFL picks can be reviewed here and are documented and are in the website archives, available via a search.  Analysis provided is to the best of my knowledge at the time it’s posted.  I make no claims on future results.  All sports gamblers are advised to make your own picks and always bet within your budget,]

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What Does a Gold Digger Buying the NBA Mavericks Have to do with Legalized Gambling in Texas?

Posted by on Nov 29, 2023 in Blog | 2 comments




The catch is…REPUBLICAN TEXAS doesn’t support gambling.


I’m surprised there’s not more buzz swirling about this, especially in gambling circles. Lost in the silly fan frenzy about Mark Cuban and the NBA Mavericks (which I don’t really care about) is the very real emerging possibility that the evil battle-ax known as Miriam Adelson, one of the most despised figures in Las Vegas, is actually using the transaction and getting into sports franchise ownership in order to spawn a much larger, more impactful project.  READ MORE HERE

Reportedly, this is a grand design to raise her own profile and influence and foster in the development of a giant mega-resort in Dallas, tied to a new basketball arena. Obviously, this is a huge development in multiple sectors, if true.

I suspect that a mega-resort anchored in uber-rich Dallas would be something like the Sands Resort planting its flag in Macau. It could even become one of the biggest, most lucrative gambling enterprises ever built. Just imagine The Venetian being placed in North Dallas. The place would mint money.

Ahh, but there’s a huuuuuuge catch. Adelson is a Republican super-donor. Her dead husband was even the self-appointed GOP kingmaker and infamously held what was known as the “Adelson Primary,” where the candidate-buttkissers lined up to meet the red-haired codger-mogul with the hope of his blessing (and his political clout, and his money). It’s one thing for the Adelsons to back Trump, who himself was a former (many times failed) casino owner. The trouble in Texas is — CASINO GAMBLING IS ILLEGAL. It won’t be easy to change this. This is the most backward state in the nation on gambling policy. Dallas City and County, overwhelmingly Democratic, would certainly support the legalization of gambling. They’d probably even welcome Adelson as the leading suitor to develop the first mega-resort, despite her far-Right politics. The catch is — REPUBLICAN TEXAS doesn’t support gambling.

I’m sure that if polled in secret, most Texans, even conservatives would support casino gambling in their state. Hell, most of the millions of cars in Louisiana and Oklahoma casino parking lots right across the border are probably Republican-voting Texans. Why do you think there’s a mega-casino the size of the MGM Grand in a hellhole called Thackerville, Oklahoma along the Red River? Answer: TEXANS, and especially gambler Texans. The trouble is, fundamentalist Christians, who strangle the Republican Party in Texas and throughout the South, aren’t supporting gambling. When I was growing up, the Bible-thumpers were the crusaders, ALWAYS against anything to do with gambling. Yeah, it’s even one of the reasons I moved away 35 years ago and never had any interest in ever going back — unless it was to see mommy and daddy. This shared anti gambling idiocy goes for the current Governor. This goes for Senators, including scumbag Cruz. And this goes for state legislators and senators. Note: The reason why Texas is so Republican is because there are so many more districts in rural areas of the state. Texas is giant, and progressively blue Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso simply don’t have enough districts to overcome the many Red rural districts. It’s unlikely the ultra-conservative Republican Christian politicians are going to legalize casino gambling, even if it’s in Dallas. This should be quite a fight.

But let me add this. My knowledge and opinions could be outdated. Even though I have family and friends throughout Texas, perhaps someone can enlighten me as to how Miriam Adelson’s purchase of the Dallas Mavericks could be a tumbling domino towards full casino gambling legalization, the question made even murkier by lots of conflicting politics.

I’m really open to discussion here and would like to read comments from those who might have more knowledge, especially local knowledge, about this issue. This is to say, I am open to persuasion.

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Remembrances on the 25th Anniversary of Stu Ungar’s Death

Posted by on Nov 27, 2023 in Blog | 3 comments



Preface:  Last week marked the 25th anniversary of Stu Ungar’s death.  In remembrance of the occasion, I was featured in a few interviews and was asked to share my memories of being with Ungar.


I remembered my experiences of working with him, and eventually co-writing One of a Kind:  The Rise and Fall of Stuey ‘the Kid’ Ungar, the World’s Greatest Poker Player (with Peter Alson).


What follows is the longer (unedited) version of the full interview with Santiago García Mansilla, a writer-journalist based in Argentina.  The article is in Spanish and can be seen HERE.  Also, The Sporting News did a story on this, which can be seen HERE.




Question: It is almost 25 years since the death of Stu Ungar.  What feelings does that anniversary give you?


Answer: Other than feeling 25 years older, and wondering how the time passed by so quickly. I don’t really have any special feelings about the anniversary date one way or another.


Question: How did the idea of writing his biography come about?


Answer: From 1994 through 2001, I was a regular columnist for Card Player (a bi-monthly magazine) which was considered the primary publication for the game of poker worldwide. All the other columnists had books they sold via links and ads in the magazine — mostly on poker strategy. But from the first poker hand I ever played, what most interested me about the game were the people–and especially the eccentric individuals that were such a big part of poker in its early years.  Back when I first started writing about the game in the early 90s. I decided that if and when I did my first book it would be a narrative on the people, or at least someone who was fascinating in the same way successful authors Al Alvarez and Tony Holden (in the UK) wrote their masterful groundbreaking exposes about the poker subculture ten years earlier. Ungar had become an almost forgotten player by the time the 1995 and 1996 WSOP rolled around. So, the idea of doing anything with Ungar personally — who was also chronically unreliable due to his self-destructive habits — would have been unthinkable. Especially for me, since I had no real credentials to take on such a task. Then, out of nowhere when he won the 1997 World Series of Poker and I was there during the entire time covering the event, hanging out with him, talking to people within his inner-circle, I realized this made for a perfect storm of opportunity. Unfortunately, it took eight more years to release the final draft, in large part because of my notorious problem as a procrastinator who gets bored easily, no matter what the subject matter. Writing the book and that struggle to finish it was almost as interesting a story as the book itself, and certainly a remarkable and educational experience for me as a first-time author.


Question: How did you notice Stu in the interviews? You wrote that he had good days and bad days. Did you imagine what happened?


Answer: Initially, when I reached out to him right after he won in ’97, Ungar couldn’t care less about doing a biography. His objection was simply because that required time and work on his part and there was no significant upfront money for him. So, he ignored my several overtures and to be frank about it, I wasn’t well-known at the time — either as a writer or a poker journalist. So, I completely understood the rejection. I then realized I needed to get creative. That’s when I decided to send him a mock copy of a book cover with him and then superimposed a title with his name and my name on it, showing Stuey what the book would look like. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words and imagery is important, especially to Ungar who had a huge ego. Since I also knew Ungar probably wouldn’t respond to me personally, I also sent a copy to Mike Sexton. It’s important to know Sexton was one of his closest friends and he absolutely was ecstatic with the mock cover design. By the way, it turned out not to be the same cover that was used (mine was actually better, but that’s another discussion). Anyway, Mike Sexton told me later that he was with Stuey downtown sitting down in a coffee shop at the El Cortez and Unger was halfway out of it mentally. By this time, he had blitzed through all the prize money he’d won and then Mike pulled out the mock book draft copy and — I still remember his exact words to this day in a phone conversation he had later — “Suddenly, Stuey lit up like a Christmas tree. He thought it was the greatest thing he’d ever seen, especially with his name and image on the front cover. Stuey was hooked the moment he saw that cover.” Mike went on and told me Stuey was showing the cover design to waitresses and to anyone who would look at it and saying all of the sudden — “look, they want to write a book about me.  They’re going to make a movie about me.”  Can you imagine that wild scene?  Well, that’s exactly what he needed at the time, mentally. Broke and aimless and age 44, Stuey needed something meaningful to focus on, and suddenly this was it. So, I flew back and forth between the East Coast and Las Vegas to meet and attain what I could.  The book project (initially presumed to be a ghostwritten autobiography at the time) at least for a short period became another comeback, another attempt at retribution and for a while he was focused enough to meet with me on a number of occasions mostly in dingy hotel rooms but the more he talked about the past the more he remembered and it became more of a conversation than an interview. He opened up and even called me in the middle of the night with obscure remembrances. He absolutely loved the project. So, that’s the basis of what became the book, especially the early parts of Ungar’s life which really had no documentation other than what he told me during those interviews.


Question: How did you find out about Stu Ungar’s death?


Answer: The phone rang late on a Sunday night. I still remember the exact moment, being at home in Washington and answering it. When I heard Mike Sexton’s voice, he seemed sad. I think he said something like, “well, I’ve got some terrible news…..”  Mike didn’t even have to finish the sentence. I knew what was coming next.


Question: What was the writing process like? Did you meet with Stu first and then sit down and write with Peter?


Answer: I met with Ungar several occasions and I also found that he was much better (meaning coherent) when he was with his pals. He had pride in himself and would never be seen on drugs with his friends.  He kept that very private.  So, Mike and I took him over to Puggy Pearson’s house a few times. We hung out with Billy Baxter and when Ungar was with his friends they would say things and he would remember stories. Of course, to me taking all this in was like siting in the locker room of the 1927 New York Yankees. It was poker’s ultimate insider group and to just be in the circle, even as an observer with a tape recorder, I felt privileged. If I have any advice to fellow writers, and especially biographers, it’s to get the subject into a comfort zone where they feel in a position to openly express themselves in a relaxed atmosphere, rather than an interview which can kinda’ feel like a police interrogation. You see, that’s critical to getting good material out of someone, which is identifying that comfort zone. And it’s different for everybody. When Stuey was with Mike, and Puggy, and Billy, and Mickey, and Doyle, and the rest of his peers, that triggered memories where they’d all tell more stories, which was much more than I could have gotten out of him one-on-one. My only regret now was that I didn’t interview him more in depth, and my own experience wasn’t deep enough at the time to ask the right questions I’d ask now. Of course, nobody knew that he would die right in the middle of the project, which was woefully incomplete. As for Peter (Alson) and his involvement, he’s such a great writer. He’s far more disciplined than me, for one thing. He also has a big name in literary circles because of his uncle (Norman Mailer), so collaborating with Peter turned out to be the salvation of the project. Peter didn’t really join in until years later, as most of the research material had already been gathered that was available. But the editing and pretty much the final draft as you see is Peter’s work more than mine. The book would not have happened without Peter coming in and rescuing the material — that’s the truth. He deserves far more credit than he’s been given as many people think of this as a “Nolan Dalla book.” But it’s just as much Peter’s. I also have to acknowledge Greg Dinkin and Frank Scatoni at Venture Literary who put up with a lot of obstacles and negotiated an agreement that got everyone together on the book deal, and various movie rights. They put up with a lot and were the driving force.


Question: How many players and family members did you interview?


Answer: I don’t have an exact count.  And what disappointments me to this day is that after the book was published, so many people would come up to me and tell me stories.  I wondered — hey, where you were you a year ago when we were doing the draft?  Anyway, I interviewed everyone that was living associated closely with Ungar in any way from long lost relatives to deli workers to poker dealers. I tracked his sister down who lived in Puerto Rico (she’s deceased now) and she gave me some interesting stuff about their childhood that really explained why he turned out as such a prodigy. I tried to track his half brother down, a college professor who absolutely hated Stuey. He gave me a tiny bit of stuff, but I could tell that even decades later he was still intensely bitter. Of course, I talked to his daughter Stefanie who is only 14 when he passed away and then Madeline was also essential to really understanding who Stuey was. They were immensely helpful. What really impressed me about them was they were so open about some painful memories. But I think they also wanted history to know a side of Stuey that was positive and inspirational to people, which he was. I also had some doors slammed in my face. Some people didn’t like Stuey and refused to cooperate.


Question Did you get to see him play live at the WSOP or another tournament?


Answer: I saw him play live several times in the mid-90s. I don’t remember much earlier than that, but my relevant time with him was at the 1997 Series when he won his third world championship and then on some NFL Sundays when we hung out inside sports books, went out to dinner, and just hung out talking. To me, those are the special moments I remember fondest; just the hanging out and talking and being around one of the most eccentric gamblers in history. Any of the poker experiences were secondary, though I do remember playing $10-20 Omaha High-Low at the Horseshoe about six months before he died. It’s a funny story, really. I was sitting in this cash game waiting to meet Ungar for another interview who was characteristically late, meaning at least a half hour to an hour. We used to have this running joke between us, that “Ungar time” meant adding 30 minutes later because he was always late. Anyway, he finally came downstairs and we had to wait for someone else to join us, maybe it was Tony Shelton, who was running the poker room at the time. I left my seat go to the restroom and out of nowhere Ungar gets impatient and tells me he’s going to sit down in my poker seat and play my stack in the $10-20 Limit Omaha game. Well, the looks on the faces of the other players in the game was like they were seeing a ghost. They all turned white. Ungar was the world champion at the time and was just such an imposing personality in any game. That Ungar would even sit down in a game of such insignificance back then was unheard of. I guess those eight people could later claim they played poker with Stu Ungar. Oh, and while he sat in for one round, he didn’t play a single hand. Funny, I still remember that.


Question: What relationship did Stu have with his daughter Stefanie?


Answer: I can’t speculate that much on their real private relationship. I will say that Stuey acknowledged being a neglectful father. I could tell he was emotionally broken up about his squandering of all the money and gambling winnings and I still remember the terrible shame that he carried. Just a few months before he died, in August of 1998, he confessed he couldn’t buy his daughter school clothes for the coming year for Stefanie, who was starting high school, I think. He had to borrow money to be a dad and be a provider. There was a deep shame in that moment for him that I’ll never forget. But that pain in a strange way also endeared him to me as a human with very real feelings instead of just a poker pro and gambling icon. We learn much more about people and who they really are when they lose than when they win.


Question: Do you think he would have been able to recover from his addictions without the tragedies he had in his life?


Answer: I don’t know enough about addictions or the science of drugs and impact on the brain to speculate on that. I do know the power of addiction is like a death’s grip. It won’t let go. Perhaps someone that’s been through that experience and shed those demons on their own would be better suited to offer an opinion.


Question: How many bracelets would Stu have won without the addictions and excesses in his life?


Answer: This is another question that it’s hard for me to answer. Maybe impossible. You have to remember that the best players were not chasing gold bracelets back then. Many of the legendary greats in poker would have had 15 or 20 or maybe more gold bracelet wins, if they would have concentrated on the tournaments in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. The main focus for high-stakes players back then, especially during the World Series of Poker was the side action and cash games which were often all-nighter red-velvet rope so-called nosebleed stakes played with no one recording the events. They wanted the money and weren’t so much interested in preliminary tournaments or anything like the gold bracelet chase is today. In fact, most of them didn’t want any public attention. Billy Baxter, Doyle Brunson, Chip Reese, Johnny Chan, Chau Giang — they all told me at various times, they even later regretted to some degree, that they didn’t add to their legacies by playing more bracelet events. Unger probably fits in that same category.  What’s most interesting to see how he might have adapted to today’s games and landscape, which is very different than 30 or 40 years ago.  He’d be 70 today, so everything is entirely speculation.


Question: Were you present at his funeral and induction into the Hall of Fame? What do you remember about that?


Answer. No and yes. I was living in Washington D.C. when Ungar died. It also happened right around Thanksgiving. So, I did not make the funeral which happened in late November. I was present four years later for his Hall of Fame induction in Las Vegas and spoke on his behalf. Back then, the PHOF ceremony and fanfare wasn’t as big a deal as it is now. I wish I could say Stuey’s inclusion was a memorable moment with lots of drama but honestly — that happened during a real down year during the World Series which was 2002 and Binion’s Horseshoe was at rock bottom financially speaking and in its relationship with players, and also because several of Stuey’s friends had boycotted that year. So, the event itself was a bit of a downer.


Question: What feedback did you get from players and the poker media when the book was published?


Answer: The feedback I got and the reaction to the book surprised me. First, the New York Times reviewed it positively and even did a full page story on it. So, that was huge. That publicity led to various documentaries, including a one-hour special on ESPN. Gee, how many first time authors are fortunate enough to get a positive New York Times review and an ESPN documentary based on the material? I mean, the ESPN documentary One of a Kind is narrated by Oscar-winner J.K. Simmons.  How amazing is that? [Note:  See link below to the documentary]  Later, we even signed a movie contract with Warner Bros. and executive producer Graham King, whose movies have won dozens of Oscars, including Best Picture. However, I was swamped with work back then because it was right smack in the middle of the poker boom as One of a Kind was released in the summer of 2006. So, it was perfect timing during the poker boom, but also terrible timing for me personally–being able to focus more on it. Back then, I was in the middle of several intersections — Media Director of the World Series of Poker, plus I traveled to every tour stop with the WSOP Circuit, and I worked full-time as PokerStars Director of Communications, which was then the second-largest poker site in the world. Now, my phone was blowing up with book interviews and more movie offers (which later came but the right script never materialized). Full confession — I didn’t really handle the attention well. I missed lots of opportunities. I wish I could go back over that period and correct many of the mistakes I made.  Had I focused more, I know we would have had a huge movie from it.


Question: Can you explain?


Answer: I’ll let the book and the Stu Ungar story speak for itself. Not to be falsely humble, but I do think any competent writer who had just a simple command of grammar and was able to gain access and do the same interviews I conducted probably could have told the story about as well, simply because the Ungar story is so incredible and unusual and probably will never be matched within this genre of subject matter. What I didn’t expect was so many people would know me mostly for being the co-author of that book when I’ve done far more work and spent many more years in gambling elsewhere on other projects. One of a Kind was a tiny fraction of so many experiences and amazing people I’ve worked with in my life. Years ago in an interview, poker journalist Remko Rinkema told me I was best known for One of a Kind. I was like — what? I’ve written 5,000 articles and 2,500 World Series of Poker tournament reports over two decades.  How’s that possible?  I guess, you can’t predict how people react to things, nor control what you’re known for.


Question: Many young players don’t know who Stu Ungar was. Why would you recommend they read “One of a Kind?”


Answer: I really have no interest in young poker players or the game of poker, anymore. I do not mean that rudely, nor am I dismissing the question. I don’t recommend they read anything particularly and even if I did, they wouldn’t listen to me.  I’ve turned the page on that chapter.


Question: What did you think of the film that was released about his life in 2003?


Answer: There’s a lot of conflicting ways to look at High Roller: The Stu Ungar Story. That came out in 2003, I think it was, a few years before my book release and was done by film director Anthony W. Vidmer, whom I greatly respect and has since become a friend.  I had very little to do with the actual film other than some consulting on a few things. That movie had no access to my research, other than what I shared.  I prefer to not criticize another artist nor detract from their creative vision, but the film did not live up to the subject matter considering the material that was available to them. Perhaps this is just professional jealousy, and even envy on my part. I mean, to Vidmer’s credit, he actually did something remarkable. Considering how small the budget was for the entire movie, just $1 million I think — which is peanuts in Hollywood production numbers — plus the obvious limitations on filming a period piece parts of which take place in the 50s and 60s, and it’s really a pretty remarkable achievement to just get that film done in the first place. I’ve only watched it once, so maybe I should re-watch it again. High Roller has developed something of a mini-cult following, but then that’s because they’re so little otherwise available on Stu Unger. Anything about him is rare and precious, especially to people who want to know more. So, the answer is that I have mixed feelings.


Question: What poker player or character would you like to read their biography that hasn’t been written yet?


Answer: I can’t think of one. Maybe mine, if I could write and tell the truth about all the things I’ve witnessed and people I’ve met.


Note: Special thanks again to writer Santiago García Mansilla, for the interview and the special feature.



More Info:  Watch the ESPN-production, “One of a Kind,” based on the book — CLICK HERE.

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Trump Poisons a Football Game, Shamelessly Turns Sport into Campaign Rally

Posted by on Nov 26, 2023 in Blog | 1 comment



Do we really want to see this in sports? Is this an appropriate use of state facilities and public resources? 


On Saturday, Nov. 25, 2023, during the college football game between rivals South Carolina and Clemson, a political candidate was allowed to use the public spectacle as a campaign rally.  READ MORE HERE

Accordingly, I have more than a few questions and concerns.

Do we really want public sporting events to be turned into de facto political propaganda?

Why was this traitorous turd allowed to infect a college football game?

Is this really what college athletics aspires to become — a pep rally for a wanna’-be dictator and failed politician?

Hang on.  I’m just getting started.

Why wass this trash allowed on the field and given such a giant platform? In a critical primary state, no less?

Will the *other* presidential candidates be afforded this same opportunity to use a college football game as a faux political rally? If he gets to use 85,000 football fans as political props and a massive TV backdrop, well then, shouldn’t *ALL* presidential candidates be allowed to walk on the field, meet officials, and use the spectacle as a campaign promo?

So, who this fuck in South Carolina approved this?  I thought Nikki Haley, previously Trump’s favorite butt sniffer, was the former Governor of this state.  Does she get an equal chance to duckwalk across the middle of the field, wave to the giant crowd, and use the spectators as pawns?


FACT: This is a STATE-OWNED, TAXPAYER-FUNDED stadium and event between public universities.


FACT:  Partisan politics should have NO FUCKING PLACE WHATSOEVER in an event of this kind.


If this traitor and his cult followers want to buy football tickets like everyone else and attend a game, that’s fine. It’s their right. It’s even understandable that extra security detail is provided to keep things safe. But South Carolina letting this politician on the field and given him the spotlight is OBSCENE.

Yet all I hear, all the time, spewing from Republicans and conservatives is that they want to keep politics out of sports.


Well, looooooooookie here. You goddamned liars and hypocrites.


I have no problem whatsoever with any sitting President making a public appearance anywhere, and that spectacle being afforded the respect the office deserves. Yes, this even applies to Trump when he was in office, despite his failure and attempted subversion of democracy, and attempts to overthrow the government. For example, Presidents attending the annual Army-Navy football game is a longstanding tradition, and it’s a good thing no matter who the President is at the time. Throwing out first-pitches at baseball games after 9/11, as President Bush did in New York City and Washington after a national crisis was a good thing, and a unifying moment for us all. It’s NOT partisan.  Nixon.  Eisenhower.  Obama.  Bush 1.  Reagan.  Sitting Presidents at sporting events, so long as they’re no campaigning?  Fine.

However–allowing a widely-despised political candidate ONTO THE FIELD and letting him blatantly use a PUBLIC FACILITY and a high-profile PUBLIC SPORTING EVENT is ridiculous. This is why “equal time” federal election laws that addressed these kinds of sticky issues were passed with broad support years ago (and since, rescinded as the nation gradually descends into oligarchy).

Allowing this criminal who is currently under 91 federal indictments to use PUBLIC RESOURCES as a political event is preposterous. Do we really want to see this in sports? Is this an appropriate use of state facilities and resources?


This is outrageous!


Postscript:  Why don’t EQUAL TIME rules apply here? Moreover, using GOVERNMENT facilities and staff to willfully engage in campaigning has to be illegal (or someone in SC should be held accountable).

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NFL Week #12: Analysis and Picks

Posted by on Nov 22, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments



Three winning weeks in a row has been good.

39 wins, 16 losses.

I’ll take it.

After a horrid start to the season (all documented here), I’m now profitable on the season at +17 games over .500

As for the Westgate SuperContest (7 entries at $1,000 each), the picks spread across 7 teams went a combined 23-7-5.

Now, let’s get to this week’s picks, with a short summary of each selection:




[All wagers are juiced to -110 unless noted otherwise]


Full Game Bet: Dallas -12.5 (Risking $330 to win $300)


The Cowboys have spanked outclassed teams at home this season, winning all four such games by 20+ points (in addition to two more 20+ pt. wins on the road). QB D. Prescott is putting up MVP numbers and I don’t see Dallas taking the foot off the gas when holding the lead based on what’s happened this season. Moreover, the Cowboys defense has been opportunistic, forcing plenty of turnovers. Washington comes off a miserable 6-turnover performance at home and a humiliating loss to the Giants, who were beaten by this Dallas team a week earlier by 32 points. Who knows what mental state the Commanders will be in after that loss, now having just a few days to prepare for this once greatly anticipated rivalry, which has been dominated by the Cowboys lately. It seems everything lines up perfect for a Dallas blowout on Thanksgiving Day at home.


Full Game Bet: San Francisco -7 (Risking $220 to win $200)


San Francisco is fully healthy again and that’s bad for whoever they’re playing against. Here’s a chance for the favorites to put the NFC West division pretty much in the bag, with a win at Seattle which has been outscored by opponents this season and has looked very average over the past month. This line opened early in the week at -6 and then jumped to -7.5 based on news that QB G. Smith’s status was uncertain. As of late Wednesday, he’s now starting (elbow injury) but that particular ailment does seem susceptible to re-injury with any contact and we don’t know if he’s at anywhere near 100 percent. The Smith news finally settled the line on SFO -7 which has enough value to play (but not at -7.5). With the Eagles up next for the 49ers, I expect the locker room talk will focus on this as a critical game. I also like what I’m seeing from the SFO defense that last few games.  Laying -7 is the pick.


Two-Team Teaser: Dallas -6.5 / San Francisco -1 at -120 (Risking $360 to win $300)


Let’s add a 6-point teaser to the betting menu as Dallas needs to win by a touchdown and San Francisco basically must just win the game.


Full Game Bet: Chicago +3.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)

First Half: Chicago +1.5 at -105 (Risking $210 to win $200)


I took the Bears +8 last week on three related wagers, winning all three based on the suspicion the market hasn’t reacted to the fact the Bears are still playing hard. Chicago’s poor 3-8 record is somewhat misleading as the Bears have covered in three straight and four of five. Only one of the previous seven games was a blowout. With mobile QB J. Fields in the lineup, Chicago played well last week, led most of the game, and nearly upset Detroit on the road. This is a weaker opponent, with all due respect to Minnesota’s impressive run of wins prior to last week’s loss. Bears are 5-3 ATS in their last eight games. Last three games, Bears ran ball for 156-133-183 yards. I like those numbers with my money—getting points. So, I’ll take the points in both the 1H and full game in this NFC North division rivalry on MNF.


Full Game Bet: Denver -1.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)


This wager is based almost entirely on a fade of Cleveland rookie QB Thompson-Robinson. Though he’s 1-1 in his two starts this season, his numbers are dismal. Thompson-Robinson is just 20-37 for 130 passing combined (with 0 TDs, 3 INTs). Cleveland has scored 3 and 13 points, respectively in those two games. Playing on the road, versus an improved Denver defense looks like a solid BET AGAINST situation. Broncos have won their last four games, giving up just 17-9-22-20 points. So, the Browns aren’t likely to put up many points this week based on recent form. Obviously, Cleveland has one of the NFL’s best defenses and rushing attacks and that’s a serious concern when betting against them. I’m especially wary of backing a painfully inconsistent Broncos’ offense that continues to struggle no matter who they play. Denver is also +9 in turnovers during the course of its 4-game win streak, so they’ve been gifted plenty of opportunities. Normally, I like grind it out teams such as Cleveland that play good defense. Here, I don’t think that’s going to be enough to beat a Denver team that does just enough to win even though it’s not pretty, and may also be gaining confidence as a viable playoff contender. A win here gives the Broncos a winning record for the first time since QB. R. Wilson joined the team. I think they rise to the occasion.


First Half: Houston +.5 (half point) at -120 (Risking $240 to win $200)


I typically avoid a toss up game and this looks like a coin flip. But a few outliers are compelling enough to warrant a wager on the Texans, particularly in the first half. Houston (6-4) is at home playing their biggest game in years, as Jacksonville (7-3) is the opponent. First place is at stake. Houston dominated the first meeting 37-17 in Week 3. That doesn’t mean history repeats in this game, but we also can’t ignore the fact the Texans have won 10 of the last 11 games in this series. For whatever reason, Houston has dominated Jacksonville. Now that Houston actually has a decent team, we can be confident that trend may continue. The Jags are a good team and there are reasons to bet them–but not this week. As for my 1H wager, Houston led seven of its last eight games at halftime (and we’re getting a half point here). Texans have won last four home games by 24-7-2-5 points. Houston is 2-0 ATS as a home underdog. Last three weeks, Texans scored 30 points per game. Houston looks like a solid play here, especially in the first half.


Full Game Bet: Pittsburgh -1.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)


The Steelers stats are ugly, but somehow they win. Pittsburgh has been out-gained in every game this season, yet they’re 6-4 and a possible playoff team. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. The one stat that does make me like the Steelers laying points on the road is the rushing attack in their last three games—Pittsburgh ran ball for 166-205-172 yards. Those are impressive numbers, yet the OC (Canada) was fired in midweek. QB Pickett doesn’t inspire confidence (surprisingly, he’s 13-9 ATS as a starter despite the lackluster stats) but if the Steelers can shake things up a bit with a new play-caller and can rush for anywhere near these recent numbers, that puts lots of pressure on Cincinnati to produce with an untested QB. With Burrow out of the season, backup QB Browning gets his first start. Steelers have allowed fourth fewest TDs in the league this season (just 18). Hence this looks like a good spot to fade the rookie with a team that forces turnovers and wins more often than not. Mike Tomlin gets underestimated by betting markets and has historically been a solid bet when not much is expected of his teams. Even though the Steelers are favored in this game, I think they should be laying at least a FG given the huge drop off in Cincinnati’s strength with Burrow sidelined. The Bengals are simply a different team with him gone and their #30 defensive ranking in YPG allowed compels me to put down a wager on the division road favorite — something I don’t do often.


Full Game Bet: Las Vegas +10 at -115 (Risking $230 to win $200)


I wasn’t planning to bet this game as the line opened at -9 and then dropped to -8, and then swung back to -10. When the number hit double digits (with slight extra vig) I pounced on Las Vegas. Since the midseason coaching change, Antonio Pierce has reinvigorated this Raiders who have covered in three straight and won 2/3. No doubt, Kansas City is a tough test, but since Las Vegas proved they can slow down the best offenses in the league on a good day (opponent Miami scored just 20 points last week) I’ll bank on them giving another better-then-expected effort. Many bettors expect Kansas City will bounce back after the loss to Philadelphia last week, but that’s made tougher by this contest being a road game, versus a division rival, on a short week. On the road this season, the Chiefs failed to cover when traveling as -8.5 favorites against NYJ and as -7 favorites vs. DEN, where they lost outright. I wouldn’t play this at anything less than +10. It’s rare to get this any points given the dynamics of each team, which are very different right now. I suspect all the pressure is on Kansas City and I’m not sure they’ll shake off defeat so easily.


Player Prop: Kicker Grupe (NOR) OVER 6.5 points at -130 (Risking $130 to win $100)

Player Prop: Kicker Koo (ATL) OVER 6.5 points at -135 (Risking $135 to win $100)

Player Prop: Kicker Gay (TB) OVER 6.5 points at -125 (Risking $125 to win $100)

Player Prop: Kicker McLaughlin (IND) OVER 6.5 points at even (Risking $100 to win $100)

Player Prop: Kicker Santos (CHI) OVER 5.5 points at -135 (Risking $135 to win $100)

Player Prop: Kicker Carlson (LV) OVER 5.5 points (Risking $220 to win $200)


I’ve written previously about my affinity for kicking props. Here’s the top picks of the week — with a larger bet than usual on the Raiders’ kicker (Carlson) who continues being undervalued by the prop market.


Full Game Bet: Indianapolis -2.5 (Risking $220 to win $200)

Full Game Total: Indianapolis/Tampa Bay OVER 44.5 ($220 to win $200)

Team Total:  Indianapolis OVER 21.5 at -120 (Risking $240 to win $200)

Player Prop: Pittman WR (IND) OVER 69.5 receiving yards (Risking $220 to win $200)


The Colts are 5-5 and should be 6-4 were it not for some atrocious officiating in the Cleveland game (3 weeks ago–still pissed). The market may still be underestimating Indy, which is 6-4 ATS. Of course, the same can be said for Tampa Bay, which is an astounding 7-3 ATS (but just 4-6 SU). Initially, for these reasons, this game was a pass for me. However, upon doing more research, the situation strongly favors the home team, especially laying less than a FG. This is the Bucs’ 4th road game in five weeks, and they’re coming off punishing loss in San Francisco. Tampa could very well be gassed out here, especially when facing a rested and ready Colts team coming off their bye, and comfortably at home where oddly enough they haven’t been as successful as on the road (Colts are 1-4 at home, but 4-1 on the road—-go figure). Added motivation for the Colts to perform well here, who are riding a two-game win streak. Tampa ranks dead last in rushing offense, which will place all the pressure on the arm of QB B. Mayfield, who has played reasonably well. I expect lots of passing by both teams and a high-scoring game. I also like the WR Michael Pittman prop to go over in yardage (and receptions, if you want to bet that, too). Pittman has caught 8 passes in three straight games. During the Colts’ win streak, he’s been targeted 12-8-13 times, respectively. So, look for him to figure prominently in the offense. I settled on four wagers — Colts, team total OVER 21.5, game total OVER 44.5, and OVER on Pittman. Now, all I want is a big day by the Colts offense, facing a #30 ranked Bucs’ pass defense.






Now, I’m heading into the homestretch in the NFL handicapping contest.

SuperContest attracted 1,301 entries this year. I have seven entries–costing $1,000 each. All seven tickets are very live nearly 2/3rds into the regular season. The contest will pay the top-20 spots, with $200,000 going to first place.

Overall, the seven entries are a combined +87 games over.500. After a perfect 35-0 week previously, this past week went 23 wins, 7 losses, 5 pushes. The Kansas City Chiefs loss on MNF was a killer. That cost us 7 wins, but some other games were lucky wins, so they say it all breaks even.

One ticket is in 14th place right now (meaning, in-the-money if the contest ended today). Four tickets are in the top-100. All seven tickets are in the top-250. Ideally, I want to have 2-3 working tickets late in the season so as to diversify risk. The most anyone else has in the top-100 is 2. We have double that.

I’m 4.5 games behind the contest leader, but then there’s a rapid decline in points. Anyone in the top-100 who can go 66 percent the rest of the season may win it, and will certainly finish in the top-5.

I can’t complain about our position in the contest. I don’t want to exaggerate, but I don’t think anyone else has seven live tickets. I’ll let math people debate if it’s better to be in first place right now, or have seven live tickets within striking distance.

I’ve learned a lot from this experience. Let’s continue this great run!



Here’s this week’s contest picks, along with the W-L records on each ticket:

[Note that these lines differ from above because they’re based on the close as of Wednesday night at Westgate]

  1. Ticket #3 is live in running for mini contest, so in case the other tickets do poorly, we have an “insurance” ticket to put in to get one more shot.  Will be recorded at deadline on Saturday.
  2. San Francisco is -7 at many sportsbooks, but was -7.5 in the Westgate contest, so I passed.
  3. I don’t like this week’s card.  Dallas is my highest level of confidence.  However, the limited choices means playing numbers and taking teams in positive trends.
  4. UPDATE:  Read this if you want to know the reasoning behind the picks this week. obviously this was a huge week for us because we have a shot at winning some serious money in the mini contests. the problem was it came at a horrible time with the Thanksgiving Day games. that necessitated putting in six of the seven tickets early. I was strongly considering taking all four favorites (they went 3-1) but we had unfavorable lines on to the games and instead we just went with Detroit and Dallas which split (1-1). the Detroit loss was devastating and probably will end up costing us some money here. but we do have this extra ticket that I’m turning in right now and these picks may seem a little bit unusual so let me explain. I regret that we have Atlanta but that’s already stuck on six of the tickets I’m not going to use them again but I remain convinced that the Bears are a solid play at +3.5 when the line is now 3. the Steelers are the better team than Cincinnati with a first-time starting quarterback. the Rams line has moved two points playing at Arizona and the Rams did dominate the Cardinals in their first meeting. New England seems like a ridiculous pick given how badly they’re playing but the line is only -3 here and Matt Lessinger and I were talking that there’s something fishy about this because the line is actually moved up to three and a half so we’re catching the three and we think that there’s going to be a decent Patriots performance here. and finally coming up with the final pick I realize that Tampa Bay is going to be gassed after playing four or five games on the road and coming off the San Francisco loss and they’re facing the colts in Indianapolis which is rested and five and five and still playing in playoff contention so the feeling here is that the colts will rise to the occasion and beat a exhausted tampa team laying two and a half. I also like Houston given they’ve historically dominated that Series against Jacksonville winning 10 of 11 but the line is probably correct on this game. So these pics are a bit different than the other six obviously I wish I could we can figure them all and I deeply regret the Detroit pic. if we can somehow go four and one we may be live to catch some money and even three and two won’t win us any of the many contest but keeps Us alive very much on the season-long contest.


TICKET 1 (34-17-4)
DET -7.5
DAL -12.5
ATL +1
LV +9
CHI +3.5

TICKET 2 (34-19-2)
DET -7.5
DAL -12.5
ATL +1
LV +9
CHI +3.5

TICKET 3 (34-20-1)
IND -2.5
NWE -3
PIT -1.5
LAR +1
CHI +3.5

TICKET 4 (32-20-3)
DET -7.5
DAL -12.5
ATL +1
LV +9
CHI +3.5

TICKET 5 (32-22-1)
DET -7.5
DAL -12.5
ATL +1
LV +9
CHI +3.5

TICKET 6 (30-22-3)
DET -7.5
DAL -12.5
ATL +1
LV +9
CHI +3.5

TICKET 7 (32-21-2)
DET -7.5
DAL -12.5
ATL +1
LV +9
CHI +3.5



Here’s my latest article at on the $9.4 million Circa contest:  Click Below.




116 — Wins
99 — Losses
3 — Pushes
Starting Bankroll: $10,000.
Current Bankroll: $10,755.
Net Gain/Loss: + $755.
Last Week: 9 wins – 7 losses (+ $360.)

11-Year Comprehensive Record (2012-present):

Last Week’s Picks and Results


Teaser: Miami -6 / San Francisco -5.5 at -120 (Risking $360 to win $300) …. WON
First Half: Washington -4.5 (Risking $220 to win $200) …. LOST
First Half: Philadelphia +1.5 (Risking $220 to win $200) — MNF …. LOST
Game Side: Chicago +8 (Risking $220 to win $200) …. WON
First-Half: Chicago +4.5 (Risking $220 to win $200) …. WON
Team Total: Chicago OVER 19.5 points at -115 (Risking $115 to win $100) …. WON
Game Side: LA Rams +1 (Risking $220 to win $200) ….. WON
Game Total: [SNF] Minnesota / Denver UNDER 43 (Risking $220 to win $200) …. WON
Game Side:  Cleveland -2 vs. Pittsburgh (risking $220 to win $200) …. WON
First-Half Team Total: LA Chargers OVER 10.5 points (Risking $165 to win $150) …. LOST
Full Game Team Total: LA Chargers OVER 23.5 points (Risking $165 to win $150) …. LOST
Kicker Prop: Santos (CHI) OVER 5.5 points at -130 (Risking $260 to win $200) …. WON
Kicker Prop: Carlson (LV) OVER 5.5 points at EVEN (Risking $200 to win $200) …. WON
Kicker Prop: Folk (TEN) OVER 5.5 points at -120 (Risking $240 to win $200) …. LOST
Kicker Prop: Zuerlein (NYJ) OVER 5.5 points at -105 (Risking $210 to win $200) …. LOST
Game Total: [TNF] Cincinnati / Baltimore UNDER 46 (Risking $220 to win $200)….LOST


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I Love You, Chewy!

Posted by on Nov 21, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments




I frequently blast businesses when they provide disappointing products and services. Today, I’d like to do just the opposite.

CHEWY continues to exceed expectations. They’re amazing. The pet product company does most of their business via home delivery. Chewy not only provides great customer service, they also go the extra distance to do the right thing and help animals and their owners.

We’ve been using Chewy for pet food delivery for about five years. We’ve had 4 cats during this time, and also fostered dogs. Yesterday, our regular delivery arrived. However, the big bag of dry food broke open and cat chow was spilled inside the large box of mostly canned goods. I immediately sent Chewy an email asking them to please *credit* me for the dry food on the next shipment (every 2 months). Well, here’s their response:

— First they responded in about 2 hours, with a PERSONALIZED email reply. Not a form letter. A real human reply.

— Chewy apologized and noted the seals on this product were problematic when being shipped and this happened before.

— Chewy insisted they’d send ANOTHER bag of cat chow immediately, a special delivery scheduled to arrive within 3 days (Note: there was nothing with the old broken bag, as I just scooped up all the food and put it into another container–then the cats came over and “cleaned” out the box, eating any leftovers—the broken package ended up being extra snack for them).

— Chewy said they’d take 15 percent off of our next shipment (about $15 in value), which was completely unnecessary, but so much appreciated for my “inconvenience.”

This level of customer service is consistent with what we’ve experienced with Chewy in the past. Four years ago, we lost two cats within a 6 week span (old age). The regular Chewy shipment arrived as I’d forgotten to cancel future deliveries. It was about $70 worth of food. I wrote to them and asked to send the cat food back, requesting a credit. I couldn’t believe their response.

Chewy said they’d credit the $70 and then asked me to donate the shipment to the local animal shelter. Just WOW. So, we did exactly that (a short time later, I did some volunteer work with The Animal Foundation–so the timing was perfect.). They also sent a card expressing condolences on the loss of Alex and Faro (the two cats who died).

Naturally, when we adopted two more cats, Chewy became our pet food supplier again. They deserve our loyalty.

Chewy is not really much more in terms of cost, and the delivery charges sometimes get waived. None of that matters. This company has stood by its products and delivers excellent customer service. They are also kind and compassionate. More companies would be advised to copy their business model.

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Remembering Rosalynn Carter as the Ultimate Caregiver

Posted by on Nov 20, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments



“There are four kinds of people in this world. Those who have been caregivers; those who are currently caregivers; those who will be caregivers, and those who will need caregivers.”

— Rosalynn Carter


The noble cause known as caregiving has been former First Lady Rosalynn Carter’s life focus for several decades.

She became aware of just how important caregiving is — and the gradual toll it takes on the most benevolent among us — in her own family at a very young age. When she became able to do far more with her own influence, she founded the non-profit Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers, which grew into one of the largest such organizations in the country.

Unless you’ve been impacted by someone who needs around-the-clock care, you may not quite be aware of how important such people are. The day may (and will) come when we will all know them as angels of kindness.

Marieta and I have learned firsthand that daily caregiving is hard. Even on the good days when normal tasks bring fulfillment, there are still always challenges. Over the weeks, months, and years, the toll and grind can rob any caregiver of their own sense of purpose, their energy, and sometimes even their hope. So, I can’t say enough about caregivers and Mrs. Carter’s organization which will continue to provide education and support to those who need it most.

One of the most honorable things someone can do is touch the life of a person you’ve never met, and the former First Lady certainly did that.

R.I.P., Mrs. Carter.

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Classic Concert Reviews: U2, Tarrant County Convention Center, Fort Worth, 1987

Posted by on Nov 19, 2023 in Blog | 0 comments



In November 1987, U2 was touring and performing The Joshua Tree album.

The Joshua Tree is one of the best albums of the last 50 years, IMHO, and the pinnacle of U2’s creativity and popularity. It wasn’t known at the time, but the tour also eventually produced Rattle and Hum, the two-disc live album with a collection of best moments from that epic 1987 American tour. Rattle and Hum was also released in theaters (later on video) as a concert movie. I was present for one of the recordings and stood right next to the stage, in what was an accidental moment of serendipity–and an obvious lapse of security. Here’s the details:

Arguably the most famous rock band in the world at the time, Irish rockers U2 were political messengers as much as musicians. U2 steadfastly refused to play any city on its US tour that was vested financially in South Africa due to its repressive Apartheid government. So, Dallas (and many other major American cities) were off the list of stops. That left U2’s advance team and management scrambling for suitable arenas. U2 could fill 60,000 seat stadiums back then. But playing NBA arenas nightly was the steady money, grinding out 110 shows in 8 months. It was a brutal stretch, but there was clearly a market for U2 everywhere.

U2 announced they’d play lots of second-rate venues which included something of an oval shaped shoebox known as the Tarrant County Convention Center in Downtown Fort Worth. Fucking hell. Now, you have to understand that if you were from Dallas, the city of Fort Worth and anything west of Arlington (home of the Texas Rangers, and now the Cowboys) was considered a second-rate cow town. NOBODY from Dallas went to Fort Worth. EVER. If Fort Worth was “where the West began,” then Dallas was “where the East began.” and Dallas people just didn’t *do* Forth Worth. Goat ropers. The only reason someone from Dallas would end up in Fort Worth was if they got lost or kidnapped. So out of nowhere, U2 announces they’re playing Downtown Fort Worth! This was enough to set off everybody in the civilized world, who wondered how in the hell we’d get tickets to some dump with 6.500 seats that might as well have been in an Oklahoma cornfield. Fuck this.

Well, my girlfriend at the time (Sally Nicholson) bought us some tickets. and we knew other people who were going to the show. So, we all met at my apartment on Fair Oaks and drove to the dreaded boondocks of shitsville, Fort Worth, to see U2.

The show was terrific (first time I’d seen them). The demand had been so strong and the arena was so small that U2 announced they’d do a last-minute second show in Forth Worth, the following night. As we were driving home, Sally tells me — we’re going TOMORROW NIGHT. “I bought us two more tickets.”

Holy shit!

So, the following night, we drive to Forth Worth again (it’s 35 miles, 90 minutes drive, but 50 years from Dallas). We get there and discover our horrible seats are rear upper balcony….top row. Next to the cement columns. Like nosebleed plus no oxygen mask. WORST seats in the house. Back then, there were no giant screens to see the performer. Might as well watch the show from Dallas. But hey, we’re inside Tarrant County Convention Center seeing the biggest band in the world for a second consecutive night! Can’t complain.

I forgot how long we waited. We got impatient. Maybe 2-3 songs into the act, we decide to scatter down to near the stage and notice there an a spot right next to the Edge (lead guitarist David Howell Evans) off to the side that’s begging for ballsy invaders NOLAN and SALLY to stand there. So, we get down to the stage area and to our shock, nobody messed with us. We stood there, waiting to be hustled away by security, right next to a riser off on the stage where The Edge is maybe 15 feet away playing his riffs and the arena is so poorly staffed that no one comes over and tell us to move or arrests us from trespassing. We should never have been allowed to stand there.

Then, a glorious moment in rock history happens.

Bono and is vocals are on fire that night, and he’s decked in a ridiculous cowboy hat, and out of nowhere he brings blues legend B.B. King onto the stage. He announces that they wrote a song especially for B.B. King when they were touring in Memphis a few weeks earlier and now THIS NIGHT would be the first time they’d perform it live, I get really excited by risky, unscripted moments, especially from great artists. And this one, destined to appear in the concert movie and live album, Rattle and Hum, was the pinnacle of musical poignancy. I’m here. B.B. and Bono. 40 feet away. Recording live. If I could whistle, I would have done that Peter Frampton thing from his live album where the annoying asshole guy whistles his way into legendary bliss over the opening stanza of the Frampton vocals and might as well have been credited on the accompaniment. B.B. King plays his pet guitar named Lucille, and Bono and the band are obviously in awe of this collaboration (you can tell when a performance becomes something extraordinary). Sally and I are taking it all in, watching, in a spot we had no business standing, at a concert I had no plan to attend. Musically speaking, this was *IT.” A magic moment.

Oh and so, while beloved Sally and I are standing so close by on the other side of this curtain, here is U2 discussing how they will perform their song with B.B. King for the first time (click video link below).

Interestingly, 25 years later, B.B. King played at Buffalo Bills in Primm (on the Nevada-California border). Marieta and I went to that show and sat ringside and B.B. King delivered a masterful performance, in his 80s, that was every bit as memorable.

But NOTHING beats the surprise of that November night in Fort Worth in 1987.



Read more in this series by clicking HERE.


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NFL Week #11: Analysis and Picks

Posted by on Nov 15, 2023 in Blog | 2 comments



Last week was an astonishing success.  16 wins.  3 losses.

The week before was 14 wins.  6 losses.

That’s 30-9 the last two weeks.

After a horrid start to the season (all documented here), finally, I’m now profitable on the season at +15 games over .500

As for the Westgate SuperContest (7 entries at $1,000 each), the picks spread across 8 teams went a combined 35-0.  A perfect week.

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