Reviewing the results of the Westgate Super Contest could offer NFL bettors lucrative rewards for next season
In our age of high tech digital solutions and high-speed demand, there is something beautiful and simple about the legendary Super Contest, held at the Westgate Hotel in Las Vegas. The rules stay basically the same, but the challenge seems to get harder and harder every year.
Contestants are asked to make five (5) NFL selections each week for seventeen NFL weeks against the spread. One point is awarded for a win. The unique distinction is all must make their selections IN-PERSON at the Westgate, allowing for no Internet wagering. Also, no parlays, teasers, buying points or any type of exotic gizmo. Straight-up against the spread NFL wagering. This year a record 2.748 people entered with a mandatory buy-in of $1,500, bringing the pot to a top prize past $1.3M! As a consolation, two through nine finishers do receive a very handsome reward in four to five figures.
Like the World Series of Poker, when you are up against these many competitors, you can be sure of a few things.
Many take this very, very seriously and have serious handicapping skills. Secondly, where winning an excellent 60% can earn you a second income in the real world, it won't cut it here. This year's winner, identified as "Granny's Boy", selected an incredible 72.5% against the spread. That's almost three out of every four after seventeen weeks. Wow. To do that for a week or two may be luck, but for an entire season, that can't be happenstance.
Putting a magnifying glass over his selections, here's some observations about the specific teams he selected. Also, some old-age hanidcapping philosophy that might have been mixed in:
Take notice that for the entire season, he didn't wager once on Houston, Washington or New England. I might believe the thinking on the Texans was due to uncertainty at QB for almost a year. Who knows why on the Redskins. But undoubtedly, avoiding the Patriots was marked by two reasons. You can't bet against Tom Brady, plus the poor value Vegas and especially the major offshore sportsbooks offer on the Pats. Despite the challenging influence, New England still managed to go 10-6 ATS this past season.
Hidden 2017 Gold
Keep in mind this is a competition against over 2,700 people picking from only a group of 13 to 16 games each week. To beat them all someone must seize on some unusual trend(s) and find gold where other people aren't looking.
Within Granny Boy's betting performance notes, it's interesting to see that he only selected double-digit spreads three times the entire season. Two were wins and one was a loss. As an asterisk there, it shows what many astute handicappers already know. The NFL is incredibly different than NCAA football. Most games fall between a three to seven-point threshold. To risk a bad play on a back-door cover in this type of handicapping contest would have been foolish. Also keep in mind the many insane last second lateral TD's on kickoffs that have decided spreads on NFL games this year.
It's also noteworthy to pinpoint his greatest successes and failures within the conferences against the spread. A complete turnaround versus last year and what likely undid most everyone else (and many bettors) this season. The AFC West was gold in the 2016 season, but a failure for many in 2017. The Denver Broncos were next to the bottom with the Cleveland Browns at 4-11-1 ATS. The Oakland Raiders also a major disappointment at 5-9 ATS and no playoff appearance. Despite a potential Jon Gruden red carpet roll-out, I would still be careful next season.
But the biggest reason this guy took home the trophy (and $1. 3M) is he exploited a very weird trend in December. Favorites went crazy and destroyed many sportsbooks like the Westgate in Las Vegas and top online sportsbooks as well. His season-long record on selecting favorites was an amazing 32-11-3. That virtually never happens in a prototype NFL season where bettors dominate action on favorites, but underdogs typically return 58% results.
Perhaps that is a key reason why we are seeing inflated spreads into the first round of the 2018 NFL playoffs. The sportsbooks are frustrated getting beaten by the public along with the historical trend of home team performance in the first round.
For all you confident, experienced handicappers, I would advise trying the Westgate Super Contest once. I did and got crushed. It is a very humbling experience. Unfortunately, you must show up in person in Las Vegas to pick your winners. The good news is you can very conveniently look online at the end of season to learn from your losses and other people's success. Take a look at the final standings here.
Glenn Greene covers the games from a betting angle every week exclusively at OSGA.com. For weekly betting insights, inlcuding previews and picks from Glenn, click here.