August is here, and for a certain subsection of sports betting enthusiasts, that means the start of season-long football sports betting contests, including the Westgate SuperContest Gold.
Whether you enjoy the game on the collegiate (NCAA) or professional (NFL) level, football’s weekly scheduling with point spread betting creates the perfect vehicle for handicapping tournaments. Picture a poker tournament structure in which players pay a set entry fee to participate and hope to outplay the field to parlay their buy-in into significant cash payouts.
But in a sports betting contest, the goal is to correctly predict the outcome of games against the spread, accumulating points instead of chips to outclass opponents.
In the end though, the best poker tournaments and pick contests both reward strategy, skill, and survival instincts to crown well-deserved champions who are minted instant millionaires.
The origins of organized sports handicapping competitions stem from the entrepreneurial spirit which defined the old-school casino operators in Sin City. In order to bring traditional sports bettors who may only fire a few times per month back to the casino, innovative owners devised sports betting competitions to give professional handicappers a weekly reason to head back through the doors.
Back then, players were required to sign up and submit picks in person at the sportsbook cage, which largely limited the action to Las Vegas locals. Over time, however, technological advances combined with a relaxation in regulations allowed out of state entries via designated proxy services. In essence, you simply pay a proxy a flat fee to handle the process of submitting your weekly picks in person.
Thanks to the advent of sports betting proxies, the fields for Las Vegas’ top sports handicapping contests have grown at a seemingly exponential pace over the last decade or so. To wit, the most prestigious point spread picks competition of them all—the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest—has grown from a few hundred entries every year two decades ago to 3,123 contestants last year.
The Westgate SuperContest has been running since 1984, costs $1,500 to enter, and regularly pays out more than $1 million to the champion.
I wrote a complete guide to the Westgate SuperContest as the first installment of an ongoing series on the top sports betting competitions running in Las Vegas. This second installment covers the Westgate SuperContest Gold, a recently launched sequel to the original which debuted in 2017.
And if you’re interested in finding out all there is to know about Las Vegas’ long lineup of top-tier sports betting picks contests, check back here regularly to catch further installments focusing on the full spectrum of Sin City offerings.
History of the Westgate SuperContest Gold
Long before the legions of Las Vegas gamblers discovered the SuperContest, which started as the Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest before the property rebranded, this iconic competition was the exclusive domain of wise guys and whales.
The vast majority of the field was made up of bona fide sports betting professionals who plied their trade in Las Vegas sportsbooks day in and day out. Of course, a few big shots from New York, Miami, and Chicago paid underground proxies to ensure participation, but the original SuperContest was largely exclusive to Sin City sportsbook regulars.
Things began to change in 2004, when the intrepid Jay Kornegay and his crack marketing team began exploring ways to bring the SuperBook’s centerpiece attraction to the masses. Bolstered by the internet—former ESPN.com sportswriter Bill Simmons used to write about his SuperContest exploits every year—and online proxy services, the typical Westgate SuperContest field began to swell from the old standard of 200 to 300 entrants.
A few years after taking the reins, Kornegay’s ambitious approach grew the field to 517 entries for the 2011 edition, with the eventual winner pocketing $310,000. From there, growth continued apace along the following trajectory:
Westgate SuperContest Field Size and Winner’s Share (by Year)
Fans of the tournament poker scene will find this steady and sustained growth curve to be eerily reminiscent of that game’s boom era, which was sparked by Chris Moneymaker winning the 2003 WSOP Main Event as a rank amateur.
Check out the WSOP Main Event field size chart for comparison to get an idea of how closely the Westgate SuperContest’s development tracks:
Westgate SuperContest Field Size and Winner’s Share (by Year)
1st Place Payout
As anyone who follows the poker industry can tell you, the WSOP Main Event was almost always won by top professional players. But after Moneymaker’s online satellite assisted victory spread the gospel of poker worldwide, the tide turned, and massive field sizes have ensured that amateurs now outnumber the pros when it comes to reaching the winner’s circle.
Unsurprisingly, this very same phenomenon occurred within the world of SuperContest handicapping. In 2008 and 2009, for example, well-known pro sports bettor Steve Fezzik stormed the field in consecutive years to win the Westgate SuperContest two straight times. An anonymous account known as “Rounding Again” took the title in 2015, then finished in third place one year later.
But by 2016, the dynamic had shifted significantly, with 100 recreational players in the SuperContest field for every pro. So while “Rounding Again” was forced to settle for a podium finish, local barista Damon Graham changed his life forever by claiming the $895,482 prize reserved for the champion.
When the poker pro community realized that the WSOP Main Event had become essentially unwinnable given the sheer statistical advantage held by armies of amateurs, they got creative.
In 2006, at the behest of respected pros who sought to play in an event that pitted elite players against one another, the WSOP hosted the first annual $50,000 buy-in Poker Player’s Championship (PPC). By multiplying the Main Event buy-in five times over, the PPC effectively filters out recreational players, allowing the best poker minds in the world an exclusive arena to test their mettle like the World Championship once did.
Today, the PPC is widely regarded as the true World Championship of Poker, and field sizes have remained flat at between 75 and 150 entrants per year.
This extended WSOP/SuperContest metaphor came to fruition only two years ago, when the $5,000 buy-in Westgate SuperContest Gold was held for the first time. The SuperContest Gold concept upped the ante considerably, scaling back the entries per player to just one in order to provide a higher tier of competition for pro bettors to pursue.
To further enhance the prestige of toppling the SuperContest Gold by season’s end, Westgate organizers decided to go for the gusto by instituting a winner-take-all prize pool.
The inaugural 2017 Westgate SuperContest Gold attracted 81 entries and it was “Stag Capital,” a team of former college football players and roommates, who took down the $470,000 prize.
Last year’s second running of the SuperContest Gold grew by more than 33% to 128 entries. It was “There Can Be Only One,” the entry controlled by George King, who bagged the $640,000 win.
And amidst unprecedented interest in the world of Las Vegas sports betting competitions entering this year, you can bet your bottom dollar that the Westgate SuperContest Gold sets new highwater marks for attendance in its third outing.
How the Westgate SuperContest Gold Works
If you read my page on the standard SuperContest, often differentiated as “SuperContest Classic,” you already know how the Westgate SuperContest Gold version works.
But just in case, here’s a quick crash course on SuperContest gameplay…
You’ll need to show up at the Westgate SuperBook to sign up in person, and if you’re playing from out of state using a proxy, be sure to bring them along to fill out the paperwork.
The entry fee is $5,000, and you must enter before 11:00 AM local time on Saturday, September 7th.
From there, the gameplay itself is extremely easy to learn. Players can pick against the spread winners for five games from the weekly NFL schedule. Correct selections that cover the point spread produce 1 point, point spread pushes are good for 0.5 points, and failing to cover the spread results in 0 points.
Westgate SuperContest Gold spreads are generated by the Westgate’s bookmakers and released to the public every Wednesday afternoon. These spreads remain static after that, so roster changes, injury news, and weather considerations won’t have any influence on the lines players use.
Weekly five-pick cards must be submitted, either personally or via proxy, to the Westgate SuperBook cage every Saturday before 11:00 AM.
In the event that players are picking a Thursday or Saturday game, picks must be submitted before the earliest game on the card kicks off.
Whichever player accumulates the most points by the conclusion of the 17-week NFL season is declared the SuperContest Gold winner, and they’ll be awarded with the entire prize pool.
As discussed above, the Westgate SuperContest Gold is a winner-take-all competition in which the champion alone earns every last dollar on the line.
In a cool twist, the Westgate doesn’t take a cut for itself. The standard SuperContest uses a $1,380 + $120 rake structure for the house, so SuperContest Gold players see their entire buy-in contributed to the prize pool.
In 2017, the first ever Westgate SuperContest Gold paid out $470,000 to the winner, and the prize climbed to $640,000 last year.
Assuming a similar rate of growth from 2018 to today, you can expect right around 200 players to enter the 2019 Westgate SuperContest Gold, creating a first-place payout of a cool $1 million.
The gambling industry has always been stratified based on bankroll, and sports betting competitions like the SuperContest Gold are no different. For folks blessed with high-roller status and money to burn, paying the $5,000 entry fee to compete against the best of the best is simply a business expense—one that can very well provide additional equity at that.
If you don’t feel like wading through 4,000 entries in this year’s standard SuperContest, taking a shot at the Westgate SuperContest Gold is a great way to improve your odds for only a marginally higher expense.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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