Why Sports Betting Contests Are a Great Way to Get in the Game

Sports betting is all the rage in America these days, thanks in large part to a landmark ruling issued by the United States Supreme Court back in May of last year.

Thanks to that ruling – which struck down a federal sports betting ban known as the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 – individual states other than Nevada are now free to establish their own laws and regulations over the industry. Less than a year later, seven states have done just that, with New Jersey, Delaware, West Virginia, Mississippi, New Mexico, Rhode Island, and Pennsylvania all launching legal sportsbooks.

As sports betting continues to creep into the mainstream consciousness, many gambling enthusiasts are lining up to place their first wagers with a sportsbook.

But while single-game sports betting of that fashion are surely enjoyable, a wide swath of the gambling population is still hesitant to start firing off parlays, teasers, and futures.

A sportsbook – whether it be a brick and mortar facility located within a casino or racetrack or an online betting site – can be quite confusing for the uninitiated. Between the dizzying array of betting options to choose from, the harried staff trying their best to keep up, and regulars rushing newbies to get their bets in before game time, rookie sports bettors can often have a difficult time acclimating.

For that reason, I recommend taking part in a sports betting contest to get your feet wet.

Sports Betting Contests

In case you didn’t know, sports betting has crossed over with games like daily fantasy sports (DFS) in recent years, creating a new format that resembles a tournament more than anything else. These contests typically require a flat one-time buy-in, and from there, players compete to rack up the most points or the highest bankroll in order to claim the lion’s share of a huge prize pool.

The mother of all sports betting contests has always been the SuperContest, a $1,500 buy-in pro football handicapping contest hosted by the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook.

The objective of the SuperContest is to pick five NFL games against the spread (ATS) per week throughout the season.

Whoever accumulates the most correct picks takes the top prize, while the top-100 finishers earn payouts based on an escalating scale.

The winner of the annual SuperContest regularly pockets a seven-figure score, and this season’s champion Eric “Personal Gourmet” Kahane took home a whopping $1.42 million grand prize.

But while the Super Contest certainly takes the cake, you’ll find a long lineup of competing contests running year-round in Las Vegas to choose from. Just take a look below to sample some of the most popular sports betting contest on offer throughout Sin City:

Pick the Pros (Boyd Gaming)

Buy-In: Free for B Connected player’s club members

Details: Players pick NFL games straight up (no point spreads required) for a shot at $30,000 in weekly prizes and a total prize pool of over $500,000.

Venues: Aliante Hotel, California Hotel, Fremont, Gold Coast, Main Street Station, Sam’s Town, Suncoast, The Orleans.

Ultimate Football Challenge (Golden Nugget)

Buy-In: $1,000; limit two per person.

Details: Players pick seven football games each week throughout the season, either NCAA or NFL, using standard point spreads. The top-20 performers make the money, with the winner earning 40 percent of the total prize pool, and the runner-up claiming 20 percent.

Pro Football Kickoff Weekend Jackpot Parlay Card (South Point)

Buy-In: $5 per Parlay Card played

Details: Players pick winners of NFL games straight up on Sunday and Monday during Week 1 of the regular season. The prize pool is seeded with $25,000 guaranteed, but can climb higher based on buy-ins taken, and the player who makes the most correct selections takes the entire sum.

Venues: Cannery locations, Rampart Casino, South Point.

Great Giveaway Football Contest (Station Casinos)

Buy-In: $25 per entry (purchase two entries to get your third entry for free)

Details: Players pick NFL games straight up in hopes of claiming $30,000 in weekly prizes. The season-long prize pool is seeded at $2 million, and whomever holds the best overall record by season’s end wins either a home in Las Vegas valued at $225,000 or $100,000 in cash.

Venues: All Station, Fiestas and Wildfire Casinos; El Cortez and The Palms.

Last Man Standing – Pro (Station Casinos)

Buy-In: $25 (up to five entries per player)

Details: Players pick a single NFL game using point spreads each week, any loss bounces player from the game, and the last player standing pockets prize pool seeded at $75,000 guaranteed.

Venues: All Station, Fiestas and Wildfire Casinos; El Cortez and The Palms.

Last Man Standing – College (Station Casinos)

Buy-In: $25; limit four with fifth free.

$25 (up to five entries per player)

Details: Players pick a single NCAA football game using point spreads each week, any loss bounces player from the game, and the last player standing pockets prize pool seeded at $40,000 guaranteed.

Venues: All Station, Fiestas and Wildfire Casinos; El Cortez and The Palms.

SuperContest Gold (Westgate)

Buy-In: $5,000 (one entry per player)

Details: Players pick five NFL games using the point spread each week throughout the regular season, and the winner takes the entire prize pool for themselves.

College Pick’em (William Hill)

Buy-In: $500; limit four per person.

Details: Players pick seven NCAA football games using the point spread each week from a selection of 25 games. The prize pool is seeded at $75,000 guaranteed and the top-10 performers are paid using an escalating pay table.

Venues: Any betting kiosk operated by William Hill, or any William Hill sportsbooks throughout the state of Nevada (Binion’s, Downtown Grand, Ellis Island, Four Queens, Hooters Hotel, Plaza, Silver Sevens, SLS Las Vegas, D Las Vegas, and Tuscany).

While these contests are limited to Las Vegas for the moment, bettors anywhere in American can make use of proxy services to get their picks in – and it’s completely on the level.

Proxies don’t take a cut of your winnings either, they simply charge a flat fee upon sign-up.

Using proxies may take some getting used to, but when you register with a reputable service (and there are several in the Silver State), the process is fast, efficient, and easy. Now that you know the lay of the land when it comes to sports betting contests, strap in to learn about why you should consider them the perfect way to dip your toes into this emerging industry.

They Provide the Perfect Blend of Skill and Chance

Traditional sports betting against the books is notoriously difficult, thanks to the precise point spreads and moneyline odds operators calculate ahead of every game.

Simply put, the best pro handicappers in the world strive to achieve a mere 54 percent win rate, and anything higher than that is considered a fluky outlier.

That means everyday rank and file sports fans like you and I have little shot to clear a profit betting against the books over the long term. Sure, you’ll win on a few tickets here and there, and you might even cash a sweet parlay to turn a few bucks into a few hundred more.

But over time, the sportsbook’s inherent edge over bettors will rear its ugly head, leaving you at the breakeven point – or worse – by season’s end.

Sports betting contests, on the other hand, allow highly skilled players to excel in a vacuum, while lesser skilled players still have a great chance to pull off the upset. Over the past few years, a local barista by the name of Damon Graham (more on him to come) managed to win the SuperContest for over $900,000, while a farmer from out of state took second for a significant six-figure score.

Pro handicappers are prone to winning these things, don’t get me wrong there, but given the contained nature of the tournament format, literally, anybody can claim the big cash when the stars align.

The One-Time Cost Offers Tremendous Value

The beauty of a sports betting contest is that they involve just a single wager.

Sure enough, games like the SuperContest do cost a pretty penny, but as you saw in the list above, many contests are priced at the economy level. For just a few bucks – the price you’d pay to fire off a three-team parlay – you can enjoy an entire season’s worth of action and sweat.

And even the $1,500 price point for the SuperContest holds significant value, as the entry fee equates to less than $100 per week over a 17-week schedule.

If you’re not ready to dive headlong into regular sports betting – and remember, beating the books with consistency requires a heavy volume – entering a contained contest is the next best thing. You’ll still be picking several games per week, either straight up or against the spread, but the expense is limited to whichever buy-in level you prefer.

Winning the Top Prizes Can Change Your Life

Now on to the good stuff… grand prize payouts and life-changing scores.

Remember that Sin City barista who turned $3,000 into more than $900,000?

Damon “pops2008” Graham has become a Las Vegas legend thanks to his stellar performance in the 2016 SuperContest. Using the maximum of two entries, Graham pulled off a perfect 5-0 finish in Week 17 to fend off all challengers and claim the top prize.

In an interview with ESPN – yes, that’s right, mainstream media outlets are now covering sports betting contests – Graham explained how he expertly parlayed his pair of entries into a spotless Week 17:

“I wanted to protect my entries as much as possible to maximize my profits.”

“I knew the worst I could do was 2-2-1 on both tickets and would probably go 3-2 and 2-3, but I knew I had a chance to get lucky if one of them went 5-0. I just thought it would be the other entry.

“I’ve never been happier to be wrong about anything in my whole life.”

Before entering the contest, Graham served coffee at Starbucks – and today he’s bankrolled to buy an entire chain of stores. Not bad for a few months of NFL handicapping, now is it?

Graham has Jay Kornegay – head honcho at the Westgate SuperBook – to thank for his fortuitous windfall. Kornegay came up with the SuperContest concept decades back, and nurtured it from a niche game with a few hundred players to the massive success it is today.

Asked about his intention to change lives with his brainchild, Kornegay told the Las Vegas Review Journal that success stories like Graham’s were the goal all along:

“The top prize is almost a life-changing number, and we’ve always structured it so that the last place paid will get more than the Buy-In.”

Conclusion

Sports betting contests will never replace traditional sportsbook action, but they are quickly becoming a staple of the gambling industry. Folks who may not feel comfortable firing off dozens of wagers per week during the course of a season have every incentive to play a one-off contest, both for fun and for potential profit. And as Graham and his fellow big winners have proven, all it takes is a little luck (and a few savvy selections) to change your life forever when your picks come in.

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Michael Stevens

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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