Thursday, November 15, 2018

If Ted Leonsis is Right, Texas Could be at a HUGE Disadvantage.

Ted Leonsis on the future of sports betting. USA Today

The arena where his Washington Capitals and Wizards play opens an hour or so before games and empties out quickly after, but he expects all that will change in years to come as arenas become casinos of a sort — open nearly around the clock to capture a coming mania for legalized sports betting.
“I think you will see buildings like Capital One Arena being reimagined,” Leonsis tells USA TODAY. “So we want people to come into our buildings to have lunch, to have dinner when there’s not a game in the building, watch other games on television, do research, bet, wager — and look at our buildings as really alive, dynamic sports cathedrals.”

Yes, it involves reimagining.  EVERYTHING involves reimagining. It's a buzz word, just ignore it.

IF what Leonsis says turns out to be even 70% true, then Texas could find itself in a competitive disadvantage going forward, since the State does not allow, and is unlikely to allow, any betting other than the Lottery and horse racing, the latter of which the Texas Legislature is trying it's level best to shutter.

Other states, such as Utah, who have an aversion to any betting would also find themselves behind, both monetarily and from a fan-experience stand-point as teams in gambling-progressive states open up vast new streams of revenue for team owners allowing for bigger expenditures, better rosters and better facilities than their poorer brethren have the ability to afford.

This does not mean that Texas, or other states, should open up their borders to casino gaming. In fact, I'm on record suggesting that Texas should not.  I was behind it initially, but the more I thought about it I could foresee Texas getting it wrong, the luxury "resorts" everyone envisioned falling victim to the Texas proclivity for doing everything on the cheap, where people see a Texas Bellagio rising from the prairie I see a bunch of sawdust joints. And if you've never been in a true sawdust joint (also known as grind joints) they are among the most depressing places in the world.

Texas doesn't need that, and they don't need the problems that come with gambling addiction, drug use, prostitution and property crime that accompanies it.  So, no to casino gaming then.

But, and this is a rather big but, Texas COULD benefit from legalizing what tens of thousands of Texans are already partaking in illegally: Sports betting, both physically and on-line.

Illegal sports wagering is a Billion dollar industry. A large portion of that Billion is spent right here in the Lone Star State.  Local sports-talk radio hosts openly talk about getting their action down online. So, it's clear that the State doesn't have much of an appetite for stopping the practice, Texas might as well legalize it, tax it, and decriminalize all of those who are participating.

Will the tax on this "save Texas Schools"?  No, of course not, and gambling proponents who say that are putting their heads in the sand.  Are Louisiana's schools awash in gaming cash?  No. Are Oklahoma's tribes richer than the dreams of Midas?  Of course not. Are Nevada schools built with the finest Italian marble?  No, in fact, each of those states has some of the lowest education scores in America.  Granted, most of that is due to bad political leadership, but the idea that you can just throw money at a government problem and make it go away seems to be discredited in every area of life except for the Government.

We are governed by idiots, elected by us and then treated as experts in the field.  But, if they're idiots, what in the hell does that make us?

Reminder: If you have a casino host: They hate you.

Meet the Man Who Wins Big When You Lose it all in Vegas. Thrillist

Granted, some of this is bombast for the reporter, Cyr trying to make himself out to be more important, and closer to the ears of giants, than he really is. But a LOT of it is real.

I've seen it happen there.

And that's Vegas, a place that will chew you up and spit you out if you let it.

If, like many people he described in the story, you CAN'T set, and most importantly stick to, a budget when gambling then don't.

If you say you're only willing to lose $30K then only deposit $30K, don't deposit $100K and think that, in the fog of adrenaline and alcohol that you're going to have self control.

If you have a casino host don't gamble for comps. (As a matter of fact, don't gamble to chase comps in any situation. Self-comping [i.e. paying for your stuff] is always a better option)

I'm neither a high, or low, roller. I'm what the casinos call a "mid-low-margin" gambler. I only play games where I find the lowest house edge (Some video poker, Baccarat, Black Jack and the outer bets on Craps) but I do bet more per trip than the average tourist.  I'm nowhere near the players listed in this article (my bets are $10 - $25 for example) but I play long and I like to think I play well.  I also pocket my winnings and limit my losses through an envelope system that only gives me a portion of my bank roll to play with per day.

Here's how that works:

Let's say I'm taking $2.5K with which to gamble on a 5 day trip.  I will divide the $2.5K into five envelopes, $500 each day.  At the beginning of they day I take the money out of the daily envelope, and put any money left over from the day before in the take-home envelope. Then I go out and gamble with that $500 for the day.  At the end of the day/beginning of the next day, repeat the process.

If you can do this, and be successfully NOT open the other day's envelopes, you will almost always bring a portion of your bankroll home with you.  IF you can pocket any wins over a certain amount (say $100) then you can most times go home from Vegas only a slight loser or, infrequently, a winner.

Of course, when dealing with money you have to be careful, I'm obviously not flying to Vegas with $2.5K in my wallet and neither should you.  I do have access to my money in Vegas and you should figure out a way to make that happen for you, without going to Casino ATM's which often charge transactions fees of $7.99 or higher.

Most importantly, and this is key, DON'T under any circumstances, take out more money during the trip if you hit a bad spell.  And you WILL hit a bad spell.  It's gambling, the odds are with the house, and eventually that edge is going to catch up with you.

The good news about gambling at my level is that I typically fly under the radar of most hosts. $500 per day is not going to move the casino needle any/  Yes, I get offers that include free rooms, free play, and resort credit but I get and redeem them online or through the kiosk. I would be quite happy never being on the radar of any host in Vegas ever.  But Given my level of play that money is going to last me all day, and usually then some, provided I don't hit an epic slump. 

I get free drinks, I pay for my dinners and wine, shows, or almost anything else that I want to do, and I never have to deal with the Cyr's of Vegas.  I gamble well below my financial ability and so should you.

As a matter of fact, if you cannot gamble like this then it's quite possible that being inside a casino is not the correct place for you.  Take up fishing, gardening or some-such.

Your life will be much better for it.

But, if you CAN stick to something like this, hold to a budget and not bust it, (whatever the level may be) then you might just find your Vegas experience improved.  Getting stuck-in the first day is awful, only being a little bit down? Not so much.

Steve Cyr might not like it all that much, but you'll be a better educated and happier gambler, one who sees gambling losses as what they should be: The price for being entertained for a few hours rather than a speed-bump on the way to winning.

You're probably not going to win.  Only the house wins consistently.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

UPDATE: No FIVE or Three and OUT this week.

Real life, and real illness, (and a pretty terrible college football schedule) have gotten in the way.

I MIGHT try to take a superficial look at some games tomorrow but I just don't have the time needed this week to really dig in.

My apologies for not giving you picks to fade this weekend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

The Week 11 FIVE and the Week 10 Three and OUT

One of these weeks I'd love to hit on both college and the NFL, but right now my college picks are just sad.

The Week 11 FIVE:

Last Week: 1-4 - Season total: 20-29-1

1. Ohio (-4.5) @ Miami (OH) [61.5] - Pick: Ohio to cover -4.5

2. Fresno State (-2.5) @ Boise State [54] - Pick: OVER 54

3. Troy (-1) @ Georgia Southern [47.5] - Pick: Troy to cover -1

4. Temple @ Houston (-4.5) [69] - Pick: OVER 69

5. Texas (-1.5) @ Texas Tech [63.5] - Pick: OVER 63.5

The Week 10 Three and OUT:

Last Week: 3-0  Season Total: 14-13

1. Washington @ Tampa Bay (-3) [51.5] - Pick: OVER 51.5

2. Buffalo @ NY Jets (-7.5) [37] - Pick: Buffalo to cover -7.5

3. LA Chargers (-10) @ Oakland [50.5] Pick: Chargers to cover -10.

Games in which I have a rooting interest this weekend:

NY Giants @ San Francisco (-3) [47] - The 49ers are riding with the rookie QB against a team with a pretty good defense and one of the worst offenses in the league not named the Bills. New York is imploding, Niners could win big here.

UNLV @ SDSU (-21.5) [54.5] - The Tony Sanchez experiment has failed. The only thing to do now is play out the string.  I would have fired Sanchez last week, after he officially missed qualifying for a bowl but UNLV isn't ran like that. Sanchez is very tight with the Fertitta brothers, so he probably gets a season or two more.

And finally.....

Michigan (-39) @ Rutgers [48] - Prediction: Michigan is going to go over all by their lonesome.

First they came for the Greyhounds.

Florida, a state where people eat each others faces on Highway on-ramps, made the decision last night to ban betting on Greyhounds by 2021.

Florida Approves Constitutional Amendment to Ban Greyhound Racing.

In Florida amendments need 60% of the votes to pass, Prop 13 passed with approximately 69% of the popular vote. In fact, it appears that the only Florida proposal not to pass was the one to increase the homestead exemption.

So super-majorities of Floridians agree on increasing taxes, restoring voting rights to felons and ending dog racing.

"Bah, this is just Florida" you might be tempted to say, "there's no way this can bleed into other, sane, states."

You would be wrong.

Since most Greyhound racing was centered in Florida it's more than likely this decision signals the death knell for the sport.  Granted, given the way the industry policed itself (Dogs with cocaine in their system, poor kenneling conditions, deaths, etc.) there's an argument to be made that it's an industry whose end is due.  This doesn't change the fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of dogs are going to be euthanized now, or that many people are going to find themselves unemployed due to circumstances some of them had no control over.

I've not bet Greyhounds in many years, but that doesn't mean I want to live in a world where Greyhound racing doesn't exist.

A more immediate concern for many should be how this could potentially impact horse racing. Because we're in a time where the idiots from PeTA are starting to hold-sway over even right-thinking people when it comes to sport and especially animal sports.

If horse racing is next in Florida?  Some people might say 'no big deal' but it would be because the Nation's most important track (Gulfstream) is housed there, as is Tampa Bay Downs and others of less importance but still note-worthy.

It becomes incumbent on horse-racing leadership to clean up the rough edges of the sport, to get a handle on doping, to not allow trainers to run animals that are in dodgy physical condition and to work to limit life-threatening injuries.

Only through efforts such as this will horse racing survive.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

Breeder's Cup Saturday: Thoughts and Selections

While Friday is a day that gives us an idea of the future, with all of the Juvenile races, Saturday is for telling us who's on top right now as 3 year old and older horses battle it out not only for wins, but also for the potential to be the champion horse of the year in their division. The only exception to this is for horse of the year. The winner of the Classic will not get that, it's going to Justify, this year's Triple Crown winner who is, sadly, retired and not racing today.

Breeder's Cup Filly and Mare Sprint.

With the departure of Dream Tree, this looks like a match race between Marley's Freedom, who drew an awful post, and Selcourt, who drew a great post. I have another horse for the win however, because I'm thinking the odds on the top two are going to be very short.

1. Selcourt (4-1) - Coming off a long layoff this filly's last three races were wins, including a strong showing in the Grade II Santa Monica, where she took the lead early and drew away from ML favorite Marley's Freedom.

5. Golden Mischief (10-1) - Comes back a month after winning the Grade II Thoroughbred Club of America Stakes over a field that included many horses not only in this race, but in other BC weekend races. Will need to improve some to win here, but good odds should be available.

13. Marley's Freedom (8/5) - Could have easily have packed it in while getting a rough trip in the Grade I Ballerina but dug in and dusted a pretty solid field in the Ballerina. This could be a horse that's hitting her prime at just the right time.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 5
$1 Tri Box - 1-5-13 ($6)

Breeder's Cup Turf Sprint

One of last year's more fun races, which included a wild finish, 11+11all of the major players are back from that romp, including a couple of new-shooters who I feel might have a chance.

5 - Disco Partner (7-2) - Third in last year's race this horse has been up and down since then with two wins, two thirds and one race off the board. Has trouble putting together back-to-back solid races, and is coming off a win.

9 - Stormy Liberal (4-1) - Globe-hopped after winning this race last year with limited success, but is coming off three straight wins which suggests that Stormy Liberal is rounding into form here.

11 - World of Trouble (6-1) - Has only finished off the board once in Stakes races, a 4th in the 7f Woody Stephens. Seems to like these shorter races however and I think there's a real chance an upset can be pulled here.

12 - Richard's Boy (12-1) - Hasn't won a race since way back in January 2017.  Either hits the board or finishes 6th seemingly. I think 6th is the more likely spot here given the strength of the field.

14 - Conquest Tsunami (6-1) - I've always thought that this horse's best distances were at the sprinting level but the connections keep trying to stretch him out, often to bad results. Might put him at the bottom of my exotic here but not much else.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 11
$1 Spr - 5-9-11/5-9-11/5-9-11/14 ($6)

Dirt Mile

At Churchill this will be ran as a one-turn mile and their is a prohibitive favorite that you're going to have to try and beat. Fortunately, I think their are a few candidates to do so.

1. City of Light (5-2) - This son of Quality Road looked just OK barely holding on for second last time out at 7f. Seemed to tire significantly at the wire which could be a concern at a mile.

6. Seeking the Soul (5-1) - One of three runners in this race that are coming off a win. For seeking the Soul that was the Grade III Ack Ack Stakes. I like the positioning here and think this horse comes in with a strong chance.

7. Firenze Fire (6-1) - While on the Derby Trail I commented that I thought this horse's best distance might be a mile. Has won at this distance and is coming off a win at 7f. Another horse that I like a lot in this position.

10. Catalina Cruiser (8-5) - This is the justified prohibitive favorite considering this horse has done nothing but win, and win big, of late. IF Catalina Cruiser runs his race this is all but over. Still, this is a larger field than he's been used to and that outside post at least raises some questions.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 6
$5 Win - 7

Filly And Mare Turf

Many are calling this the Chad Brown Invitational but I think there's a chance (or two) to beat him. Not that I'm betting heavily on it, I'll still be keying on a Chad Brown horse, just not the one most will. This is the race where I'm going to try and hit a grand slam.

1. Fourstar Crook (5-1) A Chad Brown Turf horse, coming off a Grade I win.  You'll notice a repeating pattern in this race. I do like this one's chances.

3. Wild Illusion (7-2) One of the non-Brown runners that's in with a big chance. This British runner is helmed by William Buick, who's been on fire over in Britain of late and is entering this weekend supremely confident.

6. Sistercharlie (3-1) Viewed by many as being the best Brown runner in this field, also coming off a Grade I win, against a solid field, she will not be easy to beat.

9. A Raving Beauty (5-1) The last of the Chad Brown runners coming off of a Grade one win, and probably the one that observers give the least chance of winning. Still, has to factor in your exotics.

12. Santa Monica (15-1) The "overlooked" Brown runner who has never won at the Grade I level but who has won at the distance and has done well at even longer. I'm taking a stab at a long shot here hoping that this Filly can pull a shocker.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 12
$2 Spr 6/3/1/9 & 12 ($4)


For my money this is the most exciting race on the card.  Yes, I know that all of the press goes to the classic but, excepting XY Jet, all of the top sprinters are here, and they will be battling for Sprinter of the Year.

1. Whitmore (6-1) -  Seemingly never runs a bad race and should be right around the winners at the finish. Not entirely sure he has enough raw speed to keep up with the top horses, but could sweep everyone up if the race breaks down.

2. Promises Fulfilled (6-1) - A jet disguised as a horse. Should rocket out to the lead, the only question is: can he hang on?

5. Imperial Hint (9-5) - Against this field I think 9-5 is way too short. Unless the odds go North this won't be my win play but will be in my exotics.

8. Limousine Liberal (6-1) - Maybe a step slow against the big 4 in this race? But will be hanging around the bottom of my exotics in case one of them falters.

9. Roy H (5-2) - I THINK this is the horse to beat but the 9th post position is a bit of a worry.

My Bets:

$5 Win  - 2
$1 Tri  5-9/1-2-5-9/1-2-5-9-8 ($18)


Possibly the most evenly matched race on the card, and the presence of a 5-1 ML favorite bears that out. There's also the fact that none of these horses are what one would call a bastion of consistency.

1. One Master (12-1) - Won the Grade I Prix de la Foret over many of the runners in this race, yet is getting no love here. Love the odds, will at least take a stab and include in my exotics

4. Polydream (Scr) - The Morning Line favorite by default has scratched. This opens up the field even further.  Also out of this race: Hunt.

5. Oscar Performance (6-1) - Has a recent pattern of winning, finishing 9th, winning, finishing 9th. Is coming off a win.  Not here.

10. Catapult (6-1) -  Has finished either 1st or 2nd in his last 5 races. Seems to be in good form and if he can run as he has recently, should factor heavily in this race.

12. Analyze It (6-1) - Another contender here who's form seems to be getting progressively worse. Had three straight wins, followed by three straight 2nds, and then a 4th.

13. Gustav Klimt (10-1) - In a race with no clear favorite I'm going to settle on the Aidan O'Brien trained runner with a history of never running a dog race. I like Ryan Moore in the irons as well. And the odds.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 13
$5 Win - 1
$1 Exa Box - 1-10-12-13  ($12)


The much anticipated duel between last year's winner Abel Tasman and 3 year old Filly of the year candidate Monomoy Girl might just get upset by a European invader.

2. Abel Tasman (7-2) - It's Bob Baffert and Mike Smith teaming up in a big race, exclude this horse at your peril.

5. Wonder Gadot (15-1) - Only finished a length behind Monomoy Girl last time out. Draw a line through the Travers where she hated the Spa and was over matched. I like this horse here a lot.

7. Midnight Bisou (6-1) - Has never beaten Monomoy Girl across the line despite being given the win the last time out in the Cotillion.  Still, they've dueled and it's been close almost every time so you have to include her.

11. Monomoy Girl (2-1) - The rightful favorite here. She's pretty much won everything she's run in this year except the Cotillion where she was (questionably) disqualified to 2nd. Too short of odds for a win bet, but should be at the top of your exotics.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 5
$1 Tri Box 2-5-7-11 ($24)


The question in this race is whether or not Enable can overcome history and become the first Arc de Triomphe winner to win here. Once again however we're going to get too short odds for a win bet, so we'll look to pull a massive upset and use Enable in our exotics.

1. Talismanic (12-1) - Finished way back from Enable in the Arc De Triomphe but has ran well on turf pretty much everywhere else. Not sure he can win, but should be in the bottom of your exotics.

2. Enable (EVEN) - Is hoping to make this a coronation, might have to battle off some challengers to do so. Still, this is an excellent turf horse who hasn't lost at a mile and a half in a long, long time. Too small odds straight up, but a must on top of your exotics.

4. Robert Bruce (10-1) - Looking for somewhere to land other than Enable I settled on this colt whose finished 1st-6th-1st-2nd in his last four races. Hasn't won at this distance yet, but if he runs a big one this could be the upset of the day.

10. Hi Happy (20-1) - This Argentinian bred, Todd Pletcher trained horse hasn't won in a while, but he's tough and seems to always be hanging around. Probably not a win bet for me but he might help juice up the bottom of the exotics pools.

12. Waldgeist (9-2) - This runner is intriguing a lot of people and appears to be the "sharp" horse in the race. Typically this means that the odds get too depressed to really take seriously but it's the stable-mate of Talismanic and has some good recent form so if the price is right you might want to give him a peek.

My Bets:

$5 Win - 4
$1 Tri  - 2/12-4-1/12-4-1-10 ($9)

And finally......

The Breeder's Cup Classic

While there is a little bit of "what if" surrounding this race (what IF Justify was running? etc.) it's still a packed field and it should still be a very active betting race. There is a clear favorite and a host of horses that could pull medium to giant upsets.  Here's the full field.

1. Thunder Snow (12-1) - Is best known by the casual fan as the horse that threw a fit in the 2017 Kentucky Derby, He's shown flashes of brilliance since then, most notably winning the Dubai World Cup, but he's inconsistent and just as likely to finish out of the money as he is to win. IF he can put it together he's supremely talented and could even contend for the win.

2. Roaring Lion (20-1) - He could wind up being the public favorite as he's a cool horse with a good personality who has won his last four races overseas.  Will that form translate into victory at Churchill? History is against him.

3. Catholic Boy (8-1) - Shocked5/ a lot of people winning the 2018 Travers and would need to replicate that stalking trip to have a chance to win here. I think he's going to find there's too much speed in this race and have difficulty hanging in.

4. Gunnevera (20-1) - A tough, gritty horse that always seems to hang around the bottom of the exotics in graded stakes races but can't break through. He'll need to improve to beat the best here but a lot of people will be rooting for him.

5. Lone Sailor (30-1) - Has a habit of hanging around in big races but has never really beaten any horse of the quality you'll find at the top of this field. He's a sentimental favorite due to his connections to the late Tom Benson, former umbrella-wielding, and in-the-luxury-box-dancing, owner of the New Orleans Saints. Would need to improve mightily to contend here.

6. McKinzie (6-1) - Looked every bit the Derby contender back in March before taking a six month sabbatical due to an injury, in his come-back race, the Grade I Pennsylvania Derby, he won. Should be among the leaders. Plus, this is the Baffert/Smith combination that's seemingly been winning everything these days.

7. West Coast (5-1) - There was a five race stretch in 2017 when it seemed that no one was going to beat this horse, and he was primed to follow Arrogate as the top horse in the country.  But he's developed a case of the minor placings since then and hasn't managed to finish better than 2nd in his last four races.  Still should be part of your exotics however.

8. Pavel (20-1) - I thought he looked really good finishing 2nd in the Pacific Classic, despite being beaten by at least 10 lengths by a buzzsaw known as Accelerate. The pace is likely to be faster here which could cause him some problems. Still, he might be worth a look at what is sure to be a huge price and could factor in near the bottom of your exotics.

9. Mendelssohn (12-1) - I was high on Mendelssohn heading into this year's Kentucky Derby. I thought he hopped out of the gate well and had good tactical speed, enough to make a charge. Of course, he finished dead last.  But he's done better since then stringing together 3 straight 2nd or 3rd place finishes.  But I think he's overmatched against this company and I won't be playing him in anything. If he beats me, he beats me.

10. Yoshida (10-1) - In every race there is a "sharp" horse who gets over bet by the professionals based on recency bias. For Yoshida that comes from his late-charging win in the Grade I Woodward over Gunnevera be honest, not much else. I don't think he's of the quality of the top horses in this race but I'll gladly allow other bettors to fill the pari-mutual pools with money on him while I look elsewhere.

11. Mind Your Biscuits (6-1) - I'll be honest, I've made a lot of money off of Mind Your Biscuits and if I have a sentimental soft spot in my heart for this very cool horse I hope you're understand why. In his career he's only finished outside of the top 4 twice. His odds won't be what they should be because the public loves him, but I'll still make a bet and include him in my exotics. When he was younger he was quite the sprinter so he has speed. As he's gotten older he's slowed some so his connections wisely have stretched him out.  How about one more for the 5-year old?

12. Axelrod (30-1) - He's steadily improved in his career, moving up from Maiden Special Weight, to Allowance Racing, to winning Grade III's to finishing 2nd to McKinzie in the Pennsylvania. He'll need to improve a bunch to compete with this lot however. That said, look for this horse to have a gigantic 4 year old season provided he gets out of this race cleanly.

13. Discreet Lover (20-1) - He had a pop race in the Jockey Club Gold Cup beating the likes of Thunder Snow and Mendelssohn but prior to that he was a bottom of the exotics type who was outmatched when he stepped up in class.  Is he a horse that's just figured it out and who could be a contender?  Or was that just a really good race? I'm betting the latter.

14. Accelerate (5-2) - He's either the next "best horse in America" or another in a long-line of seemingly unbeatable favorites to go down in flames in the Breeder's Cup Classic. I do think this horse is really really good, and his last three races have been wins in dominating fashion. He's won from the outside, the middle and on the rail, and he has a spectacular turn of foot and amazing stretch speed. He also seems to like it as the races go longer so the 1 1/4 distance shouldn't be a problem. But he's never won from THIS far outside and against a field this big and this deep.  I still think he's going to win, but I don't think he blows people away.

My Bets:

$10 Win - 11
$5 Win - 6
$5 Win - 8
$1 Spr - 14/11-6-5/11-6-5/6-5-13-1-8 ($22)

Total Wagered: $171.00

Good luck to you however you bet.

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