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5 January 13, 2021 - January 19, 2021 Vol. 46 No. 3 $4 www.GamingToday.com

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Brady vs. Brees, Round 3 Bucs-Saints highlight great Divisional sked You hear the one about the two goats who walked into a football stadium?

Dink and Dunk W.G. Ramirez @WillieGRamirez

Expect that goat emoji to be flashed across social media the rest of the week, as Tom Brady and the fifth-seeded Tampa Bay Buccaneers visit Drew Brees and the second-seeded New Orleans Saints in the grand finale of divisional matchups this weekend. Brady has the rings. Brees has the records. New Orleans won the Please see Ramirez p5

NFL DIVISIONAL ROUND SCHEDULE Saturday LA Rams at Green Bay -7, Total 46, 1:35 p.m. (FOX) Baltimore at Buffalo -2, Total 50, 5:15 p.m. (NBC) Sunday Cleveland at Kansas City -10, Total 56, 12:05 p.m. (CBS) Tampa Bay at New Orleans -3, Total 52, 3:40 p.m. (FOX)

Photo from AP Photos

Drew Brees and Saints will try and beat Tom Brady and Buccaneers a third time.

Gaming loses an icon

Photo from Newscom

Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson died Tuesday.

I worked for Sheldon Adelson. I obviously knew of him but never met him. I admired his philanthropy but didn’t always agree with his politics. I enjoyed visiting his casinos and dining in some of his restaurants or attending conventions at his Sands Expo Center. Adelson, who grew up dirt-poor but became a billionaire and one of America’s wealthiest businessmen, died early Tuesday after a

From the Editor Steve Carp @stevecarp56 long bout with cancer. He was 87. The Chairman and CEO of Las Vegas Sands Corp., owned hotels and casinos in Las Vegas — the Venetian and the Palazzo — along with casinos and hotels in Asia,

NHL ready to drop puck p14

had been battling non-Hodgkins lymphoma for over two years and had recently taken a leave of absence from his job to continue his fight against the cancer. He always liked to claim he was a regular guy from Boston who was just trying to make a buck. But he was far more complex. He loved power, craved it actually. He could be ruthless with his politics, both in the U.S. as well as in Israel, and he was compassionate too. Please see Carp p3


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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

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spotlight

Carp: Adelson a casino giant Continued from p1 He illustrated that recently when he kept his workers on the payroll along with their health care benefits during the coronavirus pandemic. At a time where he was losing hundreds of millions of dollars, perhaps billions, he refused to lay the blame at his employees’ feet. So how should we remember Sheldon Adelson? I guess it depends on where you stand on certain issues. Politically, if you are a Republican, particularly if you endorse and support Donald Trump, he was your patron saint. Adelson’s support of Republican causes as a mega-donor is no secret and his Super PACs to help the party have success at all levels is well known, almost legendary. As a casino owner, he tried to cater to all customers — high rollers and quarter slots players. He didn’t charge to park at his hotels at a time where that additional revenue would’ve probably helped his bottom line. His employees were always friendly and good at customer service. He loved Las Vegas and whether it was the hotel, the casino or the convention business, Adelson was a big booster of the city. A lot of Vegas’ growth as a destination can be attributed to him. He championed philanthropic causes for medical research, fighting drug abuse and embracing his Jewish roots through education. There’s a school in my Summerlin neighborhood which bears his name. But he had another side to him. He could be ruthless to his enemies — particularly his political foes. Cross him and you risked paying a high price. Want proof? Ask the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, particularly its former head Rossi Ralenkotter. Adelson despised the LVCVA and went after them hard and eventually through his newspaper, got dirt

on Ralenkotter eventually forcing him to step down. He was a tough negotiator when it came to business. He rarely backed down from a fight and was never afraid to take on governments, whether they were local, state, federal or even international. He owned newspapers in the U.S. and in Israel to push his conservative political agendas in both countries. That’s how I got to work for him when I was already employed at the Las Vegas ReviewJournal when he purchased it in 2015. He never stepped foot in the building while I was there — I left in 2018 — and talking to former colleagues, he never did address the newspaper’s staff in person. But that’s O.K. His influence always lurked over the R-J’s editorial position. And that led to friends and colleagues leaving the paper in the aftermath of his purchasing it. Let’s be honest, when you get to grow into the stature of someone like Adelson, you’re going to make friends as well as enemies along the way. That’s sort of what happened with the Raiders moving to Las Vegas. Back in 2016, Adelson had worked a deal with team owner Mark Davis that would see Adelson invest $650 million to help move the team from Oakland. It would lead to the state of Nevada increase the hotel room tax to raise an additional $750 million to help construct what is now Allegiant Stadium, the team’s current home. But Adelson found himself in a disagreement with the team over the business plan for the stadium and pulled his financial support. The team eventually filled the financial void and the project finished on time. Still, without Adelson, the Raiders might still be in Oakland. Or some other city. I may not have agreed with Adelson’s politics or his way of doing business, but there’s no denying the fact he helped con-

Photo from Newscom

Sheldon and Miriam Adelson were involved in a lot of philanthropic projects. tribute to making Las Vegas the special place it is and he did a lot of good things for society. Our

condolences to his wife Dr. Miriam Adelson, their six children and 11 grandchildren. He will always be

remembered on the Strip and beyond. scarp@gamingtoday.com

AGA CEO remembers Sheldon GT STAFF American Gaming Association President and CEO Bill Miller issued the following statement Tuesday on the passing of Las Vegas Sands Founder and Chairman Sheldon Adelson: “Today’s passing of Sheldon Adelson is a tremendous loss to the gaming community. Mr. Adelson, founder and chairman of Las Vegas Sands, was a true visionary and pioneer of modern casino gaming for more than three decades. From Las Vegas and Pennsylvania to Macao and Singapore, his mark is indelible.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Adelson for more than 15 years, long before joining the American Gaming Association (AGA). It is his leadership and generosity that stand out the most to me. There’s no greater example of this than serving his community and prioritizing his employees’ well-being during the last year as our country and industry grappled with the global pandemic. “On behalf of the AGA, I share our deepest sympathies with Dr. Adelson, the Adelson family, and our gaming colleagues at Las Vegas Sands. May his memory be a blessing.”


spotlight

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Stay in my lane when I wager I can assure you that none of the kind people who read my column on a semi-regular basis in this esteemed journal are looking for wagering advice. There are several sharp bettors and insiders who occupy these pages that serve that role. In the parlance of the industry, I would be classified as a Sucker with an appropriate capital S, in boldface and italic type. I don’t study the point spreads in any detail, I don’t scour injury reports, and I’m not aware of any legal trouble athletes are facing before they become headline news. In these COVID-ravaged times, I have no idea how serious bettors find out who and how many players or coaches tested positive to the virus or had proximity to others who did prior to the start of games. That must be a science unto itself. I wonder how many knew early in the betting window that the Denver Broncos had none of their three quarterbacks fit and ready for a game against the New Orleans Saints on Nov. 29. That info would have been pure gold to those who got the early reports. The Broncos were forced to start practice squad player Kendall Hinton, who completed one pass for 13 yards and had three picks in a 31-3 demolition. I don’t recall the

opening line, but I’m damn sure it wasn’t 28 points. One of many facts that make me a classic sucker is that I never

Vegas Vibe Jack Sheehan @jacksheehanspks bet against my two favorite colleges, the University of Oregon in football and basketball, and Gonzaga University in hoops. I graduated from the former after four fun years of literature and golf, and I went to Gonzaga Prep and summer-schooled at GU when I would typically need extra credit hours after dropping a class or two during golf season in Eugene. Back in my day, a young man who didn’t keep pace with his class academically would lose his student draft deferment. That meant he could be classified 1-A and shipped off to the jungles of Southeast Asia and a war our country should never have engaged in. I totally respect those brave men and women who served our nation in that mess, but I wanted no part of it. Unlike my sucker tendencies, a truly sharp bettor wouldn’t think

Bradley Raiders new DC GT STAFF Gus Bradley has been named as defensive coordinator of the Las Vegas Raiders, the team announced Tuesday. Bradley, who most recently served four seasons as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Chargers, brings 15 years of experience to the position including four years as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (2013-16) and four seasons as the architect of the Seattle Seahawks’ exceptional defense from 2009-12. He landed his first NFL position as a defensive quality control coach on Jon Gruden’s staff in Tampa Bay in 2006 and also served two seasons as the linebackers coach with the Buccaneers (2007-08). “I’m excited about this opportunity,” Bradley said. “I know things have moved pretty fast since the end of the season. Really, great visits with many people form the Raider organization including Coach Gruden himself and many of the staff. So, first of all, I want to appreciate the opportunity to be a Raider now and excited about the future and what it brings.”

Photo from AP Photos

A bet on Dustin Johnson to win 2020 Masters proved profitable for Jack Sheehan. twice about betting against his alma mater or hometown team if the numbers were right. That doesn’t mean I’ll always bet on Oregon or GU. I try to be a little judicious in this regard. But I look for point spreads on both schools whenever they are playing, and I’m sure I’ve lost far more than I’ve won for my allegiance. Another sucker trait: I also almost never bet the under total on games. Like most people, I like games with a lot of scoring, so I bet the over and cheer for a bunch of touchdowns and three-point shots. That’s a total sucker strategy. Now having confessed all my glaring weaknesses as a sports bettor, would you believe I’m well ahead in my betting over the last three years? That’s because I’m admittedly a sharp bettor on professional golf. Even though no one will hear it, please give me a golf clap now….thank you. How is that possible, you must wonder? Well, it’s simple. I’ve wagered on five major championship winners in the last 2 1/2 years. I had Francesco Molinari at 25-1 in the 2018 Open Championship, Tiger Woods at 16-1 in the 2019 Masters, Brooks Koepka at 12-1 in the 2019 PGA, Las Vegas resident Collin Morikawa at 30-1 in the

2020 PGA, and Dustin Johnson at 9-1 in the 2020 Masters. I’m not reporting how much I wagered on each of those studs; I’m keeping that between myself and the IRS. But suffice it to say that my golf winnings far outweigh my sucker betting on pro and college football and basketball. I used to kid my wife Carol about wasting her time watching trash television like the Bachelor and Bachelorette. She would counter by yawning loudly when I was glued to PGA Tour events. “It’s like watching paint dry,” she’d say. Now when I’m watching golf, the only thing she asks is “Who you got? And what are his odds?” It’s really fun to have seen her come around. JackSheehan@GamingToday.com. Disclaimer: Each Gaming Today writer uses the betting line available to him at the time he makes his selections, so you may see different lines on the same game throughout the paper. Writers’ selections are a guide to their thinking on the game and their choice for a possible bet based on the line they had available.

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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

nfl

5

Coaching counts more in playoffs On Sunday afternoon, I had a brief Twitter exchange with sports betting and horse racing analyst Scott Shapiro. Both of us had the over in the Titans vs. Ravens game, and while I sat dumbfounded at Mike Vrabel’s punting decisions and Derrick Henry continuing to get carries, Scott knew this was a possibility. “Handicapping what a coaching staff is going to do is part of the game,” he replied to me. And he is absolutely right. Baltimore took a seven-point lead with 9:01 left in the third quarter. Henry got eight carries after that point for a total of 22 yards even though it was widely apparent that Baltimore was ready for the Titans’ rushing attack. With 10:06 left in fourth quarter and Tennessee trailing 17-13, the Titans punted on fourth-and-2

from Baltimore’s 40-yard line. According to Andrew Shackelford’s Surrender Index, Vrabel’s

Spread Offense James Bunting @BuntsBratsBrews decision to punt was the worst situational punt of the 2020 season and it ranks in the 99.92nd percentile of bad punting decisions since 2009. Mike Tomlin’s punting decisions while trailing against the Browns were not much better. All eyes will be on Drew Brees, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson this weekend, but your betting slips need to have an eye on the guys with the headsets.

Those decisions by Vrabel and offensive coordinator Arthur Smith were equally responsible for the point spread outcome of Sunday’s game as much as Jackson’s touchdown run or Ryan Tannehill’s interception. On fourth-and-goal at the Bills’ 4-yard-line in the second quarter, Indianapolis head coach Frank Reich elected to go for the touchdown instead of a chipshot field goal. The attempt failed, and the Colts eventually

lost by three points. At the time, Reich’s decision was mostly applauded for the aggressiveness. Using hindsight and knowing the eventual final score, that decision looms quite large. As you break down these games this weekend, think back to the initial quote that I opened this column with: “Handicapping what a coaching staff is going to do is part of the game.” Analyzing a coach’s aggressiveness and decision making needs

Super Bowl LV ODDS PROVIDED BY SUPERBOOK at Westgate 1.12.21

CHIEFS............................9-5 RAVENS..........................7-1 SAINTS.........................13-2 PACKERS........................4-1

RAMS............................22-1 BROWNS.......................40-1 BILLS...............................7-1 BUCCANEERS................8-1

to be a part of your handicap. And now that the stakes are even greater in the Division Round, these decisions will get magnified. Which coaches do you trust with your money?

Saturday Rams +7 at Packers: This is a fun coaching matchup between two guys that will probably see each other quite often over the next couple years, but I do not think the Rams can score enough points to keep up with the Packers. If Jared Goff was healthy enough to play last week, why didn’t he start the game? Was he benched in favor of John Wolford? I will gladly lay the points with Aaron Rodgers. PACKERS Ravens at Bills, Total 50: The Please see Bunting p7

Ramirez: Brady looks to deny Brees hat trick Continued from p1 the first two meetings — 34-23 in Week 1 and 38-3 in Week 9 — but Tampa Bay has been lights out since its bye week. The Buccaneers arrive on a 5-0 streak, having beaten their opponents by an average margin of 16.2 points. They’ve gained more than 400 yards in four of those five wins, while their vastly improved defense has limited teams to no more than 385 yards in any of those games. The face a Saints team that became the first squad to ever sweep the NFC South division in the regular season, after turning back a 1-2 start to the season. They’ve won 12 of 14, including last week’s 21-9 silencing of Chicago. The line is a proverbial -3 for the home team Saints, and the total is a modest 52. Well, modest for this season, and these teams. And if there is one game sure to have its headlines focused on its star quarterbacks, it’ll be this battle between the NFL’s top two leaders in career touchdown passes, where the losing team may be seeing their future Hall of Famer play his last game. Brady is 43, Brees turns 42 on

Friday, and the combined age of 85 at kickoff will mark the oldest game for two quarterbacks facing each other in NFL history. Brady has already tweeted a filtered picture of the two looking elderly and implying the game should be played on the History Channel. Hey, what’s good for youths on Nickelodeon is good for AARP card holders, right? Brees is not only 2-0 against Brady this season, but he also holds a 5-3 advantage in lifetime meetings. Brady is 5-4 in NFL road playoff games, including last week’s 31-23 win in Washington, but he’s lost three of his last five. Since Week 14, Brady ranks No. 1 in the NFL with 1,333 yards and is tied atop the league with Aaron Rodgers for TDs thrown (12). Needless to say, the six-time Super Bowl champ is heating up. This will be just the second time Brady will face an NFC opponent inside the Superdome for the playoffs, as he led New England to a 20-17 win over St. Louis in 2002. Surprisingly, Brees has only played in nine home playoff games with the Saints but does bring a 7-2 mark along with him. And make note, the Saints are 3-6

against the spread in those games, with four straight staying under. Brees’ numbers aren’t as glaring down the stretch, and he’s not ranked near the top of the passing categories, but he’s also benefitted from a balanced attack that has seen the Saints rush for a league third-best 1,012 yards since Week 12, one of three just three teams to top the 1,000-yard plateau on the ground. Brace yourself for Sunday’s clash, as this quarterback rivalry that actually dates back to 1999, when Brady’s Michigan Wolverines devoured Brees’ Purdue Boilermakers, 38-12, in Ann Arbor. Brees out-threw Brady that day (293-250) but took the loss. Who knew 21 years, 3 months later the same goats would step onto a football field for what may be one of the greatest football games of all time? I’ve got my AARP card ready and will be poppin’ popcorn. See ya next week!

Saturday Rams at Packers, Total 46: Los Angeles’ pedestrian offense in sub-freezing weather means there is only one chance it can win: Defense. It has to come to

play against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. A staunch effort by the Rams’ defense helps keep this number low. UNDER Ravens +2 at Bills: Buffalo finished the regular season with the second-most offensive yards (6,343) and tied for the third-most passing TDs (40). But the Bills are facing a defense that ranked second in the NFL in points allowed (303) and just stymied the Titans on their home field. This line tells me the road team has a shot. RAVENS

Sunday Browns +10 at Chiefs: Got COVID-19? No problem. I had Cleveland last week in this column. I

didn’t think it was going to blow through Pittsburgh in dominating fashion, and the Chiefs are a different animal, but 10 points is a lot to give this determined team. I’ll take the points. BROWNS Buccaneers at Saints, Total 52: I’m taking the easy way out and focusing on the total. I think both Brady and Brees will have epic games, I think it could come down to who has the ball last. I think we’re going to see both quarterbacks bring the best out of one another. This one goes high. OVER Last Week: 5-1 Season: 53-50-1 WGRamirez@GamingToday.com

Parry’s Power Guide

National Football League Fav. Team

Rating

Diff.

Rating

Underdog

Jan. 16 BUFFALO........................88.5..... 5.1..... 83.4.....................Baltimore GREEN BAY....................87.0... 13.3..... 73.7.................LA Chargers Jan. 17 KANSAS CITY.................85.6... 10.6..... 75.0.....................Cleveland NEW ORLEANS..............86.7..... 4.2..... 82.5...................Tampa Bay Home team in CAPS; Home team rating includes four additional points. Copyright 2021 by Noland Parry


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nfl

WC ‘dog wins guarantee nothing The NFL’s first “Super Wild Card Weekend” was a resounding success, except for fans and players of Chicago, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Tennessee and Washington, the losers of the six games. As detailed last week, of the 12 Wild Card games played between 2017 and 2019, underdogs won eight of them outright and went 11-1 ATS. The 12 games produced 10 Unders and just two Overs. While not quite as dramatic this season, underdogs won twice outright and went 4-2 ATS. Two games clearly stayed Under (by 18 and 20.5 points). Three games clearly went Over (by 8, 9.5 and 38 points). Only Buffalo’s 27-24 win over Indianapolis could have gone either way as the total dropped

from 51.5 to 50.5 over the 24 hours leading to kickoff. The game fell 51 and could have been ‘middled.’

Pigskin Picks Andy Iskoe @vegasandy711 Fifty-one has long been a ‘key’ number for NFL totals. During the 2020 regular season 11 games produced exactly 51 total points. That’s 4.3%, slightly higher than the historical rate. The Colts/Bills game was also the only game decided by fewer than 7 points (3). The other five were decided by

Bunting: Take Browns Continued from p5 total in this one has fluctuated because it is harder to predict the weather in Buffalo than it is to predict these game outcomes. At press time, the forecast looks relatively stable and I am comfortable grabbing the over. Buffalo’s offense presents a much different challenge than the Tennessee offense that Baltimore faced last week. The Ravens will go from seeing the league’s best running back and a traditional run game, to an unconventional Buffalo offense with a mobile quarterback. Both offenses should find success. OVER

Sunday Browns +10 at Chiefs: Unless you got a rogue -2.5 against New Orleans in Week 15, the Chiefs have not covered a single point spread during the second half of the regular season. Kansas City has not won a game by double digits since beating the Jets in Week 8. Cleveland is playing with house money at this point. They made the playoffs for the first time in 18 years, they eliminated their bitter rival and they did it while missing key players and coaches. The Browns have nothing to lose on Sunday. BROWNS Buccaneers at Saints -3: Rosters change. Coaches change. This is Tom Brady’s first year in Tampa Bay. Those things are all true. But sometimes, a team just has your number. New Orleans is 15-5 against Tampa Bay since 2011, including two double-digit wins this season. What can the Buccaneers do differently in this game to produce a different fate? My only concern with New Orleans is their lack of rest. This is New Orleans’ 13th straight week with a game, while Tampa Bay had a bye in December. But Brees, Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara all missed games during that stretch, so those guys might have the freshest legs on the field. SAINTS Last week: 1-4-1 Season: 52-55-1 JamesBunting@GamingToday.com

from 7 to 12 points). With underdogs enjoying success in the Wild Card round, the natural question is how these teams that sprung upsets in their next game, in the Divisional round? If you’re a fan of the Cleveland Browns or the L.A. Rams, who pulled the upsets this past weekend, the results are not encouraging. Under the format used from 1990 through last season, 45 teams won Wild Card games outright as underdogs. Only eight won the following week with 37 having their Super Bowl dreams end. The ATS results were somewhat better but not even close to profitable as those Wild Card upset winners were just 16-29 ATS for 35.6% winners and a net loss of 15.9 units on a flat bet basis. If that profile holds up this week, it is more likely that neither the Browns nor Rams will cover than that both will cover and less than 50/50 that even one will cover. But games start off 0-0 and both the Browns and Rams are getting a TD or more.

Saturday Rams at Packers, Total 46: The two best players in this game are Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers and Rams DT Aaron Donald. Injured in the Seattle win, Donald is expected to play. The next best player may be Rams CB Jalen Ramsey. LA has the NFL’s top ranked defense in points, total yards and yards per play allowed. Green Bay has top-five rankings in the offensive counterparts, including leading the NFL in scoring (31.8 ppg). Both teams have top-10

Photo from AP Photos

The Rams hope Aaron Donald will be ready Saturday. rushing offenses which suggests both will be able to establish a running attack and be capable of taking time off the clock when holding a second half lead. Rams QB Jared Goff and his surgically repaired thumb had to replace backup starter John Wolford when the latter suffered a neck injury. Goff played well but was clearly not near 100 percent, creating an even greater gap at the position between the teams. LA’s defense is good enough to force Green Bay to settle for field goals. The Rams’ best chance of winning is in a slower-paced, lowscoring game. The Packers are also capable of winning such a game. They’ve held nine foes to 21 points or less, including in four of their last five games, all wins, allowing

24 in the fifth. UNDER Ravens +2 at Bills: Both teams exorcized playoff demons last week with their wins, each was in a competitive game. Baltimore overcame a 10-0 first quarter deficit to forge a halftime tie and was very efficient in holding Tennessee to just 209 total yards (including 51 rushing) while gaining 401. Buffalo was outgained 472-397 but led the rest of its game after taking a 14-10 lead just before halftime. Buffalo won its seventh straight but had its ATS winning streak snapped at eight. Baltimore has won six straight and has covered its last seven. Baltimore’s won the last three meetings with the Bills since 2016 by 7, 44 and 6 points, holding Please see Iskoe p9

NFL Averages & Rankings

c/o Andy Iskoe AVE AVE AVE AVE RUSH PASS TOTL RUSH PASS TOTL PTS PTS PTS PTS ATS ATS ATS YRDS YRDS YRDS YDSA YRDS YRDS NET NET FOR AGST FOR AGST TEAM SUW SUL SUT W L P OVR UND PSH FOR FOR FOR AGST AGST AGST YRDS T/O HOME HOME ROAD ROAD LA RAMS 10 6 0 9 7 0 4 12 0 128 246 374 94 188 282 92 -1 20.8 13.5 25.8 23.5 GREEN BAY 13 3 0 10 6 0 9 7 0 132 257 389 113 221 334 55 7 31.6 19.5 32.0 26.6 BALTIMORE 11 5 0 10 5 1 7 8 1 194 171 365 105 217 322 43 4 29.2 18.1 29.2 19.8 BUFFALO 13 3 0 11 5 0 10 4 2 107 290 397 122 239 361 36 4 32.0 23.5 30.1 23.3 CLEVELAND 11 5 0 6 10 0 9 7 0 147 224 371 107 263 370 1 10 25.6 22.8 25.4 29.6 KANSAS CITY 14 2 0 7 9 0 8 8 0 112 304 416 122 236 358 58 6 27.5 22.2 31.6 23.0 TAMPA BAY 11 5 0 9 7 0 9 7 0 98 294 392 81 249 330 62 8 28.5 23.9 33.0 20.5 NEW ORLEANS 12 4 0 9 7 0 10 6 0 141 236 377 91 215 306 71 8 31.6 24.8 28.6 17.4 The above chart shows each team’s wins, losses, point spread and Over/Under results plus yardage, turnover and home/road scoring averages for the current 2020 season through Monday night’s game. Through 1-11-21.


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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

2020 Bookies Battle

the Point Spreads Playoff Edition Divisional Round

Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill US’s director of trading.

Team Away LAR BAL CLE TB Line Away STCI 174579 Fmwc STN Sports NSU Team Home BUFTODAY KC ADNO Bookie BattleGB GAMING Line Home 3”x1.5” -6.5• 4/0 -1.5• -10.5 -3.5

WCR Season QTY: 1 •RUNS: CONTESTANT W L W L Sportsbook

Baldini’s Robert Kowalski 2 - 4 2 - 4 Gold Strike Tunica Art Heun 3 - 3 3 - 3 Harrah’s Hoosier John Lindheimer 2 - 4 2 - 4 Mandalay Bay Mike Piranio 2 - 4 2 - 4 Mirage Randy Madayag 4 - 2 4 - 2 Red Rock Casino Jason McCormick 3 - 3 3 - 3 Suncoast Mike Lewis 2 - 4 2 - 4 Sunset Station Chuck Esposito 2 - 4 2 - 4 Wildfire Boulder Michael Smoller 5 - 1 5 - 1 William Hill Nick Bogdanovich 3 - 3 3 - 3 CONSENSUS 3 - 3 3 - 3 Percentage

1/6, 1/13, 1/20

LAR LAR LAR GB LAR GB GB GB GB LAR GB 50%

BUF BUF BAL BAL BAL BUF BAL BAL BUF BAL BAL 60%

CLE CLE CLE KC CLE KC KC KC KC CLE KC 50%

TB TB TB TB TB TB NO TB TB NO TB 80%

BEST BET

Photo from Steve Carp

BUF BUF LAR BAL LAR GB GB TB GB NO

NO GAME IS OUT OF REACH EARN UP TO $100

OFFER APPLIES TO NEW MOBILE SPORTS ENROLLMENT ONLY. 10% BONUS WILL BE AWARDED IN BOARDING PASS POINTS ONCE THE TOTAL INITIAL DEPOSIT AMOUNT HAS BEEN WAGERED. MINIMUM DEPOSIT $50, MAXIMUM DEPOSIT $1,000. GUEST HAS 30 DAY EARNING PERIOD. SEE SPORTS BOOK FOR DETAILS. OFFER APPLIES TO MOBILE WAGERING ONLY. OTC WAGERING NOT INCLUDED. MANAGEMENT RESERVES ALL RIGHTS. MUST BE 21 YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER. WAGERS ACCEPTED WITHIN NEVADA ONLY. NEW SIGN-UP OFFER EXPIRES FEBRUARY 28, 2021.

Veteran still can pick NFL winners BY STEVE CARP When the coronavirus’ impact was felt throughout the country and casinos and retail sportsbooks were forced to temporarily shut down, Nick Bogdanovich didn’t panic. Bogdanovich, the director of trading for William Hill U.S., got creative. He and his team already had a mobile app in place and their task was to find inventory for their clients. They scoured the world, conferred with their counterparts in the U.K. and quickly pivoted from basketball, hockey and baseball to table tennis in Russia, soccer in Turkey and professional darts. “It’s been the weirdest year,” Bogdanovich said of 2020, which was probably the understatement of the 21st Century. “We had to do something to keep our customers engaged. No one knew anything about Russian ping pong so we did our research, talked to our people in the U.K. and we went to work.” It turned out to be a hit. William Hill got a ton of coverage in the sports betting world and even the mainstream media picked up on it. While it wasn’t Bogdanovich’s comfort zone, he and his staff got through it and when mainstream American sports such as golf and NASCAR returned, it gave William Hill’s customers inventory they were more familiar with. By late July, baseball, hockey and basketball were returning to play and when the

NFL kicked off in September, things were back to normal, or as normal as one could expect in 2020. “It was hard,” Bogdanovich said of muddling through the choppy waters. “We were down to 22 employees at one point and the ones who hadn’t been furloughed came to work every day.” Bogdanovich himself may have contracted COVID-19 even before people knew what it was. “I wasn’t feeling too good in February,” he said. “I had a lot of the symptoms so maybe I had it. My brother and sister did have it and so did most of the staff here.” Bogdanovich also did something in 2020 he hadn’t done in years — he represented his company in Gaming Today’s Bookies Battle contest sponsored by Station Casinos. “I think it was 25 years the last time I was in the contest,” said Bogdanovich, a veteran Las Vegas oddsmaker and sportsbook manager who worked at Binion’s Horseshoe, Mandalay Bay, the Stratosphere and the Golden Nugget. “Joe (Asher, William Hill U.S. CEO) asked me to do it so I did.” And he did well. Bogdanovich had the lead for several weeks, trading punches with BetMGM’s duo of Randy Madayag and Mike Piranio. He didn’t have an elaborate plan of attack. Instead, he’d meet with Ryan Oakes of WH’s Vegas staff and Oakes would Please see Bogdanovich p9


JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

NFL

9

Bogdanovich:

Iskoe: Ravens in upset

Continued from p8

Continued from p7

read him the lines and Bogdanovich would give him his selections. “I just winged it and away we’d go,” Bogdanovich. “In a contest like this, you’re really flying blind because you’re giving your picks on Tuesday and things always change between then and Sunday or Monday. Especially this year with COVID.” Still Bogdanovich finished 135-117 against the contest’s point spread, which is 54%. He is one of the 10 participants in the Bookies Playoff contest which will award $500 to the winner. “It’s a fun thing,” Bogdanovich said of participating in Bookies Battle. “You always want to win but I’m proud of how well I’ve done.” A bigger source of pride for Bogdanovich was how his staff rallied in the dark days of March, April and May to keep the business going and actually saw their customer base grow. “It was pretty hairy at first,” he said. “We knew for three months it was all about keeping the customers engaged. The hardest part a explaining to the customer what the rules were for betting ping pong and darts. We had to come up with a whole new set of house rules. “But we got through it and with the NFL playoffs, the NBA and college basketball under way and hockey starting up soon, we’re feeling like we’re getting back to normal.” Or as normal as one can feel in the midst of a pandemic.

­ uffalo to 160, 153 and 209 toB tal net yards. Bills QB Josh Allen played in the last two meetings. With a huge rushing edge, solid defensive edges against both the run and the pass and a strong kicking game Baltimore can win again on the road. RAVENS

scarp@gamingtoday.com

Sunday Browns at Chiefs, Total 56: Could Cleveland have a letdown after the big Wild Card win over Pittsburgh? It’s hard to duplicate such an effort, especially given the Browns’ lack of prior playoff experience. The Browns do have a solid edge in the running game. The passing game strongly favors the Chiefs, who rank first with 304 passing yards per game. Cleveland ranks 25th vs. the pass. If Cleveland can establish the run with

RBs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt it would keep the potent Kansas City offense on the sidelines while chewing up clock. K.C. is below average against the run. With a pair of quality backs, each should be fresh in the second half which would be a Cleveland edge if the game is still competitive. Kansas City is on a 1-7 ATS run with the lone cover by a half-point. After averaging 31.6 points in the first eight games, they averaged just 27.5 in their second eight. Combined, 19 of the teams’ 33 games produced less than 55 total points with 13 producing more and one landing exactly on 55. UNDER Buccaneers at Saints -3: This is their third meeting this season. New Orleans won the first two – the first in Tom Brady’s Tampa debut in Week 1 at home and 38-3 at Tampa in mid-season. Tampa

had a slight edge in the stats in the first game but New Orleans had a dominant edge in the rematch. Conventional wisdom says it’s tough to beat an NFL time three times in one season. But conventional wisdom is wrong. Since the 1970 AFL/NFL merger, this situation has occurred 21 times and 14 of the 21 completed the sweep. Much focus will be on the QB matchup between a pair of certain Hall of Famers – Tampa’s Brady and the Saints’ Drew Brees. Both teams have potent offenses. Tampa has the better passing game and New Orleans the better ground attack. Both teams are identical in turnovers lost and recovered. New Orleans has won five straight, 7 of 9 and 15 of the last 19 meetings with Tampa Bay, going 12-7 ATS. SAINTS Last week: 5-1 Season: 47-57-1 AndyIskoe@GamingToday.com


NBA

10

Weekend’s

Michigan at Minnesota (Saturday)

Washington St. at UCLA (Thursday)

The Golden Gophers get back to the friendly confines of Williams Arena where they have gone 10-0 this year. Minnesota will be fired up after getting crushed at Michigan 82-57 on the 6th. MINNESOTA

Iowa at Northwestern (Sunday)

Winners

JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

The Bruins are a well-balanced team who should be ranked in our opinion. They’ve won their last four games and have covered three of them. Lay the (West) wood. UCLA

Baltimore Ravens at Buffalo Bills, Total 50 (Saturday)

Northwestern lost by 15 points at Iowa back on Dec. 29. That was a bad spot for them as they were coming off a big home win against Ohio State. We think they are a live ‘dog. NORTHWESTERN Richard Saber: Last week: 1-1; 2021 season: 1-1

It seems as if Baltimore has changed its tact over the last three games. Ball control with the rushing attack should continue as they don’t want Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs on the field. UNDER Howard Barish: Last week: 0-2; 2021 season: 0-2

Virus plays havoc with schedule When last week’s Gaming Today became available on Wednesday, only 11 NBA players had missed games due to COVID-19 protocols.

Nothin’ But Bet Tony Mejia @TonyMejiaNBA By Sunday that number had shot up to 27. The Miami Heat had eight players as out, including All-Star forwards Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, following an unidentified player’s positive test. They were still scheduled to play as they woke up Tuesday morning despite being dangerously close to not reaching the threshold of eight available players. On Tuesday, seven Celtics were listed on the injury report due after being listed as out for safety reasons following superstar forward Jayson Tatum’s positive test. Philadelphia sharpshooter Seth Curry was sitting on the team bench when he found out he had acquired the coronavirus. The 76ers played a pair of games short-handed and have a full week ahead. The Mavericks, per ESPN, had four players test positive for the virus. The Wizards canceled Tuesday’s practice and placed a pair of players in the NBA’s COVID-19 protocols after coming into contact with the three teams most affected over the past week, Boston, Philly and Miami. Tuesday’s scheduled CelticsBulls game became the fourth contest postponed despite the NBA season being just three weeks old. If Heat-76ers goes down by press time, this number will move

Photo from USA Today

Tyrese Maxey had a career game for 76ers vs. Nuggets. to five. Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers has said that playing with eight or nine will cause too much wear and tear on the players forced to take the court and held out All-Stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons with minor injuries in Saturday’s loss to Denver. The 76ers were subsequently fined $25,000 for trying to force a cancellation. Starting this past Monday, Philly faced a five-game stretch in a seven-day span. Even

at full strength, that’s quite the chore. An arduous schedule like that one was collectively bargained out of the NBA in the last agreement but is back in play due to the need to get games in. These are unprecedented times for everyone and the NBA is navigating as best it can, but it appears guilty of some questionable decisions. The league specifically scheduled games only through early March in order to maintain flexibility because it knew this was

a possibility. If they continue to force teams to play, don’t blindly fade the team that’s compromised by a short-handed state. For us investors, it’s important to get on the best number if we do want to play against teams stricken by the effects of this pandemic. If you miss it, riding a bookmaker’s overreaction may be your best bet. That Nuggets-76ers game went from a 5-point spread to 15 once Embiid and Simmons were announced as out and closed at 13.5 across the Las Vegas Strip. Rookie Tyrese Maxey then went out and dominated garbage time, finishing off a 39-point breakout game by covering the spread with a last-minute flurry. Later that night, the Heat saw 14-point lead with 2:06 left evaporate after allowing rookie Deni Avdija to knock down three 3-pointers, winning by only four. That number was moved from roughly seven to 11 when it was announced that Bradley Beal would join the injured Russell Westbrook as inactive. We’re still inside the first month of the season, but early results outside the bubble suggest that more teams are going to win outright and double-digit spreads will likely wind up covered if you’re getting points. Teams are continuously losing focus in-game and surrendering comebacks. The drastic swings we’ve seen thus far can be chalked up to coaches not having a handle on their rotations and most still being in preseason mode after starting so suddenly on Dec. 22. We’ll look to examine riding early desperation in this spot next week, but it’s worth knowing that the Raptors have dug themselves a 2-8 hole while Western Conference powers like the Nuggets and

Rockets are hovering at are below .500. Even though teams are scheduled to play 72 games in this Please see Mejia p12

Parry’s Power Guide for NBA Week beginning Jan 12, 2021

LA LAKERS ........................(1) OKLAHOMA CITY ..............(2) DALLAS..............................(3) BOSTON ............................(4) UTAH..................................(5) TORONTO ..........................(6) PHOENIX ............................(7) DENVER .............................(8) MIAMI.................................(9) MILWAUKEE ....................(10) CHARLOTTE ....................(11) SAN ANTONIO ................(12) LA CLIPPERS....................(13) GOLDEN STATE ..............(14) MEMPHIS .........................(15) WASHINGTON.................(16) CHICAGO .........................(17) HOUSTON........................(18) PORTLAND ......................(19) NEW YORK ......................(20) CLEVELAND .....................(21) PHILADELPHIA ................(22) INDIANA...........................(23) ATLANTA .........................(24) NEW ORLEANS ...............(25) SACRAMENTO ................(26) DETROIT ..........................(27) ORLANDO ........................(28) MINNESOTA ....................(29) BROOKLYN ......................(30)

60.8 58.6 58.5 57.9 57.6 56.7 56.0 54.9 54.6 54.2 53.9 53.4 53.0 52.5 51.3 50.9 50.1 49.5 49.3 48.4 47.6 47.0 45.2 45.1 44.5 44.5 44.3 43.9 43.8 43.6

How to use the ratings: 1. Add 6 points to the home teams rating. 2. Pair the two teams that play each other. 3. The difference between the two ratings indicates the predicted margin of victory. Copyright 2021 by Noland Parry.


nba

JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

11

Beware of B2Bs ter losing the first game of a back-to -back the loser of the first meeting will make quick adon justments, perhaps play with a greater sense of Andy Iskoe urgency or inten@vegasandy711 sity and avenge that loss from 24 capping is in gauging how teams to 48 hours earlireact to a loss to a foe that they er. It would seem face again in a back-to-back situa- to make sense tion. With the COVID-19 pandemic that playing the greatly affecting scheduling for loser of the first Photo from USA Today this season that situation will game to at least come up frequently. Already this cover the line in Draymond Green and Warriors are handling back-to-backs well. season there have been 18 such its next game is by double digits, the avenging is making strides at that end of the occurrences with another having an attractive option. Yet the results this season are team has gone just 2-7 SU and 5-4 court. UNDER been Tuesday night when the Lakers played a second straight game mixed. In the previous 17 such ATS. Saturday The overall application of the at Houston after having defeated situations, the team seeking quick Hornets at Raptors: Projected revenge is just 8-10 both SU and concept has been below .500. The the Rockets 120-102 on Sunday. The theory going in is that af- ATS. If the first game was decided second has shown an ATS profit of to finish well below .500, Charlotte less than one unit but has seen the has performed better than exSU loser of the first game also lose pected and at 6-5 began Tuesday the second when the first loss was on a four-game winning streak. Admittedly the Hornets have by double digits in seven of nine c/o Andy Iskoe defeated mostly non-winning attempts. Interestingly, Golden State is a teams but that’s how teams begin S/U S/U ATS ATS ATS HOME HOME HOME ROAD ROAD ROAD perfect 2-0 in this spot, avenging to show improvement. TEAM W L W L P OV UN P HW HL PF PA MRGN RW RL PF PA MRGN Toronto’s loss Monday night at losses to both Portland and the LA Boston 7 3 6 4 0 5 5 0 3 1 114.8 114.5 0.3 4 2 111.8 109.0 2.8 Portland has the Raptors tied for Clippers with outright wins (and Brooklyn 5 6 4 7 0 6 5 0 4 4 120.9 115.9 5.0 1 2 112.3 105.3 7.0 the NBA’s worst record, 2-8. Procovers) as underdogs in the imNew York 5 6 5 6 0 2 9 0 2 3 101.8 106.8 -5.0 3 3 98.7 104.3 -5.6 mediate rematches, each of which jected to solidly make the playPhiladelphia 7 4 6 5 0 4 7 0 5 1 117.0 110.8 6.2 2 3 104.4 106.6 -2.2 offs, Toronto’s poor start might was two nights later. Toronto 2 8 3 7 0 5 5 0 1 2 104.3 107.3 -3.0 1 6 114.0 114.7 -0.7 A point to be made here is that be attributed to being based this Chicago 4 7 8 3 0 7 4 0 1 3 114.0 121.5 -7.5 3 4 117.3 120.9 -3.6 Cleveland 5 6 5 6 0 2 9 0 2 2 104.0 101.0 3.0 3 4 97.7 103.9 -6.2 even though a concept makes season in Tampa. There seems Detroit 2 8 5 5 0 5 5 0 2 4 106.2 110.0 -3.8 0 4 112.8 123.5 -10.7 sense it still must be researched to be a lack of sustained rhythm Indiana 6 4 6 4 0 6 4 0 4 3 113.1 109.6 3.5 2 1 121.7 116.3 5.4 to either prove or disprove the and several big leads have been Milwaukee 7 4 6 5 0 7 4 0 5 1 122.8 107.7 15.1 2 3 120.8 113.4 7.4 concept before blindly putting it blown. Atlanta 5 5 5 5 0 2 8 0 2 3 106.6 105.0 1.6 3 2 121.2 114.0 7.2 The line should come cheap and into action. As with most handiCharlotte 6 5 6 5 0 3 8 0 3 2 105.6 102.8 2.8 3 3 111.0 111.5 -0.5 capping concepts, even ones that a look at the schedule shows the Miami 4 4 3 5 0 3 5 0 3 2 110.0 109.4 0.6 1 2 106.0 110.0 -4.0 have shown an extended peri- Raptors have played a tough early Orlando 6 5 6 5 0 4 6 1 3 3 101.8 104.8 -3.0 3 2 111.2 116.8 -5.6 od of success, the concept is just schedule and, despite the record, Washington 3 8 6 5 0 8 3 0 1 5 120.3 122.2 -1.9 2 3 120.6 120.2 0.4 one part of the process with each are being outscored by just 1.4 5 4 5 4 0 3 6 0 2 1 101.3 99.7 1.6 3 3 114.3 108.7 5.6 Dallas game being scrutinized as an iso- points per game. RAPTORS Houston 3 5 3 5 0 3 4 1 3 2 111.6 107.2 4.4 0 3 114.7 122.0 -7.3 lated event. Memphis 4 6 5 5 0 3 7 0 1 5 103.7 109.8 -6.1 3 1 108.0 105.2 2.8

Athletes, especially professionals, are, by their nature extremely confident and often cocky/arrogant about their ability to play well whenever they take the field or court of play. They also possess pride and are often motivated following a poor effort to perform better in their next time out. This is especially true when facing the opponent that defeated them in their most recent meeting and the return match occurs within days. Handicapping and betting the NBA is much more than Power Ratings and pure analytics. More than perhaps any other sport, the structure of the NBA lends itself to situational handicapping being a huge part of the bettor’s arsenal. Evaluating the dynamics of load management, scheduling, travel and that only five players participate on the court at any one time, playing both offense and defense

creates unique challenges. One such variable that relates to the psychological aspect of handi-

Bettin’ B-Ball

NBA Records and Scoring Averages

New Orleans 4 5 3 6 0 4 5 San Antonio 5 5 6 4 0 6 4 Denver 5 5 3 7 0 8 2 Minnesota 3 7 5 5 0 5 5 Oklahoma City 5 4 6 3 0 4 5 Portland 6 4 4 6 0 4 6 Utah 6 4 5 5 0 4 6 Golden State 6 4 5 5 0 4 6 LA Clippers 7 4 6 5 0 6 5 LA Lakers 8 3 5 6 0 4 7 Phoenix 7 4 7 4 0 4 7 Sacramento 5 6 5 6 0 7 4

0 2 3 110.8 111.6 -0.8 0 1 3 109.5 118.5 -9.0 0 2 4 116.2 117.0 -0.8 0 2 3 109.4 113.6 -4.2 0 0 3 98.7 113.7 -15.0 0 3 2 116.6 117.0 -0.4 0 1 2 104.0 107.3 -3.3 0 4 2 115.7 111.5 4.2 0 3 2 113.6 114.6 -1.0 0 3 3 117.8 111.7 6.1 0 3 1 111.8 103.8 8.0 0 4 3 115.4 121.3 -5.9

2 4 3 1 5 3 5 2 4 5 4 1

2 102.5 100.2 2.3 2 112.2 109.5 2.7 1 117.0 106.5 10.5 4 108.2 124.0 -15.8 1 108.0 106.5 1.5 2 118.0 113.8 4.2 2 111.9 109.1 2.8 2 110.8 124.2 -13.4 2 110.3 107.7 2.6 0 110.4 99.6 10.8 3 109.7 108.4 1.3 3 110.8 120.8 -10.0

Copyright 2021 by Andy Iskoe. The above chart shows each team’s Overall Straight Up (S/U), Points Spread (ATS) and Over/Under results plus their Neutral records and Scoring Averages/Margins through the games of Monday, January 11, 2021

Friday Knicks at Cavaliers: Both teams stood 5-6 through Monday and were coming off multiple losses. Neither was expected to contend for the playoffs this season but each expects to improve. That’s especially true in New York when the Knicks hired veteran coach Tom Thibodeau to start the process. He’s long been a defense-first coach and New York

Sunday

Pacers at Clippers: This is a tough spot for Indiana, playing a fifth straight road game, all within a seven-day stretch. And they played Saturday night in Phoenix. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard are combining to average 49.4 points, 11.2 boards and 11.1 assists per game. CLIPPERS Last week: 2-0 Season: 5-7 AndyIskoe@GamingToday.com


college basketball

12

JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

Mourning a mentor The note is six or seven sentences, hand-written on a narrow piece of paper. “Appreciate your time. Thank you. You have a bright future in the business and I’ll be following along,” wrote Paul Westphal. “For a Hall of Famer to say, ‘Hey, you have a future in this business. Keep it up.’ It’s a boost,” said Todd Simon. “You keep your head down and keep working, see what happens. And here we are.” Simon is the fifth-year coach of 9-1 Southern Utah. Five days after the 70-year-old Westphal succumbed to brain cancer, Simon reviewed that note last Thursday in his Cedar City home. For the second half of the 200304 season, Westphal’s third as

Pepperdine boss, he and his staff welcomed Simon into their fold in Malibu as a volunteer. “Way back then, I was into ana-

Gym Rat The

Rob Miech @robmiech lytics,” says Simon, 40. “I studied film, presented my information. As a young guy, wow, to know he actually paid attention to that was encouraging. I was sick when I heard he had passed.” Simon and his girlfriend Kati, whom he’d marry, had bolted

Mejia: Unicorn’s back Continued from p10 shortened season, Yogi Berra’s “It’s getting late early” quote will begin to apply sooner than later.

Thursday Warriors at Nuggets: Golden State is rounding into form and playing much better ball of late with Draymond Green back to help Steph Curry find a rhythm. Considering Steve Kerr’s strategy against Nikola Jokic-led Denver has always been to make the big man get up and down, look for the Warriors to try and avoid getting bogged down in a half-court game as they visit the Mile High City. Look for a higher-scoring game than expected. OVER

Friday Mavericks at Bucks: Dallas is getting Kristaps Porzingis back this week and would’ve seen the “Unicorn” debut on Monday if not for a cancellation. He’ll be in the mix for this one alongside Luka Doncic, which should keep this spread manageable. However, trying to reincorporate him back into the fold while also dealing with COVID issues means there are too many moving parts to take points with the Mavs in this spot as Milwaukee is typically nails at home and again leads the NBA in point differential. BUCKS

Sunday Pelicans at Kings: Zion Williamson followed Marvin Bagley III as Duke’s go-to guy but the two haven’t met as pros. That should change on Sunday night as these teams that have similar roster square off in California’s capital city. Considering Stan Van Gundy hasn’t been able to get the Pels to defend yet and Sacramento has struggled in that department too, this has the makings of a track meet. OVER Last week: 2-1 Season: 7-4 TonyMejia@GamingToday.com

west after he had coached the junior varsity and assisted with the varsity at Harrison High in Michigan. He’s promised himself to live an interesting life. They went to Southern California to explore. He had side gigs in Information Technology, a major at Central Michigan, and as a chauffeur. Hoops, though, was in his heart. Kati encouraged him. Henry Bibby at Southern California and Ben Howland at UCLA welcomed Todd to their practices to observe. Michigan State boss Tom Izzo had been just as generous to him. Simon had known someone at Pepperdine, and he was invited to Firestone Fieldhouse. Westphal made it special. They didn’t do lunch, barely exchanged words. Didn’t matter. There were games to win. “He allowed me to get involved, wet my feet,” says Simon. “I hadn’t been a good player. I didn’t know anybody in college sports. But I got in that door … saw what they were doing, heard what they were talking about. “Paul Westphal, a beautiful mind.” Out of Redondo Beach Aviation High, Westphal had declined John Wooden’s lures to UCLA. He went to USC to try to beat the Bruins. “It would have been just another championship at UCLA,” Westphal told Sports Illustrated. “If we win here, it will be unique. It’s more of an achievement to beat Coach Wooden than to win for him.” Didn’t happen. The Westphalled Trojans, 1-5 against the UCLA, never played in an NCAA Tournament. USC would retire his No. 25. Westphal was a five-time allstar in a dozen NBA seasons. He coached three NBA teams for nine seasons. In 2019, he was inducted into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame as a player. “He had a gift,” said Simon. “Everyone wanted to perform and do their jobs at a high level for him. He didn’t blow a gasket or get after people. I needed to see that, but I also wanted to study how you get that, a level of demand without bringing the fire every day.”

Photo from AP Photos

Basketball Hall of Famer Paul Westphal died last week. Simon left Pepperdine for UNLV, where he’d learn more about sublime motivation from the classy Lon Kruger. He cherishes that note from Westphal. “So many stories have come out about him,” said Simon. “He was a pretty damn good person. A very good player, but it was more than just basketball. To try to be as good a person as you can be, that’s an incredible tribute to his life.”

Thursday Bryant -3 at St. Francis (Pa.): This is the first of a Northeast Conference back-to-back between these two teams. The Bulldogs can 3-point shots at a 40.2% clip. That’s 12th in the country. They’re also defensive pests beyond the arc, restricting foes to 28.6% from long range. BRYANT

Friday Liberty -7 at Stetson: The Flames (11-4) shoot 56.9% inside

the 3-point line (20th in the land), where they will exploit the Hatters, and 38.1% outside the arc, among the top 10 percent in the game. Liberty sophomore forward Blake Preston is a rebounding star. LIBERTY

Saturday The Citadel -6 at VMI: These Bulldogs entered the week 8-0 overall, 4-0 against the number in lined games. They average 78 possessions, among the country’s top10-percentile. Their 88.8-point average is fourth nationally. VMI fades badly in the second half. THE CITADEL Mississippi Valley State at Alcorn State, Total 150: The Delta Devils allow a national-worst 99.6 points, the Braves are next at 97.4. Both should offer matador majors, graduates advancing straight to Madrid, Seville and Pamplona. OVER Last week: 3-0 Season: 14-6 RobMiech@GamingToday.com


college basketball

JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

Watch that back door No. 1 Gonzaga has been mostly unchallenged while racing to a 12-0 start that included a record four wins over Top 25 teams in its first four games. But do the Bulldogs become bored with big leads? The Zags led BYU 23-2 nine minutes into their game on Thursday. A 13-0 run later in the first half stretched the lead to 52-26. Gonzaga led by 32 in the second half but scored just 11 points over the final 11 minutes, and BYU (+17) made the 86-69 final a point spread push. That follows a pattern for the Bulldogs, who are leading oppo-

nents. Against stronger competition (say, the top 100 at KenPom), the Zags are 5-1-1 ATS, including recent wins over the Cougars and

Courtside Ched Whitney @ched777 San Francisco. But against teams like Northwestern State and Portland, they’ve covered just once in five games. Some of that has to do with

led Kansas by 18 late before winning by 12 and had leads of 30 against Auburn and 33 over Virginia in 23- and 18-point wins. While Gonzaga has been dominant in the early parts of games, it has outscored just four of 12 opponents over the final 10 minutes. This trend, if it continues, could be useful for bettors — particularly those placing in-game wagers. According to KenPom predictions, the Bulldogs should be double-digit favorites in all of their remaining regular season games. The likely shortest spread will come Saturday when Gonzaga figures to be about a 12-point choice at Saint Mary’s. Here are this week’s picks. The numbers for the spreads are based on game predictions at KenPom. com.

Thursday

Photo from USA Today

Gonzaga coach Mark Few uses his bench regularly. nents by an average of 11 points through the first 10 minutes of their games. The only exception came against West Virginia, when Gonzaga had really been tested. The Bulldogs are 6-5-1 ATS this season, but to an extent, they’ve played up or down to their oppo-

Mark Few putting reserves in when Gonzaga has a big lead late. But unlike Zags teams of 15 years ago, these scrubs are mostly three- and four-star recruits. And even against tougher opponents, the Bulldogs have taken their foot off the gas at times. They

Pepperdine at Gonzaga -25: The Waves were bad in their final two non-conference games — double-digit losses to UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Bakersfield — but they’ve had three weeks off since then. Earlier in the season, Pepperdine took UCLA to triple overtime, lost a close one to San Diego State and beat California. Pepperdine doesn’t rebound well and they’re not good from beyond the arc. But otherwise, they’re a decent offensive team and one of the best nationally from the free-throw line. The Waves don’t match up particularly well with the Zags and might trail by 30 with 10 minutes to go, but if the line is big enough, Pepperdine could find its way through that back door. PEPPERDINE San Diego State -1 at Utah State: The Aggies have won eight straight — including their first six Mountain West Conference games — after a 1-3 start. They’ve also covered six in a row. The play of 7-foot center Neemias Queta has been a big factor in Utah State’s improvement. The junior from Portugal has been one of the best shot-blockers in the country and is shooting 67% from the field in conference play. And Aggies coach Craig Smith has another 7-footer, sophomore Trevin Dorius, to throw at a San

13 Parry’s Power Guide

NCAA ­Basketball Team Ranking

Team Ranking

Week beginning Jan 12, 2021

Baylor..............................(1) 159.6 Iowa...................................(2) 159.6 Creighton........................(3) 157.6 Illinois..............................(4) 157.4 Villanova........................(5) 157.4 Gonzaga..........................(6) 157.0 Michigan..........................(7) 157.0 Connecticut...................(8) 156.3 Texas.................................(9) 155.5 Kansas............................(10) 154.9 Ohio State.....................(11) 154.2 Wisconsin......................(12) 153.7 Purdue............................(13) 153.1 Tennessee......................(14) 152.9 West Virginia................(15) 152.8 Colorado......................(16) 151.6 Maryland......................(17) 151.6 Alabama.........................(18) 151.2 Minnesota.....................(19) 151.1 Seton Hall....................(20) 151.0 UCLA.................................(21) 150.8 Houston.........................(22) 150.5 Missouri.........................(23) 150.3 Richmond.......................(24) 150.3 Clemson.........................(25) 150.1 Oklahoma......................(26) 149.9 North Carolina...........(27) 149.8

Drake..............................(28) 149.6 LSU....................................(29) 149.5 Providence....................(30) 149.4 Utah State....................(31) 149.1 Oregon...........................(32) 148.8 Syracuse.......................(33) 148.7 Wichita State...............(34) 148.7 Florida State...............(35) 148.5 Loyola Chicago...........(36) 148.5 Arkansas.......................(37) 148.4 Indiana............................(38) 148.3 Virginia...........................(39) 148.3 Florida...........................(40) 148.2 Saint Louis....................(41) 148.0 Penn State....................(42) 147.6 Oklahoma State.........(43) 147.5 Georgia Tech................(44) 147.4 Louisville......................(45) 147.3 Tulsa...............................(46) 147.3 Rutgers..........................(47) 147.0 South Carolina...........(48) 146.7 Stanford.......................(49) 146.6 USC...................................(50) 146.6 Furman...........................(51) 146.4 Michigan State............(52) 146.2 Nevada..........................(109) 138.0 UNLV...............................(110) 138.0

How to use the ratings:1. Add 5 points to the home teams rating. 2. Pair the two teams that play each other. 3. The difference between the two ratings indicates the predicted margin of victory. Copyright 2021 by Noland Parry.

For a complete list of odds, visit GamingToday.com in the Sportsbooks menu under Sports Betting Diego State team that has just one player taller than 6-7 in its regular rotation. The Aztecs have lost just twice this season — to BYU and in a meltdown when they blew a 3812 lead against Colorado State — and they play typically good defense. Utah State, however, is six spots higher in KenPom’s defensive rankings and is an excellent rebounding team on both ends of the floor. UTAH STATE

Friday Bryant -3 at St. Francis (Pa.): The Red Flash has lost six straight games since starting the season with an upset of Pittsburgh. St. Francis doesn’t shoot the ball well, which will be a problem against the Bulldogs, who have improved markedly on defense. The Red Flash is ninth in the country in guarding the 3 but 342nd in defending on the inside. Look for the Bulldogs — a good

3-point-shooting team — to get the ball into the lane. Bryant has won six in a row since a stumble at the other St. Francis (N.Y.). BRYANT

Sunday Western Kentucky at Marshall -4: These two teams play at Western Kentucky on Friday, as well. In their first two back-to-back Conference USA series, the Hilltoppers have followed wins over Charlotte and Louisiana Tech with losses in the rematches. The problem here will be slowing down the Thundering Herd, No. 27 nationally in adjusted tempo. Western Kentucky does not force opponents into long offensive possessions. Both teams are efficient on the offensive end, but the Herd is the better defensive team, especially on 2-point attempts. MARSHALL Last week: 1-1-1 Season: 16-4-3 ChedWhitney@GamingToday.com


nhl

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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

Finally, it’s Game On! Hockey is here. Rejoice, friends. We’ve made it. The puck drops tonight, the genesis of a raucous 56-game campaign. Don’t blink. You’ll miss the whole season. Yes, the NHL is back and that’s cause for celebration. Whether it’s 56 games and featuring divisions sponsored by Honda and Discover, the fact the frozen biscuit will be passed around tonight is something to be happy about. At the same time, we need to stay realistic. We need to understand that the likelihood of COVID-19 leaving its mark as the

Parry’s Power Guide

NHL Hockey Week beginning January 11, 2021

Tampa Bay........................(1) 55.5 Dallas...............................(2) 54.5 NY Islanders...................(3) 54.5 Chicago............................(4) 53.4 Philadelphia...................(5) 52.8 Colorado........................(6) 52.6 Carolina..........................(7) 52.5 Boston.............................(8) 52.4 Columbus........................(9) 52.1 New Jersey....................(10) 52.1 Los Angeles..................(11) 51.8 Buffalo..........................(12) 51.6 Montreal.......................(13) 51.6 Nashville.......................(14) 51.6 NY Rangers...................(15) 51.3 Vegas..............................(16) 51.3 Vancouver....................(17) 51.2 Washington..................(18) 50.8 Detroit...........................(19) 50.7 Pittsburgh....................(20) 50.5 Edmonton.....................(21) 50.1 Winnipeg.........................(22) 50.0 Florida...........................(23) 49.9 Calgary..........................(24) 49.8 Anaheim..........................(25) 49.6 St. Louis.........................(26) 49.5 Toronto.........................(27) 49.2 Arizona..........................(28) 49.1 Minnesota.....................(29) 49.1 Ottawa...........................(30) 48.7 San Jose.........................(31) 48.4 How to use the ratings: 1. Add 0.5 points to the home teams rating. 2. Pair the two teams that play each other. 3. The difference between the two ratings indicates the predicted margin of victory. Copyright 2021 by Noland Parry.

games go is going to happen. Look no further than the NBA, and what the NFL endured at

Rinkside Danny Webster @dannywebster21 times. The NBA has already canceled games with two more coming this week. Some football games forced shuffling of bye weeks and had games played on days you don’t normally see the NFL (hello, Tuesday). The NHL has already postponed games. The Dallas Stars will not start their season no earlier than Jan. 19 after six players and two staffers tested positive. This won’t be the last instance, and I can’t imagine this being the only instance in January. Frustrations will be high from coaches and players fighting through this virus, to the fans in need of an escape. Until things return to normalcy, these are the times we live in and adapting will be key.

Award predictions This was forgotten last week, but there will be awards given out this season. As usual, these are likely wrong and will have no bearing on what happens in 2021. Alas, let’s have fun. (Note: Due to my role with NHL. com, I am not a member of the PHWA and do not have a vote.) By the way, you can wager on who wins at many sportsbooks or on their mobile apps, so have at it. Hart Memorial Trophy: Nathan MacKinnon. Much like I think it’ll be the Avalanche’s chance to flex their contender muscle, this is the year MacKinnon takes his rightful place as the best player in the world. Norris Trophy: Victor Hedman. The absence of Nikita Kucherov could heavily impact the role of Tampa Bay’s blueliners. If Hedman builds off his Conn Smythe performance, a second Norris in four years could be in the cards.

Vezina Trophy: Connor Hellebuyck. Not since Martin Brodeur has there been a back-to-back Vezina winner, but given the condensed schedule, teams that don’t have a clear 1A-1B in net are key. Hellebuyck may be the workhorse of the league this season. Selke Trophy: Mark Stone. Second place two years ago, fifth place last season. Have to think this is the year a winger wins it, and Stone takes his place as one of the game’s best. Calder Trophy: Kirill Kaprizov. Yes, Alexis Lafreniere is ideal, but Minnesota’s scoring has to come from someone. Kaprizov is ready to live up to the hype. Jack Adams Award: Jared Bednar. The bulk of the competition will come from that West Division, and the Avs are expected to win that crowded field. Bednar will finally get some well-deserved recognition. Stanley Cup Final prediction: It’s Colorado’s time. This is the Avs’ best chance to win the Cup. Joe Sakic has done a great job the past two years adding depth to this team and did so again this offseason with Devon Toews and Brandon Saad. Whoever comes out of the West Division will be the odds-on favorite, where they will meet a resurging Tampa Bay team — with a healthy Kucherov — gunning for a repeat. Avalanche over Lightning

Photo from USA Today

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck. in six games.

Thursday Flames at Jets: Terrific goaltending battle with Hellebuyck and new Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom. While both were -110 entering Tuesday, and the Flames at +250 at -1.5 is tempting if Markstrom comes out strong, Winnipeg wins outright in this one. JETS

Friday Penguins at Flyers: Pittsburgh will likely be a road dog (+105 in Wednesday’s matchup), but these results will fluctuate because of

these two-game series to start. Philadelphia likely wins opening night, but a rebound effort from the Penguins at a higher number can’t be counted out. PENGUINS

Saturday Ducks at Golden Knights: Be weary that the underdogs won’t cash often, especially early on. Talent will rule, hence Vegas at -210 Thursday. Anaheim might play better Saturday, but not enough to where that -1.5 looks tempting for the Knights. GOLDEN KNIGHTS DannyWebster@GamingToday.com

Odds to win 2021 Stanley Cup ODDS PROVIDED BY SuperBook at Westgate 1.11.21 LIGHTNING.....................6-1 AVALANCHE...................6-1 GOLDEN KNIGHTS.........6-1 BRUINS.........................14-1 FLYERS.........................18-1 CAPITALS.....................18-1

MAPLE LEAFS..............10-1 BLUES...........................25-1 PENGUINS....................20-1 STARS...........................25-1 CANUCKS.....................40-1 OILERS..........................40-1

LIGHTNING.....................7-2 BRUINS...........................7-1 FLYERS...........................8-1 CAPITALS.......................8-1

MAPLE LEAFS................8-1 PENGUINS....................10-1 HURRICANES................12-1 ISLANDERS...................15-1

AVALANCHE...................3-1 GOLDEN KNIGHTS.........3-1 BLUES.............................8-1 STARS...........................10-1

CANUCKS.....................15-1 OILERS..........................12-1 FLAMES........................15-1 PREDATORS.................15-1

HURRICANES................20-1 ISLANDERS...................30-1 RANGERS.....................30-1 FLAMES........................40-1 PREDATORS.................40-1 BLUE JACKETS.............60-1

Eastern Conference RANGERS.....................12-1 BLUE JACKETS.............25-1 DEVILS..........................25-1 PANTHERS...................25-1

Western Conference JETS..............................20-1 COYOTES.....................20-1 WILD.............................25-1 SHARKS........................30-1


soccer/golf

JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

15

Another week in paradise for the Tour Excuse us for a minute while we put on a little ointment on a couple of sunburn spots … here, here and here. After a week in the Maui sunshine and the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, we’re gearing up, safely, for another week of Hawaii sunshine at Oahu for the Sony Open at Waialae Country Club. Ah, that feels much better. Sorry if you’re still shoveling snow and fighting less-than-ideal temperatures, but we all have sacrifices to make. Now, where were we? Oh yes, we’re moving over to Oahu. With Harris English winning last week on Maui in a playoff it just goes to show that even a little time off for the holiday season didn’t affect the golf game of the top pros. Last week was a no-cut, limitedfield event. This week: it’s all hands on deck with 144 players teeing it up, the first full-field event in 2021. While the event on Maui was fun and games (everyone got paid no

matter where they finished), this week’s different. For those who didn’t play last week, if they miss the cut at the Sony it will wind up

Tee to Green Bill Bowman being a quick jaunt to Hawaii followed by an even quicker trip back to the mainland to try and figure out what went wrong. A friend of ours who spent time on the PGA Tour, did just that. He flew in on Tuesday, played a practice round Wednesday and then was a quick two-and-done and heading back to Vegas. We asked why he didn’t at least hang around to enjoy the sunshine for a day or two, check out the beaches and relax a little. His response? Nope, he needed to get back, iron out a few things and gear up for his next tourna-

ment. He added that no weekend play means no money and no money means no fun. Add in the expenses of getting to and from the event, staying a couple of nights and also paying his caddie and he shelled out an awful lot of money for a couple of rounds of golf. Still think life on Tour is all fun and games? Not for those who are trying to eke out a good living. But, we digress. Let’s get back to this week’s tournament. This one is an event that can certainly provide fireworks and also launch PGA Tour careers — or at least give the winner a glimpse of what is possible. Just ask last year’s winner here, Cameron Smith. Smith, who won in a playoff over Brendan Steele, earned his second PGA Tour win and the first since 2017. He could breathe a sigh of relief and know he was exempt for a couple of years. But even that stress reliever doesn’t always lead to success.

Bowman’s Top 5 at The Sony Open

1. Cameron Smith 2. Harris English 3. Collin Morikawa 4. Matt Kuchar 5. Daniel Berger

(25-1) (14-1) (14-1) (40-1) (16-1)

After the victory, Smith’s game went south; way south. He followed it up with a T-64 at The Farmers Insurance Open but then missed five of six cuts, two coming right before the coronavirus shutdown and three coming right after the Tour picked back up. He then had a string of mid-pack finishes to end the year and managed to wind up T-24 at the Tour Championship. Then, with the 2020-2021 wraparound season kicking off, something apparently clicked. He went on a tear. He started T-38 at the U.S. Open and improved to T-24 at The Shriners event in Vegas. A

solo 11th at the CJ Open Cup at Shadow Creek was followed by three straight top 10s including a solo second at the Masters. See a trend here? We certainly do. We’re thinking Smith, at 25-1, is going to go back-to-back at The Sony Open for three simple reasons — his game is trending in the right direction and his win last year included an openinground 70 but was followed up by three straight rounds in the 60s that got him into the playoff. He also had the chance to get warmed up in last week’s ToC where he was T-24. But don’t count out English at 14-1. Last week’s win was his first since 2013 but he’s been playing lights-out for the better part of a year. In Maui, he won going up against the big boys, many of whom won’t be in the field this week as Colin Morikawa, ranked No. 7 in the world, is the topranked player on Oahu. BillBowman@GamingToday.com

Vegas bettor finding success For its match the following day at Napoli, Spezia was getting two goals on the South Point app late Tuesday night, Jan. 5. Noah Parker had handicapped it at 1.5 goals. He viewed the -120 Spezia price as negligible. Enticed by such value, the 36-year-old professional bettor wagered on Spezia, plus two goals at -120. He went to bed. He awoke to see Napoli -1.5 goals at -120 at that property. Rob Miech Spezia won, 2-1. @robmiech Parker jokes about wishing he had put a few bucks on the Spezia money line, between +800 and +1033 offshore, but he admits that would have been folly. Raising two young children nullifies such lottery shots. Tact and discipline are paramount. His match diagnosis involved experience and guile. Luck too, he adds. It was an artful case study that might benefit those who attempt to navigate the tricky beautiful game. From Queens, N.Y., Parker moved to Las Vegas with family in high school, enlisted in the Marines and returned to the desert to write tickets at several sportsbooks, honing his numerical aptitude. He left that side of the counter to pursue betting on sports as a livelihood. His near-photographic memory requires no notebooks, no daily recording of scores, re-

Free Kicks

cords or odds. All of those figures — SU, ATS, O/U, Last 5, etc. — on the other side of the game sheets? Parker never glances at them. He knows them. He mostly deals with day-of matches, or overnights, sometimes factoring extended road trips or homestands into his calculations. He keeps the mortgage paid. Four years ago, William Hill, no longer desiring his patronage, had him empty his account, of $15,000. The South Point is his lone app, because it doesn’t offer in-game options — too much temptation, he says. In person, he shops all around town. Le Aquilotti (the Little Eagles) formed in 1906 in La Spezia, the Ligurian Sea port that serves as Italy’s main naval base. Not so long ago, the club eked through bankruptcy and fraud episodes. The history lesson is fitting since this is a historic season for Spezia Calcio, its first in Italy’s top-flight Serie A, which played into Parker’s assessment of its venture into Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples. He figured the hosts, in the top third of the league, would approach the Eagles like the textbook minnows they are, not taking such neophytes so seriously. Spezia resides in the bottom third of Serie A. In its past four games, Spezia had dropped three by a goal each. A bad side, Parker deduced, “but not horrible.”

Photo from Rob Miech

Las Vegas soccer bettor Noah Parker. Napoli had just won 4-1 at Cagliari, but of its previous five matches only one had been decided by two goals. Getting those two goals was vital value. If Napoli won by three, c’est la vie, said Parker — it proved it’s the better side. “My victory looks good, like I did a solid job of handicapping, but I knew I got a bit lucky to win the game straight up.” After a listless, scoreless first half, Andrea Petagna Please see Miech p22


horse racing

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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

Competitive Cal Cup on tap The California Cup, a series of races for horses bred in California designed to promote the breeding program in the state, will be run for the 31st time with five Stakes races Saturday at Santa Anita. Each Cal Cup day I am reminded of the following story. The inaugural California Cup Classic in 1990 included a horse named My Sonny Boy, a $62,500 claim by trainer Bill Spawr who was scheduled to be ridden by Pat Valenzuela. Things did not go according to plan.

Lindo Report Jon Lindo @JonLindo60 At the last minute, the jockey’s room called Spawr and said Valenzuela failed to show up to ride. With 14 horses scheduled to compete in the Classic there was no one left to pick up the mount. Darryl Rader, assistant trainer to

Spawr, contacted Clerk of Scales Charlie McCall to see who was available. “Nobody,” said McCall. “Your only chance is to try and catch Jorge Velasquez, who just took off for his car. There is nobody else left.” Rader sprinted to the jockey’s parking lot and was able to catch Velasquez at his car and explain the predicament. Velasquez agreed to come back and ride My Sonny Boy. Spawr had never met Velasquez, so when the jockey came to the pad-

Road to Kentucky Derby Date Race.......................................Distance............... Track.................... Time Winner 9-5-20 Iroquois............................ 1 1/16 M............Churchill............1:35.00 Sittin On Go, Midnight Bourbon, Super Stock 9-26-20 American Pharoah.......... 1 1/16 M............Santa Anita.......1:44.92 Get Her Number, Rombauer, Spielberg 9-26-20 Royal Lodge..................... 1 M (T)...............Newmarket.......1:37.86 New Mandate, Ontario, Cobh 9-26-20 Beresford......................... 1 M (T)...............Naas..................1:45.28 High Definition, Monaasib, Snapraeterea 10-3-20 Breeders’ Futurity............ 1 1/16 M............Keeneland.........1:44.37 Essential Quality, Keepmeinmind, Super Stock 10-4-20 Prix Jean Luc Legardare.... 1 M (T)...............Longchamp......1:23.49 Sealiway,Nando Parrado, Laws of Indices 10-10-20 Champagne..................... 1 M....................Belmont............1:35.42 Jackie’s Warrior, Reinvestment Risk, Midnight Bourbon 10-24-20 Vertem Futurity............... 1 M (S)...............Doncaster.........1:41.98 Mac Swiney, One Ruler, Baradar 11-6-20 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.... 1 1/16 M............Keeneland.........1:42.09 Essential Quality, Hot Rod Charlie, Keepmeinmind 11-28-20 Kentucky Jockey Club..... 1 1/16 M............Churchill............1:44.52 Keepmeinmind, Smiley Sobotka, Arabian Prince 11-28-20 Cattleya............................ 1 M....................Tokyo................1:36.40 Lemon Pop, Takeru Pegasus, Plus Ultra 12-5-20 Remsen............................. 1 1/8 M..............Aqueduct..........1:50.60 Brooklyn Strong, Ten for Ten, Known Agenda 12-16-20 Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun.... 1 M....................Kawasaki...........1:40.70 Alain Barows, Ranryo O, Luce d’Oro 12-18-20 Springboard Mile............ 1 M....................Remington........1:37.87 Senor Buscador, Cowan, Red N Wild 12-19-20 Los Alamitos Futurity...... 1 1/16 M............Los Alamitos.....1:42.56 Spielberg, The Great One, Petruchio 1-1-21 Jerome............................. 1 M....................Aqueduct..........1:38.02 Capo Kane, Eagle Orb, Hold the Salsa 1-2-21 Sham................................ 1 M....................Santa Anita.......1:36.63 Life Is Good, Medina Spirit, Parnelli 1-16-21 Lecomte........................... 1 1/16 M............Fair Grounds..... 1-16-21 Smarty Jones.................. 1 1/16 M............Oaklawn............ 1-30-21 Holy Bull.......................... 1 1/16 M............Gulfstream........ 2-6-21 Robert B. Lewis............... 1 1/16 M............Santa Anita....... 2-6-21 Withers............................. 1 1/16 M............Aqueduct.......... 2-6-21 Sam F. Davis.................... 1 1/16 M............Tampa Bay........ 2-6-21 John Battaglia Memorial.... 1 1/16 M............Turfway............. 2-13-21 El Camino Real Derby..... 1 1/8 M..............Golden Gate..... 2-13-21 Risen Star Division.......... 1 1/8 M..............Fair Grounds..... 2-15-21 Southwest....................... 1 1/16 M............Oaklawn............ 2-27-21 Fountain of Youth............ 1 1/16 M............Gulfstream........ 3-1-21 Patton............................... 1 M (S)...............Dundalk............. 3-4-21 Road to Derby Condition.... 1 M (S)...............Kempton........... 3-6-21 Gotham............................ 1 1/16 M............Aqueduct.......... 3-6-21 Tampa Bay Derby............ 1 1/16 M............Tampa Bay........ 3-6-21 San Felipe........................ 1 1/16 M............Santa Anita....... 3-13-21 Rebel................................ 1 1/16 M............Oaklawn............ 3-20-21 Jeff Ruby Steaks.............. 1 1/8 M..............Turfway............. 3-20-21 Louisiana Derby.............. 1 3/16 M............Fair Grounds..... 3-27-21 Florida Derby................... 1 1/8 M..............Gulfstream........ 3-27-21 Sunland Derby................ 1 1/8 M..............Sunland............ 4-1-21 Cardinal Condition.......... 1 M (S)...............Chelmsford....... 4-3-21 Blue Grass....................... 1 1/8 M..............Keeneland......... 4-3-21 Santa Anita Derby........... 1 1/8 M..............Santa Anita....... 4-3-21 Wood Memorial.............. 1 1/8 M..............Aqueduct.......... 4-10-21 Arkansas Derby............... 1 1/8 M..............Oaklawn............ 4-10-21 Lexington......................... 1 1/16 M............Keeneland......... Photo from Benoit TBA Hyacinth........................... 1 M....................Tokyo................ TBA Fukuryu Stakes................ 1 1/8 M..............Nakayama Life Is Good at Santa Anita.

dock to get instructions, the trainer had a question. “Do you speak English?” asked Spawr. “Better than you,” replied Velasquez. They both had a good laugh. Velasquez then took My Sonny Boy right to the front and kept on going to win the first California Cup Classic. Entries for the Cal Cup will be drawn Wednesday. Here is a look at the expected contenders for the five Cal Cup Stakes: Unusual Heat Turf Classic: Graded Stakes winner Acclimate returned from a year on the sidelines to set the pace in the Gr. II Hollywood Gold Cup at Del Mar before tiring to be beaten two lengths. He will be fit shortening up from that 12-furlong marathon to Saturday’s 1-1/8 mile trip. Indian Peak won the Snow Chief Stakes for Cal-breds last summer at Santa Anita at the same distance and should be bigger and stronger as a four-year-old. Rustic Canyon, a recent claim by trainer Peter Miller, showed immediate improvement for his new barn on New Year’s Day and the jump into a Stakes is a sign of confidence. Cal Cup Sprint: Defending champion Fashionably Fast had his six-race win streak snapped when he stepped up into the Graded Stakes ranks, including a runner-up finish to McKinzie in the Gr. II Triple Bend. He is fresh, working well, and the one to beat now that he is back in vs. Cal-breds. Tigre Di Slugo and Loud Loud Music are the up-and-comers of note. The former looked good beating Allowance horses off the layoff Nov 27, while the latter has won two straight, including a 13-1 upset in the Cary Grant Stakes vs. Cal-breds at Del Mar. Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf Sprint: Warren’s Showtime is the class of the race, but she has also done her best work in two turn races. Expect her to be flying late. She’s Devoted is unbeaten from two starts, both turf sprints, and could be good enough in her first Stakes appearance. Leggs Galore has won all three starts on grass and has more Please see Lindo p21

Horses to Watch Richard Saber @RSaberGT

SANTA ANITA ROMAN CENTURIAN: 3-yearold maiden was traveling 1 1/16 miles on the dirt. He raced unhurried in the early stages while sitting on the outside. He made an eye popping four-wide move around the far turn coming home fast and just blew this field away by four lengths. He will move up and repeat next out. NU PI LAMBDA: Was going 6 1/2 furlongs on the turf in this allowance race for fillies and mares. She was let go at 10-1 and sat down on the inside. Moving into the stretch she unleashed a six-wide run to finish third in a close three-horse photo. We think she has found her game sprinting on the grass. GATOR SHINING: We liked this 3-year-old on our Santa Anita selections at gamingtoday.com. In this six- furlong turf race he got pinballed and slammed hard at the start and was dead last in this seven-horse field. He surged four-wide into the stretch and blasted home, just missing by a nostril while five lengths clear of the rest. PUBILIUS SYRUS: Was traveling a flat mile on the dirt. Was four-wide into the first turn but was taken to the inside. Was angled out once again and just made an eye-popping move, blowing by the leader in deep stretch to win with a lot left in the tank. This one will move up and repeat and will be a solid single in the picks next out.

You will find daily horse ­racing picks at


JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

sportsbook biz

17

Bloody Sunday for books Business was booming all over Nevada for two NFL tripleheaders sent from the betting gods. The short story is that the books scooped up all the chips in Saturday’s wild card action as all three underdogs covered. Amazingly, 14 of the last 15 wild card ‘dogs had covered the spread. But that would change fast on Sunday as favorites bounced back to go 2-1 ATS which helped beat the books. “We have a house player taking us to the woodshed and we lost the first two games,” said Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook VP Jay Kornegay. Any chance of getting it back with the Browns or Steelers in the late game? “No chance of getting out,” Kornegay said. “We’re in damage control mode.” The Saints’ 21-9 win over the Bears Sunday was the breaking point for most bet shops, the result that sunk the ship. The Saints opened 9.5-point home favorites at the SuperBook and closed at -11 and were spared the push on their most bet number (11) when the Bears didn’t kick the extra point on their only touchdown to end the game. “Saturday was great but we gave it all back today (Sunday),” said Nevada BetMGM director Jeff Stoneback. “We lost both games to start with the Saints being the worst with teasers — the Saints and Buccaneers teaser was the most popular. Everyone was also on the Saints under (48).” The Saints owned the time of possession battle, 38:58 to 21:02. Now they’ll welcome the Buccaneers (+3.5) to town in a divisional playoff in what will be their third meeting this season with the Saints winning the first two, one of which was a merciless 38-3 slow death blow in Week 9. The Saints offense? Dink and dunk, dunk and dink, 10 minutes gone, TD. Teaser bettors did a lot of damage over the weekend because a two-team NFL teaser bet is probably the best value in the casino. The books always lose to them in the playoffs, so why not bet what they lose on the most? They went 10-2 on Saturday and 8-4 on Sunday which closed out the

six-game, two-day marathon with the Browns wiping out the Steelers, 48-37. “There’s no way out on the

Las Vegas Sportsbooks Micah Roberts @MicahRoberts7 day for us no matter who wins tonight,” Stoneback said before kickoff in Pittsburgh. “And we just took a large six-figure wager on the Browns and another on the Steelers money line (-230).” The Browns opened as 4.5-point road dogs and moved to +6 when news of COVID-19 procedures was keeping the head coach and all-pro guard out of the game. It closed +5 at BetMGM, and +5.5 at most shops, and total at 47. The win ended a 17-year losing streak at Pittsburgh Now the Browns get a rested Chiefs next week at Arrowhead Stadium, the defending Super Bowl champions who are favored to go back-to-back. The Steelers just closed the season on a 1-5 ATS run. Along the same train of thought, keep in mind the Chiefs closed out the season on a 1-7 ATS run. Wiseguys were on the Colts (+6.5 at Buffalo), Rams (+5 at Seattle), and Titans (+3.5 vs Ravens), and of course, they came out ahead at 2-1 ATS. Not all of the books got beat up. William Hill’s Nick Bogdanovich said the Browns win would give them a couple of bucks on the day, or in other words, a small win or ham sandwich as legendary bookmaker Jerry Zimny would say. The South Point avoided a loss as did Atlantis-Reno and Station Casinos. “Saturday was great. We lost the first two games Sunday but thank goodness for the unders,” said Station Casinos sportsbook director Jason McCormick who also said they had high teaser liability on the Steelers. The over went 3-0 on Saturday and risk carried over to Sunday where parlays died with the first two games staying under. Over

went 4-2 on Wild Card weekend. Coming up this week, the favorites showed up in the Divisional playoff round the last two seasons, going 6-2 ATS combined. The reasons rest with the top two seeds in each conference at home simply being better than the Wild Card winners while also having a week off to rest. That may be true this year too, although only two teams had last week off. The Chiefs and Packers are both strong teaser plays this week, as well as the Bills and Saints. Why teasers? Teasers in the playoffs were not allowed by several Las Vegas books in the past because they consistently got beat by them. But competition forced the issue with those that were reluctant to offer. Four-way, all-way winners on teasers happen often in the playoffs. It happened twice on Saturday. There’s a huge edge in the playoffs compared to the regular season and it all starts with the proper team rating. Of all the sports in the world, the NFL team rating is the sharpest most sound number. How many times have you heard someone say, ”Boy, those guys in Vegas really know what they’re doing” after a side or total lands on the number. The NFL point spread is gold, so when being able to add 7 points onto either side or total, it’s a nice edge. In the regular season, the twoteam 7-point teaser is a strong play if angling around key numbers of 3,4,6,7, and 10. But the regular season has bad teams that sometimes don’t play to their full abilities. However, in the postseason, teams play closer to their rating. It’s why they made the playoffs. No matter what side or total you picked in Saturday’s Bills and Buccaneers games, you won. That’s 8-0 for the player, and 0-8 for the book. Hard to believe a casino back in the day initially signed off on a proposition where the house can lose all sides and at best go 2-2 on a game.

COVID KO’s Sixers Oddsmakers and bookmakers are working overtime babysitting the NBA lines they post as

Photo from USA Today

Browns QB Baker Mayfield helped knock out Steelers. COVID-19 has now come into play. No bubble this season. Eight 76ers players were out Saturday against the Nuggets who started as 5-point road favorites because Ben Simmons and Seth Curry were already out. But when their top two players (Joel Embiid, Tobia Harris) were out along with other players, the number ran to Nuggets -13.5. Only seven of the eight players who suited up played, but they battled and got the cover in the Nuggets’ 115-103 win. Give them credit for playing. The Celtics had seven players come in COVID-19 contact and

Sunday’s game against the Heat was postponed. For now. SuperBook VP of risk management Jeff Sherman thinks it’ll be an ongoing trend. “We just assess who is in, who is out, and then make a number,” he said. But the point here is that information like that is critical and wise guys usually get it three minutes before it hits the wire. An already hard job of babysitting NBA players’ attitudes after the first of backto-back night games and wondering if they’ll play the next game just got harder and more intense. MicahRoberts@GamingToday.com


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Cuomo sees the light It took a second, more deadly wave of the coronavirus to get Andrew Cuomo to come to his senses. Facing a budget deficit in the billions due to COVID-19, the governor of New York is throwing his support behind legislation in the state senate to approve and permit mobile sports betting in the Empire State. Proponents say having mobile betting could generate hundreds of millions, perhaps even billions in revenue for a state that is staring at a budget deficit of at least $70 billion over a four-year span. “I’m not here to make casinos a lot of money. I’m here to raise funds for the state,” Cuomo said. “So we have a different model for sports betting.” Right now, the current model is lacking. There are eight retail sportsbooks in New York, none in the New York metropolitan area. Combined, they don’t generate a lot of revenue for the state. Legalize mobile betting and that changes the entire picture dramatically. Customers will have convenience working for them. They’ll

be able to bet in-game as well as props and other wagers. For residents of the five boroughs, Long Island and Westches-

East Coast Scene Steve Carp @stevecarp56 ter, not only will those people who live in the state’s most populous area have access to legally bet, they no longer have to do business in New Jersey. An estimated 25% of that state’s mobile business are with New Yorkers. And we all know how well Jersey is doing in the sportsbook world. It is approaching $1 billion in monthly handle. In Western New York, home to the NFL Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Sabres, mobile betting would be a boon to customers there. And once the border with Canada reopens, it could create a market for Canadians to sign up for mobile accounts, come into New York and wager, much like New Yorkers cur-

rently do in New Jersey. Cuomo should take it two steps further. One, allow retail books at the two New York-area racetracks that have casinos on their property — Resorts World which is at Aqueduct in Queens, and MGM, which is at Yonkers Raceway just north of the New York City border. If you want to include other tracks such as Saratoga, Finger Lakes, and harness tracks such as Buffalo Raceway and Tioga Downs, great. Two, allow sportsbooks in the sports venues. Let Yankee Stadium and Citi Field have a retail book. Permit Madison Square Garden in Manhattan, Barclays Center in Brooklyn and the new UBS Arena at Belmont Park to operate a book, much like Capital One Arena and William Hill are doing in Washington D.C. Give customers more options and they’ll likely spend more. Now is not the time to limit your ability to generate revenue. This is what Joe Addabbo has been saying for the last two-plus years. The state senator from Queens, whose district includes Aqueduct and Resorts World Casino, told Gaming Today last month

Photo from AP Photos

NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo supports mobile sports betting. that mobile sports betting would be big for the state and help give the sagging coffers a significant boost. “The deficit and debt would be offset by the revenue brought in via mobile betting,” Addabbo said. “It’s a no brainer.” It would also be wise to allow multiple operators to be licensed. Competition is good for consumers and the state can reap more fees in licenses with multiple vendors or “skins.” Let William Hill and BetMGM duke it out with FanDuel, DraftKings and BetRivers and give customers incentives to sign up.

Tax them a little higher, but not too high so as to discourage them from doing business in New York. This is a great opportunity for New York to generate much needed revenue without taxing its residents further. Cuomo should not limit his options. Get mobile up and running. Open retail books at New York’s sports venues. Do business with reputable, proven operators. Then watch the sea of red ink your state is wallowing in reduce itself significantly. Either that or charge people $30 to cross the Verrazano Bridge. scarp@gamingtoday.com

In Iowa, two different strategies at work They’re both significant players in the national and tions at the start of the year by eliminating the requireglobal sports betting scene, but William Hill and BetMGM ment for in-person registration at a licensed casino. couldn’t be more different in their approaches in Iowa if Theoretically speaking, starting up business a year and they purposely tried. a half after a major competitor could This story isn’t an evaluation of sucprovide brand recognition challenges. cess or failure as much as it’s a tale of But BetMGM CEO Adam Greenblatt two strategies within the first Midwest doesn’t see the situation that way. state to legalize sports wagering. In an interview last week with GamThe former company was locked in Danny Lawhon ing Today, he said the online focus of Iowa’s second launch is a separate on the Hawkeye State even before Io@DannyLawhon entity unto itself. wa’s brick-and-mortar locations could And success is measured in product launch in the middle of August 2019. William Hill secured arrangements with four of the 18 quality, aggressive promotions and customer service. “Our direction of travel is increased personalization, so casinos licensed to take wagers, including in the largest population prize of greater Des Moines. That approach of we want every player to feel like they have the right prodstatewide geographical presence, well before its merger uct and the right offer for them,” Greenblatt said. “We with Caesars Entertainment, bore fruit from the first full spend a lot of time making sure offers are tailored to the month of betting in September 2019 ($21.865 million in right segment of players. We’re moving in that journey to handle out of $38.545 million statewide) through the end what are called microsegments, which at the end of that of 2020 (cumulative December handle was $35.199 mil- journey is a microsegment of one.” Said more plainly, the goal is an application that knows lion out of $104.815 million statewide). BetMGM, on the other hand, wasn’t in the Iowa game your sport or league of choice, your team of choice and until Jan. 4, after the state loosened registration restric- even your bet of choice. Once that technology gets

Midwest Musings

zeroed in, the rest of the benefits such as a new way to connect with MGM Resorts’ M life Rewards program will shine through. “I anticipate that we’re really see the dawn of the (Iowa) market as we go forward (in 2021),” Greenblatt said. “We’ll see adoption of sports betting by a lot of new and relatively inexperienced players. Trust and credibility will be important from the outset.” William Hill U.S. CEO Joe Asher is banking on part of that trust and credibility being built-in based on the company’s wide net cast here already. Not resting on its laurels, William Hill has upgraded its app interface for Iowa users within the past weeks to put the experience on par with what Nevada and East Coast users would experience while also adding new bet offerings. From there, the company likes to think it has a bead on Iowa customers’ intense appetite for college sports and a broadly regional bet spread in professional sports teams. In all, Asher said the clientele in Iowa isn’t all that different from the recreational player base it finds in markets nationwide. “The bulk of business, even in Nevada, is a recreational Please see Lawhon p22


JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

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Rio’s owners promise facelift Fans of the Rio Las Vegas will be happy to hear the aging 30-yearold property will be getting a much-needed makeover that the new owner says has lost its way. But if you’re a baseball fan hoping the persistent social media rumors would be true of the Oakland A’s relocating to Las Vegas and getting a domed stadium on the Rio site — you’ve struck out. New York developer Eric Birnbaum outlined his plans last week to the Nevada Gaming Control Board who made a preliminary finding of suitability for Birnbaum and Dreamscape Vice President Tom Ellis to seek a gaming license. That’s the plan 13 months after Birnbaum and his Dreamscape Companies closed on a $516 million sale with Caesars Entertainment and then leased it back. The two-year lease called for Caesars to pay $45 million a year in rent. Because of an amendment of the deal that was announced last week, Dreamscape can extend the lease for two years instead of one for $7 million a year. It can also terminate at any point during the extension. The Brazilian-themed Rio, which was built by developer Tony Marnell and opened in 1990, was sold in 1998 to Harrah’s Entertainment, the predecessor to Caesars Entertainment. The Rio, which has 2,500 rooms and has hosted the World Series of Poker, reopened Dec. 22 after being closed nine months because of the coronavirus. It has since closed the hotel midweek starting Jan. 3 with the casino open seven days a week. Dreamscape was prepared to take over the operation of the Rio by the end of 2021, but that has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We’re super excited about this opportunity,” Birnbaum said. “We had no idea that we would be facing COVID, but we’re believers that there’s hopefully a silver lining in everything and remain positive, upbeat and excited about the challenge and opportunity ahead.” Birnbaum said he’s a real estate guy and not a gaming expert and has surrounded himself with experts. He said the best move

Gaming Inc. Buck Wargo  @brianbuckwargo made was consulting with Bill McBeath, president and CEO of The Cosmopolitan, and the lesson he has learned is “Vegas is an animalunike any other where customers have so many different options to choose from. You can’t be all things to everybody. You have to pick your lane and decide who is your customer.” That customer, however, is not people who want to watch baseball on the site. “It’s amazing the rumors that get thrown out there — everything from we’re going to tear it down and recruit the Oakland Athletics,” Birnbaum said. “That was never the case. At the end of the day, the real estate at the Rio is some of the best in the real estate world, but it’s a great piece of real estate that has lost its way. With this being our one of one (property) versus one of many for its previous owners, it’s going to get 100 percent of our attention and be reimagined to what it deserves to be.” Everyone agrees with that. Nevada Gaming Control board member Phil Katsaros said “extra attention” is what that property has long needed. It has “great bones” but over time the amenities and services it offered disap-

Photo from Caesars Entertainment

The Rio Las Vegas will receive a much-needed freshening in 2021. peared and declined over time. Marketing executive Nehme Abouzeid, president and founder of LaunchVegas, told Gaming Today that the off-Strip properties were “battered and bruised” even before the pandemic. The Palms Las Vegas’ “attempt to go upscale and court the Strip visitor didn’t go so well, he said. The Rio, which has counted on convention overflow traffic in midweek, hasn’t had a lot of capital investment in several years and maintenance was deferred, Abouzeid said. There also haven’t been many amenities added in several years to get on people’s radar, he said. At one time, in the late 1990s and early 2000s the Rio was a place for clubbing and to go hear a house band. It has hosted Penn & Teller’s show up until COVID-19 shuttered shows, and the World Series of Poker has meant a lot over the years as well, he said. “It’s not top of mind with any-

body anymore,” Abouzeid said. “It would be hard to throw in a highend nightclub here or high-end show. Their best option would be to benefit from the resurgence in events (with Allegiant Stadium nearby) and get people to try the product and drive some loyalty for people to come back if they had a good experience.” Birnbaum said there’s a lot of “low-hanging fruit” to address such as redoing rooms. “It’s a monster refresh and the bones behind the wall are perfectly fine,” Birnbaum said. “But what you see and what you experience is where things have been dilapidated. It is about putting together an aesthetic that is updated and feels relevant and curating it with experiences like food and beverage brands that appeal to who we think our customer is. “I think one of the biggest things candidly that we have focused on who customers are, and I think one

of the things the Rio from previous ownerships didn’t know was who it’s customer was. It was a little bit all over the place. We think we know who the customer is, and we are going to create a product targeted to that. “We see it as we’re not the Wynn. We’re not the Cosmo. We’re not the high end, but we’re not the low end. We equate it to approachable luxury. You get good value for what you’re getting, and you get a good experience at a price point you don’t feel you’re taking advantage of.” Birnbaum said they were expecting to take this year “to get under the hood” and have an upfront view of what is going on. He said they have hypotheses of what’s going wrong, but all they have to go on are numbers on a spreadsheet. “We didn’t get to actually see the asset while we owned it and Please see Wargo p22

Leagues, NJ horsemen cut deal STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS A resolution is at hand in a lawsuit over millions of dollars stemming from New Jersey’s years-long battle to overturn a federal ban on sports betting. According to a judge’s order entered Monday in Trenton, the major pro sports leagues and the NCAA have reached an agreement with the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, the group that sought to open a sports betting site at Monmouth Park Racetrack in 2014 when the federal ban was still in place. The U.S. Supreme Court didn’t overturn the federal sports betting ban until 2018, but the horsemen’s association had sought to recover a $3.4 million bond the leagues had posted in the fall of 2014 when they

Industry Notes

convinced a judge to issue a restraining order to stop the track from offering sports betting while the federal case was still being litigated. U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson’s order entered Monday didn’t specify the amount of the settlement. It is expected to be finalized within the next 30 days.

NY Lottery launches app For the first time, New Yorkers can play the lottery from the comfort of home. Jackpocket, the first and only licensed third-party lottery app in the U.S., announced the ability to play Powerball, Mega Millions, New York Lotto, Cash4Life, Win 4, Take 5, Pick 10 and Numbers in New York state. The launch in New York comes as Powerball is over $500M for its drawing Wednesday.


casino games

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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

Silver Knights promos Some Las Vegas locals have long referred to the city as a “basketball town.” The championship caliber Runnin’ Rebels of the early 90’s, NBA Summer League, summertime high school hoops tournaments and NCAA basketball conference tournaments have all factored into Vegas sports culture. Although the basketball ties are rich, the first professional sports team in town, the Vegas Golden Knights, their tremendous Stanley Cup Final run in 2017-18 and the newfound minor league hockey team in the Henderson Silver Knights has some referring to Vegas as a “hockey town.” No matter which way you see it, there’s a promotion supporting the newest Southern Nevada team, the Silver Knights who were formerly in the Chicago suburbs playing as the Wolves and will start their first American Hockey League season early next month.

Boyd Gaming This month features the Henderson Silver Knights for the “Gift

Inside the House Sebastian Ross @Vegasveryown Giveaway.” A two-tone hat can be picked up on Jan. 21. A black Henley shirt is the gift on Jan. 28. B Connected players can pick their gift up after earning 20 tier credits on pickup day. Early pick up for Titanium and Onyx members starts at 9 a.m., with general access starting at 10 a.m., running through 8 p.m. Gold Coast, Aliante, The Orleans, Suncoast, Fremont, California, Cannery and Sam’s Town are participating. The Gold Coast’s Bingo Room has $10K up for grabs during the “$10K Bounty Bonus and $10K Dual Daub” during the month of January. The “$10K Bounty Bonus Ball and $10K Dual Daub” takes place January 22 during all sessions, starting with the 11:00 a.m. ses-

sion. Win the prize by hitting the Dual Daub posted number or less. If the Dual Daub isn’t hit within 35 numbers of less by the 9:00 p.m. session, numbers will be called during the following 11:00 p.m. session until there’s a winner. There’s Best Ball on Mondays and Thursdays at 11 a.m., 1 p.m., 7 p.m., and 9 p.m. The best ball for the session is determined by the cash ball. You get $500 for winning on the cash ball’s ending number. Winning on the best ball gets $500 added on to the regular pack pay win and the cash ball prize. There’s five $1,000 Coveralls on Fridays and Saturdays at 7 p.m., and Sundays at 1 p.m. Saturday’s 9 p.m. session offers double/triple pay with 4 $1,000 Coverall.

Rampart Casino The Rampart is in the middle of its “Welcome to 2021 Giveaway.” There are 100 $250 cash prizes, 49 $350 cash prizes, 15 $400 cash prizes, seven $500 cash prizes, three $1,000 cash prizes and a $5,000 cash grand prize. Ten winners will

Photo from Henderson Silver Knights

Silver Knights coach Manny Viveiros skates with local kids. be selected at each cash drawing on Fridays and Saturdays in January at 6:15 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. Rampart Rewards Club players gain a kiosk entry for every 100 points earned on slots and bingo, as well as playing one hour with an average of $10 played on table games. Players can earn 10x the entries Monday through Thursday. Be sure to swipe in after 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday to be eligible for the drawing. Table gamers can look out for “Stacks & Cash” remaining Fridays and Saturdays this month, at 9 and 10 p.m. Each drawing will have

one $1,000 cash prize, two $500 promotional chips prize, two $200 promotional chips prize, and one 2x multiplier prize. Players gain a kiosk entry for one hour of play at a $10 average. You have to swipe in after 3 p.m. on the day of the drawing for this one, too. This Week’s Big Winner: A guest by the name of Richard won $150,403 on a Super Progressive Jackpot at The Orleans on New Year’s Eve. Richard, who plans to take a Hawaiian vacation, was playing Aristocrat Gaming’s “Dollar Storm” slot game. SebastianRoss@GamingToday.com

CASH CONSIDERATIONS

Get behind the Sportsbook Counter with Dave Sharapan, Carl Hascall and Motoi Pearson. Guests have included Adam Burke.

You will love our guests Listen at GamingToday.com or just select your favorite podcast player to listen on your desktop or on the go with your tablet or phone.


casino games

JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

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Sometimes Razgu pays off big This past week, I wound up with a truly unique hand. I was playing Deuces Wild and was dealt a Razgu. As I discussed last week, that isn’t the rare part. As I disgustedly hit the “Draw” button replacing all five cards, I was blown away as I was dealt four Deuces and a Queen. I chuckled as I believe I am on a streak of about 20 straight times of being dealt three Deuces and not hitting the fourth. Instead, the machine decides to deal me the Deuces from a Razgu. The odds of being dealt four Deuces from the deal is 48 out of 2,598,960. This is one in 54,145 or a little higher than the odds of getting a Natural Royal. In Deuces Wild, this is about 1 in 47,000. In Jacks or better, it is about 1 in about 40,000. But then I realized that I was not actually dealt four Deuces on the deal. I got it on the draw. So, there are only 47 cards remaining so the odds of drawing four Deuces from a Razgu is only 1 in 35,673 or a bit more common than hitting a Natural Royal.

Winning

Strategies Elliot Frome @Gambatria Then again, in reality, I was first dealt a Razgu and then got the four Deuces. My overall odds of doing this is in the neighborhood of 1 in 190,000. This sounds almost insane. Yet, the odds of being dealt a Natural Royal is 1 in just under 650,000. My recollection is that this happened to me exactly once in all the years I’ve been playing. So, there is a good chance that the Razgu to four Deuces has happened before too as I have no idea how many hands I have played over the past 30 years. More than likely, it is hundreds of thousands. Of course, a relatively small number of these hands have been on Deuces Wild. So, at some point in the past, I may have had a Razgu

and got four Deuces, but it was on a Jacks or better machine and not Deuces Wild. With a little luck, maybe it happened on a Double Double machine. Either way, it probably did not register the way this one did. A Royal is a Royal on any machine. But Deuces are extra special when playing Deuces Wild. But here is the part I find most

mind-blowing. With all the thousands of video poker machines in the world and all the hands that are played each day. I probably wasn’t the only person who this happened to on the day in question. These incredibly rare and unique events happen every single day. We can only hope that we are one of the lucky ones to have it happen to.

In the end, this is what will determine how close to the theoretical payback we come. These hands account for such a large percentage of the payback and are enough that if we have just a little more than average, we can find ourselves ahead. If we are running cold on these hands, our bankroll will suffer. ElliotFrome@GamingToday.com

Lindo: Cal Cup full of quality Continued from p16 early speed than the top pair. Cal Cup Derby: Play Chicken was fitted with blinkers and stretched out around two turns for the first time when he won the King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos. That proven route form may give him the edge, though The Chosen Vron was extremely impressive winning his sprint debut on Dec. 27 and is bred to love a route of ground. Mister Bold is developing into a hard knocker and wasn’t disgraced behind the top choice in the King Glorious.

Cal Cup Oaks: Sensible Cat earned her Maiden win routing on the turf before coming right back to win the Soviet Problem Stakes for Cal-breds at Los Alamitos. She looks like strictly the one to beat. I’m So Anna won the Pike Place Dancer Stakes on turf at Golden Gate and could be the main threat. Lindo Report Play for Gaming Today: Santa Anita Friday, Race 5: Savvy Gal (No. 5). Coming off a series of two turn races, this filly from the Richard Baltas stable tried sprinting on turf for the first time Oct. 18 and responded with an off-thepace victory. JonLindo@GamingToday.com

It’s much more than just a game In case you did not know it, poker is more than just a game of cards. True, it is played with a deck of 52 cards; but that hardly explains what it is all about. You are also playing a game when you play checkers or a sport. So what is a George ‘The game? Engineer’ Epstein A game is an activity in which you engage, usually competing against one or more other people to gain a reward. But let me assure you that poker is much more than a game; and that is often why we engage in it without realizing it. I will try to explain. Over the years, I have learned much from poker that applies to life and my career away from the felt — sometimes without any special effort. You may have read some of my columns in which I explain why playing poker may prevent players from acquiring Alzheimer’s disease. Among the people I know who suffered — and eventually died — of Alzheimer’s, none of them were poker players. Others have reported the same to me. Coincidence or for real? Tells are a vital part of the game of poker. Becoming adept at identifying our opponents’ tells and interpreting

Poker by George

them can be carried over into our daily lives and careers to gain valuable relevant information. And how about learning how to avoid giving tells to your opponents at work, as well as in the casino? That is sure to get you an advantage — an edge — over others. There are many other benefits derived from the game of poker. Let us examine some: • Ability to pick the best table and game to play — where you will have the best chance to win. That can apply to your career and life — even to selecting your mate and friends. • Ability to strategize and use tactics — in life, as well as at the poker table. • Ability to focus — to concentrate your attention wherever necessary. • Ability to use logic. If your reasoning is not logical, you are bound to be a loser. • Do not trust to luck. You can learn to influence luck, but never to control it. • Do not chase. Chasers are bound to lose — be it in the poker game or in facing life’s challenges. • Control your emotions to avoid making costly mistakes. • How to decide when the reward (amount of chips in the pot) is worth the risk. • Ability to select your starting hands — and when to muck them.

• Ability to make decisions based on facts — not hunches. • Self-control and self-discipline — so important in success both at the felt and in life. • Ability to avoid going on tilt. You are bound to make mistakes when not in control of your emotions. • Ability to be more patient. • Ability to read people. • Accepting a loss or defeat. • Ability to remain calm in the face of “danger.” • Knowing when to quit. . . One I am not sure you want to learn is how to transfer ability to bluff and semi-bluff your opponents from the green felt into real life. That’s great for poker, but not the way you want your work associates, friends and family to remember you. Likewise, ability to be deceptive while playing poker may not be the best way to engage in transactions in real life. I’ll wager you can add a few more items that you can learn at the poker table that relate to real life situations. . .

Life/Poker Quote of the Week “The road to success: There are no shortcuts.” — @ landpsychology Play to win; live life as best you can; do not depend on luck! GeorgeEpstein@GamingToday.com


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Belmont’s has all the classics This week, I was on a mission, I wanted to try a brand-new restaurant, one that opened in 2020 during one of the most trying times our country has seen. It’s tough enough opening a new restaurant, but to open one just a little over a month before everything was shut down had to be extremely stressful. Belmont’s American Eatery, located at 2540 Anthem Village Drive, Suite 100 in Henderson opened in February and the coronavirus pandemic shutdown hit in March. This family-owned restaurant is small, but the food was so good and I was glad I found the place. When I first moved to Vegas, I lived just a couple minutes away from their location and wish they were there then as I would have been a regular. Belmont’s menu is just what

their name suggests as there are a lot of American comfort food favorites and at very reasonable

Best Bites Marco D’Angelo @MarcoInVegas prices. The menu has everything — from breakfast to salads, sandwiches, pizza, burgers, wings and dinner entrees. As I looked over the menu, I couldn’t decide what I really was hungry for and my waitress suggested to try their sampler platter to get a taste of some of their best items. Her advice was spot on as it was fabulous. The platter came with three Cheeseburger Sliders, 4

Chicken Wings and 3 BBQ Ribs along with celery and carrot sticks with Ranch or Blue Cheese Dressing. The sliders were amazing, the ribs were good, and the wings were very good. I really enjoyed it and for $16.99, given the amount of food along with the quality, this was well worth the price. Just Photo from Marco D’Angelo a tip: you may want The sampler platter at Belmont’s. to share this with someone as it really is a lot of food. Even though it was pizza and it looked and smelled so my dinner entree I couldn’t finish good. I will be trying a pizza on a future visit for sure. Other items on it all. The table next to me ordered a the menu that caught my eye was

Miech: Atalanta Over good bet Continued from p15 later, Spezia striker M’Bala Nzola equalized with a penalty kick. In the 77th minute, an Eagles defender got dismissed by a second yellow card. Spezia was down a man. Parker monitored his smartphone. Four minutes later, midfielder Tommaso Pobega scored to give Spezia the 2-1 advantage. “I was in the catbird seat,” said Parker. In shots taken, Napoli had the 29-9 edge. In shots on target, the home side dominated, 10-3. The final score, though, favored the upstarts and a professional’s wallet. “I would have taken a tie all day, and they actually won,” he said. “I saw value, took advantage. On to the next game.”

Saturday Udinese at Sampdoria, Total 2.5 Ov +110: Sampdoria has tallied nine against Udinese in their past three meetings, and more than 2.5 goals have been scored in 15 of Sampdoria’s previous 16 home matches. OVER

Sunday Juventus at Inter Milan, Total 2.5 Ov -148: Inter, featuring Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, is second in Europe with a 4.24 goals-plus-assists rate. Juve, and Portuguese superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, is fourth at 3.94. Grab a Moretti, relax and enjoy. OVER Genoa at Atalanta, Total 3 Ov -151: Josip Iličić has returned to

form for Atalanta, which has outscored foes 15-2 in its past four inside Gewiss Stadium. OVER

Monday AC Milan -1 -117 at Cagliari: Since October 1998, Milan is 25-1-7 against Cagliari, with a 63-23 goals edge. AC MILAN Last week: 1-3 Season: 30-33-3 RobMiech@GamingToday.com

their Lemon Pepper Chicken and Beef or Chicken Teriyaki Bowls. They also have steaks and seafood as well. My waitress was very friendly. I didn’t ask her but I am really pretty sure she was the owner’s daughter, which just adds to the mom-and-pop atmosphere which I absolutely love. If you want to enjoy a cold beer with your meal, 16 oz. domestic drafts are just $1.50 and imports are $2. Given the quality of the food, the reasonable prices and friendliness of the staff, I highly recommend Belmont’s American Eatery and give it a rating of 3.75 Forks. MarcoDangelo@GamingToday.com

Wargo: Rio upgrade Continued from p19 and see those numbers play out live,” Birnbaum said. “It’s been unfortunate we haven’t been able to do that because of COVID. Thankfully, the Rio reopened on a partial basis in December, and we’re starting to get under the hood real time now.” Birnbaum said he’s optimistic about the ramping up of business leading up to that timeframe. “There’s going to be a vaccine, and a lot of pent-up demand that is forthcoming,” Birnbaum said. “Our view is that Vegas is poised to really benefit from that. We want to move quicker than slower.” BuckWargo@GamingToday.com

Lawhon: William Hill, BetMGM busy in Iowa Continued from p18 client base,” he said. “Sports betting in general is a recreational activity for so many people. Most of America watches, so why not have a few dollars on the game as you watch? “I think that idea transcends geography. And look, situations everywhere are going to change at some point. The situation in Iowa changed. New Jersey’s situation is going to change at some point, given (New York governor Andrew) Cuomo supporting sports betting in New York. Your product and your produce enhancement will be a big area of growth in the industry over the coming years.” The personalization aspect crossed into Asher’s mind here, too, and he discussed possibilities of direct connections to streaming content as part of the betting experience, particularly in niche sports and markets. Getting sports betting in the regular conver-

sation has also been an important part of William Hill’s strategy recently, Asher said, evidenced by its and Caesars’ partnerships with CBS Sports and ESPN, respectively. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach, ultimately, because the size of this market is still on its exponential rise, at least for now. That’s the same whether you’re in the heart of the Strip or on a quiet rural Iowa road. “This U.S. project is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” Greenblatt said. “There’s so much capital looking for a home, for exposure in the sector. That’s what makes experimentation possible, but it emphasizes innovation. Because the U.S. market is still nascent, we still have the opportunity to be creative and innovative, and we couldn’t be more excited. The prizes for the winners can be immense.” DannyLawhon@GamingToday.com


JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

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JANUARY 13, 2021 - JANUARY 19, 2021

Profile for Gaming Today

GamingToday Digital Issue January 13 2021  

Casino News | Gambling Strategy | Race and Sports Betting Tips | MMA UFC Boxing | Poker Slots Wagering

GamingToday Digital Issue January 13 2021  

Casino News | Gambling Strategy | Race and Sports Betting Tips | MMA UFC Boxing | Poker Slots Wagering