One of the highlights of the football season is the "media contest," in which fans gain insights into how experts or public handicappers analyze the games while picking up a few free selections (hopefully, winning ones) along the way.
Topping the list is GamingToday’s Bookies Battle, now in its 21st season. Perhaps the most difficult of all contests, the Bookies Battle requires Nevada bookmakers to pick the point-spread winner of every regular season NFL game, nearly a week before it is played.
The bookmakers’ selections and their cumulative season records, as well as a consensus selection, are published every week in GamingToday during the regular NFL season.
The $1,000 prize awarded to the state’s top bookmaker doesn’t compare to the prestige of out-handicapping the state’s best oddsmakers.
Last year, Bert Groner and Michel Hendrie of Paris Las Vegas won the Bookies Battle with a combined record of 154-102, a 60.1 percent winning margin.
Finishing second was Raphael Esparza of New York-New York at 149-107; the Gold Coast’s Nikki Commisso was third at 146-110, followed by Kitt Langvad of Arizona Charlie’s at 145-111.
The consensus of all bookmakers was a respectable 140-116 (54.7 percent), though it was off slightly from previous seasons (57.8 percent in 2004 and 58.6 percent in 2003).
The most popular radio show contest, the Stardust Invitational, ended its phenomenal run when Boyd Gaming announced that the Stardust was scheduled for demolition later this year.
However, other sports talk shows are hoping to fill the void with contests of their own.
Dave "The Meat Man" Scandaliato of Meat and Potatoes fame has announced an invitational handicapping contest similar to the Stardust’s.
"I really enjoyed the Stardust Invitational and since nobody picked up the show here in Las Vegas, I felt it was important to have a contest like that on my radio show this season," Scandaliato said.
Scandaliato said that his handicapping contest, which will be broadcast on his radio show on KLAV 1230 AM, will feature 16 top sports personalities who will square off in head-to-head, sudden death competition, with a $5,000 prize pool for the top two finishers.
The "Meat Man" added that he will unveil the 16 contestants and contest format next week. In the Stardust Invitational, contestants picked seven college or pro teams (sides or totals), from the weekend’s lined action, along with a best bet.
Scandaliato said he expected the contestants would provide solid betting information for listeners, rather than the "meaningless hype" often associated with radio touts who are more adept at hyperbole rather than picking winners.
The Leroy’s chain of sports books is sponsoring a couple of radio show contests this season. The first is its "Money Talks Invitational" contest that will also feature 16 handicappers, each of whom will put up $5,000 to compete for the winner-take-all prize of $80,000.
Money Talks returns after debuting last season and will be broadcast on Leroy’s Friday night show, which moves from KDWN to KSHP AM-1400, from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Scheduled to compete in the single-elimination handicapping tournament are Al McMordie, Steve Maclaughlin, GT columnist Andy Iskoe, Bill Krackman, Bob Donahue, Bryon Leonard, Chicago Pete, Doc (of Doc’s Sports), Jorge Gonzalez, Ken "the Shrink" Weitzner, Marc Lawrence, Paul Sonner, Ron Boyles, Stephen Nover, Erin Rynning and Wayne Peters.
Leroy’s marketing director Jimmy Vacarro said if there are 16 more interested parties, Leroy’s will add another bracket and have the two overall winners play for a $160,000 prize.
On Leroy’s Sports Hour, which is broadcast daily from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. on KENO AM-1460, famed sports director Nick Bogdanovich will square off every Friday against sports bettor Fezzik in a head-to-head handicapping contest.
Each contestant put up $25,000 of his own money and will make six plays each Friday for 12 weeks during the football season.
With the imminent closing of the Stardust and the canceling of its long-running Stardust Line radio show, Leroy’s has picked up the slack on Sunday nights with its own "Leroy’s Line Show," which will feature host John Kelly and handicapper Dave Cokin in a kind-of continuation of the now defunct Stardust Line Show.
The Sunday night show will feature a review of the weekend’s action and preview the upcoming week’s match-ups.
The show will be broadcast from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. on KBAD AM-920 radio.