It all came down to the final week of the NFL season, but the Fiesta Rancho’s Vinny Sanzare held off the competition to capture GamingToday’s 23rd annual Bookies Battle the Point Spread contest.
Sanzare, who has been at the Fiesta Rancho since May 2005, held off Boulder Station’s Jackson Meeker while going 8-8 in Week 17, to finish the season with an impressive 146-110 (57 percent) record.
Meeker also went 8-8 in the NFL’s final week to finish 144-112, two games back of the new champ. Last year’s winner was Bob Smith of Leroy’s sports books.
GamingToday’s annual Bookies Battle contest is restricted to legal Nevada bookmakers, and requires them to pick every NFL game against the point spread.
Complicating the task is all selections must be made Monday morning, often times before a consensus line or point spread has been determined.
In this year’s competition, Sanzare was tied with the Rio’s Louise Moore at 119-88 after Week 14 action, which saw Moore going an impressive 11-4 to vault to the top while Sanzare went 7-8.
In Week 16, Sanzare went 7-8 while Moore went 4-11, and the Fiesta Rancho bookie grabbed a healthy lead over Boulder Station’s Meeker, who went 8-7 to take over second place heading into the final week.
Week 17, historically tough, saw all the leaders struggle to go .500, and Sanzare won the competition with his 8-8, as Meeker took second place with his matching 8-8.
Palace Station’s Hugh Ledford had a chance at the title with a 133-107 mark heading into Week 17, but went 5-11 and finished third with a 138-118 overall record, tying with the California’s Kaleo Kua and Wynn’s Doug Castaneda.
The Rio’s Moore (6-10, Week 17) ended up finishing in a four-way tie for fifth place with Green Valley Ranch’s Kelly Downey, the Plaza’s Mike Colbert and the Riverside’s Ken Spencer. All ended with 137-119 marks in the annual contest, which gives the public a chance to follow the weekly selections of the bookies throughout the NFL season, as well as each of the Best Bets and the consensus picks of the Silver State’s 42 top bookmakers.
Sanzare last weekend revealed some of his season-long strategy.
"In the first half of the season, I kind of went by past trends and then as the season wore on I looked for the current trends, Sanzare said.
Sanzare, whose best bets were only 6-11, said a little bit of good karma or possibly faulty technology may have helped his cause.
"And there was a little bit of luck involved," he said. "There was one week where for whatever reason the fax (to GamingToday) didn’t go through correctly and I ended up with the consensus picks, and I ended up doing better that week than I would have. Sometimes, it’s better to be lucky than good."
Sanzare, who also said that, had the Bookies Battle gone down to the last tie-breaker, he would have probably lost, said he was a tad nervous heading into the final week.
"I was anxious but also excited about it," he said, knowing he was leading. "And a lot of our regular guests around here were pulling for me so a lot of positive energy behind me really helped."
For winning the Bookies Battle contest, Sanzare received $1,000 and bragging rights until next September, when GamingToday gears up for Season 24 of the contest.
Asked what he planned to do with his prize money, Sanzare had a very generous and practical answer.
"Actually, I talked it over with my wife and we’re going to donate a portion to two children’s charities," he said. "Were going to give to St. Jude’s Children Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
"We felt like we wanted to do something," Sanzare continued. "Those are both very good and reputable charities. Unfortunately, the other half will get donated to (paying off) the credit cards."