From ‘Hell’ to $205K

Jan 29, 2008 2:11 AM

It all came down to the final week, but when the dust and the tiebreaking rule cleared, it was the two-man team dubbed Ptshverj/Gaffney who edged out Blondie89103 to win the 2007-08 Las Vegas Hilton Super Book’s NFL SuperContest.

Ptshverj/Gaffney, which is Joe Gaffney of the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood in Manhattan and Michael Handzelek of Mocanaqua, Pa., made their first entry in the grand daddy of all handicapping contests a very memorable and profitable one, splitting the $205,200 top prize.

The annual contest run by the Hilton and its renowned sports book director Jay Kornegay, costs $1,500 to enter and runs the entire 17 weeks of the NFL season. Entrants make five selections weekly against the point spread, each win being worth one point.

The winning duo started off humbly, going 5-5 and sitting back in 149th place in the prestigious contest after the first three weeks. In mid-September, the Ptshervj/Gaffney team went on a pivotal 17-1-2 run to get right into the thick of it.

Ptshervj Gaffney and Blondie89103 were tied at 54 points after the 1 p.m. games of Week 17. At that point, the winning duo said they made their biggest decision of the entire contest.

"We decided to get rid of the 49ers because of all their injuries," Handzelek said of the last-minute change. "And we put in the Chiefs instead."

That decision proved crucial as the Chiefs ended up covering with the points against the Jets while the 49ers were spanked by the Browns.

Ptshervj/Gaffney and Blondie89103 ended up tied with 55 points in the top spot, meaning the determination of the winner would come down to the overall record of the two contestants over the last three weeks.

Ptshervj Gaffney went 10-5, while Blondie89103 went 9-6 giving Handzelek and Gaffney the championship and $123,120 more than the second-place finisher who collected a cool $85,000.

Handzelek said he and Gaffney had plenty of incentive to win the contest of all football handicapping contests which first started back in 1987.

"We were severely motivated because we found out my dad was stricken with bone cancer before the contest began," Handzelek said.

Gaffney, who said he is going to give $25,000 of his winnings to his mother, said one important reality about winning the SuperContest is to try not to have bad weeks.

"One key is to have no 1-4 or 0-5 weeks," said Gaffney who along with Handzelek went 55-30 (65 percent) in the contest, just missing out by two wins for an additional $10,000 bonus the sports book gives out to any contestants with a record over 67 percent.

"I don’t usually get shaken up by things but what really shook me up was the e-mail (saying he and Handzelek were the winners)," Gaffney said.

Gary Lyon finished in third (54 points) place taking home $41,041. Rico, aka Michael Scalleat, a native of Hazelton, Pa., finished fourth (53). His perfect 5-0 final week earned him a healthy $25,650 payday.

Winner’s Circle benefited from a 5-0 final week to finish in fifth place with 52.5 points. Amnesia, Gamblers Exchange, Michael Piranio, Sundown and The Eagle all tied for sixth place with 52 points.

A total of 342 entrants played in this year’s SuperContest which pays out to the top 20 finishers and offers 100 percent payback to contestants.