Unlike the Minnesota Vikings, Casey Maloni knows how to protect a lead.
The Aladdin’s race and sports book supervisor won GamingToday’s annual Bookies Battle contest, successfully protecting the five-game margin he had in Week 16.
"It’s very exciting to win and great to have the opportunity to represent the Aladdin in this prestigious contest," said Maloni, who finished the regular season as the only one of 71 top oddsmakers with under 100 losses (156-98).
"I’ve usually been close to the top, around four or five games behind with two weeks left," Maloni said. "You try to shoot for 60 percent winners, which is about what I have been averaging since being in the Bookies Battle."
Maloni’s 8-8 mark in the final week of the regular season’s games was actually his worst effort since a matching .500 mark in Week 2. A fine 12-4 record in Week 16 pretty much locked up the title.
The two closest contenders, Casey Lewless (Circus Circus) and John Sheldon (Golden Nugget Laughlin) also posted 8-8 records in the final week. Lewless placed second at 151-103, with Sheldon a game back at 150-104. The consensus of all 71 sports directors wound up fourth (149-105) after an 8-8 final week.
Maloni now enters the postseason, hoping to better his 11-3 record of two years ago when he shared the title with Fred Crespi (now with the Palms).
"I believe Bill Belichek is the best coach in the business," Maloni said. "The Patriots play a different style against every team they meet. Their preparation is unlike any team in the NFL. The Super Bowl is about coaching and they have the best."
Maloni’s strategy of picking games is basic, just a matter of deciding which team is better.
"I look at the line, of course, but when making selections it basically comes down to which is the superior team," he said. "I’ve been fortunate to have won around 60 percent of my picks on average, so I stick with my selection process."
The consensus had a winning percentage of 58.7 percent, one of the best in the contest’s history dating back to the early 1980s. Last year, the consensus posted a 133-122 record (52.2 percent).
Last year’s overall winner was Johnny Spot (Barbary Coast) at 152-103. Spot edged Glynis Mickelian (Primm Valley) by two games. This year Spot and Mickelian were again in the Top 10 with marks of 146-108 and 144-110 respectively.
Even though the Bookies Battle competition has officially ended, GT will poll participating bookmakers in the NFL playoffs. See page 21 for their current selections, as well as a result of a poll GT conducted in which the bookies select their Super Bowl winner.
One third of the 45 panelists participating in the postseason NFL picked the Philadelphia Eagles to win the Super Bowl. The Eagles are co-favorites at 5-2 with the St. Louis Rams. Surprisingly, the Rams received just three votes to win the NFL championship. New England (3-1) was second with 11 votes.
Green Bay, at 15-1, was third with six votes. Every playoff team received at least one vote except Denver, also at 15-1. Seattle, the longest shot at 50-1, had one vote.