The next time you see Bert Cirincione checking numbers as director of race and sports at Green Valley Ranch, address him as the Bookies Battle champion.
“To win is a great accomplishment,” Cirincione said of the prestigious GamingToday contest held over 17 weeks and co-sponsored by Pregame.com. “To be able to participate in the contest has been a thrill over the years.”
Winning Bookies Battle is far from easy. Having to correctly pick NFL games against the spread is especially tough with the continued parity throughout the league. Add that to the fact picks are made against more than 50 of the best handicappers in Las Vegas and almost a full week before the majority of the games are played.
“I think first off you have to evaluate the number,” said Cirincione, who has been with Station Casinos for nearly 14 years. “I don’t like giving a lot of points. If the game is more than a touchdown, I look to the underdog. There are plenty of opportunities on the board.”
Cirincione finished 34 games above .500 at 145-111 for the regular season in winning by four over Earl Peterson, representing Casablanca/Virgin River in Mesquite. Bert made friends among GT readers who followed his picks through the weeks, unlike a certain columnist who made money for the sharps who bet against him.
“I think there was a lot of value this year in teaser bets with a lot of the games falling close to the number,” Cirincione said. “Often you can win taking both sides. As a book, we look at the entire season as a marathon. We will have good weeks and bad. Hopefully by the end of the year we are where we want to be.”
GVR certainly was and its future as a book continues to rise.
“Introducing the Sports Connection mobile app was certainly the biggest change in our business,” Cirincione said. “Online wagering is the wave of the future. You can earn points at Station sites by betting at home. There is both the convenience of betting anywhere and then coming in and using the points to eat or get a seat in our book.”
If you can find one.
“There is no question NFL Sundays are packed and the trend is rising,” he said. “We’re in the process of installing new 20-inch screens everywhere in the book plus offering the usual food and drink specials. At GVR we are always looking to provide a superior product for the people.”
And if you ask Bert directly, he may just have a Super Bowl winner to share.
“The powerhouse teams usually step up this time of year,” he said. “I lean toward Denver to win the Super Bowl. They have a great quarterback in Peyton Manning and no matter if he faces Indianapolis or New England it would be a revenge game.”
Cirincione sees a Broncos-Seahawks matchup for the NFL championship with Denver being a small favorite.
“If there was a longshot, I would say Carolina,” he said. “But I am on Denver right now.”
Mark Mayer has over 35 years covering sports events and is the sports editor at GT. Reach him at [email protected].