The subject of “huge” bets has become a hot topic on gambling Twitter. As someone that writes about gambling, I understand both sides of the argument. From the media’s perspective, they need to produce content for a broad audience and generate clicks. Reporting on large wagers fits the bill for both of those items.
But, the flipside of that is the risk of leading new bettors to misguided perceptions about gambling. Many believe that the glamorization of these types of bets and parlays will lead gamblers to one fate – busting their bankroll
After seeing a ton of banter about the subject on Twitter last week, I wanted to go straight to the source. Ben Fawkes, who is the VP of Digital Media for VSiN, is someone who frequently posts about big bets as a part of his job. I also wanted to get the perspective of someone who is on the other side of the coin on this issue, so I reached out to Jack Andrews, or as people on Twitter refer to him, Captain Jack. Jack is a pro bettor and is known in the industry as a gambling watchdog.
I asked both gentlemen the same questions. Only fair, right?
The reporting of “big” bets has become a controversial topic lately. How do you feel about the subject?
Ben Fawkes: I think that as journalists, once we verify to the best of our ability that the bet is real, it’s our job to report newsworthy bets. For example, a $3 million parlay is news in our world, regardless of whether people like the actual bet or not.
Jack Andrews: I’m not opposed to the reporting of big bets. This is a natural zeitgeist that we see in every form of media coverage. People are fascinated by big bets and it’s natural to report them. That said, I do draw the line at when they encourage or highlight bad betting behavior. So while your standard NFL wager on a team to win a game might have a 4% house edge, a 3-team parlay on three futures wagers has a significantly higher cost. I’d hate to see people tail that bet blindly because they think someone else is “smart enough” to wager $3 million on it.
Some see the reporting of “huge” bets as a showcase for books to give one-sided publicity to square strategies. For example, many bring up that the 10-team parlay stories that have a very low chance of hitting might give new gamblers the wrong idea. Your thoughts?
BF: I definitely pass on promoting every single parlay that comes to me, for this reason. I think that some of them are fun to discuss, with the caveat that this isn’t a long-term money making strategy for the general public.
JA: Expanding on that, the encouragement for recreational bettors to treat sports wagering as a lottery ticket is a bad path to lead someone down. That’s what we’re seeing with these 10-team parlay winners. The fact that a pretty simple post I made about parlay math went viral (over 2 million “impressions” or views) shows two things. One, that people are fascinated by the general idea of big wagers. Two, that enough people didn’t understand the price being paid by the bettor and immediately sought to share it with everyone they know. Tired information doesn’t spread like that – new information does.
I think the next point of caution needs to be Same Game Parlays, which are becoming very popular in regulated markets. To the inexperienced bettor it looks like a pot of gold. Make a parlay bet on events happening in the same game that are correlated and win a big amount. What they don’t see is that the sportsbook accounts for correlation in their pricing, in fact they overcompensate and the house edge on these Same Game Parlays are even higher than a regular parlay!
Do you think the criticism that media members receive for reporting these bets is justified?
BF: (Laughs) I think that in a Twitter-driven world there is always going to be criticism. Ultimately, we’re putting out information and people can choose to use it as they see fit. If they want to ignore it, that’s also fine. If we put out how much money an NFL side is getting in a game, people could complain that it’s only at one book … or in one state. The sports betting market has become increasingly complex to cover.
JA: I don’t think the media is at fault for reporting big wagers. However, the media does have a responsibility to inform their readers/viewers. Now this doesn’t need to come in the form of a bold-type disclaimer with every tweet. However, infrequent references to the actual house edge and probability would go a long way. Also, trying to get some soft numbers from sportsbooks on how they did on parlays or the week’s NFL action would also be a way of balancing out the reporting. These sportsbooks aren’t losing money on booking these bets. Not at all.
What is your vetting process to make sure that the “big” money bets are real?
BF: I like to get a copy of the bet receipt if possible, but I’ve worked with many sportsbook directors for years and I trust them. If they tell me a bet is confirmed, I’ll go with it.
JA: Since most of these are done online, we don’t have betslips to post. However, getting screenshots from the source book and confirming the wager is necessary. That doesn’t need to be posted for all to see, but spending a few characters to confirm they have vetted the wager saves a lot of doubt from skeptics.
So, there you have it. Would love to hear your thoughts on this subject matter, so please reply to me on Twitter @docksquad33.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.