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Gamblin'

Why Are Grantland And The New York Times Peddling The Bullshit Of Sports Betting Sleazeballs?


RJ Bell Pregame Grantland New York Times Sleazy

Mainstream media are finally beginning to acknowledge that Americans bet on sports, and that point spreads are far more accurate at evaluating teams than so-called “experts,” who are really just writers or personalities, nothing more. But, it’s happening at the (plodding) pace of an Andy Reid addition problem. You still read headlines like “Michigan ‘shocks’ Iowa…” when the winners were 3-point home favorites. Frequently.

And whenever a taboo subject permeates the national discussion, there is an information gap. The average sports fan doesn’t know a lot about sports betting, because there are virtually no sports-betting experts employed by mainstream-media outlets. Why? Sports bettors usually spend their time betting on sports, not working full-time as writers or commentators. It’s similar to why the media doesn’t know shit about the stock market. And it’s why outlets with solid reputations have been covering “stories” like “Floyd Mayweather Bets $10 Million On Broncos,” when all evidence suggests that it’s complete bullshit. That was the highest-trafficked story on the Denver Post’s website a few days ago. Yes, in Denver’s newspaper, during the week of a Super Bowl that featured the Denver Broncos.

This is a problem. It was a problem that mainstream media ignored sports betting, but it’s an even bigger problem that supposedly reputable outlets are starting to cover sports betting… but doing so by peddling complete bullshit. There’s no other word to describe it, so I’m going to keep saying it. Most of the Internet is peddling bullshit. ESPN is peddling bullshit. The New Yorker is peddling bullshit. Business Insider is peddling bullshit. Grantland is peddling bullshit. THE NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES is peddling bullshit. It has gone too far. The Internet reeks of sports betting propaganda and misinformation.

And most of that stench emanates from a man named RJ Bell.

Who?

Good question!

If you are a Grantland reader or a sports fan on Twitter, you’ve likely come across RJ Bell. He’s a self-proclaimed betting “expert,” and he currently has over 78,000 followers on Twitter. He has influence, whether he deserves it or not. He writes a regular column on Grantland and has appeared on ESPN radio and TV shows for quite some time. His presence has intensified recently, and that’s not OK. He was aptly described as “something of a mascot for the (sports betting) industry.”

The problem with RJ Bell is very simple. He’s not a writer or TV or radio guy first. He’s the founder and CEO of Pregame.com, a website that sells sports picks. All of that media stuff is just branding. He is represented “by one of Hollywood’s hottest celebrity publicists to keep the brand red hot.” The same publicist as Bill Simmons, if you were wondering.

The pick-selling industry, or “tout” industry, mainly consists of scumbags. An excellent BettingTalk article describes the climate succinctly and accurately:

Inside the gambling world, the only bigger insult than calling someone a tout is being called a sucker who bought picks from a tout. In fact, it’s hard to come up with a profession that has a worse reputation…

“The overall climate of the industry is 99 percent scammers, so I can’t really blame those that have that opinion of the industry,” another pick-seller wrote in an email.

The reasons for this are:

1) The percentage of sports bettors that profit, long-term, is typically estimated at ~1-3%. That’s an estimate, but it is 100% true that very few people are capable of making money on sports betting. It requires a lot of intelligence, discipline and hard work.

2) For the few who are capable, the rational decision is to keep one’s picks to him or herself. Disclosing picks will give the market a glimpse into the bettor’s methods and make it more difficult for him to get the prices that he/she seeks. If you’re a winning sports bettor, releasing your picks is a suboptimal financial decision. You also do not want to be a known winner. Most sportsbooks, especially those in Vegas, will refuse your bets or heavily limit the amount you can bet if they know you’re a winner.

Your assumption should be that all pick-sellers are scammers, unless they can go above and beyond to prove that’s not the case. In fact, there is one widely prasied pick-selling service that exists: Right Angle Sports.

How can you tell they’re legit?

Right on the front page of their website, they feature a “Pick Archive,” where you can view their “fully transparent long term record.”

Does Pregame.com provide fully transparent long-term records?

No.

This is enough to show you should not purchase their services. If RJ Bell could provide fully transparent long-term, successful records for all of his touts, he would do so. It would help his business immensely. The fact that he won’t do so proves an obvious point: He can’t prove that his touts’ picks will win you money. Clearly, you shouldn’t give them your money.

That’s the main problem, and the only problem that matters if you were to consider buying their picks. But given that Pregame has to resort to sleazy marketing to fool people, there are other problems.

For one: Right now, Pregame.com employs about 25 touts. They’re all independent, and logic suggests that the majority of them are not long-term winners. The facts back this up, and then some. There is no reason to have 25 different sellers, besides scammy marketing (it’s likely that at least a few of them will get lucky and have a marketable, short term hot streak — “Ignore the 20 guys that are losing right now and the 25 guys we can’t prove are winners… but 5 of them have won 12 of their last 15 bets! Send us your bank account info!”)

Short-term records are meaningless. I have won 10 bets in a row before. I have also lost 10 in a row. Neither of those facts tells you anything about my sports-betting skills, or lack thereof. Shit, I won money for one full year of NFL betting. But there is no way for me to prove that wasn’t luck, and I can in no way guarantee I won’t be horrible next year.

RJ Bells claims that Pregame.com is “100% transparent,” but it is not. Just take it from Edward Golden, the founder of Right Angle Sports himself, who writes: “RJ Bell doesn’t get what 100% transparency is.”

What he fails to mention is that long term records are not displayed for any Pregame “Pro” and determining a long term record using their system would literally take someone days.”

Some comments from that forum discussion:

RJ is an absolute clown. So disgusting that he’s given such a wide platform.

They kicked off Tony George from selling football packages after his claims of a 60% long term record in Football that was shot down by several posters.

Yes, it’s a joke over there.

I’d agree with you somewhat, and there are a lot of sites out doing similar and worse things than Pregame, but the difference is they aren’t out there actively defending their misrepresentation of records. He just made that comment yesterday, it wasn’t dug up from the past.

There’s proof of this stuff all over; you can search things like “Fezzik betting record,” and see multiple accounts tracking him that prove he’s not a winner. Complaints are EVERYWHERE, with comments on forums like:

“you have to log in to see more than the last 100 picks., and RJ quickly bans anyone who tries to post past records”

There’s seriously so much of this shit out there, including Pregame being caught fabricating “handicapper” Steve Fezzik’s record for his “Bet Like a Pro” package… WHICH COSTS $1,000 A MONTH.

But hey, at least they provide this disclaimer!

THE SERVICE, CONTENT, AND SITE ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS. USE OF THE SERVICE IS AT YOUR OWN RISK. THE SERVICE IS PROVIDED WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NON-INFRINGEMENT. WITHOUT LIMITING THE FOREGOING, PREGAME, ITS AFFILIATES, AND ITS LICENSORS DO NOT WARRANT THAT THE CONTENT IS ACCURATE, RELIABLE OR CORRECT; THAT THE SERVICE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS

UPDATE: Just to add another layer of sleaze, a tipster informed me of PregameAction.com, a Pregame subsidiary pushed to Pregame newsletter subscribers, that profits by referring people to online sportsbooks. This is illegal to do in the US… so they set up the company in Canada. Like everything they do: It’s legal, but exceptionally shady.

Oh, and Fezzik was one of the other dudes quoted by the NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES. This dude “named” “Vegas Runner,” too, for whom you don’t have to search long to find a stench of scumminess. And that’s the real issue here.

Pregame.com is a dishonest company that uses shady marketing to promote a detrimental product. But, McDonalds does the same thing. You get your initial satisfaction (expert picks = tasty nuggets!), and then you feel like shit (bankruptcy = diarrhea). But thousands of companies do similar things, and the amount of blame they deserve is beyond the scope of this article. The real issue here is the media. The media is helping the sleazeballs. Seriously: The New York Times Magazine feature is horrendous, and the vast majority of readers probably, understandably had no idea.

Its main message is simple: RJ Bell and his Pregame.com touts “Vegas Runner” and Fezzik are glamorous sports-betting experts — specifically experts in NFL betting, the hardest sports to bet on (mainly because it’s the highest volume). It reads as the perfect ad for Pregame.com. You want to be these people. You want their picks. They call Steve Fezzik “the prototypical Vegas sharp.” The feature doesn’t explicitly tell you to go to Pregame.com, but if you’re an uneducated, interested consumer, like many readers, you’ll probably check it out. RJ wins. You lose.

And the weirdest part was that there were blatant inaccuracies in the post. This is a simple mathematical statement that is blatantly wrong and still hasn’t been corrected, almost a week after publication.

“Veteran sports gamblers are happy if they can do just slightly better, hitting 53.5 percent or more of their bets, which is the threshold for beating the vig and being profitable.”

The figure is 52.38% (rounded to the nearest hundreth). This can be proved by very simple math.

Most people won’t find that significant, which shows you how ripe people are for exploitation. Do you know what the difference between your average, losing bettor and a pro is? If you flip a coin to bet each game, you’ll win approximately 50% of the time. So, the average bettor wins something like 50% of the time. This means he will lose a lot of money, long-term. As I’ve said, Right Angle Sports are like gods in the gambling industry. Honest and successful. They hit 56.60% of their NCAAB bets over the past five years, and 60.84% in NCAAF. Those are easier markets than the NFL, and those numbers are FUCKING FANTASTIC. You will be filthy rich if you can consistently hit those numbers. A few percentage points can be the difference between bankruptcy and extreme wealth. Oh, and those percentage points become even more important if you must subtract a price that you’re paying for picks.

They also hype another, non-Pregame-affiliated tout, some dude named Dave Oancea (Vegas Dave). How do they prove he’s also a sick dude? He “says he drives a Ferrari and bets up to $100,000 per week…” and spends “more than $1 million for bottle service at nightclubs…” Wow! Hey, New York Times, I have a story for you: I drive four Lamborghinis and I bet $2 billion a week and spend $10 trillion at nightclubs! I would send you pictures but all of my cars are in the shop! Darn!

Really: The NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES promoted a sleazy business’s brand because the dude said that he drives a Ferrari and bets obscene amounts of money. No need to look into that or anything. It’s not like this is the NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES, or anything.

I can’t stress this enough: This is a big fucking problem. It allows Pregame.com to brand itself as “the largest sports betting info site compliant with U.S. law, and the most quoted worldwide: including ESPN, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and Wall Street Journal (and now, New York Times).”

They get to say: “Pregame.com has received more national media attention than all of our competitors combined.” Because it’s true.

They even say it themselves, on their affiliates page: “Pregame.com’s unmatched endorsements from the biggest and most respected media companies in the world (see the amazing list) establishes an instant credibility and trust level no competitor can match.”

They know what they’re doing. In this area, they’re transparent. The media is just too dumb and lazy to do something about it.

It also allows Pregame to hype their CEO another alleged credibility indicator, bragging that:

“RJ Bell of Pregame.com is the only sports bettor on Forbes’ list of Gambling Gurus and has been called “a true insider” by ESPN and a “point-spread maven” by USA Today. Mr. Bell has been featured on Dan Patrick, Colin Cowherd, Mike & Mike, Jim Rome, CBS Evening News, ABC Evening News, Nightline, CNBC, CNN, Fox Business, Sportscenter, Outside the Lines, Pardon the Interruption, First Take, Sports Nation, Rick Reilly, ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo, and in the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, New York Times, LA Times, Newsweek.com, Bloomberg, Maxim, and Sports Illustrated. Pregame.com is the largest sports betting news website compliant with US Law.”

It allows him to build his useless Twitter “brand” where he tweets unverifiable “facts” like mystical “wiseguys” who agree and disagree with Colin Cowherd’s bets, hypothetical payouts for ridiculous underdog parlays that nobody bet, and what future, hypothetical lines would be, by saying things like VEGAS SAYS A SUPER BOWL REMATCH WOULD BE LINED AS FOLLOWS, as if that holds any significance, as if Vegas is a person, and as if Mr. Vegas doesn’t typically just copy the lines put out by the big boys offshore. He writes things like “for those wanting to handicap the toss: [ed. note: PERHAPS THE DUMBEST PHRASE EVER WRITTEN] There have been 24 heads and 23 tails in the 47 prior Super Bowls. The NFC had won the toss 14 straight times before the AFC won the last two.” (The only fact that illuminates anything about “handicapping the coin toss” is the surprising, comical fact that the coin is slightly more likely to end up falling on the side that initially faces up.)

It allows them to have an affiliate program, getting other sites in on the sleaziness.

It allows them to, according to the New York Times (though apparently we shouldn’t take their word anymore), be worth $5 million as of 2012.

Pregame.com is a viable business, and a seemingly successful business, thanks in massive part to lazy, mainstream media.


NEXT PAGE: So, why do mainstream media outlets quote self-interested scammers?

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  • Lew

    “THE NEW YORK FUCKING TIMES is peddling bullshit”. Welcome to reality.

  • Anonymous

    A sad reality.

  • Jake O’Donnell

    Really, really, really interesting piece dude.

  • JamesInVegas

    Let me get this straight . . . the big point of this article is:

    * RJ Bell’s website sells picks.
    * Zero proof is provided of anything dishonest (one instance of fabrication is mentioned, but with no proof. In fact, the only sources of the article are anonymous forum posts)
    * Pregame.com is compared to McDonald’s (because the author does not like McDonald’s food and also does not like Pregame’s picks)
    * The author keeps mentioning one specific competitor of Pregame’s in glowing terms (agenda?)
    * The author doesn’t think Vegas bookmakers know anything, so RJ’s using them as sources is bad
    * RJ sends out trends on twitter that you don’t find compelling.

    That’s it. Seriously?

    Not one iota of proof of any wrongdoing?

    Not a single instance of questionable expertise?

    Nothing but name calling?

    An obvious case of a hack trying to get page views. Someone was exposed here, and it wasn’t RJ.

  • JamesInVegas

    Maybe I see things differently because I do listen to the Pregame podcasts every day and I do watch the videos – but I read this article twice, and I don’t see one legit point. And I’ve never seen forum bashing used to source an article. Is that normal here?

  • Anonymous

    The big points of the article are:

    - It is incredibly sleazy to run a business that hides the one factor that would indicate the unlikely presence of value.

    - It is incredibly sleazy to run a business that serves to bankrupt people and fuel addiction.

    - It is incredibly lazy and dishonest, as a respected media entity, to glorify a person that does these things as some sort of expert.

    - It is incredibly lazy and dishonest to give this person a platform and free advertising while misleading readers.

    Understand?

  • Anonymous

    thanks mayne

  • Anonymous

    There were a few forum comments included because they illustrate common sentiment among veteran sports bettors.

    And as I noted, the most important comment was written by Edward Golden in a thread he started.

  • JamesInVegas

    mattrud – kudos to have the guts to defend this article.

    So these unnamed veteran sports gamblers don’t think they can make money from Pregame.com’s picks? Is that it?

    Edward Golden, he competes with Pregame.com, right?

  • MattM

    As a long time forum member at Pregame, I disagree with a lot of this article. First of all, people who question records don’t get banned. Dub V is a poster at Pregame who questioned Tony George’s record. Dub V was thanked for finding an error and Tony George was given a long vacation from selling there. I don’t buy a lot of picks because I don’t bet a lot, but when I do I learn a lot from the write ups. I also learn a lot about betting/gaming theory and bankroll management from the other forum members.

  • JamesInVegas

    The only big tout sites on the Internet are Covers, Don Best, and Pregame.

    Pregame is the only one of the three to provide a complete listing of all picks made. They are the leader among major sites in transparency. That’s a fact.

    Todd Furman, who is featured on FOX TV!!!! . . . works for Don Best – but you don’t even mention the name Don Best?

    What is the agenda here? Be honest.

    Do you have single piece of proof of anyone being bankrupt by Pregame picks? Do you have a single piece of proof of Pregame fueling addiction. If anything, RJ’s message is to bet less and be more conservative. That made a difference with me as a gambler.

    Check out BetResponsibly.org
    I post in the Pregame.com forums, and 99% of the users LOVE what they are provided. Where is that fact?
    Obviously you have an agenda – we just need to figure it out. Or you can just tell us.

  • MattM

    What? I get a lot of value from Pregame. I spent less than $50 there last year, but I use the line services and my picks (to track my own picks), both of which are free on a daily basis. I am also a member of the forums, which is free. I am an informed bettor, not an addict. Betting is something I do for fun, it increases my enjoyment of watching sports. Utilizing the free services at Pregame also helps me to increase my enjoyment of sports and sports betting. Not at all sure how this is sleazy or bankrupting me. I find it pretty patronizing that you assume most sports bettors are bankrupt addicts. Most of my friends who bet, online and in real life, are professionals who bet for fun.

  • Anonymous

    Appreciate it, James. I’m happy to expand on anything. This is a complicated topic.

    That is the main thing, yes. The entire worth of their business to customers is based on the question: Can our picks make you money? If they could prove the answer was yes, they wouldn’t hide long term records. Hence, nobody should use them.

    I would not say Golden “competes” with Pregame. They are completely different. RAS uses virtually no marketing and lets its results and testimonials speak for themselves. They don’t have competing picks within their own service, like Pregame does. It’s just one set of picks. It’s expensive and not something I plan on purchasing, but it’s sort of like comparing a Weight-Loss Shake to a high-end personal chef/nutritionist.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    I have been buying Andre Gomes for the past few years and he has never lost me money, so no complaints here. Bought RAS in the past, but once they decided to take totals away (that were impossible to get down on anyway), moved on. Based off the love fest, maybe you got a comp or something to his service. I bounce between them and COVERS and at least at Pregame you can talk with the people you are buying from, win or lose. Don’t know about people getting deleted, but when a big game loses the forums getting flooded with upset off people, so not sure what site you are looking at, lol. Either way, no one is perfect, but the videos, podcasts etc are great (plus free). With 90+% of the other pick sites still trying to use those old boiler room scam moves, kinda weak to call out one of the most legit places in that business.

  • Anonymous

    Other pick sites are worse. I completely agree. However, they don’t appear in mainstream media frequently.

  • Anonymous

    I would strongly advise against buying picks occasionally. Even if the picks you were buying were spectacular, you can’t possibly ensure winnings by buying a select few.

  • Anonymous

    I mentioned nothing about bet-tracking or talking in the forum. Nothing wrong with either of those things.

    But how do they make their money? Selling picks. That’s the concern.

    And I don’t assume that most sports bettors are bankrupt addicts. However, the vast majority lose money, and those who buy bad picks are accelerating that process and increasing the likelihood of doing dumb things like chasing.

  • Anonymous

    Pregame is not 100% transparent and doesn’t showcase long-term records. It’s pretty simple.

    I didn’t mention Don Best because I didn’t want to give them a free shoutout. Fuhrman gives some good info on his own so I mentioned him.

    I have no problem with the forums. That’s not where they make their money. I have a problem with the pick-selling.

    And I will tell you what the “agenda” is, although I thought it was quite clear: The media needs to stop giving free advertisements and glorification to touts and Pregame.

  • JamesInVegas

    Except Furman promotes his employer Don Best any chance he gets – who you admit is worse, but you don’t even mention that company’s name?

    The most featured tout at Don Best is Jim Feist – maybe the biggest scammer of all time!

    But you don’t have any proof of RJ doing anything wrong – other than being the most transparent major site, by your admission – but not transparent enough for you, so you call him names?

    Here’s a name for you: pageview whore.

  • JamesInVegas

    This makes zero sense – Furman is on national TV (Fox), he is an employee of Don Best, he promotes Don Best. Don Best, by your own admission, is worse than Pregame in the area you are critical of Pregame in – but you don’t mention that company once?

    Speaking of not mentioning once, you referenced a Steve Fezzik fabrication, offering no proof. Could you please provide proof?

    Here is a fact – - Steve Fezzik is the only handicapper ever to win the LVH SuperContest (the most prestigious handicapping contest in Vegas) . . . how can you justify not mentioning that? (but, you mention your buddy Ed Goldman’s good W/L record)

    You’d have to be blind not to see what is going on here. SportGrid should be embarrassed.

  • Buck

    Looks to me like someone’s just hating on someone else without any facts. Fezzik seems legit to me. The guy won the super contest twice. Nobody has ever done that. Sportsbook managers have gone on record saying he bets and is sharp. If he’s willing to offer his services and people are willing to pay for them, why bash the man. I follow VR on twitter and you can’t argue those steam plays he gives aren’t legit. He even puts snap shot of his bets and you can easily see the lines move that way few mins after. If people want his picks and are willing to pay for them, why shouldn’t he sell them.
    I’ve listened to RJ Bell on all kinds of radio shows and he sounds like he knows his stuff to me. Compared to 99% of pick sites out there I think Pregame is the most legit and I don’t ever pay for picks. But I’m on there all the time for all the other stuff they got.
    Just sounds like someone’s pissed off that these guys are being recognized as people to go to for sports gambling related stuff. I mean, who should they be going to. You think Billy Walters is going to grant an local espn radio show in Arkansas an interview to let them know the betting line for the super bowl and stuff like that. This piece has “hater” written all over it. Not what I come here for and I don’t think anyone else does either.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    COVERS is probably the biggest in the business and use fake people! Shit, they had poor Lenny selling picks still AFTER he passed away. As a client of Andre, I log his stuff daily on Google Docs. The picks are for display once the game starts. Pretty transparent to me. Maybe edit the article and mention Andre (dude deserves it): http://pregame.com/pregamepros/pro-bettor/picks.aspx?id=7512

  • Da Poker Donkey

    From what I hear, pretty sure guys like John Avello from the Wynn and Jay Kornegay from LVH would call BS on them copying offshore openers. 5Dimes was taking like $100 on their bowl openers and the Vegas joints were taking actual bets.

  • JamesInVegas

    Good point – - RJ uses the same Vegas guys as David Purdman (who I live to read too) – - but David gets kind words, and RJ gets called names.

    BTW, David Purdman works for Ed Goldwin – - the only pick seller this author likes. Hmmmm.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    Even though I think Colin is a tool, I do listen to that segment most weeks. A bunch of the quotes come from people in Vegas and offshore. Personally, I would rather have someone give me a consensus of opinions and not listen to one person claiming they know it all.

  • JamesInVegas

    Question for author – -

    How much RJ Bell have you read and listened to? He talks more about how hard it is to win at sports betting, and how important it is to bet only recreational amounts, than anyone in the industry.

    Do you know that to be the case? If not, then you didn’t do your homework. If you do know, why did you leave it out of the article?

    The case can be made that RJ’s influence in this area has saved bettors huge amounts of money.

  • MattM

    Thanks for your advice on how to spend my entertainment money. You would really have a fit about how I spend my investment money. Even though I have read Bogle’s book and know I can’t beat the S and P, I still have a couple of individual stocks and pay for some services at Motley Fool

  • MattM

    Thanks for your advice on how to spend my entertainment money. You would really have a fit about how I spend my investment money. Even though I have read Bogle’s book and know I can’t beat the S and P, I still have a couple of individual stocks and pay for some services at Motley Fool

  • Da Poker Donkey

    If you do, maybe the CBB (if you can get the numbers). I followed the football the past two years and not sure if even covered what I paid. Have to respect their CBB, but pretty shady they pulled the totals away from us. Almost as shady few years back trying to sell for insane price and when no one was willing to pay, changed back.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    If you do, maybe the CBB (if you can get the numbers). I followed the football the past two years and not sure if even covered what I paid. Have to respect their CBB, but pretty shady they pulled the totals away from us. Almost as shady few years back trying to sell for insane price and when no one was willing to pay, changed back.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    I enjoy listening to Fezz more, but maybe he is mad he is following more people on twitter than follow him. Maybe next article should be on twitter spam programs ;)

  • Da Poker Donkey

    For me, I could care less about defending the sanctity of Pregame or Bell. The article basically says I am moron for buying picks or using the site. I have made money with Andre. A decent amount. Even though I cashed with RAS, have done better following Andres NBA and actually getting the lines he uses. Have bought other Pros and have won some and lost some. I also buy the tip sheet at the track. I subscribe to Power Sweep. I even buy the Marc Lawrence PLAYBOOK (now talk about a dinosaur). It is about the experience for me. I enjoy betting. I enjoy reading analysis. Looking a trends. I have a good job and betting is my escape. If anything, even on the losing picks I have bought, still better off over some of the stock tips I have followed over the years (ouch). Think you are missing the point in this article. Pregame is great entertainment for me. The videos, the community etc are all part of it. I have always been given what I paid for and as a grown man can make decisions without hearing how I am so “f’ing” stupid. Lone reason I ever turn on lame ass Colin is for the NFL betting segment. The Grantland article is mainly sources from Vegas and offshore. Not going to lie, if it was RJ and only what he thought, probably would never read it. I love reading one article covering a bunch of people. I been around the block a few times with services and sites and not sure who else has brought gambling more mainstream over these guys? Instead of attacking them, degenerates like me wish more people would thank them for getting to hear odds and betting mainstream!

  • MattM

    I don’t need you to protect me from myself. You are right that you don’t mention all of the free value that Pregame offers , which is, to use you words, incredibly lazy and dishonest. Pick selling is a 100 percent legal and valid business. I have purchased picks and have gotten value from that. Just because you don’t agree doesn’t make it sleazy. Using dramatic language doesn’t make you accusations true

  • CallingBS

    OMG since the site author is too good to do it himself, I’ll state the truth. “JamesInVegas” and “Da Poker Donkey” are clearly shills for pregame. Heck, may be RJ himself. Funny how “JamesInVegas” is eerily similar to “RJInVegas”. RJ couldn’t be that dumb. Or could he?

    Matt, your article is right on. Way to go bro!

  • Anonymous

    Haha, thank you, sir. The kind words are much appreciated.

  • Anonymous

    Appreciate the comment, but I just have one question for you. If you are doing it for fun, why would you pay for picks? Why not just bet small amounts yourself? Wouldn’t you learn more by reading, discussing and experimenting yourself? Of course, there’s nothing wrong with consuming their free information, but I don’t see why you would buy picks.

  • Anonymous

    I wasn’t talking about 5dimes. I’m talking about Pinnacle/CRIS, mainly.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    Shill? I guess I also shill for RAS since I say they made me money (outside of football). Andre has made me some nice side money so hell yeah I am going to shill for him.

  • Anonymous

    You appear to be misunderstanding the article’s fundamental point. Purdum is a journalist. Bell is a brand-builder.

  • Anonymous

    Covers is pathetic. I agree.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not trying to offend you, I’m simply pointing out that the wiser decision is to bet for fun, on your own. It’s more fun and cheaper. I do it, and I love it.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    Same reason people buy a Power Sweep or track sheet. Only people I have paid for a season is RAS and Andre Gomes. Occasionally will buy a one off pick or maybe a weekly. Entertainment expense. I know I suck in BJ, but still play and go to Vegas.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    Pinny has not been that solid on US sports since they dropped the US post up and (most) of the agents. LVH and Wynn open just as quick and many times as accurate as CRIS does. I have a Don Best basic account and pretty sure on this.

  • Da Poker Donkey

    Ben Burns used to great back in the days before going all tout. Made a killing with his NHL and NFL when he had his own site and not a GOY every single day.

  • Anonymous

    Fair enough; that’s your decision.

  • MattM

    You aren’t trying to be offensive, you are just pointing out a wiser decision? From your comments, you seem very young. I am an executive in my forties. Pretty presumptuous to think your judgement is superior to mine . Also, where are you betting? Not at on online book in a state where gambling is illegal or with a bookie I hope.

  • MattM

    Too good to do it himself? He is trashing people’s names with no evidence, and with nothing to lose himself since he doesn’t have a name for himself. A biased op ed piece is not exactly journalism. Instead of knocking the NYT, perhaps you should attempt to establish some standards for your blogs, I mean “journalism.”

  • CallingBS

    Fact: Pregame.com mis-represents handicapper records and don’t make it easy to see the real numbers.

    Fact: RJ acts as if we do not have brains. He tries to talk around this and around this and around this (using many of the talking points shown in these comments…hmmm). He thinks we aren’t smart enough to know the truth. But we are.

    Fact: You guys work for pregame and are shills.

  • MattM

    I think I got the article’s fundamental point. You think you are a journalist and you think you know about sports betting. You are upset that RJ is more known than you, even though his core area of competence is business and yours is supposed to be reporting. I agree that should upset you. You should look inward.
    Like Da Poker Donkey, I don’t care about RJ or his brand, but don’t like being told I am stupid for not spending my time and money in ways that Matt Rudnitsky approves of. I can’t stand a sanctimonious punk using anonymous forum replies as his “sources” for “reporting” while criticizing the NYT. Why don’t you put in the work to be considered an expert at something, anything? Why don’t you try to aspire to be a reporter worthy of publishing in the NYT? Oh yeah, because it is much easier to just use forum posts and trash people than actually report on a story.

  • MattM

    How cute. Mattrud and Buck share the inability to distinguish between a fact and an opinion. You guys should work together on a story. I see Pulitzers in your futures.

  • Guy

    Did the “journalist” who wrote this piece reach out to RJ to give him the opportunity to comment? Doesn’t appear so unless RJ declined the opportunity and it wasn’t mentioned in the piece?

  • Henry Myers

    Meanwhile, the dozens of people who tried warning Pregame users about the fraud known as Fezzik were banned and their posts deleted. The people who exposed Vegas Runner as a fraud were banned and posts deleted. Did you see those posts, MattM?

  • MattM

    The fraud known as Fezzik? How many Hilton contests have you won, Henry? It can’t be more than Fezzik since no one in the world can boast that. I don’t follow VR, but if you are assessing him with the same criteria you apply to Fezxik, I will give your assessment all of the consideration it deserves. I have seen people banned for being total jerks at Pregame, both to other forum members and to pros. Honestly, I wish they would ban more people, not less . Funny how you fail to acknowledge how they handled Dubv.

  • Henry Myers

    This is Fezzik’s record the last three years.

    2010: 276-248.5-9 +8.36u (318 individual plays)
    2011: 250-274-21 -66.36u (305 individual plays)
    2012: 380.5-396-15 -55.89u (377 individual plays)

    Why do 85 plays against stale lines in the Hilton five years ago outweigh 1000+ plays?

  • MattM

    You didn’t answer my questions, but I should answer yours? Have you even entered a Hilton contest? Fezzik is sharp enough that books turn down his bets. Meanwhile, I bet they would let you wager your house.

  • Henry Myers

    Matt, I bet sports for a living. Fezzik tried to do that, and failed. That’s why he is doing videos and selling $25 picks at pregame. Pity you can’t see that.

  • MattM

    Henry, I would love to see any public and verifiable record that proves your betting track record is superior to Fezxik’s. Pity you haven’t provided that.

  • Henry Myers

    Why would I give anyone my picks or my record? I’m not selling anything. I make plenty of money on my own, unlike your boys at Pregame.

    I really feel bad for you guys who have fallen for this con. Not only that, you come on here and defend him like he’s your brother. Weird.

  • MattM

    Don’t feel too bad for me. I hook up with models for sport. Don’t believe me? I said so on the internet. That is proof enough for the author, and you, a guy who “bets sports for a living.”

  • Henry Myers

    I feel bad for anyone who gets conned out of their money, even if they hook up with models. So sure Matt, you have earned my pity.

  • MattM

    Your sarcasm meter works about as well as your analytical meter, and your pity for how I spend my entertainment money is worth exactly what I paid for it.

  • Henry Myers

    Your surrender is noted.

  • MattM

    You play a pretty tough guy on the internet, Henry.

  • Henry Myers

    You are the one attacking me and others personally, Matt. The only one playing internet tough guy is you.

    Now run along. I heard Fezzik has a Game of the Year play tonight. Better hop on that before the line moves!

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    I was banned upon my first post to Pregame, when I posted Fezzik’s past records. When asked if Fezzik had past records, RJ Bell and Johnny Detroit falsely claimed “No past records, he is a pro who, for the first time, thinks a site is selling picks the right way.” But that is untrue, Fezzik sold picks on SSB (2001-2004) and LVA (2003-2005, then 2009-2013) for years, and over the past 5 football seasons, with an average suggested bet size of 2 units, Fezzik lost about 180 units. RJ falsely claims “Fezzik historically picks 55%” despite the fact that he’s an overall loser on all his picks, and the chance of a 55% picker having a run like Fezzik’s over the past 5 years is less than 1 in 15,000.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    Because 1) if you post those old records, you get banned, and 2) it indicates he can’t dispense winning advice. He got lucky over 170 picks in the Hilton. He wasn’t selling picks in 2008 when he won the Hilton the first time, but all you need to know about how he won the Hilton the second time is that 1) he lost -33.34 units on his service plays to LVA, which are still on the LVA forum where you can verify the record, and 2) he entered numerous other NFL contests that year and was tracked at 51.7% across all NFL contests INCLUDING his Hilton win.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    There is nothing transparent about Pregame records. For starters, they don’t post their supposed plays until an hour after the game begins, and you can only view the last 100 plays. In tracking Fezzik, I’ve noticed a ton of discrepancies in his supposed Pregame record. They’ve included plays he never released, and they are selective about which free plays they include in his record along with his pay plays. Some free plays are included as 0 units, which RJ justifies with “some clients don’t wish to bet free plays,” but then others are graded at 2 or 3 units claiming they were “premium free plays.” No surprise that these “premium free plays” tend to be the ones with positive equity an hour into the game.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    Someone following Fezzik’s picks between 2005-2012 in the 5 seasons he had a service (no service from 2006-2008) would have lost over 180 units with an average bet size of 2 units. The chance of a 55% handicapper having a run like that (RJ and Fezzik claim he picks 55%) is less than 1 in 15,000.

    Also, the second year he won the Hilton, he entered plenty of other NFL contests and his overall record, including the Hilton, was 51.7%. He ran good over 170 picks in the Hilton and has sucked at everything else.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    Complete BS. He sells picks claiming that his handicappers pick 55% when none of them have legitimate documented records. The only one who’s ever agreed to be documented in a legit manner was Fezzik, and you get banned from Pregame if you post his past records.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    One of the most blatant examples of Pregame fraud is Fezzik’s “Bet Like A Pro” service which is only documented after the fact. From 2010-early 2013, Fezzik was tracked by a forum poster named ComptrBob, who is probably the most respected record keeper on forums. Bob has still offered to track Fezzik, but since joining Pregame, Fezzik hasn’t bothered, and instead he past posts the BLAP results days later. It is obvious that there are no BLAP subscribers checking the record for errors because the only people who’ve ever pointed out the math errors are Bob and I, and without access to the plays in advance, there’s no way of knowing if the picks and the quoted lines are legitimate.

    There is plenty of evidence that at least part of the BLAP record is fabricated. For a few weeks in 2013, Fezzik sold picks at LVA and BLAP, and mysteriously, his losing Super Bowl props never appeared in the BLAP record. Fezzik’s 2013 LVA Super Bowl plays went 4-3 for -1.6u, but Pregame claimed he went 4-0 for 5.375u on BLAP.

    Fezzik’s excuse for the discrepancy, posted on Feb 26 2013, was:

    http://forums.eog.com/showthread.php?t=332932&page=9&p=3736825&viewfull=1#post3736825

    “As for the difference in the SB bets, I gave out some at LVA, BLAP got
    launched a week later, so the two did not match completely…..SHOCKER
    …..unlucky at LVAsports…………”

    Fezzik’s LVA SB plays and their release dates were:

    Jan 21 1st Half UNDER 24-115 4 weight. 1st play.
    Jan 29: Bernard Pierce OVER 7 carries, 3 weight.
    Jan 29: 49rs 1st half UN 13.5 points, 1 weight.
    Feb 3: No otime -1000 risk 5 units to make .5
    Feb 3: Rice un 17 carries 1 weight
    Feb 3: Yes 3 straight scores -150 to win 2
    Feb 3: Sf gets to 28 points. 1st -170 2 weight

    So he claims BLAP started around Jan 28.

    But Johnny Detroit claimed on Pregame:

    http://pregame.com/pregame-forums/f/6/t/505120.aspx

    “The first actual client was not until 1-14-2013, but I will include the
    selections prior that were sent once the system went “LIVE”. ”

    When Johnny posted the entire first 6 week record for BLAP, he claimed Super Bowl plays of:

    1/29/2013 Sunday Playoffs Ravens NA NFL Prop 2 Super Bowl Pierce OV 7 carries W 2
    1/29/2013 Sunday Playoffs 49ers 13.5 NFL UNDER Team 1h 1 Super Bowl W 1
    2/3/2013 Sunday Playoffs Ravens/49ers NA -800 NFL Prop 3 Super Bowl NO OT W 0.375
    2/3/2013 Sunday Playoffs Ravens/49ers NA -160 NFL Prop 2 Super Bowl Y-3 Straight Scores W 2

    So on Feb 26, Fezzik claimed BLAP started around Jan 28 and that’s why there was a discrepancy between the BLAP and LVA releases. The very next day, Feb 27,Johnny Detroit posted the BLAP record that claimed BLAP started on Jan 11, with the first client on Jan 14.

    If Fezzik had forgotten exactly when BLAP started months after the fact, it could be a simple mistake, but these posts were only a few weeks after BLAP started. Allegedly there were 37 plays that were sent prior to Jan 28. How the heck could he have forgotten sending 37 plays???

    It is blatantly obvious that at least part of the BLAP record is fabricated. If Fezzik had nothing to hide, why did he stop having ComptrBob or some other neutral third party track his record?

  • SusanB

    As a journalist and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) what I find sad is how many times you violate the SPJ code of ethics. This is the kind of writing that will ruin your career because no editor of a printed publication is going to go near a writer who doesn’t follow the standards and ethics of SPJ: http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

  • SusanB

    Ugh. MattM and Henry both play tough guys on the internet.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    If the New York Times Magazine practiced ethical standards, they would research these scam touts before promoting them as “experts.”

  • SusanB

    If you want to question media entities, do it with journalistic integrity. You can’t call news organizations out for being dishonest with writing that violates the code of ethics for our profession. http://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    Steve’s past records would only make him sound worse. There’s a reason why RJ deletes them all. Fezzik lost 180 units over the last 5 years with an average bet size of 2 units per play. Running hot over 170 Hilton picks (and the second year he won the Hilton, he picked 51.7% across all contests) means nothing compared to a huge losing record over close to 2000 picks.

  • SusanB

    I don’t know anything about sports betting/bettors, but I do know about journalism. I am not saying that Matt was wrong to question the Times or the bettors in this article. What I am saying is that there is an ethical standard for our profession and anyone who wants a serious career as a journalist has to follow it. No amount of righteousness excuses us from deviating from our industry standards and ethics.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a journalist; I’m a blogger trying to inform people of sleaziness. Thanks for the input, though.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks a ton for this.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not a journalist or a reporter; I’m a blogger trying to inform unknowing readers of upsetting trends in sports media. And this has nothing to do with the ego you think I have. I am done responding to you unless you would like to contribute something of value or raise a legitimate question.

  • Anonymous

    This^^^^

  • SusanB

    Oh, my mistake. Your LinkedIn profile lists you as a “writer” and “editor.” I agree that blogger is more accurate.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    A simple quote that illustrates Fezzik’s scamming. When he sold picks on LVA, it was via a monthly subscription, and at one point he raised the rate from $25/mo to $100/mo. At the time he posted:

    “I fully expect to hit 55% going forward, especially now that our message board is charging more than a nominal fee.”

    The implication was that he’d be working harder now that he was charging $100/mo. But instead he got absolutely killed — he lost close to 120 units in 2011 and 2012 despite having every grading advantage under the sun, getting to quote whatever line he wanted, releasing plays on low limit team totals, quarter bets, props, often only available at one book. He posted many lengthy posts about how he fully expected to turn things, around, etc.

    But now at Pregame, he claims:

    “Re: my lva past history, I was a host there for years for a message
    board with a $25/fee per month……yes I put up bets on the
    board….but it was not my priority as I wasn’t making any appreciable
    money”

    A total con. The sole focus of LVA was Fezzik’s picks and they prominently displayed his contests records on the front page of the site. Now he claims those picks don’t count but now that he charges $1000/mo his plays will win? I guess if that doesn’t work out, he can try charging $10,000/mo.

  • Bets McGee

    I don’t even buy picks at Pregame I just go there for free info and picks, but I agree, Andre is a boss. I’ve been banking just off of the free picks he posts

  • Hue Georgon

    someone posted this link in the pregame forum and the link was taken down and the poster was banned for life. Kind of speaks for itself.

  • Randall Isucka

    If RJ Bell was such an honorable stand up guy, how come he doesn’t do business under his real name? Same for Johnny Detroit. What’s up with that fellas?

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    Yes, I was just about to mention that. Johnny Detroit posts a long rant about a lack of RESPECT, but if Pregame had any RESPECT for their posters, they wouldn’t post all these lies about the long term records of these touts.

    Notice that Pregame addresses literally none of the points I make in these comments, just rants about “direct competitors” and “anonymous forum posts.”

    For the record:

    1) I have nothing to sell. I post some picks for free on roughingthepunter.com and have consistently won, had a winning 2013, yet Pregame has mentioned me in videos as “really struggling with the picks I’m selling on my website,” which is a bald faced lie, and

    2) I’ve posted under this username on forums for at least 12 years. I first joined sharpsportsbetting.com, where Fezzik first sold picks, in 2002.

  • CorporateLaw

    You’re an “executive in your forties?” First, your grammar and writing style is atrocious for an “executive.” Secondly, your square mindset is perfect for laughable tout and forum sites. Also, is it your “entertainment money” or “investment money.” In my experience, in the real world, those are two entirely different entities.

  • Pregame sucks
  • Mad

    Hahah omfg. There are some heavy retards here. Why don`t the defenders of pregame answer the f-king question, why NO HANDICAPPER on there site shows a complete record?? Why can`t you see there ytd?? Why can you only see there last 100 bets??Why do you have to calculate by your self to realize that they are loosers?? And if you have just a small tinny brain, you will realize that the only reason is because they are NOT WINNING LONG TERM! And how the fck can you run a businesses where you have different “handicappers” selling you the opposite side?? I hope seriously that does defending pregame are shills, because i doubt anyone can be so blind to the obvious.

  • JDM

    There is a thread at SBR forum that provides records for a lot of the Pregame guys. After viewing them you will discover two things. One it’s not that hard to produce long term records. Since one person had no problem doing it. Should be easier for a site. The second part. None of those long term records are worth bragging about.

  • Groovin Mahoovin

    One point also worth noting is that the guy posted in the SBR thread tried posting those records to Pregame and got banned as a “troll with an agenda.” Yeah, keeping accurate records is an “agenda.” Absurd.

    Hilariously, one of the Pregame shills tried claiming that the records tracked on SBR were an example of “records kept on a competitor site.” Uh, where else is he supposed to post them if Pregame bans him???


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