Note: I reached out to CNBC before publishing, and they said they “will not be commenting.”
CNBC’s “Money Talks” is a show claiming to be about sports betting, but it’s really just a mildly entertaining, entirely embarrassing profile of a sleazy man who claims to be successful, but hopefully and probably isn’t.
The show aired one episode in September and got horrible ratings. They’re relaunching the show next week, hoping to latch on to the popularity of March Madness.
It follows Darin Notaro, “who goes by Steve Stevens when he’s moving money at his Las Vegas-based company VIP Sports.” To clarify, he “moves money” from suckers’ pockets into his own.
He calls himself a “sports advisor.” He sells picks for people to bet and the show says he takes commission on winning bets from some, and sells packages for specified durations to others. Whatever the particular sucker being conned thinks sounds better, I guess.
Like almost everybody that sells sports picks, he’s full of shit. And like many of the shit-spewers, his personality is made for a TV “docu-soap,” because he’s a “good salesman,” which means he’s loud and good at confidently spewing complete bullshit.
I was lucky enough to score an interview with the fellow, and while I really did give him a chance, he did not help himself. Unsurprisingly, his PR people were concerned afterwards that he got a little defensive and “spirited.” Nobody forced you to be a scammer, big guy.
This is one of the things he did, back in 2001:
District Judge Sally Loehrer Tuesday sentenced Darin Notaro, 25, to one year in jail for his part in a Las Vegas telemarketing scheme that bilked elderly citizens across the nation out of at least $234,000.
Notaro, who was also ordered to make $12,230 in restitution, is one of six men charged in connection with their work for Century Pacific Group, a boiler room that telephoned elderly people and told them they won valuable sweepstakes prizes, but they had to pay $699 to get the prize.
There are three (one, two three) accounts of him being arrested for variations of this same offense. At 24, 25 and 27. The second article clearly refers to a separate incident, which suggests he got out jail for scamming elderly people, and then got arrested for scamming them again. The third article is relatively unclear, so the third arrest feasibly could have been related to one of the first two incidents.
Notaro was adamant that this was a long time ago.
“I was 19 years old… it hurts my feelings when these guys bring it up online. I’m 40. It made me a better person. I worked hard to get where I’m at.”
It certainly seems like he made mistakes after 19 years old, getting arrested at 24, 25 and 27.
But let’s not dwell on his past. People do change.
Typical sellers of sports picks are con artists. Notaro/Stevens is your typical pick seller. I will soon expand on him and his company’s scummy practices, with examples from his hilariously vacuous interview and the premiere of the show (which I was allowed to watch in advance).
But first, let’s give a recent example of him being a bully.
He makes death threats and calls people “pussies” and “faggots” and doesn’t realize that it’s gonna wind up online.
I am by no means advocating the site being attacked, but they do not claim to be “sports consultants” so, yes, he’s just being a homophobic asshole because he’s mad.
Wait, hold up. How’d a scam artist get his own show?
He’s friends with Floyd Mayweather.
Floyd was filming 24/7 for HBO, and Notaro’s office happens to (accidentally?) be next to Floyd’s gym.
“The producers saw my office, the fancy cars” etc… and said, “we gotta do a TV show about this.”
Floyd and Darin “ended up being good friends.” The company that produced a different Mayweather documentary, Turn Left Productions, teamed up with Notaro. He met with “the biggest people in Hollywood… Steve Levinson (producer of Entourage, Boardwalk Empire), Michael Lombardo (president of HBO programming) and Ari Emanuel (the inspiration for Ari from Entourage).”
Then, CNBC wound up picking up the show instead (presumably because HBO would have killed its brand by promoting such sleaze).
I asked him if Floyd uses or buys his picks. He said no. “We’re just friends.” “He has a lot of money; he does his own thing.”
Unfortunate that the self-proclaimed “Michael Jordan of the industry” can’t even sell or give away “information” to his obscenely rich friend who loves to bet on sports.
Also, back in 2005, Notaro was cited as the “manager” of Floyd’s “Philthy Rich Records.”
Sounds like something fishy is going on here. Please Tweet me or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you know anything, re: Notaro and Mayweather’s relationship.
He lied or contradicted himself by the minute.
I asked him how long his company has been in business. He said it was their “10th year in business. 12th year in the same location… 10th year as VIP Sports.”
The Better Business Bureau says the company was incorporated in 2009, and “started” on 11/19/2012. Nobody in the sports betting industry knew who Notaro was before the show.
He called his business a “multi-million-dollar business.”
I certainly hope not. If that’s the case, this is a colossal issue.
In the episode, he claims to have “1500-2000 clients a week,” which is absolutely hilarious and in no way seems feasible. He also just started a website and appears to do all business by phone, in Las Vegas.
In the episode, he also says his “clients bet $300 to $25k per game” and also added something about “a billionaire coming to town who wants to bet a half-million.”
I asked him why anyone should believe he’s good at sports betting. He didn’t even try to convince me.
I really kept giving him a chance. I asked about his past, about his methods, I even gave him the softball question of, “do you have any tips or sleepers for March Madness?”
I was told, “in the first round… you’ve got these No. 1, 2, 3 teams that are 17-point favorites… pick them.” Pick 1-3 seeds in the first round. Nice. Where do I send my social security number?
He claims that he gets all of his money from “inbound sales,” so he doesn’t have to prove himself with numbers or transparent record keeping, the only thing that could prove he’s not full of shit.
But I pressed him to cite a record, and he said, “I’ve never said anything about percentages in my entire life. I don’t advertise percentages.” Soon after, he said, “I hit 60-to-66 percent week in and week out. One game a day. Not every day.”
The best sports bettors in the world would kill to hit 60%. And anyone with basic statistical competence knows that: 1) It’s virtually impossible to hit 60-66%, and, 2) Even if someone were a genius and hit 60-66% long term, it is a mathematical certainty that he wouldn’t hit that number “week in, week out.” He would have streaks of better numbers and worse numbers. It wouldn’t be that consistent. It’s called variance and randomness. Especially at “one game a day, not every day.”
Another reason he mentioned for not advertising percentages, before making up percentages, was because he claims “everybody’s advertising they hit 90 percent” This is similar logic used by non-felon con man RJ Bell. “Ignore the fact that we’re conning people, because the other people in our “industry” are even more overt in their deception.”
That said, I can’t say I’ve seen anyone dumb enough to advertise that they get 90% of bets right.
Oh, and there’s this, via WagerMinds:
Now, we’ve covered the sports betting industry for years and we’ve never heard of the “well-known” handicapper Steve Stevens. But, after watching his introductory video, we can confirm the following: Steve Stevens is a phony who runs an old-fashioned boiler room pick-selling operation. He claims he picks games at a “70-69 percent, year in, year out.” Then his video kindly corrects his off-the-cuff remarks and points out he actually hits at a 71.5% rate. The actual odds of someone like Stevens hitting at 70% against the spread over an extended period of time? Approximately one trillion to 1.
That video has been removed.
Oh, and Notaro said this to his “client” in the first episode of the show, to pump him up after a loss.
“Pussies let this type of shit affect them. But the fact of the matter is, you’re gonna lose 30 out of 100 games every fucking time. But as long as you bet the same amount, keep that money management… that’s what this trip was about. Not one game.”
My math says that implies 70%, but maybe Stevens’ complex methods will come up with a different number.
His “analysis” on the show is 1,000 times worse than the boilerplate predictions you see on ESPN.
From the premiere:
“I mean, it’s plain and simple. you’ve got Greinke pitching tonight, which is an All-Star pitcher — forced to go with Joe Kelly. Ge’s only played in one playoff game, he’s young, he’s inexperienced, and at this point, it’s all about pitching.”
That was his reasoning for betting on LA Dodgers on the moneyline, at a price of -110. The bet lost.
The next bet shown?
“We’re coming through like Hurricane Katrina today, except we’re like… Hurricane Miami. North Carolina… hasn’t beat a ranked team in the last four years, and I don’t think they’re gonna start today.”
“Am I feeling good about Miami against North Carolina? Absolutely. Miami’s stellar defense should be phenomenal. It’s gonna be hard for North Carolina to move the ball against them…”
“That’s why I’m thinking Miami, minus the nine points.” 22k to win $20.”
He told his “client” to bet $22,000 on Miami -9 (twice the amount he advised on the Dodgers), because, supposedly, different players on UNC not beating ranked teams meant they would lose the game. And he was right: They did lose the game. But his bet was wrong: Miami didn’t cover the spread.
Before the game, Notaro claims that he doesn’t normally tell clients to increase bet amounts to chase losses, but the guy is leaving soon and he’s “gotta do what he’s gotta do.”
0-2, down $33,000.
Then Notaro compounds his mistakes and tells the guy to bet $66,000(!) on the next game, chasing even more. During the first game, Notaro claimed he “had more anxiety over anything I’ve ever had in my entire life.” After the loss, he insists, “one game don’t mean shit.” Then he has the guy double the first bet. Then sextuple it. Calls the third bet “a must-win for me.”
(Note: This is reality TV, and sounds highly scripted. Shit, the whole company could be a farce for all I know.)
It gets worse.
Notaro claims, “(my client) and I have a history of making big money together in the past, and he knows — the odds of me losing 3 or 4 (in a row)… UNHEARD OF.”
“I’d be willing to bet my life I don’t lose three.”
Losing three bets in a row is a mathematical certainty if you bet sports for a long time. It will happen, regardless of skill. This would be like saying the Yankees have never lost three games in a row, ever in their history, and they won’t ever do it again, for eternity.
When I asked about his handicapping methods, he said he “has a formula.” Oh, you actually use analytics?
“There are two pieces to the formula. 1) Money management… 2) Discipline. Bet the same amount on every game. One game a day. But not every day.”
Discipline and money management are indeed important (I’ll ignore the weird specificity of refusing to bet more than one game a day, regardless of what’s on the board).
But the only shred of logic Notaro uses is immediately scrapped in the first episode, when he has his client chase.
But wait, he didn’t actually make the guy money, despite chasing and getting lucky.
Hero Darin Notaro saves the day and makes his client money despite going 1-2, right? No, actually.
He claims to “only get paid when you win.” The show says he gets “50 percent commission on bets that pay out.”
To use the above example.
Bet 1: $11,000 loss, LA Dodgers ML (-110)
Bet 2: $22,000 loss, Miami (FL) -9 (-110)
Bet 3: $66,000 bet to win $60,000, Seattle Seahawks -6.5 (-110)
Commission on Bet 3: $30,000.
Total “winnings:” -$3,000. Yes, despite the horrible strategy relying on dumb luck, he still lost the guy money. But he brags anyway.
Of course, the show claims there are different packages and that some people pay lump sums for picks (which contradicts his “you only pay when you win” etc. etc.)… so I’m sure Notaro will claim this particular client made money, somehow. But still, gross.
(Sadly it looks like they’ve taken the screening I saw down and I didn’t take a screenshot, but I assure you a graphic said, verbatim, “50% commission on bets that pay out.” We’ll see if they cut that out. They’re clueless, so no guarantees.)
He said other dumb things.
From our interview:
“I live in Las Vegas. I work with the guys who make the lines.”
Wait… you work with the bookies, but you’re a “bookie killer?”
“It’s you and I against the book.”
“I move lines every day. I’m moving lines in every episode in my show.”
This would be true, indeed, if he were good at sports betting. He would likely not want his own TV show if this were the case.
This, from David Frohard-Lane on Deadspin, is relevant here.
Because he claimed that he moves lines, I asked: “Do you or your clients have trouble getting down on the games and numbers you recommend?”
“These casinos got a hell of a lot more money than I do. They’ll let my clients come into town.”
I said this didn’t make sense and then he backtracked and said, well, “they won’t let me bet $10,000 on some college basketball game.”
Why don’t you track your picks and prove how awesome you are?
“The internet is not regulated.”
Thus, online pick tracking is useless, he insisted.
Me: “Could you do it yourself or ask someone independent to do it?”
“If I wanted to.”
So, why don’t you?
“I don’t need to… I wouldn’t be calling you to convince you; people call me.”
He claims to have this massive list of people calling him from years of work and reputation-building. Again, nobody in the industry seems to have heard of him before the show.
The only notable face in the show is the Face of the LVH Sports Book, Jay Kornegay, who appears to be taking the first $10,000 bets from Notaro and his “client.” Kornegay does not seem scared of this self-proclaimed “bookie-killer.”
His “top seller” is hilarious.
The show also stars “Chris Pirelli,” about whom I can’t find anything online and basically just seems like he’s an actor who just missed the cut of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
He doesn’t do his own handicapping, but sells Notaro’s picks and makes similarly-awful “analysis.”
His first bet on the show:
“The fact of the matter is: Buffalo has a quarterback off the practice squad coming in in jeans and a t-shirt, and he’s starting today. so I’m like… let’s roll.”
He convinced his client to bet more than he wanted to, $1,100, and the bet lost.
This is how he describes the value of their business to some female while out at a bar, shitfaced.
“You bet the same amount of money per game. I tell you the game. At the very least, I’ll get you up two units a week. If you bet $2,000 a week, you’ll make over $100,000. That’s a fact. It’s that simple, girl.”
Give me your money and I’ll guide you right to bankruptcy, girl. Also, I never go on winning streaks or losing streaks because I took a math vaccination.
Also important: He has a friend named, “Joey Roast Beef.”
Near the end of the episode, Shitfaced Pirelli stumbles home. He pukes outside his home, and as he enters, his asscrack pops out. Soon after, he’s lying on the floor of what I think was a garage, crying.
“I can’t win a goddamn game. Loser after fucking loser.” Tears drench the garage.
If you wind up watching this admittedly entertaining show, please do it with the above quote in mind. A bunch of fucking losers.
UPDATE: A reader informed me that the UNC-Miami and Seahawks-Cardinals games were played on the same day, just adding to the lies and scripted bullshit. I really am not sure I believe this company exists beyond this “documentary” and perhaps a handful of extreme sucker clients.
ALSO CHECK OUT: The hilarious insults he’s been sending me. They’re incoherent and vulgar and I promise you’ll laugh hysterically.