Some Las Vegas sportsbooks have had to slide extra money into the pot for this year’s handicapping contests after failing to hit their guarantees.
Those overlays make the contests even more attractive for entrants — and I’m one of them.
Each week, I’ll track the major handicapping contests and detail my progress as well. Here’s how the contests stand after Week 1:
Circa Million III
The Million went just over its $4 million guarantee with 4,087 entries paying $1,000 each. Contestants pick five NFL games against the spread each week.
Leaders: 196 entries tied for first at 5-0.
Barnes’ status: 3-2, good for a tie for 1,064th. Winners on Chargers +1, Broncos -3 and Raiders +4, and losers on Titans -3 and Chiefs -6.
Circa had to pony up $1.92 million to meet the $6 million guarantee, with a final field of 4,080 entries paying $1,000 each. Contestants pick one straight-up NFL winner each week (each team can be used only once) and are eliminated with a loss.
The contest was brief for 683 entries (16.7 percent of the field), mostly because of the Jaguars (picked by 179 entries), Falcons (163) and Bills (101).
Those people at least had a shot. Eight entries were eliminated because they forgot to make a selection.
The 3,397 survivors advance.
Barnes’ status: Alive, after the Rams beat the Bears 34-14. I regret passing on the Panthers (who beat the Jets) and not saving the Rams for later. Easy to say now.
The dean of Las Vegas handicapping contests didn’t have a prize pool guarantee but ended up with 1,972 entries paying $1,000 each. Contestants pick five NFL games against the spread each week.
Leaders: 41 entries tied for first at 5-0.
Barnes’ status: 4-1, good for a tie for 76th. Winners on the Chargers +1, Seahawks -3, Broncos -3 and Raiders +4½, and a loser on Falcons -3.
Westgate SuperContest Gold
Same format as the SuperContest, but with a $5,000 buy-in and the winner taking all. There are 87 entries.
Leaders: Three entries tied for first at 4-0-1.
Barnes’ status: Even I couldn’t justify this on a journalist’s salary.
Station Last Man Standing
More than half of the field was cut in the pro and college LMS contests in Week 1. In the pro, 2,986 entries remain out of 6,241, with the winner receiving $150,000. In college, 1,422 entries remain out of 3,075, with the winner receiving $100,000.
Each entry selects one game against the spread each week. Entries cost $25 ($100 gets a free fifth entry).
Barnes’ status: Three surviving entries in both contests. In the NFL, winners on Broncos -2½, Raiders +4½ and Chargers -1½, and losers on Jaguars -2½ and Titans -2½. In college, winners with Pittsburgh -3½ on two entries and Wyoming -6½ on one, and losers on Utah -6½ and Texas Christian -9½.
William Hill College Pick’em
The sportsbook had to add $548,000 to reach the $1 million guarantee, with 452 entries paying $1,000 each. Contestants pick eight college games against the spread each week.
Leader: One entry went 8-0 (no user name given).
Barnes’ status: A ho-hum 4-4, with winners on Pittsburgh -3½, Wyoming -6½, Toledo -16½ and Southern Methodist -22½, and losers on East Carolina +2½, Middle Tennessee +19½, Ball State +22½ and Utah -6½.
William Hill Pro Pick’em
A field of 7,316 entries at $25 each turned out for the Pro Pick’em, which involves picking NFL games straight-up (with some selected totals). There are weekly and seasonlong prizes.
Leaders: Five entries went 14-1 and split the $10,000 weekly prize ($2,000 each).
Barnes’ status: 10-5, with losers on the Bills, Jaguars, Titans, Falcons and Vikings.
Golden Nugget Ultimate Football Challenge
The only contest that mixes pro and college football got 147 entries paying $1,000 each. Contestants select seven college and/or NFL games each week.
Leader: One entry (under the alias CastleRocker) went 7-0. Another CastleRocker entry is in last place at 1-6.
Barnes’ status: My money ran out before I could get in this one. Good luck to all who are.