When Rich Velez was a teenager living in his native San Francisco, he became interested in sports betting listening to the old Stardust Line radio show from Las Vegas on the powerful late-night signal from KDWN-AM (720).
“I’d listen on my transistor radio to K-Dawn at night,” Velez said. “I used to listen to Lee Pete, Dave Malinsky and Mike Lee. I learned a lot about handicapping from them.”
Velez continued his sports betting education in his 20s, when he worked for a Bay Area bookmaker answering phones and running bets for him in Las Vegas.
Now 53 and a financial adviser, Velez recently went on another sports betting run in Las Vegas that resulted in a $119,200 payday.
Using the alias Monsterloc, Velez went 81-36-2 (69.2 percent) against the spread to win the Golden Nugget’s inaugural Ultimate Football Challenge.
He topped a field of 308 entries who paid $1,000 apiece and made seven weekly ATS picks on college and NFL sides during the 17-week NFL season.
The top 67 entries finished at least 20 games above .500. Schematic Advantage placed second with a 78-36-5 record for $59,600. Paul Stone, a Tyler, Texas, resident who contributes to the Review-Journal’s betting coverage, placed third with a 77-36-6 mark for $29,800.
Velez, who still lives in San Francisco, decided to enter his first football handicapping contest in Las Vegas because it included college games.
“I was going to be in Vegas, and I can blow $1,000 pretty easily. Once it had the college angle, I said, ‘Let me give this a shot,’” he said. “I’ve always been a little better at college than pro.”
After a few weeks of mixing college and pro picks, Velez went almost exclusively with college plays until Weeks 15 and 16, when he was forced to pick the pros.
“I get a better feel for the lines in college. They’re a little softer because there are so many games,” he said. “I believe emotion plays a little more into it. The highs and lows of teams from week to week. It’s a little easier to find flat spots on a favorite.
“That’s always been my perception, as opposed to the pro lines that are so much sharper.”
Velez, who used a proxy service to submit his picks, made his lines each week, then compared them to the book’s opening lines.
The alias Monsterloc was the name of an online sports betting newsletter Velez wrote for his friends in the 1990s.
“Monsterloc was a takeoff on the touts who used to scream ‘monster bet’ and ‘lock’ and say they hit 80 percent winners,” Velez said.