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Portfolio manager turns $1K investment into $1M in Circa contest

Isaac Meier, a portfolio manager for an investment firm in Los Angeles, struck gold in the inaugural Circa Sports Million Pro Football Contest.

Using the alias Booty Blockers, Meier built a stunning portfolio of NFL picks, finishing 57-25-3 ATS (69.5 percent) to top a field of 1,875 and turn his $1,000 entry fee into a $1 million payday.

It was the first time Meier, 34, had entered a contest in Las Vegas.

“I understand football pretty well and I work with numbers all day long with Excel and making little models here and there,” he said. “I’ve done it in the past where things have worked picking winners against the spread.”

He went 16-4 in Weeks 9-12 to split Circa’s $143,750 third-quarter prize and take the contest lead at 43-16-1. He went 14-9-2 the rest of the way.

“You don’t have to be perfect every week,” he said. “The most important thing is staying consistent and having the conviction to go with your picks. And you’ve got to have a short memory.”

Fly, Eagles, Fly

Booty Blockers took a 1-point lead into Week 17. He won on the Saints and lost on the Patriots in the Sunday morning games. But his challengers also lost on New England.

Watching the games with his wife and dog at their LA apartment, Meier clinched the title when the Eagles (-4½) covered in a 34-17 win over the Giants. Several challengers were on New York.

Live Odds took second place — and $100,000 — with a 56-27-2 mark (57 points; one point per win, half point per push).

“I have no idea why everyone took the Giants,” Meier said. “They’re not a good team and when you know their coach is getting fired, that’s an intangible.”

Meier followed a weekly routine to finalize his five picks.

“I didn’t make any picks, to be honest,” he said. “I eliminated all the other games and was left with five.”

Gridiron Genius

He credits much of his success to two books he read last summer: Bill Walsh’s “The Score Takes Care of Itself” and, especially, Michael Lombardi’s “Gridiron Genius.”

“There’s a lot to unpack that I applied to picking games or eliminating games,” Meier said.

Each week, Meier would enter data for every game on a spreadsheet. Then he’d compare teams on paper using a checklist of up to 20 factors, including coaching matchups, yards per attempt and turnover margin.

“One thing I added to the modeling of turnover margin was missed field goals,” he said. “Because missed field goals are absolutely turnovers, whether anyone wants to admit it or not.

“But it’s not all about modeling. There’s a lot of luck that goes both ways.”

He had a lucky winner on the Eagles in Week 15, when Nigel Bradham scored on a 47-yard fumble return on the game’s final play to give Philadelphia a 37-27 win and cover over the Redskins.

Meier didn’t let an injury sway a play, unless it was to a quarterback. He avoided teams starting rookie QBs late in the season. And he didn’t bet any prime-time games.

“I didn’t want to take a game because it’s on TV,” he said. “You’re going to have many more people betting on it. As a result, those lines are going to be a lot more accurate, in a weird way.”

While the Eagles delivered for Meier down the stretch, he set a rule for himself to avoid all Raiders games and Bears games.

“Maybe it’s just for me,” he said. “But the Raiders and Bears just find ways to mess up your bet, whichever side you’re on.”

Booty call

The alias Booty Blockers was the team name he created for his friend’s contest entry.

“He had recently become a father and had major anxiety and had been prescribed a beta blocker to kind of calm him down a little bit,” Meier said. “Right before he signed up for the contest, I was joking with him that he was taking booty blockers and that I’ll make that his team name.

“It was kind of funny as I got into first place and saw the name on Twitter.”

Meier said he plans to donate some of his winnings to good causes and pay off college loans for him and his wife.

“We’ll enjoy some of it,” he said. “I hope to put most of it into a safe, long-term investment to be able to afford a house someday in LA.”

More Betting: Follow at reviewjournal.com/betting.

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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