Monday, Aug. 27, 2012 | 2 a.m.
Aside from the balloons adorning the tables and the mini bar set up in the back, LVH’s Ballroom G resembled a college lecture course Friday evening.
About 500 people hungry for information took a seat and listened to a variety of speakers at the front of the room. Most of them stayed attentive, scribbling through notebooks like doctors writing prescriptions and flipping through pages of magazines or sheets that could have just as easily been textbooks.
“I’m enjoying it,” said local construction worker Larry Knox. “I think I’ve learned some things. I’d come back next year. I hope they do this every year.”
The inaugural LVH Supercontest Weekend was deemed a success. The turnout and response at Friday’s football handicapping seminar alone brought to life the vision of LVH Superbook director Jay Kornegay.
A golf tournament and reception followed Saturday, which further made bettors anticipate football season almost as much as a law student enrolled in 18 credit hours looks forward to spring break.
Like any decent professor, Kornegay opened the festivities behind the podium with a couple of laughs to break the ice. He said the LVH looked forward to making this event an annual way to usher in football season — maybe.
Upon second thought, Kornegay joked that he didn’t know why he was presenting the opinions of several sharp, respected handicappers for mass consumption.
“I kind of wondered that too,” said David Cale, a Bishop Gorman graduate who accompanied Knox to the LVH. “But it’s enjoyable and gets people in here for them. It makes the season more fun.”
Kornegay’s motivations for the Supercontest Weekend go beyond that. The LVH wanted to get as much exposure as possible for the $1,500 buy-in Supercontest, the most prominent season-long NFL betting competition every year, and break the record 519 entries from a year ago.
By the end of the weekend, the Superbook had signed up nearly 350 players — more than double the number it had at this time last year.
“We’re on a great pace,” Kornegay said earlier in the week. “We’re optimistic, but we don’t want to overestimate it.”
The LVH gave away five entries during Supercontest Weekend, and the registration splurge would indicate several others felt inclined to join. The NFL handicapping portion of the seminar, the final of three panels Friday, couldn’t have hurt.
Marc Lawrence and Ted Sevransky, big-name handicappers, joined national radio host J.T. “The Brick” to break down professional football. Sevransky detailed why the betting market might be underestimating Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, while making it clear he thought the Miami Dolphins were in even worse shape than their 50-to-1 odds to win the Super Bowl may indicate.
Lawrence gave statistical evidence supporting the profitability of betting against last year’s Super Bowl runner-up early in the season. He advised a wager on the Tennessee Titans +6.5 at home against the New England Patriots in week one action.
Those were kind of nuggets casual bettors came to hear.
“They’re professionals, so you know you’re getting professional advice,” said Chris Scott, a business owner who splits his time between Las Vegas and New Jersey. “It’s nice to pick up new information because every season is different, and these guys are on top of it.”
Scott had gone to a handicapping seminar before, but it was so many years ago that he couldn’t remember whether it was at Mirage or Treasure Island. Although Vegas Insider had held a football seminar at Red Rock Resort the past few years, no major event had taken place near the Strip before recent seasons.
Scott was happy to have a new, convenient option and said the experience would make him more likely to bet at the Superbook during the season.
“Quite frankly, I know I’m down over the years, but I’m trying to make corrective measures,” Scott said. “Coming to a seminar like this seems like a way to start.”
Everyone seemed to get what they wanted out of the Supercontest seminar. No tests were administered at the end, but there was plenty of enthusiasm for diving further into the sports betting world.
“I’d like to go from being a $100-a-game bettor to a $1,000,” Knox said with a smile.