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November 1, 2014

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Eight Las Vegas football contests worth signing up for this season

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Associated Press

Baltimore Ravens defensive end Arthur Jones (97) celebrates with DeAngelo Tyson (93) after tackling San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) during Super Bowl 47 on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans.

It’s that time of year when sports books attract as many customers moseying up to the betting window to sign up for contests as those actually looking to place wagers.

For the next month, it’s football contest sign-up season in Las Vegas. With varying formats and buy-ins ranging from free to $1,500, there’s something for everyone.

Any conversation must start at the top with the $1,500 buy-in LVH Supercontest. It’s the Super Bowl of the industry.

Or, perhaps more appropriately, it’s the sports betting equivalent of the World Series of Poker Main Event.

Contestants pick five NFL games against the spread each week, and the top 30 finishers earn payouts. Last year’s champion, who used the alias Al Sr., won $447,000.

A record 745 hopefuls signed up a year ago, and even more are expected in 2013.

With the consolidation of sports books under companies such as William Hill and Cantor Gaming, as well as other properties discontinuing their contests, not as many offerings are available as a few years ago.

But there are still plenty. Check below for the rundown on seven contests in addition to the LVH Superbook worth joining this season.

    • Station Casinos’ Great Giveaway

      Price: $25 per entry (maximum purchase of two entries, which comes with a third free).

      Prize: Pool of $30,000 awarded weekly for most winners and most losers; A new home or $100,000 given to player with most winners and most losers with an additional more than $300,000 in payouts to the top 10 finishers.

      Format: Pick every NFL Sunday and Monday games weekly straight up, not against the spread.

      Why to play: Fun. Contestants who put their picks in every week and don’t win any prizes get their $50 refunded in free slot play at the end of the season, so the risk is relatively low. No other contest matches the $2 million in cash and prizes boasted by the Great Giveaway.

    • The Palms’ Pigskin Payoff

      Price: $25 per entry (maximum purchase of three entries, which comes with three free entries.

      Prize: $10,000 awarded weekly with the winner taking $7,500; $10,000 for season winner with payouts all the way to 100th place.

      Format: Pick every NFL Sunday and Monday games weekly straight up, not against the spread.

      Why to play: Value. Unlike similar contests, the Pigskin Payoff is confined to one property. That means fewer opponents to beat for a share of the $300,000 total prize pool and an overlay that other contests don’t match.

    • Boyd Gaming’s Pick The Pros

      Price: Free with a B connected players club card.

      Prize: $30,000 prize pool goes to weekly winners.

      Format: Pick every NFL Sunday and Monday games straight up, not against the spread.

      Why to play: The price tag. Can’t beat free. It’s an added bonus to patronize a contest that bettors have always been able to count on. Now nearing 40 straight years, Pick The Pros is the longest-running contest in Las Vegas.

    • William Hill’s College Football Pick’em

      Price: $100 per entry, maximum of 10 per person.

      Prize: Most winners, second-most winners and most losers get weekly prizes from an $8,000 pool; Top five and most losers paid out of $20,000 pool at the end of the season.

      Format: Pick seven college football games against the spread out of a list of up to 30 with half-point lines for 10 weeks starting Sept. 7.

      Why to play: Uniqueness. There aren’t many college football contests to go around. Or any like this. William Hill carved a niche with the college football pick ’em last year, as customers celebrated the chance to join a nonstandard competition.

    • Station Casinos’ Last Man Standing

      Price: $25 per entry, maximum of four per person.

      Prize: 100 percent of entry fees, or a minimum of $75,000, given to winner.

      Format: Contest offered for both NFL and college football. Select one winner against the spread per week. A win carries entry into the next week, while a loss results in immediate elimination.

      Why to play: The chance to strike gold. Sure, it takes an unsustainable run of good fortune to hit 12 or 13 games in a row. But that’s true for any contest. This one happens to pay better than almost all the others.

    • Balloons float above tables as various patrons mill about during the grand opening of the new William Hill Race & Sports Book inside the Plaza Hotel on Tuesday, Mar. 19, 2013.

      William Hill’s Three ’N Out

      Price: $25 per entry, maximum of six per person.

      Prize: A guaranteed $50,000 prize pool paid out to the survivors at the end of the year.

      Format: A variation of the Last Man Standing approach, players pick one NFL spread or total to bet per week and stay alive until an entry compiles three losses.

      Why to play: Be the first champion. The Three ’N Out is the new kid on the block when it comes to Las Vegas football contests. This is the first year it’s been offered after William Hill found success with the same format during the NCAA Tournament.

    • A look inside a William Hill betting shop. The British company, known for offering better odds and taking bigger bets than Las Vegas books, is buying American Wagering Inc., which operates Leroy's sports books.

      William Hill’s Pro Pick’em Contest

      Price: $25 per entry, 25 allowed per customer

      Prize: $13,000 in weekly payouts split among most winners, second-most winners and most losers; more than $45,000 awarded at the end of the season for five best records and worst record.

      Format: Pick every NFL Sunday and Monday game straight up, not against the spread.

      Why to play: Convenience. With several sports books and 75 kiosks throughout Southern Nevada, a William Hill location is always nearby. This contest is practically a carbon copy of competitors', but that makes it an attractive option.

    Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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