I write about sports every week. Next week in this space, I’ll be writing
about Super Bowl props. Two weeks from
now, it’ll be all about college basketball through the end of March
Madness. But not today. Today, I’m going to write about movies. Nobody needs two full weeks of Super Bowl
There are no great sportsbetting movies --none. Hollywood has produced a handful of great
gambling movies – The Sting, Casino, Rounders, The Hustler and Croupier
certainly stand out. But when it comes
to anything resembling realism in a sports betting movie, it doesn’t
exist. Every bettor in a Hollywood
sportsbetting movie is a compulsive addict; every bookmaker is evil and they
There are no exceptions in this tried and true Hollywood
formula. If Richard Dreyfuss isn’t uncontrollably
gambling on every race in ‘Let it Ride’, then Matthew McConaughey is forcing
his clients into bankruptcy and letting his entire career path depend on a
coin-flip in ‘Two for the Money’. Even
Bruce Willis, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Vince Vaughn couldn’t save last year’s ‘Lay
the Favorite’; just more tripe from the big budget studios. No wonder it’s so hard for new sports betting
projects to get the green light!
So when I was contacted by an aspiring young Hollywood
filmmaker who wanted to make a legitimate documentary about betting on the
Super Bowl, of course I was interested! The
young director, Isaac Feder, was most assuredly not a sportsbettor himself. The guy was a true novice; a total square. But he was absolutely fascinated with our
world here in Las Vegas, and he wanted to tell our story.
Feder didn’t just contact me – he contacted a virtual who’s
who of the Las Vegas betting world. Legendary
oddsmaker Jay Kornegay and the LVH agreed to host; even allowing Isaac to bring
his cameras into the back rooms at the sportsbook, a place that most bettors
never see. Well -known local sports talk
radio hosts Brian Blessing and Ken Thompson got involved in the project as
And the bettors profiled weren’t caricatures – they were
real, Las Vegas bettors. Two time
Supercontest champion Steve Fezzik came onboard. So did hedge fund manager John Netto, who now
appears regularly on both Bloomberg TV and CNBC. Longtime Vegas professional bettors like Erin
Rynning, Bryan Leonard, Bruce Marshall and Alf Musketa agreed to
participate. Even former mayor Oscar
Goodman got on camera for a handful of memorable scenes. All of a sudden, Feder’s low budget little
movie had a pretty solid cast of characters.
Shooting the movie was easy – we just got mike'd up and let
the cameras roll. There were no second
takes – this was a documentary, after all, not a scripted Hollywood
production. What we said was what we
said, what we did was what we did, and what we bet was what we bet.
There was no hidden agenda behind the project either. Feder just wanted to capture the story as an
unbiased observer. Who are these bettors?
Who are these bookmakers? What are they
thinking on a daily basis? Why do they
make the bets that they do?
And what better way to do that than to follow us around for
the week of the Super Bowl XLV as the Packers and Steelers squared off at
Cowboy Stadium in Arlington. So, Feder
and his skeleton crew followed us around all week. And they shot what I thought was a pretty
cool movie, ‘Life on the Line’. The key? Authenticity!
Never before has there been a movie that more authentically nails
the experience of being a professional bettor.
We haven’t seen a movie that captures the electricity of a packed sports
book on the biggest betting day of the year. And we’ve never watched a movie that gives a
real look at the bookmakers at work and their thought processes when setting
and adjusting numbers.
The movie also established the love/hate relationship that
bettors have with one another. Wiseguy
bettors scurry around town in a race to get the very best numbers before
another sharp bettor can scoop them up into his own portfolio. Yet despite that competition, there’s a real
sense of camaraderie as we share information – the bigger battle is against the
books, not each other.
The end result was a movie that truly celebrates Las Vegas. Yes, Super Bowl XLVII kicks off in New
Orleans on the first Sunday of February.
But, like every sports bettor in the world, I’d rather be watching the
game and soaking up the culture right here in Sin City than watching it in
person in The Big Easy.
We shot the movie two years ago. There was editing to be done, music rights to
deal with, all of that post-production stuff that we never see. Over the course of the 2012 calendar year,
Feder submitted the movie to festivals and shopped it around to networks. But like so many sports betting TV pilots
that have been shot here in recent years, it was too hot for the studios to
handle. The movie was in danger of sitting dormant
forever, as the Super Bowl that it documented slowly drifted further and
further into the rear view mirror.
Feder did not want this project to die on the vine. For those of us in the movie, it was a week
of our lives documented on film. For
Feder, it was a two year labor of love.
The end result was a movie that’s not going to be shown in theatres. Instead, it’s the perfect 21st
century piece, available for download online beginning on Sunday, January 27th.
And what better place for an authentic Vegas movie than an
authentic Vegas website – Anthony Curtis’ Lasvegasadvisor.com, a site that ‘in-the-know’
locals and savvy out of town guests have been visiting for years. For less than five bucks, you can watch the
55 minute film from start to finish, and soak in the world that professional
bettors like me live in every day.
I interviewed Feder for this column, and of course, like any
guy from LA, he gave me a real Hollywood quote.
“There are so many similarities
between Hollywood and Vegas. People come
from all over the country to take their shot on the big stage; the pinnacle of
their profession. Every bettor that
moves to Las Vegas is a longshot to succeed, just like every actor or filmmaker
that moves to Hollywood. And there are
no shortcuts to success either – if you’re not good enough at sportsbetting or
movie making, you’re not going to last, a true meritocracy in both professions. That’s what makes it so interesting to
examine how the winning bettor and the winning bookmaker both manage to
You can view the movie trailer right now: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1EogvyCCXOs If you bet on sports or have any interest in
betting on sports, I’d strongly recommend that you check it out.