09/07/2005 12:00AM

Stardust champs go head to head


LAS VEGAS - Al McMordie's handicapping style isn't for everyone.

In last year's Stardust Invitational tournament, he often gave what seemed like arcane point-spread patterns as the reasons for his picks. In fact, callers

on local radio shows and Internet posters made sport of McMordie by making football picks in his style. It was kind of like the movie "The Aristocrats," in which comedians give their take on the same joke.

The imitations would go something like this: "Home teams are 10-0 during a full moon in November against a conference opponent coming off an intradivisional win of 14 points or more."

Or: "Teams off a bye are 18-3 against divisional foes that were coming off a loss. The system improves to 11-0 when including only teams that were wearing white pants."

But despite all the poking fun at McMordie, he had the last laugh as he won the Stardust Invitational and the $10,000 first-place prize by going 5-2 in the finals last December to defeat Brent Carter and complete his run through the 16-player field.

McMordie is back to defend his title as the Stardust Invitational begins this Friday at 9 p.m. in the sports books and aired live on KDWN AM-720 and archived at kdwn.com. McMordie is facing the 2003 champion, Dave Stratton, managing editor of GamingToday. Each handicapper gives seven selections, and the one with the best record advances, with the loser eliminated. Next Friday, the one-named player Fezzik will take on fellow professional gambler Ron Boyles, with handicappers Kevin O'Neill and "Fairway" Jay Ginsbach meeting on Sept. 23 and a battle of sports book managers (and former co-workers) taking place Sept. 30 between Ed Salmons of the Las Vegas Hilton and Rich Dressler of the Imperial Palace.

The rest of the field is Steve Cofield, Andy Iskoe, Marc Lawrence, Dave Malinsky, James Manos, Randall "The Handle" Murray, Tim Trushel, and Ken Weitzner. An originally announced contestant, Jeff Jones, withdrew for health reasons.

McMordie also appears on Wayne Root's "Winning Edge" TV show, where he is often teased about his methodology. The show, which also features former coach Ron Meyer and broadcaster Chet Coppock, moves to Superstation WGN starting this Saturday at 7 a.m. Pacific.

McMordie describes himself as a "situational and technical handicapper. I don't look at trends such as what one team has done against another," McMordie explains. "I'm looking for patterns that are widespread across the whole league in universal situations."

McMordie, 39, said he has been handicapping sports for 20 years and technology has really opened up the possibilities. He has a database that can generate plays for the upcoming week, or he can tinker with his own theories.

"In the old days, it would take eight hours to research something," McMordie said. "Now if I come up with a theory, I can get results in seconds."

He said he saw the Colts get shut out 38-0 in last week's preseason finale and he decided to find out how teams fared in that situation. He found that they are 1-8-1 against the spread in their season openers. Not a good sign for the Colts laying -3 at Baltimore on Sunday night. He also found out that teams getting blown out by 27 or more points in their preseason finale are 6-16 in the first week, so expect the Ravens +3 to be one of his plays.

Doing your own research

McMordie's website is bigal.com. If you want to research your own trends and systems, there's a new website called ATSit.com. The site is the creation of Ron Raymond, owner of Phoenix Sports Ticket and one of the sports betting information pioneers on the Internet with sites such as livescoreboard.com, parlaycalculator.com, and atsdatabase.com.

"You know how people ask, 'Did you Google it?'," Raymond said. "Well, I want people to ask 'Did you ATS it?' "

The free site gives some top situational plays on the home page and lets users do their own database searches on other teams and games.

Airwaves flooded with betting shows

The "Stardust Line" radio show is just part of the lineup on Friday nights on KDWN, which can be heard in nine Western states. The "Don Best Radio Show" starts at 7 p.m., followed by the "Leroy's Sports Hour" at 8 p.m., the "Stardust Line" at 9 p.m., the "Sports Memo Show with Tim Trushel" at 10 p.m., and the "Marc Lawrence Show" at 11 p.m.

"Leroy's Sports Hour" will feature its own handicapping contest with a 16-handicapper field, similar to the Stardust, but instead of a free entry for the contestants, they each put up $2,500 of their own money. Leroy's will pitch in a $10,000 bonus for a total purse of $50,000, with $40,000 going to the champion and $10,000 to the runner-up. Friday night's opening match is Fezzik vs. Steve Makinen of statfox.com.

Contest deadlines approaching

For those wanting to get into the season-long contest in Las Vegas, time is running out. The Las Vegas Hilton SuperContest, with a $1,500 entry fee, had 422 entries as of 1 p.m. Wednesday, breaking last year's record of 411.

The SuperContest deadline is usually 1 p.m. Friday, but because of the expected late rush, for the first week only, registrations and picks will be taken until 4 p.m. The rest of the year, the deadline is 1 p.m.

* Leroy's College Challenge, with a $250 entry fee and the only college pointspread contest in town, also has a 4 p.m. deadline on Friday at all Leroy's outlets (though promotions manager Jimmy Vaccaro said that will likely be extended, too). As of noon Wednesday, there were already 218 entries, so Leroy's has already reached its guarantee of a $50,000 prize pool with $25,000 to the champion.

* The Challenge at Station Casinos, with a $1,000 entry fee, has a deadline of 9 a.m. Saturday. All registrations must be done at the Palace Station, but entries can be submitted any week at the other Station sports books.