11/15/2012 3:22PM

Tuley: Las Vegas man can't cash twice, but still collects $10,000


All signs point to it being a festive holiday season at the Yurik house.

John Yurik, 54, of Las Vegas and the owner of Signs West Outdoor, won the $10,000 first-place prize in the William Hill College Pick’em handicapping contest in which players paid $100 per entry and made seven picks against the spread each Saturday. The 10-week contest ended last Saturday with Yurik finishing with an impressive record of 50-20 (71 percent) ATS.

Most football contests, especially the more common ones of the NFL variety, last or don’t pay out their prizes until after the New Year. So what is Yurik going to do with his windfall?

“I’m married with four kids and the holiday season is coming up,” he said. “Otherwise I’ll pay some bills.”

Or set some aside for next year’s contests.

DRF SPORTS:  Latest betting lines, StatFox matchups, and handicapping news for every game

Yurik said he loves playing all the football contests available in Las Vegas and this wasn’t his biggest score. That came in the 2009 College Last Man Standing at Station Casinos when he won $40,325 in the single-elimination, survivor-type contest from a field of 1,962 picking one game against the spread each week. That one came even earlier than this victory.

“I won that one on Halloween night when I picked Oregon over USC,” Yurik said of the Ducks’ 47-20 upset win as a 4 1/2-point underdog. “There were 13 people left heading into that weekend and everyone else lost.”

He didn’t even have a chance to consider hedging that time. Heading in last weekend in the William Hill College Pick’em, Yurik had a two-game lead and also had another entry tied for third just three games back.

“Several people told me to play opposite on that ticket just in case,” Yurik said, “but I was greedy and wanted to cash with both.”

While his top ticket went 5-2 (thanks to LSU getting a lucky cover on a 100-yard interception return with 1:13 left in a 37-17 win as a 14 1/2-point favorite, plus Vanderbilt scoring a TD in the final minute to beat Mississippi 27-26 as a 2 1/2-point underdog) to guarantee at least a tie for first, his other entry went 3-4 to finish at 45-25 and tied for sixth, just out of the money.

But no one else was able to match Yurik’s score and he took down sole possession of the top prize. James Myers finished two games back at 48-22 ATS to earn $5,000 with another two games back to a three-way tie for third with Andrew Montelongo, Stephen Goldstein, and David Wodka earning $1,333.35 apiece. The College Pick’em also paid out $500 apiece for the “least winners” (who must have placed all 70 selections, so don’t go in there saying you had zero!) as well as a nice wrinkle with weekly prizes that allowed many people to earn back their entry fees and then some (for instance, I had three entries at $100 each, yet went 7-0 one week to get back $625 plus another 6-1 week to add another $55).

Yurik wasn’t always near the top. He went 6-1 in both Weeks 6 and 7 (that was a good sign!) to move into fourth place, just three games out of the lead with three weeks to go.

“At that point, I thought I had a chance if I could just maintain a 5-2 each week and keep the leaders in sight,” he said.

Yurik went his stated goal of 5-2 the next week to move within a game of the lead and then 6-1 in Week 9 to leap-frog to a two-game lead heading into the final week.

Back to the (NFL) betting board

Last week, I went 1-2 for the third straight week (ugh!) with a win on the Vikings but losses on the Chargers and Raiders. I’m now at .500 on the year at 14-14 for a net loss of 1.4 units based on laying 1.1 units to win 1 (note: last week, I had my net loss of 0.2 units listed correctly but a typo on my part had the record as 13-11 instead of the correct 13-12, so the subsequent 1-2 mark and -1.2 units puts me at the same net loss of 1.4 units).

Cardinals +10 vs. Falcons

The Falcons had their eight-game winning streak snapped last week, and often we see teams like this have a letdown performance. Besides, the Falcons are often content to grind out victories without covering the spread. The last time they were this big of a favorite, they eked out 23-20 win over the Raiders (a game they should have lost) and also earlier just beat the Panthers 30-28 as a 7-point favorite (another game they played down to the level of competition and were lucky to win). In fact, their last cover against the Cowboys only came on a late field goal that bettors were lucky they got. Granted, the Cardinals are playing worse than they were earlier this season, but they should come with their best effort off their bye.

PLAY: Cardinals for 1 unit.

Chargers +8 vs. Broncos

I should have my head examined here. I lost with the Chargers last week due to a blocked punt and an interception returned for touchdowns for the Buccaneers (and though those are hard things to handicap for, bad teams tend to do those things, so I take the loss on myself) and yet I’m coming back on them again. I subscribe to the theory that a team isn’t as good as it looks when it wins nor as bad as it looks when it loses, so I’m hoping that regression to the mean on both teams’ part allows the Chargers to stay within a touchdown. This line is just too enticing for a divisional rivalry where the talent is pretty equal.

PLAY: Chargers for 1 unit.

Steelers +3 1/2 vs. Ravens

The line on this game has totally flipped. The books that put up lines even for teams that are playing Monday night had this as high as Steelers -4 on Sunday night and through Monday before it was bet down to 3 1/2. Then, Ben Roethlisberger was injured and the line went back up Tuesday afternoon with the Ravens as a 3-point favorite and it has since been bet up to 3 1/2. I know all the arguments to the contrary (and also that the Steelers are 0-4 vs. the Ravens without Big Ben), but I personally think the line has been overadjusted. Those were still mostly close games and these two teams often (five of last seven meetings) have the game decided by a field goal.

PLAY: Steelers for 1 unit.