Sports Betting Movie Review: The Best of It
The Best of It is a 2016 documentary film that follows four professional sports bettors living in Las Vegas. The film also focuses on the industry as a whole, and the evolution from the beginnings of legalized sports betting in Nevada to today’s betting markets.
Before we get into the nitty gritty of the review, and for those that don’t have the patience to read on, we highly recommend this documentary for anyone interested in the sports betting industry. Viewers truly get to dive into the minds of both the top wise guys and oddsmakers.
The movie followers four professional sports bettors, all with their unique situations and quirks. There are also appearances from many great minds, including Michael “Roxy” Roxborough, former Las Vegas oddsmaker and all around sports betting guru, Michael Konik, the author of The Smart Money: How The World’s Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies out of Millions.
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Alan Boston is a professional sports bettor who has bet sports in Las Vegas for over three decades. He’s a gambler’s gambler in the purest sense. “Boston” is old school in his methods (he still using a paper notebook for his power ratings). He specializes in college basketball. He’s rough on the outside, but as the film goes on, the viewers see his sensitive side.
Alan “Dirk” Denkenson is one of the most successful sports bettors of all time. In 2013, Bruce Willis portrayed him in the movie, Lay the Favorite. He began as a bookmaker in New York City but moved to Vegas two decades ago to try his luck as a sports betting professional. He still resides in Las Vegas to this day. He specializes in hockey.
Lem Banker is a sports betting legend. He came to Las Vegas in the 1950s and was an oddsmaker at several sportsbooks in the early days of legalized gambling. He made it big using his connections to gain inside information and a team of runners to beat the sportsbooks to the punch on the latest news.
Ken “Shrink” Weitzner has a long history in sports gambling. He created one of the largest sports betting forums online and had many connections in the offshore betting world. Shrink wasn’t an expert in any particular sport but did stress bankroll management and line shopping as a recipe for sports betting success.
Each of the characters profiled is interesting, to say the least.
I particularly enjoyed just about every scene with Lem Banker. The old timer had some great stories to tell. His narratives and the filmmaker’s profile of the Stardust sportsbook in its heyday provides an entertaining look back at Las Vegas sportsbooks in their early years.
The look back provides today’s sports gamblers with a view into the past that isn’t often mentioned. It also helps illustrate the difference between today’s sports betting market and the ones from thirty, twenty, or even ten years ago.
In one scene, Dink describes today’s sport betting market better about as best as possible.
He explains how sharp bettors are the ones controlling the betting market and moving the lines and that sharp bookmakers take their cue from the wiseguys and shape the market by adjusting their odds. Poor bookmakers leave themselves open to more sharp action. The squares or betting public, the true suckers, lose to both the sharp and poor bookmakers.
Comparing Today’s Market to the Old Days
These days, the Las Vegas sportsbooks are afraid to have an opinion, at least, for the most part. Offshore betting markets operate much in the same way. Their lines are similar, and most of them are quick to limit any sharp bettor that beats them for significant cash.
The biggest takeaway that viewers should have from this documentary is how hard it is to win at sports betting, especially today. The ups and downs and endlessly long hours make relying on it for your sole income a real grind and not the glamorous life that some imagine it to be.
Betting offshore is going to give sports bettors a stronger shot of winning long term compared to wagering at Las Vegas sportsbooks, but the pitfalls of sports betting are still very real.
Offshore sportsbooks are limiting sharp players at a record pace these days and issues with money management always seems to be plague sports bettors, no matter how sharp of gamblers they become. The Best of It certainly hits home on the latter point, in tragic fashion.
Those who gamble offshore still have the edge when it comes to line shopping and bonuses. In Vegas, there’s no such thing as a first-time deposit bonus or reduced juiced odds.
Don’t get me wrong, in today’s betting market, there are still plenty of profitable opportunities. Our articles on betting strategy will hopefully turn you into a profitable sports bettor if you’re currently a losing one.
Don’t Give Up Your Day Job
However, those who dream of becoming a professional sports bettor have quite the uphill battle. Bookmakers are sharper these days and scaling your wagers to get enough money down will inevitably become a problem for anyone who is consistently profitable.
Don’t quit your day job and don’t make it your goal to bet sports for a living. It’s much better to consider betting sports part-time or as a hobby. This can end up being quite a bit of money depending on your success.
The Best of It touches on a number of other topics as well, such as the viability of paying for sports betting picks. Do yourself a favor and watch it. Filmmaker Scott Pearson Eberly shot the film over five years and edited over 1,400 hours of footage.