Getting the Jump on Football Contests

With football season less than a month away, sportsbooks have begun announcing the details of their handicapping contests. While it’s still too early to determine which will offer the best return for your money, there are some concepts you should be aware of if you want to get the highest return for your contest dollar. The primary strategy involves looking for add-ons for playing multiple entries and taking advantage of early-bird sweeteners.

The Palms contest is the best example, because it involves both. It costs $25 for one entry into the Pigskin Payoff, but if you buy the maximum three, you get three more free. That’s six in all for $75, or $12.50 per entry. Take advantage of the early-bird offer and sign up by Sept. 1, and you’ll also get $10 in free slot play. Now you’re paying $65 for six entries, or $10.83 per. Finally, and especially if you’re a Palms customer, wait till as close to the early-bird cutoff as possible so you can monitor your mail for additional incentives. I’ve seen Palms mailers in recent years that reduced the entry fee to an amazing $6.67 per play.

Similar savings can be obtained in other contests. Buy two entries for Station Casinos’ Great Giveaway and get a third free, dropping the cost-per-entry from $25 to $16.67. In Station’s concurrently running Last Man Standing contest, you get a fifth entry free when you buy four, lowering the fee from $25 to $20. Even the SuperContest at LVH, with its big $1,500 entry fee, has an early-bird incentive. Sign up by 4 p.m. Sept. 3 to be eligible to play in a mini contest at the end of the season with $10,000 in prize money. It’s an extra that you’d be foolish to miss out on.

The key is to look for ways to enter for less or increase the prize pool for which you’re competing. (You’ll find the clues on how to do this by reading the contest rules before entering.) Note that while this strategy saves money, there’s often a different kind of price to pay: The more times you enter, the more cards you’ll have to fill out. If this is your thing, it won’t be a problem. But it can turn into a 17-week nightmare of time commitment if you’re not prepared for it.

There are other ways to improve your results in football contests, and I’ll talk about them in a future installment of The Deal. In the meantime, if you’re a sportsbook or bar with a good contest up your sleeve, or you have other good football promotions planned for this season, send me the details at



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