RJ Bell is the founder and CEO of Pregame.com, a sports betting website that includes forums, odds, contests, and picks (both of the free and for purchase varieties). It is one of the most successful sites of its kind, in no small part due to the popularity of Bell, who has accumulated over 80K Twitter followers and established himself as the mainstream media's go-to "expert" for stories involving gambling on sports.
An American success story if there every was one. That's only one side of it, though. In some corners of the internet (including this blog), there is a feeling that Bell has not found his success in a legitimate way. This is the fourth post in a series detailing the reasoning behind that particular feeling. If you'd like to start at the beginning, it's here.
After a brief but worthwhile interlude, let's get back to examining whether Bet Like A Pro (BLAP) contains "any element of a scam".
Step 3: Make it impossible for a neutral third-party to verify the long-term record of your program.
One could write at phenomenal length about the many tricks touts use to illegitimately improve their record, but I'll try to keep this relatively short.
The BLAP picks are posted daily in a college basketball thread at Pregame after the relevant games are over. It is generally quite a bit easier to win at sports betting when you're posting your plays on games that have already happened.
In theory, a neutral third-party could be sent the BLAP picks via text very shortly before or after the games started, and they could be verified that way. But the same person who was comped a subscription at LVA Sports and tracked Fezzik's records from 2009-2012, ComptrBob, has offered to do exactly that, without being taken up on his offer.
Recently, ComptrBob gave his level-headed thoughts on the difficulty of verifying the BLAP record. Fezzik was not impressed:
Clearly, it's unreasonable that nobody is willing to pay $1000/month for the privilege of spending a bunch of time tracking picks they believe to have no value.
Impressively, Fezzik's following post, about why the picks can't be posted right after the game starts, made even less sense:
This alternate reality, where Fezzik's picks are so valuable that you'd want to use them to bet into whatever the first available live betting line happens to be, must be a fascinating one. Obviously.
Just in case you're still giving these guys the benefit of the doubt with respect to keeping an honest record -- and I'm not sure why you would be -- the post-posted BLAP record itself appears to be riddled with errors and inconsistencies.
Most amusingly, there was the time that Johnny Detroit claimed that BLAP went live on January 11th, while Fezzik said it started just before the Super Bowl. Naturally, the SB props Fezzik pre-posted at LVA lost 1.6 units, while the past-posted BLAP props were +5.375u. You see, BLAP supposedly launched after Fezzik had released some of his SB props at LVA, despite the fact that Fezzik had alraedy been submitting BLAP picks for weeks. (Full summary here.)
There was also the time that Fezzik posted a day of BLAP WNBA picks, which went 3-1 for +2.9u, yet they somehow showed up in the BLAP record as 3-0, +5.0u.
When ComptrBob tried to verify the 2013 past-posted BLAP results, he found "many errors" in the relevant spreadsheet. Predictably, this has been a recurring problem, to the extent that Fezzik can't even accurately recall his own results. Although that last issue is actually somewhat understandable, considering the "amazing differences" between his various programs.
And this may come as a shock, but about 18 months into his Pregame career, Fezzik is a big winner on his past-posted BLAP plays, while being down on his (easier to verify, although still far from perfectly tracked) individual picks for sale.
Step 4: Dismiss dissent with nonsensical accusations.
Similar to Fezzik's previously mentioned alternate reality, Bell also lives in a world which seems quite foreign to most of us.
Not impressed with Fezzik's résumé? Must be a personal problem:
@bikezilla @FezzikSports @ESPN_Colin You are either not aware of Fezzik's resume, or for some reason biased. If the 1st, I suggest research.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) September 29, 2013
Haven't spent years obsessively building up your Twitter brand? Clearly your opinion is worthless:
@therealestdan Amazing w/ ur keen insights you have only 217 followers after 9491 post (.0228 followers per post). The mkt has spoken - LOL.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 17, 2013
@bburch22 @TheBigLead 50 followers after 3,864 tweets. The market is telling you your biased, inaccurate, hateful view is not valued.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 11, 2013
In Bell's world, the guy running the sketchy tout site has the truth on his side:
@AndyGlockner If you value the truth, Andy, please rethink your assumptions. You are being mislead by misanthropes with an agenda.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) December 2, 2013
@cordongole @chadmillman Hopefully you simply had a wrong impression rather than an agenda.You can't win without valuing the truth.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) January 11, 2013
Agendas are indeed a frequent point of concern:
@DavidHollidge Feedback on the article as been amazing. Those with an agenda are simply louder on Twitter.
— RJ Bell (@RJinVegas) February 25, 2014
After also considering all the people he's blocked on Twitter, the posts he's deleted at Pregame, and the losing records of his touts he's ignored, it appears that Bell has to do quite a bit of work to maintain this truthful, agenda-free world where people pay for the picks of touts that he knows are long-term losers.
Kind of makes you wonder how Webster's would define an "element of a scam", doesn't it?
(Thanks to @groovinmahoovin for his various contributions to both this post and the whole BLAP series.)
Previous Long Con post: Bet Like A Pro (Part Two)
Next Long Con post: "Transparency"