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Last Updated: March 16, 2004

March 16, 2004

The Wizard's News
March 16, 2004

Five thousand subscribers

As I send this out, The Wizard's News now has exactly 5,000 subscribers.

Academy Awards bets

Since the Super Bowl I haven't been gambling much, which explains the long time since the last newsletter. With what funds I had left in my account at Pinnacle Sports online I made some bets on the Academy Awards. The odds seemed ridiculous betting against the favorites as follows:

Academy Awards Bets

Bet Odds
Charlize Theron will not win best actress
Peter Jackson will not win best director
Capturing the Friedman will not win best documentary
The Barbarian Invasions will not win best foreign film
Return of the Kings will not win best picture
Tim Robbins will not win best supporting actor
Renee Zellwegger will not win best supporting actress

For those unfamiliar with the odds notation, a $100 bet on Return of the Kings to not win best picture would have won $426, plus the original $100 bet back. A $118 bet would have been required on Capturing the Friedman to win $100, plus the original bet back.

I have seen all three Lord of the Rings movies and felt they were all about equally good. In previous years the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, won four minor awards (cinematography, make up, music, and visual effects) while the second movie, The Two Towers, won only two minor awards (sound editing and visual effects). I therefore didn't see why the third movie, Return of the Kings, would be the favorite for Best Picture. But if +426 were fair odds that means Pinnacle figured the probability of Return of the Kings to win was 81%. I just could not believe that Return of the Kings was 81% likely to win. And if it were any less than 81% likely to win, then this would be a good bet to make.

Based on the odds the favorites in the other categories were not as strong. The odds betting against favorite Sean Penn for best actor were not very strong, and I felt Bill Murray was the only possible alternative, so I also bet on Bill Murray. Before putting in my wagers I ran the odds past a minor actor I know and he said he thought Return of the Kings would not win, and felt all odds were good except against Charlize Theron.

So what happens? Every single favorite wins except Capturing the Friedman for best documentary. I lost 84.7% of my Academy Awards bankroll. Something is rotten in Denmark, or rather Hollywood. If the ballots are supposed to be secret then how could the results have been so predictable?

After I made these bets and mentioned it to some professional gamblers they all said I made a huge mistake. They didn't know why but all said the results for most categories are known well in advance, which causes such long odds against favorites. I did hear that the New York Times does a survey of eligible voters and used it to correctly pick the winners the previous year. However I made my wagers 28 days before the show, well before any such article this year. Said article may have been why Pinnacle closed betting a week before the awards.

As I said the last newsletter I am not one of those gamblers who boasts after a win and says nothing after a loss. This episode was one of the worst gambling experiences I have ever had on a percentage basis. Fortunately my total amount bet was not that high, about $1000. Hopefully I'll recoup on my presidential election bets. I have a lot riding on Bush to lose at odds from +165 to +250. He probably will win but I think it will be close.

New Advertiser

Finally, I would like to welcome the latest advertiser to the site, Giant Vegas. They have a nice assortment of bonuses to choose from:

  • 100% bonus up to bonus of $125. 15x play required.
  • 30% bonus up to bonus of $600. 9x play required.
  • 200% bonus up to bonus of $500. 15x play required. Slots only.

Excluded games on the first two promotions are Pontoon, Baccarat, Craps, Multi-Player Poker, Video Poker, Bingo and Roulette. Double play is required on blackjack. Remember to put in the coupon code before you deposit.

Personally I played the first bonus for the full $125 on Feb 25, 2004. The bonus was given immediately. Despite the double play requirement I still felt blackjack was the best bet. I lost my entire $250 balance playing $25 blackjack in about 10 minutes. As regular readers know, my typical strategy for playing bonuses is to go for a big goal, such as doubling my bankroll, or go bust trying. This means that most times I will go bust but when I do win I'll win big.


That's all. Until next time, set your expectations high.