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Sports Saturday

Circa Sports Survivor has NFL bettors living week to week

Bet on it: The big-stakes survival pool is a nerve-racking experience for a trio of young gamblers.

Patrick Wall (from left), Chris Thurston and Adam Trigger
Patrick Wall (from left), Chris Thurston and Adam Trigger had a good run in the contest until they put their faith in the Jaguars.
Patrick Wall

LAS VEGAS — What is it like to reach Week 12, then Week 13, then Week 14 —and keep advancing — in a $1,000-entry NFL contest that pays $6 million?

“Sweating it out each week,” said 24-year-old Patrick Wall, “was horrifying.”

And Wall works in a Vegas sportsbook, so he’s familiar with point spreads, line movements and sharp money, big money.

The Circa Sports Survivor winner-take-all battle, though, is a unique beast. Pick one team a week to simply win, no spreads, and that squad can’t be used again. Easy, eh?

Wall and two friends split the entry fee. Circa had 4,080 entrants, so owner Derek Stevens was on the hook for nearly a $2 million overlay, the shortfall between total entry fees and his grandiose guarantee.

Plus, he earmarked another $1 million to those who waited to use, and would win with, Kansas City or Tampa Bay until the final weekend, Week 20. The Delta Chucks, how Wall mistakenly labeled the trio, were among the final 23 players.

The night before their pivotal game, Wall couldn’t sleep. At first light, he rang his father, Robert, in Massachusetts, saying, “I feel sick. It’s so much money.”

“He was a little nervous,” Robert said.

A few hours later, when that game finally kicked off, the anxiety, insomnia and stress all took their toll.

Patrick Wall slipped into a deep sleep.

OFF TO VEGAS

The $6 million quest he and his pals undertook is almost as compelling as how Wall landed in Las Vegas.

A native of Holbrook, Massachusetts, he had obtained an accounting degree and an MBA at Assumption University, in Worcester. College classmate Deonte Harris is a kick-returning ace for the Saints.

Wall was following in his accountant dad’s vocational footsteps, but the 9-to-5 doldrums engulfed him.

He listened to “The Kelly and Murray Show” podcast, featuring Westgate SuperBook executive director John Murray and handicapper Kelly Stewart. He saw producer Sam Panayotovich’s Twitter note seeking editing help.

To be distinctive, Wall sent both Murray and Stewart $5 via Venmo to “buy a coffee and please read my résumé.”

It worked. He got the internship-type gig in December 2020. He did public accounting by day, edited at night and on weekends. He met Stewart’s friends Chris Thurston, a longtime bettor, and Adam Trigger, a WagerTalk ’capper.

For the first week of last year’s NCAA Tournament, Stewart, as thanks for his hustling, bought Wall a round-trip airline ticket to Vegas. Murray arranged four-day Westgate accommodations.

Dave Sharapan, who worked many years at several Vegas books, helped Wall obtain a junior-trader post here at WynnBET.

Patrick returned to Massachusetts, and he and Robert took turns driving his white Mustang back to Vegas. Now Patrick is in the process of switching over to the Westgate SuperBook, where he’ll start out writing tickets.

“One thing led to another, and we’re driving out to Vegas,” Robert Wall said. “Accounting isn’t his thing . . . I was pulling for them in that contest. It was exciting.”

TRICKY

Wall, Thurston and Trigger discussed games, lines, odds and potential plays in a group chat, in which all benefited. Uniting for Survivor was a natural consequence.

Minimal risk, huge potential reward. Majority would rule, but they’d always aim for a consensus pick each week. They would use the Chiefs and Bucs as they saw fit, unconcerned about that bonus.

Those 20 weeks were tricky. The three Thanksgiving games, for instance, represented their own week, as did the two Christmas Eve games and their Thursday predecessor.

The Chucks saved the Packers for Christmas Eve, a home game against Detroit. For Week 1, they won with the Bucs. They kept winning. For Week 8, they won with the Chiefs. They kept winning.

On Thanksgiving, they used two-point-favorite Chicago at Detroit. That’s when it became serious, Wall said. Added Trigger, “Life-consuming.”

In theory, selecting the favored side in a game is advantageous. The Bears won, 16-14. The Chucks kept winning.

Then came Week 15.

JAX AXE

The Delta Chucks highlighted lowly Jacksonville, at home to lowly Houston. They reasoned the Jags as six-point home favorites represented value. Most important, Wall, at Wynn, had been watching professional bettors make big wagers on Jacksonville.

Philadelphia also rated with the Chucks, but Washington was experiencing virus issues and that game’s date would be moved.

If it were shifted to Wednesday, it would be moot since the Survivor contest deadline, for games to be played, was 2 a.m. Wednesday. If someone picked the Eagles and they played that Wednesday, sayonara.

Of the 23 remaining entries, only the Delta Chucks selected Jacksonville, which lost 30-16. That Tuesday, 10-point home-favorite Philly beat Washington 27-17.

The Chucks console themselves knowing they likely would have taken the Chargers, who lost 41-29 as 13-point favorites at Houston in Week 16.

Three Survivor victors would win $1,533,333, two claimed $1.2M.

Wall awoke from his slumber in the fourth quarter of the Jacksonville debacle, and Trigger and Thurston haven’t ceased teasing him.

“This huge game, and I nod off,” Wall said. “I hope we move along as well next year. There certainly is some luck involved, when those big double-digit favorites go down and you’re not on them.

“And maybe it will be a little less stressful next time.”