By guaranteeing $14 million in prize money this year, Circa owner Derek Stevens has created the two biggest NFL handicapping contests in the world. He’s equally excited to put his money and support behind a third contest that debuted under the Friday night lights last year.
The Circa Friday Football Invitational, a VSIN-produced event that was launched in 2022, is returning with a 16-contestant field in a comprehensive format that includes the college football and NFL regular-season schedule and is designed to crown the season’s most successful all-around handicapper.
Chris Fallica, who moved from ESPN to Fox Sports at the beginning of this year, won the inaugural event and clinched a tense title race on the contest’s final day in January, when Georgia routed TCU for the national championship. “The Bear” is back to defend his VSiN title.
Stevens is again putting up $25,000 in prize money: $15,000 for the winner, $7,000 for second place and $3,000 for third place. Last year’s runner-up, Las Vegas professional bettor Chuck Edel, and third-place finisher, Colorado pro bettor James Salinas, are among six contestants returning in 2023.
Unlike the Circa Million and Survivor contests, which require a $1,000 entry fee, the Friday Football Invitational is free to play but requires an invitation from Circa and VSiN.
The 10 new handicappers in the Friday contest include Tony Gordon and Jeff Petch, who finished one-two in the 2021 Circa Million, and Chris Piper, a 2021 Circa Survivor co-champion.
All contestants submit seven plays — college and NFL sides and totals — using the Circa Sports lines posted at 12 p.m. each Friday. The plays will be revealed on a VSiN show airing from 6 to 9 p.m. Fridays, with all 112 plays announced during the final hour of the broadcast.
The contest features a survivor element: At the conclusion of Week 9 of the NFL schedule, the last-place contestant will be cut. The elimination process continues each week for the following seven weeks through Week 16 of the NFL schedule, leaving the eight remaining contestants to compete to the end.
“I fully expect to get cut Week 10 this year,” Fallica said with a laugh.
While the obvious goal is to finish first, no one wants to finish last and be the first one out.
This year’s 16-handicapper field:
(Six contestants return from 2022, in order of finish)
Chris "The Bear" Fallica
, Fox Sports analyst @chrisfallica
Chuck "The Iceman" Edel,
Las Vegas professional bettor @chuckedel
, 2015 Westgate SuperContest champion @roundingagain
, Texas football handicapper @paulstonesports
, former ESPN betting analyst @DougESPN
North Dakota professional gambler @RR39
(Ten new contestants this season)
, pro bettor, and "Mattress Mack" Jim McIngvale @MattressMack
“Stanford” Steve Coughlin
, ESPN betting analyst, SportsCenter producer @StanfordSteve82
, 2021 Circa Millions champion @durbify
, 2021 Circa Millions runner-up @MadRussianNFL
, 2021 Circa Survivor co-champion @wagolfer69
, Las Vegas professional bettor @BradPowers7
, Las Vegas professional bettor @pritchardwins
WagerTalk handicapper @kellyinvegas
, VSiN fan, Realtor from Nashville, Tenn. @guyincornfields
, Las Vegas handicapper, oddsmaker @KWhiteyVegas
(Playing the contest but not officially competing for prize money)
, Founder & CEO of Juice Reel (AI) JuiceReel.com
, VP of Operations for Circa, The D @MikePalmCirca
, VSiN host @WesReynolds1
, VSiN host @mattyoumans247
CIRCA FRIDAY FOOTBALL INVITATIONAL 2023
Sixteen handicappers compete — with no entry fee required — in a season-long contest with $25,000 in prizes awarded.
When: Friday, September 8 through Friday, January 5, 2024 (18 weeks)
Where: VSIN studio in the Circa sportsbook
Contest plays: Seven plays, college and NFL sides and totals (no props, team totals or first-half plays) with one designated as the Best Bet (BB). Contestants are limited to four college football totals per week.
—Plays will be graded as one point for a win and a half-point for a push. If a game is canceled or postponed, it’s graded to be worth a half-point; a postponed game must be played by the following Thursday or it’s graded to be worth a half-point.
—The Best Bet (BB) point total will be used as a tiebreaker if needed.
Use the Circa Sports lines posted at 12 p.m. (PT; 12:00:00) Fridays. (All contestants are using the same lines.) Send the Circa numbers posted with your plays and submit by email or text message. Plays can be submitted only once, no changes allowed, and use the proper line. Any contestant failing to designate a Best Bet (BB) will get a zero for the Best Bet record that week.
—Seven plays must be submitted to Matt Youmans no later than 3 p.m. (PT) each Friday.
Prize structure: Circa owner Derek Stevens is awarding $25,000 in total prize money: $15,000 for the winner, $7,000 for second place and $3,000 for third place. The winner also receives a trophy and a green jacket designed by Stevens.
Contest field/format: The contest begins Friday, September 8 and continues each Friday through January, 5, 2024.
—In December during the college bowl season, any games scheduled through the following Thursday can be used in the contest (and any games must be scored as final on that Thursday to count). For the final week, only games scheduled through Monday, January 8 can be used in the contest (and any game must be scored as final on that Monday to count).
Elimination rounds: At the conclusion of Week 9 of the NFL schedule (the Friday, November 3 contest week), the contestant with the lowest point total will be cut.
The same elimination process will continue each week for the following seven weeks through Week 16 of the NFL schedule (the Friday, December 22 contest week).
—If there is a tie for last place in any elimination week, the Best Bet (BB) point total for the two or more contestants will be used as a tiebreaker to cut one contestant; if there still is a tie, the most recent week’s Best Bet (BB) result will be the tiebreaker, and that process of grading Best Bets continues in reverse order until the tie is broken.
—At the conclusion of NFL Week 16, the eight remaining contestants compete to the end.
Media participation: All contestants are invited to join the show in studio or by phone/video from 6-9 p.m. (PT) throughout the season. The contest will be broadcast on VSIN and contest plays will be published on VSIN.com.
(Derek Stevens has the authority to make a final ruling on any contest rules disputes.)