Most football handicapping contests are Las Vegas transients, coming for a short time before drifting away. The SuperContest is the exception and the gold standard, but Tony Miller is rolling out a Golden Nugget contest that could present some serious competition.
A former UNLV football player and longtime fan of the Dallas Cowboys, Miller is combining college and NFL handicapping to create the Ultimate Football Challenge.
“We’re expecting a lot of entries for this,” Miller, the Golden Nugget sports book director, said Friday while announcing the new format. Registration opens May 29.
“It’s a true handicapping contest because we have every game on the board available — all college and NFL sides — and that’s a big thing.”
Miller is a regular entrant in the Westgate’s SuperContest, the undisputed biggest thing in the world of football contests. But the SuperContest is all about the NFL. Miller is taking that concept and adding all college games on the board.
The entry fee for the Ultimate Football Challenge is $1,000, with contestants permitted to purchase up to two entries. The Golden Nugget is paying out 100 percent of the entry fees to the top 20 finishers.
Miller formerly ran the Friday Football Showdown, which included college and NFL sides and totals in a head-to-head handicapper bracket format. The bracket is scrapped, the $2,000 entry fee reduced and the contest name has been changed. Also, to “avoid stale numbers,” Miller said he decided to eliminate totals as contest options.
The simplicity of the SuperContest format is part of its appeal — participants are required to select five NFL sides against the spread each week during the 17-week regular season. Miller is keeping the Ultimate Football Challenge simple, too — participants are required to select seven college and/or NFL sides against the spread each week during the 17-week season.
In 2017, the SuperContest attracted a record 2,748 entries at $1,500 each, with the winner collecting $1.3 million. During the same season, the Friday Football Showdown drew only 95 contestants (limited to one per person) and was lost in the shuffle, prompting Miller’s mission to go “bigger and better” with his contest format.
In the past 10 years, a popularity boom struck the SuperContest, which enters its 30th year in 2018. The contest drew only 342 contestants in 2007 but surged to 1,854 entries in 2016 before seeing its first $1 million winner last year.
“The SuperContest is great because it’s so big,” Miller said. “I’m not going to say this is better, but there needs to be another big contest that includes college football.”
Ultimate Football Challenge
Presented by the Golden Nugget sports book
Opens May 29; Deadline Sept. 4
$1,000, limit two per contestant
Select seven college and/or NFL sides against the spread each week during the 17-week regular season; contest lines will be posted at 2 p.m. Wednesdays and the deadline to submit selections is 10 p.m. Fridays; all college games, included the added board, will be on the contest sheet; contestants are allowed to designate up to two proxies who have the authority to enter weekly plays.
100 percent of entry fees will be returned to contestants.
The top 20 finishers are paid; First place (40 percent), second place (20 percent), third place (10 percent), fourth and fifth place (7 percent each), sixth and seventh place (5 percent each), eighth, ninth and 10th place (2 percent each); finishers 11 through 20 receive $1,000 each from the prize pool before dividing the top 10 payout positions.
Complete rules: http://GoldenNugget.com/lasvegas