Saturday, 19th August, 2017

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Who is RJ Bell?

Randal James Busack, known popularly as RJ Bell is a professional sports gambler and handicapper who is famous as the founder of online betting website Pregame.com. Bell touts himself as a modern day “Jimmy the Greek” and despite the controversy that surrounds his operation, his picks have become a much sought-after commodity. He hosts a daily radio show on ESPN Las Vegas and is a regular contributor on FOX, Grantland and NBC among other national networks.

There is almost no record online about Bell’s early years and how he became a sports handicapper. Forbes.com where he is listed as one of the world’s top gambling gurus, indicates that he attended Ohio State University where he graduated with a finance degree, having finished first in his class. He disclosed his method of making winning picks as being dependent on the public’s tendency to pick overrated big name sports personalities and teams which bids up the odds in their favor. Bell and his team of touts exploit the resulting mismatch by betting on an underrated underdog which results in a higher payout.

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Using this method, the oddmaker will usually try to move the line once the power rating based pointspread has been determined. This is done using metrics derived from each team’s previous games. This essentially makes the underdog a more attractive pick. About 5 of the top oddmakers meet to come up with prospective lines for each team. The Odds Director decides on the consensus line which is then published on the website. Dividing the action in this way, ensures that the bookmaker makes a profit, because the bettor pays a fee (called the vig or juice) to place their bet.

In the more than ten years that Bell has been in the business controversy has perpetually followed him. In gambling circles, it is often said that the most successful gamblers do not brag about their circles and more so fight to keep their picks private. Bell and his fellow touts at Pregame advertise and sell their picks and many commentators have picked on this as a sign of insincerity on their part. A scathing article by Ryan Goldberg appeared on Deadspin in June 2016, purporting to expose Bell’s fraud ring which he ran through Pregame. According to Goldberg, customers who have depended on Bell’s picks have lost a net total of more than $300,000 between January 2011 and May 2016. Despite claiming to keep transparent archives of every transaction made, Goldberg points out that Pregame’s supposed archive intentionally frustrates visitors and it is hard to use it to tabulate hard evidence. Bell’s own pics were purportedly so unsuccessful that they were pulled from the website altogether, and now pregame only features picks from other handicappers. In retaliation to this, Bell filed a lawsuit against Deadspin, famously hiring Hulkk Hogan’s lawyer Charles Harder as his litigator.

Using this method, the oddmaker will usually try to move the line once the power rating based pointspread has been determined. This is done using metrics derived from each team’s previous games. This essentially makes the underdog a more attractive pick. About 5 of the top oddmakers meet to come up with prospective lines for each team. The Odds Director decides on the consensus line which is then published on the website. Dividing the action in this way, ensures that the bookmaker makes a profit, because the bettor pays a fee (called the vig or juice) to place their bet.

In the more than ten years that Bell has been in the business controversy has perpetually followed him. In gambling circles, it is often said that the most successful gamblers do not brag about their circles and more so fight to keep their picks private. Bell and his fellow touts at Pregame advertise and sell their picks and many commentators have picked on this as a sign of insincerity on their part. A scathing article by Ryan Goldberg appeared on Deadspin in June 2016, purporting to expose Bell’s fraud ring which he ran through Pregame. According to Goldberg, customers who have depended on Bell’s picks have lost a net total of more than $300,000 between January 2011 and May 2016. Despite claiming to keep transparent archives of every transaction made, Goldberg points out that Pregame’s supposed archive intentionally frustrates visitors and it is hard to use it to tabulate hard evidence. Bell’s own pics were purportedly so unsuccessful that they were pulled from the website altogether, and now pregame only features picks from other handicappers. In retaliation to this, Bell filed a lawsuit against Deadspin, famously hiring Hulkk Hogan’s lawyer Charles Harder as his litigator.

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