Bet Bash More Than Just A Sharp Bettors’ Conference
Three years ago, professional bettor Gadoon "Spanky" Kyrollos first began drilling down on the idea of Bet Bash. In the midst of COVID lockdowns, Spanky aimed to create a conference that was by, for and of sports bettors, once people could again gather together.
With Spanky's extensive background as a sharp player, perhaps many thought the conference would just be a bunch of wiseguys talking to or through each other. But that wasn't the case at all.
Three years later, on the precipice of Bet Bash 3, Spanky himself will tell you that his conference benefits everyday average bettors, recreational players and even novices much more so than the experts.
Spanky and Bet Bash panelist Darren Rovell of The Action Network took some time to discuss what to expect and what they hope comes out of Bet Bash 3, set for Aug. 8-11 in downtown Las Vegas.
A Learning Experience
Bet Bash 1 took place in August 2021, a year after Spanky first started working on the conference. It was a one-night event held in his native Jersey City, N.J., and it attracted 220 attendees.
At that point, it was clear there was an appetite for such a conference. And to paraphrase Chief Brody in the 1975 blockbuster movie Jaws, another fact became clear to Spanky and his team of Bet Bash organizers: They were gonna need a bigger venue.
Bet Bash 2 featured a move to Vegas, specifically to The D Las Vegas and its nearby sparkling new sister property, Circa Las Vegas. From April 1-4, 2022, 350 attendees partook in speed networking and soaked in expert insights from an array of respected and informed panelists.
Of course, everyone enjoyed a little Vegas nightlife by way of NCAA Tournament viewing parties and more. But Spanky said the chance to become better bettors was and remains the imperative of this conference.
"One-hundred percent. You can learn more here in a couple days than you could learn in a whole year," he said. "That's the beautiful thing. Bet Bash is designed mostly for novice bettors. It gives them a chance to meet the best of the best. The Who's Who of Sports Bettors is gonna be there.
"You can have access to any one of them. You could walk up to Billy Walters and ask him a question."
Speaking of Walters, attendees can sit in on what is arguably the most anticipated session of Bet Bash 3: Spanky in an extremely rare one-on-one with Walters, the legendary sports bettor.
"I'm pretty excited for that. It's gonna be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Spanky said. "What better person to ask questions than the best sports bettor in the world. My questions will be all sports-betting related. I don't care about all the other stuff."
That other stuff would be Walters' recent legal hurdles. Spanky is intent on keeping the conference focused on the matter at hand: sports betting. Rovell is quite intrigued by the Q&A.
"I am supremely looking forward to Billy's first-ever public appearance. To have gamblers around him will be different than just a single 60 Minutes reporter," Rovell said.
Can't We All Just Get Along
One of the more intriguing panels addresses the sports betting community on social media, specifically on Twitter. Social media being what it often is, the panel is aptly titled, "Can't We All Just Get Along."
Rovell, senior executive producer for The Action Network, joins a robust panel that includes:
- The pseudonymous Joey Knish, sports bettor/content creator
- Jeff Benson, sportsbook operations manager, Circa Sports
- Rob Pizzola, pro sports bettor
- Dave Sharapan, former oddsmaker/current sports betting personality
Sam Panayotovich, sports betting analyst for NESN and FOX Sports, will moderate the panel. Rovell said he can't wait to get going, surely echoing his fellow panelists.
"I'm most looking forward to getting all the personalities in our industry in a room and seeing what happens. We mostly clash in the gambling Twittersphere, so I'm kind of wondering if the in-person thing is going to need security," Rovell joked, before addressing the panel itself. "I love the theme of the panel. As I referenced, I think the tone of gamblers seems to be a negative one, and I don't think that's helpful to our overall community.
"Sharps criticize squares. Oldies in the space want for it to be confusing to the newcomers. And in the end, that just doesn't make sense. There's room for all of us."
Spanky fully expects the panel to be productive and informative for the roomful of people in the Circa Ballroom, with Bet Bash 3 expected to attract 400-500 attendees.
"That panel is essentially going to discuss how social media, especially Twitter, connects people together," he said, while acknowledging that perhaps there'll be some polite fireworks. "I hope to be entertained by that panel. I also want to see if we can come out of that panel with insight on what motivates people to share things on social media."
Hall of Fame and More
Bet Bash 3 wraps up on Friday night, Aug. 11, with a black-tie dinner to unveil the inaugural class of the Sports Gambling Hall of Fame. The aforementioned Walters is among the 10 bettors/bookmakers being honored.
Others joining Walters include Roxy Roxborough, Jimmy Vaccaro and Scotty Schettler. Posthumous inductees include: Frank "Lefty" Rosenthal, who was portrayed by Robert DeNiro in the movie Casino; Charles McNeil, who popularized the point spread; and Jackie Gaughan, who opened the first sportsbook inside a casino, at The Union Plaza.
"That's what I'm looking forward to the most – to be able to honor those who came before us, who paved the way, who allowed me to do what I do for a living," Spanky said, before injecting some levity. "And to have a drink with Roxy and all the old-timers. It's gonna be so much fun."
All panels take place Friday, Aug. 11. In addition to the aforementioned Spanky-Walters interview and the social media panel, there are two more sessions:
- Attacking the Weekly College Football Line, with insights from bettors and bookmakers
- Traders, which examines the back-and-forth battle between bettors and oddsmakers, and the strategies each employ
The Speed Networking session takes place Wednesday, Aug. 9. And there'll be plenty of time to socialize, with open-bar events all four nights, including at the renowned Stadium Swim, Circa Sportsbook and the Legends Club Rooftop Cocktails.
But to reiterate, while having a good time is expected, expanding the knowledge base of bettors of all abilities is the goal.
"At the end of the day, it's about fun. But I think it would be great to get things done here," Rovell said. "Best practices of verifying [betting] records, what books are doing good things, what books are doing things that aren't so great. We, as bettors, aren't just beholden to the lawmakers. Through our voices, we can affect change."
Tickets for Bet Bash range from $749 for general admission to $1,099 for VIP. For more information, go to betbash.co.
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