The online gambling industry is notorious for its male dominance, but the sports betting industry’s blatant male dominance is on a whole different level.
Female Kelly Stewart loves to gamble and is a professional handicapper, part of Team Oddsshark for this year’s SuperContest, winner of last year’s SuperBook Mini-Contest and runs her own proxy service in Las Vegas.
Stewart has succeeded in making a name for herself in handicapping and does not allow male dominance in the industry to intimidate her. In fact, Stewart has built relationships with a number of the best male handicappers in the business and learned from their success.
I had the opportunity to meet Stewart in person while in Las Vegas at the end of August for the launch of the Westgate SuperContest. We had a chance to chat and discuss her journey from recreational gambler to professional handicapper, review some of her battle stories and get her thoughts on who will win the 2016 Super Bowl.
Becky Liggero: First of all, you are one of the only females in this very male dominated industry. How in the world did you find yourself in this position that you’re in today?
Kelly Stewart: Its funny, I like to tell people that at a point in time when I moved to Vegas – I’ve always been an avid gambler, I’ve always been an avid sports lover – but once I got out here and you are around really smart people – I was in the book on Saturday’s anyway – and people would ask if I’ve ever thought about breaking it down from a mathematical standpoint based on statistics and based on algorithms and things like that and I got luckily fortunate enough to meet some really smart guys, a lot smarter than myself, and it kind of just blew up.
I hit an 85:1 ticket about three years ago and had some sharp guys like Todd Furman reach out to me on Twitter and they’re like, ‘who is this girl? Is she real, is she fake’ and it was actually really funny because these guys help me do a lot of this and a lot of that and Todd’s like, ‘you better get on it, its too late you’re already in the spotlight – you better learn your stuff and you better know it right because you’ve already put yourself there’ and I didn’t mean to, I just wanted to cash my 85:1 ticket and not have anybody know who I was.
But I’m here now and life’s good, I love what I do and its definitely a huge passion of mine and now it’s a full time career.
BL: I love it. Its nice to see you in the flesh- so tell me when you’ve felt the smartest as a bettor, can you give me a story?
KS: Well, we’re both women, so we both know we like to be right.
So some of my favorite moments are when a couple of years ago when Blake Bortles played for University of Central Florida, they went into Louisville, I think it was a Thursday night game. Central Florida was +450, so they were a 16 or 17 point dog and I played I think the +17. I told everybody, ‘I think UCF is going to win this game’ and everybody’s like, ‘you’re drunk, UCF is not going into Louisville to win this game’ and I was like, ‘I just have a good feeling, this kid’s a stud, the math’s saying they cover, I’ve got to put a little bit on the moneyline’. And it was funny because me and my buddy were texting each other back and forth just franticly because I was like, ‘No one’s going to believe we had money on the moneyline’ and he goes, ‘Yea, I’ve got the ticket right here from when you gave me money earlier today’ and I was like, ‘Yes!’ I was so happy.
I guess its proving my naysayers wrong as opposed to feeling really smart. Like I said, maybe it’s a woman thing, we like to be right.
BL: Well unfortunately we can’t always be right. Can you give me a story of your worst bad beat.
KS: Oh my god, worst bad beat…there’s just so many…I mean we’re relying on 18 year old kids to make free throws and professional athletes to do the same.
I just think that there are so many– there was a game, I believe it was North Carolina probably two or three years ago- I had seven and a half on North Carolina. North Carolina goes to kick the point after to land on seven. The point after snap gets botched, the kicker throws it for a two point conversion, North Carolina wins by eight and I’m just like, ‘Oh my god, how did that happen? That doesn’t happen!’ Normally their first reaction is to fall on the ball- you already won the game, there’s only three seconds left or whatever it was, you already won the game, just fall on the ball. Instead the kid scoops it up and throws it for a two point conversion and you’re just like, ‘You’re a kicker, you don’t even know how to throw the ball’.
BL: It has to happen though sometimes…so Kelly, what is your pick for Super Bowl 2016 and why?
KS: Well it was going to be the Packers, then Jordy Nelson tore his ACL. I don’t know if Seattle can do it again, I think they have it in them, I think with Tyler Lockett joining the wide-receiving corps its going to be really good for them. The Patriots have a little too much drama, I’m a little worried about them as well. Its definitely not going to be my Broncos, I’ll say that now, Peyton Manning’s injuries are unfortunately going to be his downfall plus his young O-line.
If I had a long shot, I’m going to pick the Dolphins. Everybody thinks I’m crazy. I think they have a chance to win the AFC East, given that Tannehill is good, I think their defence is a lot better, they have some holes in the linebacker position, but as a long shot, I’m going to go with the Dolphins.
BL: Well thank you very much for the tip and thank you for joining me today Kelly, I really do appreciate it.