The sports advisory business – or touts, as they are more commonly called – is home to many unsavory characters. High profile media outlets have done solid reporting jobs investigating the claims made by many of these outfits. HBO’s ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ did a piece on the legendary tout Stu Feiner during which they had Feiner compete with a 2 year old girl and a dog. To no one’s surprise, Feiner came in last.
Sports Illustrated did an expose on the tout industry and exposed Ron Bash (aka The Coach) who promised to blow his brains out if his picks were wrong. He was wrong but his ‘brains’ are still in his head. Kevin Duffy, one of the preeminent pick sellers, also was hit by SI as his ad touted his ‘big weekend’ despite the fact that the ad was delivered to the newspaper before the very weekend he claimed to have ‘crushed his bookmakers.’ In the same piece, SI took after Stu Feiner and monitored his selections for four weeks. The results: 19-32 for a 37% win rate. Meanwhile, Feiner’s company was touting a far different record for the exact same time period to potential customers. A classic tout move.
We take pride in exposing touts so we’ll be breaking down different pick-sellers here on Wagerminds. Our system allows users to make their picks using real consensus Vegas lines and we grade each and every pick. It’s transparent and each wager recommendation is time stamped. If you’re good, this site will prove it. And just as importantly, if you’re bad, this site will prove it.
Most touts, of course, have no interest in such transparency. But we’re going to shine some light on different touts to help consumers better understand this industry.
John Harrison is listed as the owner of VegasKillers. The website – VegasKillers.com – is registered anonymously to an address in Las Vegas that doesn’t seem to exist.Â And the technical contact listed for the site is ‘Ted Bundy,’ seemingly a reference to the notorious serial killer.Â In his bio, Harrison claims he is “widely considered to be the most accurate sports bettor in the world today.” Now, there are some well-known professional gamblers like Billy Walters and Steve Fezzik but no one in the sports handicapping world – perhaps with the exception of Mr. Harrison’s family members – would actually point to John Harrison as the most accurate in the world. But how accurate is he?
Well, his online record claims he’s hitting at a 56% rate. That’s a relatively modest claim for a tout, frankly, as many claim absurd 70+% win rates. As of October 5th, Harrison claims this 56% win rate has led to plus 367 units. According to Harrison’s system, your bankroll is 100 units. If he recommends a 1 unit play, he’s recommending you bet 1% of your bankroll. His self-policed online record as of October 5th has him making 19 plays over the past year where his clients would risk 20% or more of their bankroll on a single game including 2 games where he recommends playing 50% of your bankroll on a single game. Now, do any real professional gamblers risk 20% of their bankroll on a single game – of course not. Would any sane person risk 50% of their bankroll on a single game – of course not. But that’s how Harrison gets his alleged 56% win rate to generate an alleged positive 367 units.
To no one’s surprise, Harrison’s self-reported record has him going an astounding 15-5 on his largest plays (defined as risking 20 units or more). Do you really believe that?
Also worth noting is that 4 weeks into college and pro football season, his VegasKillers.com record hadn’t changed at all since April 29, 2011 (thanks to internetarchive.orgÂ for that nugget). And this was despite the fact that was he consistently touting his NFL picks over at his blogspot blog during each of the first four weeks of the NFL season. Still believe his record?
John Harrison’s bio on VegasKillers described Harrison as a ‘legend.’ Well, this ‘legend’ has a LinkedIn profile where it says he attended Middlesex Community College from 2009-2011. Still believe his record?
The self-professed legend also does not participate in the most prestigious NFL handicapping contest in the world – the Hilton SuperContest. We asked him about his participation in the Hilton contest and he responded:
Also, you may wonder Harrison has a presence on the domain VegasKillers.com but also operate a separate John Harrison blogspot blog? Well, it’s hard to know but one potential reason could be to try to control search results for his name. See, if you Google ‘John Harrison Vegas Killers’ you’ll find a site ranking quite highly which accuses Harrison of being a scam artist. If you want to push that site further down the search results (so fewer people see it), you’ll want to have a bunch of domains that have your name in it with content you control. So is that why Harrison has a blogspot blog? Quite possible.Â ‘Harrison’ keeps up this charade on Twitter as well running two mirrored accounts:
Another site ranking for Harrison’s name is SBForum.com where one former VegasKillers customer tells his story about paying for picks from Harrison. During his tenure as a VegasKillers customer, the former customer claims Harrison was down 42 units and kept losing ‘guaranteed’ picks. But Harrison distinguishes himself in the shady tout business by going further then anyone else we’ve ever reviewed – he faked his own suicide.
That’s right, “John Harrison” of VegasKillers had killed himself according to reports on VegasKillers.com from April 13, 2011. But he didn’t stay dead for long. Harrison was resurrected months later as he announced in his ‘I Am Back’ post on his blog on June 22, 2011. Actually, he wasn’t resurrected as he never died in the first place; instead, he claimed he faked the suicide to protect him and his family from a threatening former client who lost $50,000 betting on Harrison’s plays. Truly amazing stuff – even by tout standards.
In his ‘I’m not really dead’ post, Harrison points out that handicapping isn’t his ‘day job’ and that he’s a ‘Web Developer’ for a large company in the Northeast. It’s interesting that someone considered to be ‘the most accurate sports bettor in the world today’ has to have a day job. Oh, and it’s surprising that a professional ‘Web Developer’ has to use a free blogspot blog to tout his legendary sports picks. Or could it be that both of those claims are false? Seems likely.
Most recently, we’ve discovered a Twitter account called @CoverSteam. The account’s profile picture is the Covers logo.
This would lead you to believe it’s an official Covers Twitter account which is odd because all the account does is tweet links to John Harrison’s blog and retweet John Harrison’s promotional tweets. It’s a protected account, too, which made it all the more strange.Â And as you can see from the image above, the owner of this Twitter account is using it to recruit people to be a ‘Covers Expert.’Â We reached out to Covers to see if this was their account and, not surprisingly, they confirmed it wasn’t. They immediately told the account user to cease and desist using their logo and the account quickly changed the profile image.
Is Harrison behind this account which is an obvious and despicable copyright violation? Well, it’s impossible to tell but the account also links back to Harrison’s personal blog where he talks about his time in the service industry.
It’s on this blog that we learn that Mr. Harrison used to work at the Olive Garden – this, presumably, was before he was “widely considered to be the most accurate sports bettor in the world.” It’s difficult to determine how he has time to work at the Olive Garden, work as a ‘Web Developer’ and handicap games but these are all of his claims. Do you believe any of them?
The more you investigate who John HarrisonÂ & Vegas Killers really are, the more laughable the charade becomes. Â Is John Harrison this guy’s real name? Maybe, maybe not. Is he ‘the most accurate sports bettor in the world today?’ Of course not. Is he accurately representing his record? Of course not. Should you pay for his picks? No, no, no.
There are countless John Harrisons out there and we’ll be writing about more as we find them. We think the industry has been far too quiet in exposing this nonsense and it’s given rise to the perception that everyone involved in sports gambling is tainted.
As a consumer, be careful.Â Don’t buy picks from people who claim absurd winning percentages (or absurd unit wins).Â You’re just going to lose money on their plays in addition to losing the money you spent on their picks. And if you’ve had bad experiences with touts, send us the details.