Who am I, What am I Doing, Why am I Here?
My name is Nolan Dalla. I’ve been betting on pro football games for more than half a century. But, it feels much longer than that.
My first wager was on Super Bowl V, which was played at Miami’s old Orange Bowl in January 1971. I lost a whole buck ($1) on the Dallas Cowboys against the Baltimore Colts when kicker Jim O’Brien booted a 32-yard-field goal in the closing seconds to win it. Final score: 16-13. All these years later, many football insiders consider it to be the worst Super Bowl game ever played. I wholeheartedly agree. That game sucked.
Since then, I’ve made a few more bets. Lots more bets. Okay, tens of thousands of bets. I’ve lost. I’ve won. But now, what matters most are the things I’ve learned.
I hope to take this knowledge and experience and apply it to something very different this football season. I’ll be focusing on the varying aspects of betting “survivor” contests. I’m also placing multiple entries into the Circa Survivor Pro Football Contest, this season. That contest is winner-take-all. A whopping $8,000,000 is guaranteed for first place, the lone survivor. I don’t want to seem greedy. But, I could use the money.
Why am I qualified to write this column? What makes me unique among the thousands of entrants who will participate in this season’s Circa contest, and the millions more who play in smaller survivor pools and contests?
The honest answer is — I’m not qualified. I’m not even an expert. I’ve only entered a few contests of this nature in the past. Accordingly, this will be a new experience for me. Truth is, I’m a student of sports betting. I’m learning about handicapping. Each bet and every day is like being in school.
A word of advice: Anyone who claims to be an “expert” usually isn’t an expert. Anyone who has bet on sports for any length of time knows that learning is a constant, and never ending process. In a sense, we never get to spike the ball. However, winning a survivor contest for a cool $8-mil would be one helluva’ touchdown dance.
What’s interesting for me — and the challenge here is — sharing thoughts while having you along for the ride.
So, here’s my plan: I’ll post a few articles here each week with my thoughts on strategy, including my reason(s) for picking certain teams. Knowing someone is watching over your shoulder can also be a kick in the pants and is added motivation.
- Monday-Tuesday – Early during every NFL week, I’ll post my thoughts from the previous week, along with reports from around Las Vegas (and elsewhere, if applicable) on how the contests are going. We’ll also include the Circa numbers, including how many bust-outs and survivors heading into the new week ahead.
- Friday-Saturday – Later in the week, I’ll look ahead to the next slate of games and make a pick, along with my reason(s). We’ll also post any late developments from the Circa contest on the distribution of teams that were picked, which is likely to be on Saturday evening.
Obviously, this contest and writing articles will be much more interesting if I somehow survive and last several weeks into the season.
That’s the challenge.
Please bookmark this site at SurvivorSweat.com and my contributor page and come back each week for more. I may even toss in a rant, or two.
If you want to read my picks on every NFL game, with detailed analysis, then please click on my website here: nolandalla.com Important Note: I may gradually shift all of the game analysis and picks over to this page, depending upon the level of interest. I’m a big believer in accumulating as much data as possible, and then sharing it.
If you like survivor contests or just enjoy betting on football, I think you’ll like most of the content.
My Betting Record and Past Results
I’ve handicapped every NFL regular season game since 2012 at my website. All information is free and easy to follow. Results? I’ve enjoyed 7 winning seasons. I’ve suffered 3 losing seasons. I went completely broke 1 season. Those are facts.
All my picks and betting records are there, along with every old write-up. They’re still there. I also use my real name. I don’t understand why anyone would read or follow someone who is anonymous or not willing to sign their own name to something. Sure, we make bad picks sometimes and it’s embarrassing when we make losing wagers. But I’ll stand on my record, which has always been transparent.
Oh, and I’ve never sold picks or been a part of any business that tries to hype “locks” and “games of the year” and so-called sports services that bait suckers. That’s not my thing.
I do the work. I do the research. I do the write ups. And, I stand by my (honest) record. It’s as simple as that.
If you’re interested in real results, I also was instrumental in releasing the first serious primer on NFL halftime – betting back in 2001. The betting angles revolutionized halftime betting, and were widely published. Another thing I copyrighted is the “teaser wheel.” Anyone can Google my name and “halftime betting angles” and/or “teaser wheel” and find the data and those (now outdated) articles.
Finally, full disclosure. I’ve also entered the Westgate’s SuperContest this season. I turned in the maximum, which is 7 entries ($7,000). Those picks do not impact the survivor strategy and plays. However, they will also take up some of my time and attention this season. I also bet my own money on many NFL games each week, focusing mainly on O/U totals, quarters betting, first-half and halftime wagering, team totals, and player props.
Survivor Contest Rules
What follows is a generic guide to survivor-type betting contests and online pools. Rules and conditions do vary. None of the advice given here will apply to every contest. This is especially true for contests with multiple payouts, which means non-winners also receive prize money.
As the contest name implies, the goal each week is to survive. That’s it. Nothing else.
We don’t worry about point spreads or the margin of victory. All we care about in a survivor
contest is picking a team to win the game.
The catch is – we can only select a team once. Hence, before you spend all your picks on the best teams like Kansas City and Philadelphia, the two teams with the best W-L records last season (2022), remember those good teams can only be used one time.
As to how I physically make my plays, the Circa system makes things convenient. I can show up at the Circa (or other affiliated sportsbooks) in person and make weekly picks. Or, I can log
into my online account and make picks there. Circa allows multiple entries. So, you will see some players with extra entries making different team selections.
I have three survivor entries, totalling $3,000 in total investment.
Lesson #1: Play the Long Game
Today’s lesson is simple, but many bettors forget it and then suffer later on. That’s a mistake.
Playing survivor contests requires a long game approach. What that means is — think about the long term, not the short term.
Depending upon the type of contest, all decisions should be made which optimizes the chances to accomplish your goals. The Circa survivor contest is unique. Since it’s winner-take-all (one winner, unless multiple entries survive until season’s end) to collect money means be alive in Weeks #16, #17, and #18. With so many entries, we expect some of them to survive until very late in the season (though it’s possible a crazy year could disrupt expectations). This means picking some average, or even teams with losing records, is a possibility.
There is a 272-game regular-season schedule for 2023. Action kicks off next Thursday night, September 7, in Kansas City. The regular season concludes with 16 division games in Week #18 – two played on Saturday, January 6, and 14 played on Sunday, January 7. By the time, if I’m extraordinarily lucky to reach that point, I want to have a decent team left as an option. Remember, it’s winner-take-all. So, I’m taking a long-game approach.
This isn’t just wise as a strategy for tougher contests with world-class fields of excellent handicappers. The same principle goes for smaller buy-in survivor contests, as well. If you’re registered in survivor pools or just play for fun online, you want to have appealing options open to you late in the season.
This is all just another way of saying, if and when possible, save the good teams for later.
A Final Word
Last year, a very close friend of mine won the 2022 Circa survivor contest. He and his compatriots split up roughly $5 million in prize money. Some of the stories of what happened during the season are incredible, which will be shared here on this site in a podcast, I’m told. During the NFL playoffs, I also attended his private “celebration party” held at the Circa
Sportsbook, which was a blast. Coming next January, I hope to be hosting the same party of my own. If so, I can repay the hospitality. Like I said, every little extra bit of motivation counts.
My Week #1 survivor pick. Plus analysis and betting advice for other NFL games.