The early Week 7 NFL betting trends  

October, 18, 2011

Every Tuesday during the NFL regular season, Dave Tuley of will provide an update on the Hilton SuperContest.

LAS VEGAS -- Sans Souci, the alias of the early-season leader of the Hilton SuperContest, went 4-1 against the spread over the weekend to maintain a 1½-game lead in the prestigious NFL handicapping contest while its winning percentage actually dropped to 82 percent (23-5-2) against the spread.

But who is this mystery man behind the Sans Souci moniker, leading the field of 517 that put up $1,500 apiece and battling for the $310,200 first-place prize? It's actually a team of four friends in Las Vegas who collaborate to put in their five weekly picks. I talked with the team's captain, whose name the entry is under, on the condition he not be identified except to say he's a 42-year-old in the golf business. He also said their foursome includes a guy in the casino business, an attorney and a bail bondsman.

"We're a diverse group, so we all have a different approach and way of handicapping," the captain said. "We each make a pick each week and rotate with one guy being the deuce -- making a second pick. We text each other during the week and there's usually a few phone calls. Someone might say, 'I like these three games' or 'I don't like that play' and we'll narrow down the plays. As we've gone on and had success, everything is heightened. It's worked so far. We're not professional bettors, but we're also not a bunch of squares throwing darts."

The Hilton allows SuperContestants to use aliases instead of playing under your own name. But what's the deal with the name Sans Souci?

"Sans Souci is a French phrase meaning 'without worry,'" the group leader said. "We're all music fans and there used to be a group called Old & In the Way with David Grisman, Peter Rowan and Jerry Garcia. In the intro to one of their live albums [Breakdown Vol. 2], Peter tells a story of how they first met Jerry, a banjo player who lived just up the hill, and there was a sign above his door that says Sans Souci. Peter said it was French for 'no problem.' We thought it was a perfect name for our group: We said, 'Let's pick winners and win this thing -- no problem.'"

The captain said this is his sixth year playing the SuperContest with his only time in the money being a few years ago when he was part of a different team that won the $10,000 mini-contest that is held over the last three weeks of the season. I guess sports betting groups are just like music groups as members leave groups for other bands. He said this is the third year of this current group, though it was formerly a five-man band. "We're still friends," he said of the member who didn't return this year. "I remind him every week that we're still in first place. I joke that we got rid of the dead weight."

Where the money is going in Week 7

Even though the official contest lines don't come out until Wednesday, the Hilton posts its openers around 4:30 p.m. Sunday, so we can usually see what the wiseguys have been betting early and project what the popular trends will be for the coming weekend.

Dave Tuley

ESPN Staff Writer
Dave Tuley has covered the Las Vegas race and sports book scene since 1998 and runs his own website,