David Payne comes out of the gambling closet

Boys, I’m out.

Freed from the closet that sheltered me from society’s ill-informed discrimination, I am here to expose myself to the world or at least to the predominantly male Covers.com audience.

Actually, with a demographic of men, 25-50, with disposable income, Covers is the perfect spot to make this kind of life-altering announcement.

My name is David Payne Purdum, and I am a sports betting writer.

For three years, I have been writing for Covers under the pen name David Payne. I was working for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution when I started. The AJC was strict about outside freelance work, but with a baby on the way, I needed supplemental income. So I started at Covers with a pen name that would protect me professionally.

Yet, even after I left the AJC over a year ago, I was hesitant to use my real name as my Covers byline. I was scared of being labeled a gambling writer and, more specifically, a sports betting writer.

For whatever reason, society looks down at sports bettors, in my opinion. We’re degenerates while poker players are glamorous. People who feed slot machines are enjoying retired life, while sports bettors are wasting theirs. We’re the bottom of the gambling barrel.

Chad Millman, ESPN The Magazine editor-in-chief and gambling insider, disagrees and believes the negative stereotype of the sports bettor disappeared a generation ago.

“I don’t think people see [sports betting] as dangerous or illicit as it once was,” Millman said in a Tuesday phone interview from his Bristol, Conn., office. “Almost every state has adopted some form of gambling, not necessarily sports betting, but some kind of casino betting. People growing up today are familiar with the idea of gambling.

“The internet is the second phase of that and has made sports betting specifically so much more accessible,” Millman added. “The mechanism you need in order to be a sports bettor is easier to access now, so people are more comfortable with the idea. They don’t think of it as someone doing something with a bookie on some corner that could get you in trouble. They’re just going online.

“People could make the argument that it makes it more dangerous and more addictive, but the flip side of that is that it’s become much more socially accepted.”

While society’s stance on sports betting may be softening, the NFL’s has not. And, frankly, it’s ridiculous.

The NFL encourages fans to play fantasy football, but wants nothing to do with those who wager on the outcome of games instead of the statistical performances. Last time I checked, people were playing fantasy football for money, and I’d venture to bet they’re doing it on NFL.com.

“I’ve written about this often that I think fantasy [football] is just another form of gambling,” said Millman, whose iconic book on sports betting, “The Odds,” was published 10 years ago. “The eternal debate is whether or not fantasy is a game of skill in the way that betting on sports is perceived as game of chance. People will give you different answers to that question, but my feeling has always been that fantasy is a form of betting. But the NFL has a different take.”

Society also has a different take on Wall Street. Investing in stocks is the smart thing to do, we’re told. But don’t worry about the billion-dollar Ponzi schemes or unethical bank practices. Those are no big deal. But whatever you do, do not invest in the Detroit Lions, who exceeded market expectations 78.5 percent over the last 13 months.

The hypocrisy is infuriating, especially since I’m not a degenerate. I, like most of you, am a sports fan with a passion for the strategy behind sports betting. I’m interested in the people who make their living in the industry. And I’m responsible with my expendable income. After all, my priority is taking care of my soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter, who, little does she know, is responsible for getting her daddy his dream job as a sports betting writer.

The stereotype of a sports bettor

I ran the lead of this column by a friend, who doesn’t bet or read Covers.com. I wanted to know if my playful introduction would be offensive to homosexuals. His response: “It's not offensive to gay people, but you may be over-estimating your audience's gay tolerance. I hope you don't mind men aged 25-50 who read gambling websites thinking you are a (gay slur).”

He used the slur as an example of how he thought readers would react. It’s not how he normally talks.

But, like I said, he doesn’t read Covers.com and really has no clue about the type of comments that come from our audience. It is the perfect example of the negative stereotype that I believe still surrounds sports betting. We’re uneducated, unsophisticated and lack social class.

Horse manure.

For every jackass in this industry, there’s a sharp, well-educated professional like Caesars senior race and sports analyst Todd Furhman or Vegas pro Teddy Sevransky. That’s the same jackass-to-sharp ratio that you find in almost every industry.

“I talk to so many people who want to get into the business, and some of these guys graduated from Duke,” said Millman. “I got a call from a guy who’s graduating from Duke and wants to go into sports betting instead of finance. I see more and more of that than I do guys who grew up running numbers and want to go make a run of it in Vegas.”

Like it or not, the perception of the sports betting industry is something we need to change, if we ever hope to be allowed to legally invest our money for recreation or profit in sports.

Legalized sports betting throughout the United States doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon. And, although the offshore industry appears to be stabilizing after summer attacks, consumer confidence obviously isn’t as strong. But guess what? People are still betting, every single day.

Meanwhile, an estimated one of 11 Americans is unemployed.
 
In the end, changing society’s inaccurate perception of sports betting is a mighty challenge; one that I’m not sure is completely possible to alter. But bet on this – David Payne Purdum will keep trying.

Let’s gamble.

Purdum’s Payneful Picks


Last week: 2-1. Season: 10-5.

Colorado-Stanford: Over 58

Stanford leads the nation in red-zone efficiency and has scored 17 touchdowns in its 22 trips inside the red zone. Colorado ranks 101st in red-zone defense and has allowed 15 touchdowns on 22 red-zone drives by opponents.

Ohio-Buffalo: Under 53

Ohio’s defense is the probably the best unit no one knows about, and Buffalo’s offense is puny, especially in the red zone. The Bulls have scored only five touchdowns in 11 trips to the red zone.

If you have any feedback or suggestions for our Editorial Team, please contact us at Editorial

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Posted by Getty3
3 years ago

This morning on ESPN radio, Dan Patrick interviewed former coach and NFL analyst Jimmy Johnson. Johnson told Patrick from his home in Key Largo that when he's not fishing, he's trying to outsmart the stock market by day-trading on the computer. Wall Street = America's legalized gambling forum.
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Posted by picks77
3 years ago

I know sport bettors get looked as low life gamblers, while poker players look like professional investors. What a joke ! How many poker players tried to make a living , playing poker and pissed it all away ? Guys didn't win millions online cuz every poker player was winning, there was a lot of losing going on.
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Posted by runstopper52
3 years ago

I stand behind you...metaphorically of course.
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Posted by runstopper52
3 years ago

This peice of journalism is refreshing, something I've been looking for to show my friends and family. You definitely nailed it right on the head and I'm very much aspiring to be in a similar position as yourself. Really enjoyed the part about Wall Street...I've argued with people about gambling and fantasy sports being no different than investing in the market which gets a rise out of people for sure.
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

Thanks, buddy. It's crazy to me that with all the awful fraud that went down on Wall St, that people still are convinced that it's the best way to invest our money. Even more crazy that we're not allowed to invest our own money like we want to. Good luck and thanks for reading.
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Posted by jonster84
3 years ago

Very cool article David and I thought the coming out of the closet intro was hilarious. The only thing I disagree with is that poker players are looked at as "glamourous". As a poker pro I can say the majority of the public looks at poker and online poker in a bad light. When poker gets into the news it is almost always in a negative light so that people can reassure their beliefs that poker is immoral and bad. One example is the 60 minutes piece on the Ultimate Bet superuser scandal and most recently this Full Tilt debacle.
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

Thanks, Jon, and I agree about the online poker scene; damage has been done for sure. But I think it's safe to say there are more poker "celebrities" than sports bettors. Maybe things like the Hilton contest will help change that. Believe they had a record number of entries and tons of media names like Simmons and Millman.
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Posted by Mozart
3 years ago

David --------------------------- Thank you for your kind compliments.................................................No, I'm not on Twitter and don't care to join it, as it's tracked by the damn CIA; same goes for Facebook, as it's controlled by the CIA. Zuckerberg is just a figurehead on Facef--k, as I like to call it........................................................I suggest this site... www.divinecosmos.com ... and let my long-time buddy, David Wilcock, do the talking for me. I strongly suggest that you buy his book, "Source Field Investigations", as it'll change your perception of our universe forever. Many insiders are buying up the book like crazy and handing them out to many of their own insider black-op guys..................................................................I've done my job with the years of behind-the-scenes editing work, so now I'll stand on the sidelines while the last gasps of the current status quo (the US Federal Reserve, the IRS, the current corporate form of the US "government", etc) thrashes about, trying to stave off the inevitable fall.........................................All of you will know about the fall when the mainstream media starts to put out huge, startling announcements about massive changes in our "government", financial and political spheres of influence. Changes that will benefit the people, for a change. Real hope and change...............................................I have lots of plans for the near-future, but I won't act on them UNTIL the big changes happen.
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Posted by Grinderman
3 years ago

One of my favorites in a while. Looking forward to many more.
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

Thanks, and great 'stache.
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Posted by Mozart
3 years ago

Mr. Purdum, Outstanding, very well written article!.............................................This stupid comments section does not allow someone to form proper paragraphs, hence these long lines of dots......................................................... Far too many bettors in any betting forum write like jack, so it's refreshing to see someone to write so well. I'm a writer/editor, so writing is important in my book, so to speak................................................. I must say that the unemployment in the US is FAR MORE than just 11%... try to think of figures of over 22%. Google " shadowstats.com " and please be sure to read that site, as it puts out true economic numbers, not the cooked numbers that are put out by the damn US "government"............................................................... I put quote marks on the term "government" because this current form of the federal "government" is absolutely NOT, I repeat, **NOT** a de jure government... it's a CORPORATION that was formally formed in 1871 and provisionally active since April of 1860................................................................... This CORPORATION "government" is about to fall soon, thank God, so when it does, I think that lawful, on-site gambling and sports betting will spread nationwide pretty quickly. The Constitution does not prohibit gambling, does it? No, it's the legal-fiction, corporate "laws" of the Maritime/Admiralty system of "laws" that have prohibited on-site gambling.
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

Excellent post and appreciate the compliments, especially coming from a fellow editor/writer. I'll check out shadowstats and will be interested to see their reasoning for the difference in the unemployment rate. Are you twitter? Would be interested in following your stuff.
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Posted by Josh_Nagel
3 years ago

DP, Your story is one to which I can completely relate. These days, when people ask what I write about, I tend to reply, "Sports." Well, this is true, in the sense that you can't have sports betting without sports, and the fact that I am a traditional sportswriter by trade who still pounds the pavement every so often and covers a game from the sideline or press box. Thinking up hypothetical spreads for high school football games can be great fun. Still, I make sure my portfolio and website always has a somewhat recent sample of other forms of writing because I have felt judged in the past for being in the gambling business. Since I'm from Nevada, it's a little more culturally accepted around here, but the negative perceptions still exist. With all due respect to Millman, I think he is still a little sheltered from the reality that is faced by those who are in the industry on a daily basis. But as a great writer once said, write what you know. This is what I know -- and enjoy. I feel it's as genre-specific as anything else. If I were into stamp collecting, I'd write about stamps and that audience would read it, and nobody would care. This business is what I know, and what the readers here come looking for; that's all I can really ask for. Take care.
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Posted by texas-bob
3 years ago

Since the beginning of time, man has looked to unlock the mysteries of the life. What are the laws governing the universe than we live in? Within the world of sports betting the secrets can be unlocked if you are willing to be in mindful awareness. It can be a very noble profession ... Or can be one who loses out on it's purpose. Too often the industry is define by the loser rather than those who have won.
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

"Too often the industry is defined by the loser rather than those who have won." -- That may be the best comment I've read on Covers in a long time. Appreciate you reading.
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Posted by grahamillion
3 years ago

Well spoken
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Posted by BetToWin
3 years ago

So is David Payne Purdum now kinda like John Cougar Mellencamp? How long before you just revert to just regular David Purdum?
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Posted by tampa85
3 years ago

Great article and sports betting will eventually be legalized, we have too much debt and not enough revenues coming in to deal with that debt.
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Posted by rockoff
3 years ago

Lol!! Would be nice to name your price. Great article!! On point for sure.
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Posted by rockoff
3 years ago

I was wondering the same thing. Falcons -1 WTF? Even if that was true...he was lucky to cover the -1.
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

People were talking about it on Twitter, including Scott Van Pelt. I went through our line archives of 10 different books. It was never close to Falcons -1 anywhere that I saw. I'm hoping to bet Oklahoma -1 this week.
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Posted by atssportsgenius
3 years ago

Great and True Story, I have always said would rather I bet my money on something I know about as opposed to some greedy wall street fucker robbing it.
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Posted by SharpCheddar
3 years ago

First of all, David Payne sounded way more bad ass. Secondly, did you say Covers members are educated, sophisticated, and have social class?
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Posted by David_Payne
3 years ago

Agreed. David Payne was much more of a bad ass than this Purdum character. Secondly -- no comment. :)
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Posted by pepster
3 years ago

Dave excellent article I could not agree with you more on all points. I just wish we could get sports betting legal in the USA. I wish you the best of luck my friend and may all your bets be winners
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Top Response

Posted by JackBauer
3 years ago

"The fact that Colin Cowherd(sic) proclaims his betting prowess to the world has nothing to do with this I'm sure..."