Former MLB slugger Jose Canseco talks baseball betting, playing poker, Pete Rose, and his new Vegas show

Jan 21, 2018 |
Former MLB slugger Jose Canseco talks baseball betting, playing poker, Pete Rose, and his new Vegas show
Jose Canseco is no stranger to Las Vegas and he'll join Jim McMahon, Terrell Owens and Jimmy King in "Renegades" at Caesars Palace beginning January 25.
Photo By - USA Today Images
Jose Canseco is no stranger to Las Vegas and he'll join Jim McMahon, Terrell Owens and Jimmy King in "Renegades" at Caesars Palace beginning January 25.
Photo By - USA Today Images

Jose Canseco, Jim McMahon, Terrell Owens and Jimmy King take the stage at a new show at Caesars Palace beginning January 25. “Renegades” is a one of a kind interactive show that gives sports fans an up-close and personal experience with a variety of infamous sports stars. This show has the potential to be a trainwreck, awesome, or more likely both.

“Renegades” will be broken up into two parts. Guided by the host of the show, the athletes will each share stories from their colorful playing days and beyond. Another segment will be a question and answer session with audience members. No subject is off-limits at "Renegades." I was able to speak with Jose Canseco and he confirmed that he’ll discuss any topic that’s brought up by the hosts of the show or audience.

Canseco is an interesting guy with a colorful life, including a career in baseball. The question and answer period could be amazing. He’s legitimately open to answer any questions about his baseball career (steroids included), his off-field life, or any strange topic you can think of like time travel. If you’ve ever seen his Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) you know that Canseco can be a unique individual. Add Jim McMahon to the mix and you have a party!

Jose Canseco and poker

Jose Canseco is no stranger to Las Vegas. He’s been a poker player for years and still dabbles in the game. When he’s in Las Vegas, he prefers to play in tournaments rather than cash games. He tends to play poker at casinos where his friends play.

After dinner at Caesars Palace one night last year, I actually spotted Canseco in the poker room. Since he doesn’t play cash games, don’t expect to play against him in the poker room after the shows. He'll be busy with the show and likely stick with charity tournaments if they're happening when he’s in town for “Renegades.”

He prefers playing in smaller poker tournaments with under 100 players. The big tournaments take way too long. This is a way to get into the action but not be too tied up. I can’t sit in the same place for a long time either.

He isn’t a gambler by nature. Canseco doesn’t play blackjack, slots or bet on sports. Poker is the only game he plays in the casino. He likes poker for a few reasons. There are so many angles and potential outcomes that the game is always different and interesting. He also enjoys the action and atmosphere of the poker room more than the rest of the casino.

Our conversation touched on everything from Renegades to the flu in California. Besides learning about the show, I was curious if Canseco had any thoughts on what baseball bettors should keep an eye on. I thought he could offer a different point of view than a typical bettor since he played the game.

Jose Canseco with advice for sports bettors

Canseco says to look at injuries, team trends, pitching matchups and situational matchups when handicapping games. One specific thing he made note of is to keep an eye on recent performances of starting pitchers.

There was one thing to look at that many bettors don’t think about. It’s something that Covers is actually a great resource for. Learn as much as you can about the home plate umpires for games. He referenced a game in 1991 World Series against Jose Rijo of the Cincinnati Reds. The pitcher was untouchable - but not because he was throwing a great game. Rather, the umpire had a huge strike zone and was calling pitches six to eight inches off the plate.

It was also interesting to hear how a baseball player looks at the betting odds. The season is so long that the day-to-day odds don’t seem to be as motivating as a pointspread in football might. Furthermore, baseball players recognize that anyone can win in a short playoff series. Small sample sizes are real and while his 1988 A’s team might have lost to four out of five games to the Dodgers, he thinks they might have won 80 of 100 if they played that many times.

Jose Canseco on Pete Rose

I think I touched a nerve when asking Jose Canseco about Pete Rose. He went off about Major League Baseball for banning the hit king for life because he bet on baseball. He feels, like many of us who watched Pete Rose play, that Rose is the best hitter the game has ever seen.

“It’s ridiculous!” Canseco said twice. Our call was a little muffled so I’ll paraphrase some of his thoughts on Rose like this: everyone, including his peers, knows Pete Rose as a hall of famer. He does appearances and gets paid as a Hall of Famer. We all respect him as a Hall of Famer. Canseco thinks off the field shouldn’t matter when it comes to Hall of Fame stats.

He closed with this doozy, Major League Baseball “has used him (Rose) as an example and scapegoat for way too long and it’s getting pathetic.”

Back to "Renegades"

We got back to talking about “Renegades.” Canseco received a phone call to talk about the idea for the show last year. The concept was to have a player representing different sports like football, basketball, and baseball. The athletes had to have had a big impact on their sports and had to be outside-the box-thinkers. Sounds a lot like the players they have for the opening lineup of the show. He was in for the show right away.

“Renegades” will give the players a chance to tell their side of the stories without being edited. Since there will be a question and answer session during every show, the guests can hear exactly the stories they want if it hasn’t been discussed by the players already. He says, “get ready for the truth!”

The players have so much to tell that there’s no way everything could be covered in one show. Each show will be unique so there’s a reason to see "Renegades" more than once. Between the question and answer sessions and each player offering multiple stories each show should be unique. Since the cast will rotate every few months, most visitors won't be around to see the same players anyway.

Canseco is a very open person and doesn’t have an agenda or affiliation holding him back from discussing any subject. He expects the audience will hear things they’ve never heard before because this is a new platform. He expects that guest will be happy, sad, or angry depending on the stories.

He doesn’t know the other participants personally and says he would pay to hear their stories. He's most looking most forward to hearing stories from Terrell Owens (TO won’t take the stage until after the Super Bowl on February 8).

I asked which athletes he'd like to see cast for future casts of "Renegades." He'd like to hear from O.J. Simpson, Tonya Harding and other controversial players. On an unrelated note, I just heard a rumor that O.J. now lives down the street from me.

Jose Canseco on sports today

He doesn’t watch sports often and doesn't have a Super Bowl pick for you. Sorry.

He’s still an active guy and prefers to play sports more than watch them. He still occasionally plays in independent league baseball games. Recreationally, he plays softball, golf, ping pong, bowling and more.

He does watch some baseball throughout the season and is looking forward to seeing Stanton and Judge bash together this season. Last year, I switched from cable to Sling TV and am now able to watch the regional sports networks in Oakland. I was stoked to see Canseco on the A’s pregame show alongside Shooty Babitt. He’s unsure if he’ll be returning.

Information on "Renegades"

"Renegades" will take place at the 180-seat Cleopatra's Barge inside Caesars Palace. Thursday through Sunday at 8 p.m. beginning Thursday, Jan. 25. Each show should last about two hours. Reminder: Terrell Owens will not appear in the shows from January 25 through February 4.

Tickets are $75 and $100, with a VIP package available for $300 which includes VIP seating, a photo, merchandise and a meet and greet with the athletes in Montecristo Cigar Bar after the show. Tickets are on sale now. Visit Caesars Palace for more information.

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