Ben Burns Sports Picks For Sale

Hot Streaks and Achievements

  • H-O-T 70-34 STREAK!
  • 37-11 L6 WEEKENDS
  • 10-0 NCAAF RECORD!

Biography

Ben Burns is one of the most successful sports handicappers in North America, and his extended hot streaks have brought him fame and fortune.

Active since:  1998

Location:  Vancouver, BC

Ben Burns has been a major player in the sports handicapping profession since 1998, and is widely regarded as being among the top of the field.  To understand why, consider Malcolm Gladwell’s book, Outliers.  In it, Gladwell asks the question, “What makes high achievers different?”  Gladwell suggests that industry leaders have a number of similarities — that their upbringing (culture, family, what generation they came from, experiences) has much to do with their success.  A look at Ben's upbringing shows that he fits Gladwell's model to a tee.

Exposed to the world of point spreads early and often as a child, Burns reached adulthood as the Internet was beginning to explode, just as the first offshore sportsbooks were springing up.  By that time he'd already spent thousands of hours learning and studying stats.

From an early age it became apparent to family and friends that Ben wasn't a "typical" fan.  At age 11, he was mentioned in a major newspaper (Toronto Star) for correctly predicting a high profile trade before the Major League Baseball trading deadline.  (Winner of the contest got tickets to the All Star game.)

Ben's father and uncles were always involved in a weekly NFL (ATS) pool.  Some of Ben's earliest memories included that pool and his fascination with it.  As soon as he was allowed to play, Ben demonstrated an uncanny ability to surprise the adults.  Around this time, one of his uncles moved his casino business to the Caribbean.  This was the environment from which he came from.

The caption underneath Ben's high-school graduation photo references Ben's love for betting on football.  That's because he was famous throughout his school for annually winning the local football contest, along with the $1700 per year which was awarded to the champ.

Coming of age right as the first sports books were coming online, Ben was fortunate to enjoy some success with his some of his early online sports betting endeavors.  He did so well that the first shop he ever played at ended up refusing to take his hockey bets.

Also, in the very early days of the Internet, Ben won an NBA playoff contest.  The victory awarded him a trip for two to Las Vegas, $1000 cash, a limo at his disposal, free shows, hotel and live sports odds for a year.  Not a bad score for a kid in his early 20s.  However, the bigger win was that Ben was exposed to the world of "professional sports handicapping."  Inspired by his personal success and encouraged by his peers, Ben first made his picks available to the public in 1998, and has never looked back.  In addition to enjoying unparalleld success as a sports handicapper, Ben is a star in the Daily Fantasy Sports arena.  Ben was featured as the “High Roller” in the 2015 documentary film, Living the Fantasy.  And he has won 6-figure fantasy contest prizes in each of Football and Baseball.

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FIGHTING - Sat, Jul 31

BURNS' FIGHT OF THE WEEK (UFC) > 37-11 RUN!

The UFC has been an important part of Ben Burns' 37-11 RECORD the past six weekends. Lets close out the month with a ...

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2021 NFL: Another Long Year For ...

Sunday, Jul 25, 2021

Interested in how your favorite team is expected to do this season? The projected regular season wins numbers provide excellent insight. The list below is courtesy of Pinnacle.Based on these numbers, Detroit will be the worst team in the league. Don't worry Lions' fans. You've got a couple of things working in your favor. 1. Predictions made before the season can be way off. 2. You're used to it.Indeed, it figures to be another long year for Detroit. New coach and a rebuilding team. The Lions have gone 3-15 in division play the past few seasons. Wins in the NFC North figure to again be hard to come by. The non-conference schedule, which includes the likes of the 49'ers, Ravens, Rams and Steelers, isn't exactly easy either.  In fact, based on last year's records, the Lions' 2021 schedule is tied for the 6th most difficult in the league. (Teams they will play this year went a combined 143-127-2 last season.) Hardly seems fair. Looking for a chance at a victory? Circle October 17th, the day the Lions host the Bengals, as a potential "W." Regular Season WinsArizona CardinalsOver 8.5 Wins +113Under 8.5 Wins -134Atlanta FalconsOver 7.5 Wins -145Under 7.5 Wins +122Baltimore RavensOver 10.5 Wins -177Under 10.5 Wins +147Buffalo Bills Over 10.5 Wins -164Under 10.5 Wins +137Carolina PanthersOver 7.5 Wins -107Under 7.5 Wins -111Chicago Bears Over 7.5 Wins +105Under 7.5 Wins -125Cincinnati BengalsOver 6.5 Wins -101Under 6.5 Wins -118Cleveland Browns Over 10.5 Wins +101Under 10.5 Wins -120Dallas CowboysOver 9.5 Wins +102Under 9.5 Wins -121Denver BroncosOver 8.5 Wins -120Under 8.5 Wins +101Detroit Lions Over 5 Wins -101Under 5 Wins -117Indianapolis ColtsOver 9.5 Wins -139Under 9.5 Wins +117Jacksonville Jaguars Over 6.5 Wins +108Under 6.5 Wins -129Kansas City ChiefsOver 12.5 Wins +117Under 12.5 Wins -139Las Vegas RaidersOver 6.5 Wins -183Under 6.5 Wins +152Los Angeles ChargersOver 9.5 Wins +130Under 9.5 Wins -155Los Angeles RamsOver 10.5 Wins +120Under 10.5 Wins -143Miami Dolphins Over 9.5 Wins +143Under 9.5 Wins -171Minnesota Vikings Over 8.5 Wins -187Under 8.5 Wins +155New England Patriots Over 9.5 Wins -105Under 9.5 Wins -113New Orleans SaintsOver 9.5 Wins +128Under 9.5 Wins -153New York Giants Over 7.5 Wins +117Under 7.5 Wins -139New York JetsOver 6 Wins +105Under 6 Wins -125Pittsburgh SteelersOver 8.5 Wins +116Under 8.5 Wins -138Philadelphia EaglesOver 6.5 Wins -144Under 6.5 Wins +121San Francisco 49ers Over 10.5 Wins +118Under 10.5 Wins -140Seattle SeahawksOver 9.5 Wins -144Under 9.5 Wins +121Tampa Bay Buccaneers Over 11.5 Wins -143Under 11.5 Wins +120Tennessee Titans Over 9 Wins -134Under 9 Wins +113Washington Football TeamOver 8.5 Wins -114Under 8.5 Wins -104

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NFL Futures - Are Cards Worth A Look In the Desert? 

Thursday, Jul 15, 2021

It's never too early to start thinking about the NFL. The schedule was released more than a month ago. Week 1 lines are out, as are futures and team totals. Last year saw Brady and the Bucs take down the title. Not surprisingly, Tampa is favored to win the NFC. The champs aren't the favorites to repeat though. You guessed it, that distinction goes to Mahomes and the Chiefs. Looks like a long year for Houston fans. Let's take a closer look at some of the current futures, courtesy of Pinnacle. Odds To Win Super BowlChiefs +408Bucs +767Bills +125249'ers +1357Browns +1451Rams +1483Ravens +1555Packers +1688Seahawks +1834Colts +2360Chargers +2494Patriots +2638Titans +2778Broncos +3018Saints +3182Dolphins +3772Cowboys +3882Steelers +3904Cardinals +4531Football Team +4832Vikings+5208Bears +5649Falcons +7050Eagles +7591 Lions +7917Panthers +8225Giants +8812Raiders +9146Bengals +11158Jaguars +11741Jets +12913Texans +17602Looking at the odds to win each of the individual divisions provides more insight. They're projecting 2-team battles in the AFC North and South. The NFC North, meanwhile, is currently OTB. Before looking, see if you can predict which team is the biggest favorite. AFC EastBills -140Patriots +260 Dolphins +390Jets +2500AFC NorthRavens +121Browns +151Steelers +375Bengals +2500AFC SouthColts -105Titans -110Jaguars +950Texans +2500 AFC WestChiefs -307Broncos +558Chargers +609Raiders +1823NFC EastCowboys +130Football Team +219Giants +412Eagles +486NFC SouthBucs -190Saints +291Falcons +890Panthers +1046NFC WestRams +17249'ers +208Seahawks +284Cardinals +576Any Longshots Worthy Of Consideration?Only two of the above divisions are "4-team races," the NFC East and the NFC West. Every other division has at least one team which is greater than a 10-1 underdog to win. However, the NFC East and West divisions have four teams capable of winning. That being the case, I think the Eagles (+486) and the Cardinals (+576) both offer potential value.  Next week, I'll take a closer look at the Eagles/Cards schedules, as well as the team O/U lines from around the league. 

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Euro Cup: Weekend Preview

Friday, Jun 25, 2021

by Ben BurnsThe group stage of Euro 2020 (2021) provided plenty of excitement. Now, the real fun begins. Sixteen teams remain. By Tuesday afternoon, half of those will be gone. That's right. Eight matches, two per day, from Saturday through Tuesday. Each of them is of the "Win Or Go Home" variety. Let's take a look at this weekend's matches. SaturdayDenmark/WalesThe first game of the knockout stage features Denmark taking on Wales. The Danes saw their leader collapse on the field of their first match. Naturally, that was scary and emotional for them. Subsequently, they were upset by Finland. That left them with a pretty big hole to dig out of but they managed to do so. No team in Group A could compete with Italy. However, Wales did well to finish second. The Welsh team tied Switzerland with four points but edged out the Swiss in goal differential. Current odds: Denmark -115. Wales +431. Draw: +233Austria/ItalyThe Italians returned to the International stage with a bang. In going 3-0, they outscored opposing teams by a 7-0 margin. Austria couldn't contend with the Netherlands but managed wins against North Macedonia and Ukraine. This is unfamiliar territory for the Austrians and they haven't beaten the Italians in any of the last 13 meetings. Italy won 10 of those, the teams drawing three times. Making matters worse for Austria, Italy is unbeaten in 30 straight games, a run of 25 wins and five draws. Current Odds: Italy -205. Austria: +737. Draw: +328 SundayCzech Republic/Netherlands Always exciting, the Dutch won all three of their matches in the group stage. They come in full of confidence. The Czechs aren't likely to go down easily though. They earned a 2-0 win and a 1-1 draw, while suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to England. Ronaldo has five goals to lead all scorers in the tournament. Five players are tied with three goals. Holland's Georginio Wijnaldum and Patrik Schick from the Czech Republic are among them. Therefore, it's not that surprising that this is projected to be the highest-scoring game of the weekend. The three others mostly have O/U lines of two or 2 1/4. However, this one has an O/U line of 2.5. Current Odds: Netherlands -145. Czech Rep: +451. Draw +297Belgium/PortugalThis one figures to be the most anticipated match of the weekend. Belgium is the #1 ranked team in the world. Portugal, however, is the defending champion. As mentioned, Ronaldo has already scored five goals. Belgium has a world-class sniper of its own though. Lakaku is one of the five players tied with three goals. Both teams scored seven goals overall. However, while Belgium conceded only one, Portugal gave up six. Of course, that had a lot to do with the fact that the Portugese had to play in the "Group Of Death." Current Odds: Belgium +151. Portugal +222. Draw +220. 

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Is Novak Djokovic The Greatest Men's Tennis Player Of All-time? 

Tuesday, Jun 15, 2021

I've always been a tennis fan. My first racket was a wooden Dunlop, painted black with John McEnroe's signature on it. I thought it was the coolest. Back then, "Johnny Mac" had some epic battles with the likes of Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl. I was young but still remember pretty well. Björn Borg was a little before my time. Later, came the likes of Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and Jim Courier. Andre Agassi was great but he arguably didn't have the career that Pete Sampras did. I remember thinking that "Pistol Pete" was indeed "The Goat." After all, when he retired, he had won 14 major titles, the most of anyone at the time. While he wasn't as dominant on clay, on any other surface, Sampras was an absolute beast. Lendl said this of Sampras' serve: “the ball just crumbled on your racquet.”One might have assumed that Sampras' record would stand for a long time. Yet, less than 20 years since he retired, three different players have broken it. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are tied at 20 titles each. At 19, Novak Djokovic is right on their heels. The recently finished French Open may ultimately play a role in determining the best ever. If Nadal, long the undisputed King Of Clay, could have won, it would have given him 21 Grand Slam titles. That would have been one ahead of Federer and three ahead of Djokovic. That didn't happen though, as Novak knocked off Rafael in the semis. In the final, Djokovic found himself down two sets. The world's #1 knew the historic significance of the match. Calmly, he dug deep, bounced back and won the next three sets. Instead of Nadal having a "commanding" lead, in terms of slam titles, he and Federer are only one ahead of Djokovic. Federer may not get any more. Nadal will have to wait a year for another crack at Roland-Garros. Yet, the way Djokovic looked Sunday, he may well add another by next month; Wimbledon starts in two weeks. So, when it's all said and done, Djokovic has an excellent chance of holding the most titles in the history of men's tennis. He's already held the World's #1 ranking for 325 weeks, more than any other player in history. Federer may always receive more love from the fans and the bigger endorsements. However, it's looking more and more likely that Djokovic will go down as: "The Goat." 

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NHL Playoff Breakdown

Monday, May 17, 2021

If the first few games are any indication, we're in for an exciting NHL postseason. For the first time in history, the first three games of the NHL playoffs all went to Overtime. In fact, the fourth game nearly did, too. The third of those OT games was an epic duel between a pair of veteran goalies, Cam Talbot of the Minnesota Wild and Marc-Andre Fleury of the Vegas Knights. In last year's playoffs, there wasn't a single game which was scoreless after regulation. This year, it happened on the first full day of games. (It had previously happened in April of 2019, a game between the Islanders and Hurricanes.) Fleury, the first goalie to ever play in 15 straight postseasons, made some huge saves. Talbot made even more. Forty-two of them. Minnesota won 1-0, reminding us of the importance of "hot goaltending" in the playoffs. It's hard to predict which goalies are going to "get hot" at the right time, as they're all capable of doing so. It's important to pay attention to how they look out of the gate; the playoffs are an entirely different beast. Here are some to keep an eye on:Vasilevskiy (Tampa) Though he wasn't spectacular in the opening game of this year's playoffs, he still did enough. Vasilevskiy would stop 35 of 39 en route to the 5-4 win. He proved himself in last year's postseason and he's off a dominant regular season. Fleury (Vegas) At 36, Fleury is still playing at a very high level. As mentioned, this is his 15th straight trip to the playoffs. He's hoisted the Cup before and he managed career bests in both goals against average and save percentage during the regular season.Campbell (Toronto) Unlike the others, Campbell doesn't have playoff experience. There's also a lot of pressure on him. Still, he was excellent in the regular season and we've see young goalies get it done in the past.Rask (Boston) Rask has been playing at a high level for years but hasn't won the Cup as a starter (Rask was backup to Tim Thomas when the Bruins won in 2011.) He battled injuries this season but now appears to be healthyTalbot (Minnesota) Talbot wouldn't have necessarily cracked this list, if not for his superb effort in 1-0 win over the Knights. He's played well in the playoffs in the past though. He's going to need to keep standing on his head if the Wild want to knock off the Knights. There are a lot of other capable goalies in the field, too. Guys like Carey Price, Jordan Binnington and Semyon Varlamov. (Varlamov didn't play in the Isles' opener but rookie Ilya Sorokin stepped in and got the win.) Going forward, pay close attention to which goalies are playing their best. Confidence can be contagious. You may want to also keep an eye on the road teams, too. They're 3-1 through the first two days. Enjoy the games and good luck! 

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NHL Playoffs: An Early Look

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

I've looked forward to the NHL postseason for my entire life. While this has been a unique year, the playoffs figure to be just as exciting as ever.  Every NHL game this entire season has been of the "divisional variety." Due to Covid restrictions, teams played within their division all year. That'll mean that everyone is very well-acquainted with each other; the first two rounds of the playoffs will also all be between teams from the same division. You know what they say, familiarity breeds contempt. When the smoke clears, there will be one team remaining from each division. Here's how the matchups are currently shaping up. East DivisionThe Pittsburgh Penguins earned the #1 seed and will host the #4 New York Islanders. The winner of that series will face the winner of Washington Capitals (#2) vs. Boston Bruins (#3) series.West DivisionAs of this writing, the Colorado Avalanche and Vegas Knights are still batting for the top seed. The team which finishes #1 will host the (#4) St. Louis Blues. The other will face the Minnesota Wild.North DivisionThe Toronto Maple Leafs dominated the "Canadian division" most of the season. By earning the #1 seed, they'll host their oldest rival, the (#4) Montreal Canadiens. The (#2) Edmonton Oilers will take on the (#3) Winnipeg Jets. Central DivisionThe Carolina Hurricanes were the class of the Central during the regular season. They'll host the (#4) Nashville Predators. The winner of that series will face the winner of the "Battle of Florida," as the (#2) Florida Panthers will take on the (#3) Tampa Bay Lightning. That should be a good series. The teams have never met in the playoffs and the Panthers had the edge in the regular season. The Lightning are still the defending champs though.  At this time of the year, a hot goalie can really carry a team. That being the case, before the playoffs officially begin, I'll check back in with a look at the goalies from each of the above teams. 

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Namajunas vs. Weile: Buckle Up

Thursday, Apr 22, 2021

With three titles up for grabs, Saturday's UFC card has a lot of potential. The main event features Kamaru Usman in a rematch against Jorge Masvidal. Valentina Shevchenko defends her flyweight title against Jessica Andrede, a former champion herself. Both those champions are favored in the -400 to -500 range. Perhaps the most anticipated fight is the co-main event; Zhang Weili puts her strawweight belt on the line against Rose Namajunas, another former champ. Outside of Amanda Nunes, Shevchenko and Weili enter the weekend as the best female fighters in the sport. With Usman and Shevchenko such heavy favorites, let's take a look at what figures to be the most competitive of the three title fights. Zhang Weili vs. Rose NamajunasIf you watched Weili's last fight, an all-out war with Joanna Jędrzejczyk, you'll know why everyone is excited. It was absolutely one of the best fights of 2020. In fact, many consider it the greatest women's fight of all-time. Weili proved she had the heart of a champion. She took a lot of punishment but kept coming forward with everything she had. Now, however, she takes on Namajunas, perhaps even more dangerous than Jędrzejczyk.  These are two serious fighters, both intent on having her arm raised. Zhang lost her first professional fight, a decision in the China MMA League in 2013. Since then, she's won 21 straight. She's focused and determined. Ditto for Rose; she's also extremely hungry. She's 7-2 since 2015 and 4-1 since 2017. Her lone loss came against Andrede, who took the belt from her and Namajunas would go on to avenge that loss. Weili rearranged Jędrzejczyk's face, en route to winning a split decision. However, Namajunas knocked her (Jędrzejczyk) out, becoming the champion. Joanna could barely stand after that 2018 upset. A young Namajunas was nearly a 4:1 underdog for that (first) fight. (Namajunas would also go on to win a rematch by decision, too.) Rose is getting more respect this time but is still a sizable dog. At most shops, Weili is roughly -200 while Namajunas pays back in the +170 range. Note that Jedrzejczyk is already saying: "She's got next." The O/U line for this fight is 4.5 rounds and one has to lay some extra juice to take the 'over.' In other words, we could be in for another epic battle. Good luck and enjoy! 

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Rise And Fall Of The European Super League 

Wednesday, Apr 21, 2021

In case you haven't noticed, in 2021, more than ever, the people hold the power. Outraged by the proposed formation of the "European Super League," soccer fans took to social media. UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) joined in to help apply pressure. Roughly 48 hours after the idea was announced, it collapsed. For those who may have never heard of any of this, let's backtrack. Over the weekend, twelve of Europe's biggest soccer teams announced plans to join together to form the "Super League." The idea was to play mid-week games, so as not to interfere with regular league play. There would be a total of 20 teams involved. The twelve  which had committed included teams from England, Spain and Italy: Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter Milan and Ac Milan.To me, initially, the plan sounded pretty good. After all, more soccer equals more wagering opportunities. Evidently, however, I was in the minority. Indeed, the reaction to the proposal was fast and furious. Watching the owners backpedal was kind of funny. Liverpool's John Henry commented, via video message: "I want to apologize to all the fans and supporters of Liverpool Football Club for the disruption I caused ... Over these 48 hours, you were very clear ...We heard you. I heard you ... "The rest of the clubs released similar messages. Juventus chairman Andrea Agnelli said this to the Italian outlet La Republica on Tuesday: “There is a blood pact between the clubs, we are going forward. This project has a 100% possibility of success.”The very next day, Agnelli acknowledged: “... evidently no. I don’t think that project is now still up and running."The UEFA Congress stated: "The 55 member associations and participants in the UEFA Congress condemn the declaration of a so- called “Super League.” The UEFA Congress is adamant that the closed “Super League” goes against the very concept of what it is to be European ..."So, no Super League. Not to worry though. There's still a ton of soccer going though and the Euro Cup is right around the corner. Stay tuned for my UFC preview, as this week's card may prove to be one of the best in quite some time. 

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UFC 259 Preview

Tuesday, Mar 02, 2021

UFC 259 PreviewUFC's second PPV of 2021 goes this Saturday (March 6) and it figures to be a good one. No fewer than three different titles are up for grabs.The main event sees Middleweight champ Israel Adesanya move up to 205 pounds to take on Jan Blachowicz for the Light Heavyweight belt. At Featherweight, Amanada Nunes faces Megan Anderson. Additionally, Petr Yan makes the first defense of his Bantamweight belt, going up against Aljamain Sterling.The Main EventTalk about respect. Despite moving up in weight, Adesanya is still a -240 favorite. At 20-0, he's clearly one of the biggest stars in the sport. If he wins this and becomes a champ in two divisions, he'll already be considered one of the greatest ever. You may recall him disposing of Paulo Costo with ease in his last fight. The Middleweight champ will be faster and he'll be the more technical striker. Blachowicz has serious power of his own though. The big Polish fighter catches Adesanya with one good shot and anything is possible. While I do think Adesanya will get it done, I don't expect it to be nearly as easy as the Costo fight. Amanda NunesNunes is the biggest favorite (roughly -1200) on the card and for good reason. The "Goat" of women's MMA, Nunes has already done (belts at two weight classes) what Adesanya is trying to achieve. Nunes has dominated everyone: Rousey, Cyborg, Tate and Holm to name just a few. She can knock opponents out or she can choke them out. Anderson is a "knock-out artist" herself but she's outclassed here. Yan/SterlingWith a line of roughly a pick'em, this is expected to be the most competitive of the three title fights. Given the amount of trash talk between them, it should be exciting. The two fighters were originally supposed to fight back in December and the war of words between them has been going on for months. Yan had this to say: "He likes to talk a lot. He's a big mouth and sometimes I just happen to answer his tweets. For me, he's just another opponent, but I understand that he's the challenger and he needs to attract attention that he needs so much. As I started training and preparing, recently he's gone quiet. I don't know what happened. I don't know what happened to his big mouth ... " Yan went on to say: "... I don’t know what he's hoping for when he fights me. Is he hoping just to work his jiu-jitsu on me? I don't understand. I work and train with black belts so it’s not a problem for me.  I'm training to break him and destroy him. I can't see what he's going to offer me and I'm determined to prove to everyone that I deserve to be champion. I'm gonna defend this belt for a long time ... " Naturally, Sterling feels much differently. He had this to say: "Petr Yan has beaten up a lot of old men. I want to prove he's been the paper champ this entire time."

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The Europeans Are Coming!

Monday, Mar 01, 2021

by Ben BurnsBetter late than never! Thanks to the pandemic, Euro 2020 will be played in 2021. Starting June 11th and going for a month, 24 teams will do battle across 12 host cities. How Did They Get Here?The top two teams from each of the 10 groups qualified. The four remaining positions were settled in the play-offs. Scotland beat Serbia in a penalty shootout. What Do The Groups Look Like?This year's "Group Of Death" pits Germany, France and Portugal against each other. Poor Hungary. Remember, teams play each of the other three in their group. Top two from each group. advance to the knockout stage. Complete listings below:Group A: Turkey, Italy, Wales, Switzerland Group B: Denmark, Finland, Belgium, RussiaGroup C: Netherlands, Ukraine, Austria, North MacedoniaGroup D: England, Croatia, Scotland, Czech RepublicGroup E: Spain, Sweden, Poland, SlovakiaGroup F: Hungary, Portugal, France, GermanyWho's Expected To Win?Believe it, or not, England is actually the current favorite to hoist the Henri Delaunay Cup. It helps to be in a group with Scotland and the Czech Republic, two of the weaker teams in the tournament. The top 10 favorites, courtesy of Pinnacle, are below:England +394Belgium +520 France +520 Spain +623Germany +726 Netherlands +726Italy +1036 Portugal +1036Croatia +2586Ukraine +5168Any Longshots To Keep An Eye On?At +7751, Switzerland is well worth a look. They should finish ahead of Wales and Turkey in Group A and then anything is possible. I've had the pleasure of visiting Switzerland a couple of times and always remember being very impressed by their soccer program. My son played in some tournaments in Italy and Switzerland; he played on what was essentially a North American select team but they had their hands full. Anyway, if looking for a longshot, consider the Swiss. 

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2021 Major League Baseball: American League Preview

Thursday, Feb 25, 2021

The American League has a 66-50 all-time edge over the National League, in terms of World Series titles. However, the "senior circuit" has now taken two in a row. Let's take an early look at some of the teams which will try and right the ship for the A.L. this season. While the American League East appears to be New York's to lose, the other two divisions are up for grabs. The White Sox and Twins are essentially co-favorites to win the Central while the Astros and A's are expected to receive a challenge from the Angels, in the West. Fans of the Rangers, Orioles and Royals: you're likely in for a long season. Don't completely give up yet though. Opening Day brings new hope to every clubhouse and there's almost always at least one team which defies preseason expectations. Though I'm not currently recommending any futures wagers, I do find it helpful to know what is expected from each team, after factoring in the usual flurry of offseason activity. I've listed the odds to win each division (courtesy of Pinnacle) below. Spring training games don't begin until Sunday but the players have already reported to camp. The actual season starts April 1st. Notes From The First Few Days Of Camp- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. reportedly lost 42 pounds this offseason. - Shohei Ohtani threw 97 mph in a live batting practice session. - Reigning AL MVP Jose Abreu has tested positive for COVID-19. AL EASTYankees -198Blue Jays +390Rays +449Red Sox +2209Orioles +4276AL Central White Sox -109Twins +123Indians +845Tigers +3244Royals +4035AL West Astros +116A's +166Angels +359Mariners +2374Rangers +3920

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2021 Major League Baseball: National League Preview

Wednesday, Feb 24, 2021

While some are still shovelling driveways, baseball is right around the corner. Spring training gets underway February 28th. The "real thing" begins April 1st. So, what will baseball look like in 2021? Though they hope to play a full 162 games, doubleheaders will still be two seven-inning games. Each offense will get a runner on second to start each extra inning. However, there will be no universal designated hitter. What about the fans?Everyone hopes for there to be fans in the stands. When and where fans return to the ballparks, however, remains to be seen.Before the exhibition season starts, I find it helpful to see what the oddsmakers are projecting for each team. Looking at the division odds (courtesy of Pinnacle) gives an idea of which clubs are expected to compete. I've provided the National League below and will check back soon with the American League. The NL Central appears to be up for grabs with any team, except Pittsburgh, capable of winning. The Dodgers are heavy favorites in the West, the Padres their only possible competition. You'll see that the NL East is expected to be a 2-team race between the Mets and the Braves. Fans of the Nationals and the Phillies probably feel differently. Bryce Harper, reportedly healthy and excited about his team, surely does.  Harper had this to say of Philadelphia's offseason: "We needed to be able to spend money, because we don't have the prospects to actually trade and do that. We were kind of in a predicament of, 'What can we do right now, but how can we prolong this for the next four or five years and not just one year?' So being able to kind to get a new GM, get a new president of baseball operations and kind of go from there. I mean, when Dombrowski came in, I was really excited, because I saw what he did in Boston, what he did in Detroit. I was sitting there thinking to myself, 'Man, well, yeah, we can possibly spend money. But do we have the prospects to kind of get the guys that we need to?' And I mean, I trusted so much in what Dombrowski was going to do, what Sam Fuld is going to do for us. I know how smart Sam is. I know how smart Dombrowski is. So I knew they were going to be able to do what they did. But I didn't know they were going to be able to do what they did like this. I was really pumped about it. And I was, quite frankly, a little shocked that they were able to do what they did."NL East Braves +150Mets +150Nats +600Phillies +850Marlins +1500NL CentralCardinals +153Reds +278Brewers +341Cubs +384Pirates +4087NL WestDodgers -258Padres +201Giants +3038Diamondbacks +5063Rockies +5063

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UFC 257 Preview: Poirier vs. McGregor 2

Thursday, Jan 21, 2021

Love him or hate him, Conor McGregor sure can sell tickets. Every time the cocky Irishman fights, it's a big deal. Saturday sees him take on Dustin Poirier. The two previously fought, back in 2014. On the rise at the time, a young McGregor took care of business in short order. So, will the rematch be worth the price of admission? Poirier vs. McGregor 1The first fight happened so long ago, that McGregor wasn't even on the "Main Event." It didn't last long. Conor predicted a first round KO and stated that he'd "bounce Poirier's head off the canvas." Watch the replay. That's essentially what happened. McGregor made it look easy. He had barely broken a sweat by the time referee Herb Dean was pulling him off.Could The Rematch Be Any Different? The first fight was so long ago that the two are entirely different people. McGregor is now a global superstar. He's made millions and has his own line of Irish whiskey. Poirier has quietly done a lot, too. Not only has he had a daughter and founded his own charity, but he's also beaten the likes of Max Holloway, Anthony Pettis and Justin Gathje, to name a few. Poirer had this to say: "I don’t feel like I’m as emotional a fighter as I was then. My outlook now is trying to stay in a place of gratitude and be grateful for the position I’m in and be grateful for the fights that I have, the family I have. I’m just thankful."The OddsDepending on the book, McGregor is roughly a 3-to-1 favorite. Take back on Poirier is +250. The O/U line is set at 2.5 rounds. One has to lay some pretty steep juice to play the 'under' though. Currently, the price on the U2.5 ranges from -180 to -200, with the 'over' bringing back +150 to +160. The Rest Of The CardI don't plan on getting involved in the Main Event. I expect Conor to win but I'm not willing to lay the big price on him. There are some other interesting fights though. Amanda Ribas is an exciting fighter, who should win again. However, Dan Hooker vs. Michael Chandler should be a more competitive battle. (I've got my eyes on another one, too.)Enjoy all the fights, as well as this weekend's NFL Championships games. Until next time, good luck ... Ben Burns

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NHL Early Look

Friday, Jan 15, 2021

A couple of weeks ago, I told you to "do your homework" for the upcoming NHL campaign. The season started Wednesday, with a bang. Hopefully, everyone has enjoyed an exciting first two days.While it's never wise to over-react to a game or two, it's also important to "pay attention" to what's going on. So far, one thing which has stood out has been the scoring. Nine of the first 14 games have finished above the total. Those 14 games produced 91 combined goals, an average of exactly 6.5. What should we do with that information? Not much, yet. Keep watching though and if the high-scoring trend continues, there may be some opportunities. It's worth mentioning that all 14 of those O/U lines were 5.5, 6 or 6.5. Friday's card is also full of 6's and 6.5's. We have yet to see any sevens. While the oddsmakers can sometimes be a little slow to adjust to scoring trends, when they finally do so, sometimes they can go too far. As someone who typically plays more 'unders' than 'overs,' I'm hopeful that will be the case. Another few days of high-scoring games and the sevens will be quick to start popping up. Games that would have been 5.5 will move to six etc. If and when that time comes, I'll likely be looking to pick my spots with some 'unders.' This year's schedule will see a lot of teams playing each other in "back-to-back" situations. You may have already noticed. The Canucks and Oilers already faced each other twice. Vancouver won the first game and revenge-minded Edmonton came back to win the second. Tonight's card features four games where the teams will be playing each other for a second time: the Flyers/Penguins, Hawks/Lightning, Avs/Blues and the Capitals/Sabres. I'll be paying particularly close attention to these "revenge situations," while also keeping a close eye on league-wide scoring. I'll report back with my findings soon. Until then, good luck with the games! 

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The Early Bird Gets The Worm

Monday, Dec 28, 2020

Regardless of sport, it's much easier to have a profitable season, if one gets off to a winning start. It's also much easier to get off to a winning start if one is properly prepared. Over the years, I've become known for my "fast starts." Currently, I'm off to a quick start with my basketball selections. I attribute much of my success to my offseason preparation. While each sport allows for a different type of study, by the time the season begins, I want to have devoured as much information as I possibly can. On that note, I'll point out that NHL returns on January 13th. I know it seems like last season just ended (Tampa hoisted the Cup on Sept. 28th.) but the league hopes to get back to its normal schedule, in time for next year. This condensed 56-game schedule allows them to do so. Due to travel restrictions, the divisions have been realigned. We've now got the North, West, Central, and East. The North is an "All Canadian" division, featuring the seven Canadian teams. The 24 American teams are divided equally among the other three. As I write this, on December 28th, the Avs are favored to win the Cup. While I'm not advising making any future bets, I do find it helpful to know what each team's expectations are. Current future odds, for the "top 10" teams, courtesy of Pinnacle, are listed below. Remember, you've got roughly two weeks to prepare for the upcoming season. When they drop the puck, make sure you're ready to go. Good luck and an early Happy New Year!ODDS TO WIN THE CUPColorado +536Tampa +743Vegas +753Toronto +1254Boston +1292Edmonton +1531Philadelphia +1873Washington +1988Pittsburgh +2104Dallas +2104

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UFC 256 Preview

Sunday, Dec 06, 2020

A few weeks ago, in my preview of UFC 255, I stated the following: "The Royval/Moreno winner could find himself fighting Figueiredo next." Dana White didn't waste any time in making my prediction come true. As expected, both Moreno and Figueiredo won their November 21st fights. On December 12th, a mere few weeks later, the two will meet at UFC 256. It should be a good one. I believe that Moreno is better than Perez, the fighter that Figueiredo submitted in the first round last month. However, Figueiredo is a slightly bigger favorite for this fight than he was against Perez. (Most shops are at -300 or higher.) That's because the public has caught on that the flyweight champ, "God of War," is deadly both on the ground and on his feet. As I mentioned before his last fight: "I won with Figueiredo (19-1) in his last fight, as he took care of Joseph Benavidez in the first round. That victory came via submission, the seventh of his career. However, the flyweight champ is more known for his hands. He's got serious power for this weight class."Moreno is no slouch though. Royval was a pretty good fighter in his own right and Moreno stopped him in the first round. That brings him to an impressive 6-0-1 in the UFC. Moreno had this to say about the champ: "I'm more technical, I have more tools and I’m a lot quicker than him. The only thing you can say about Deiveson is that he’s a one-shot fighter, so I have to make that my advantage. I know that he can surprise. I know that he has a lot of tools, good elbows, good kicks. but I have a lot more speed than him and that’s going to be my advantage against him."I'm not about to lay -300 or more with Figueiredo. Not against a really good fighter. Not when both are taking the fight on short notice. I'm not about to go against the champ either. He's that good. Rather, I'm just going to appreciate this one and look for my opportunities elsewhere. Enjoy and good luck ... Ben Burns

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Mike Tyson/Roy Jones Jr. Recap

Monday, Nov 30, 2020

by Ben BurnsI'm not ashamed to admit that I watched Saturday's boxing "exhibition." It was somewhat entertaining. However, I'm a little reluctant to admit that I actually bet on the "fight."Watching Tyson and Jones Jr. felt a lot like watching Thai boxing in an outdoor bar in Thailand. It looked and felt real, but there was also the feeling that the contestants were there to put on a show. It appeared that Tyson, who apparently had dropped 100 pounds to get down to 220, was landing some decent shots and that he was capable of taking Jones out at any time. Yet, it didn't happen. Roy did a lot of clinching and avoided the fatal blow. The decision of a draw was obviously a joke. Tyson won the fight. What do you think, was the result predetermined? While he may not have been awarded the decision, I'd say that Tyson still came out as a big winner. He got his name in the spotlight and actually looked pretty good in the ring. He also ended up coming across like a "good guy." Not only did he reportedly give a lot of the profits to charity, he was also gracious, despite being robbed by the judges. Only in 2020. 

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UFC 255 Preview

Monday, Nov 16, 2020

Say what you want about the rest of 2020 but it continues to be an exciting year for fight fans. Another two titles are up for grabs on Saturday November 21st, at the UFC Apex, in Las Vegas. The main event features flyweight champ Deiveson Figueiredo, defending his belt against Alex Perez. In the co-main event, Valentina Shevchenko goes for her fourth straight title defense.  Shevchenko, among the most dominant fighters out there, is an extremely heavy favorite. We're talking in the -1400 range, as of this writing. Obviously, I'm not about to suggest that kind of price. So, is it worth taking a shot on the huge underdog? Probably not. Maia (18-6-1) is no slouch, as she's capable on both her feet and on the ground. However, Shevchenko (19-3) is better in both areas. She's won seven of her past eight and has defended her belt three times, twice by KO. Maia's never faced anyone that hits this hard. By comparison, Figueiredo's -300, or so, price tag may look somewhat reasonable. It's still a little too rich for my blood though. I won with Figueiredo (19-1) in his last fight, as he took care of Joseph Benavidez in the first round. That victory came via submission, the seventh of his career. However, the flyweight champ is more known for his hands. He's got serious power for this weight class. Perez (24-5) has been fighting well and checks in off three straight wins. However, it should be noted that his lone UFC loss was by first round TKO, at the hands of Benavidez. It should also be mentioned that Figueiredo was originally supposed to fight Cory Garbrandt while Perez was to go against Brandon Moreno. Though both champions may be too expensive to bet, there are plenty of other enticing options on Saturday's card. Totals have yet to be released but there are some interesting matchups. The Brandon Royval / Brandon Moreno winner could find himself fighting Figueiredo (or Perez) next. Paul Craig vs. "Shogun" Rua should also be pretty good, given that the two fought to a draw last September. Enjoy and good luck! .... Ben Burns 

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Don't Forget About Defense

Monday, Oct 12, 2020

"Chicks dig the long ball." Remember that Nike commercial? It was on the air back in 1999, so perhaps not. It featured Glavine and Maddux, a couple of Cy Young pitchers, trying to learn to hit like Mark McGwire, in order to get noticed by women. Google it.While that commercial aired more than 20 years ago, home runs remain the current rage. That's because teams which hit more "long balls" than their opponent have won nearly every game this postseason. While hitting home runs is clearly very important, it doesn't mean that teams can forget about the little things. Like playing defense. That was evident when watching Game 2 of the ALCS. I had liked what I'd seen defensively, from the Rays, in Game 1. In Game 2, the Rays took their defense to another level. Margot's highlight reel catch was only one of many high quality defensive plays. On the other side, Altuve's mindless throwing error extended Tampa's first inning. (Gurriel was originally given the error but they changed it and gave it to Altuve, who would go on to commit another.) The Rays made the most of it, their next batter (Margot) making the Astros pay with a 3-run home run.   Remember, home runs may get you noticed. But pitching and defense still win ball games. 

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NBA Finals Report: Can History Repeat Itself?

Monday, Oct 05, 2020

We've got a series! I really didn't think that the Heat would go down without a fight. Jimmy Butler made sure that they didn't. All Butler did, in willing his team to victory, was put up the third 40-point-triple-double in NBA Finals history. Butler would finish with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists. The series now sits at 2-1. Game 4 goes Tuesday. So, what should we expect? Can Jimmy Buckets and the Heat do it again? History hasn't been kind to teams that go down 2-0 in the Finals. However, the Heat have their own history. Think back to 2006. Facing Dallas, as they did against LA, the Heat lost the first two games by double-digits. Then Dwayne Wade came to life. Miami eked out a 2-point win in Game 3. Then, the Heat blew out the Mavericks in Game 4. It was their only lopsided victory of the series. Wade and co. would complete the improbable comeback by winning Game 5 and Game 6 by a combined four points. Can history repeat itself? Are there any similarities between this year's team and that 2006 squad? The big one is that Wade and Butler both went to Marquette. Both the former Golden Eagles are players who refuse to "go down easy." As for history repeating itself, the problem with that is that these Lakers are arguably much better than the 2006 Mavs. Regardless of what happens, with the Heat now "believing that they belong," the series has sure gotten a lot more interesting. 

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Early MLB Playoffs Preview

Friday, Sep 25, 2020

by Ben BurnsThe year of 2020 has reminded us that anything is possible. In the NBA,the fifth seeded Miami Heat took down #1 Milwaukee and are now one win away from advancing to the Finals. In the NHL, the Dallas Stars upset favored Colorado (and Vegas) to advance to the Finals. Should we also expect an unlikely entry in this year's World Series?With the short season and the new playoff format, I'd say it's entirely possible, perhaps even likely, that we'll have an "unexpected" team playing for the title. The Dodgers are favored and for good reason. They're stacked. Anything can happen in a series though and they're certainly not a sure thing to represent the National League. They could face a tough Reds team in the first round. The Padres and Braves are both playing well. Atlanta recently learned that it will get Fried back for the playoffs. The Cubs can't be counted out, particularly if they draw over-achieving Miami in the first round. The Yankees may be favored in the American League but they won't have an easy road ahead of them. Indeed, the AL is wide open. with any team capable of stepping up. Tampa, Oakland and Minnesota are currently the top three seeds but the White Sox and Indians are also tough. Even Toronto, though young, is capable of getting hot at the right time. At this time, with the brackets not quite finalized, I'm willing to make only one prediction. Like everything else in 2020, the playoffs promise to at least be "interesting." Once the matchups are set, I'll report back with some further thoughts. Until then, enjoy the final few days of the regular season.  

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Hail to the Chief: NFL Opening Night Preview

Monday, Aug 31, 2020

In order to have success in the NFL regular season, or playoffs, I've always found it important to "identify teams early." With Mahomes coming off an MVP season, the Chiefs were expected to be good last year. As a result of those expectations, I found them to be a bit overvalued, early in the regular season. In fact, I played against the Chiefs a few times, including successfully when they lost at Tennessee, 35-32, on November 10. From that point forward, however, the Chiefs were a wrecking machine. I was involved in five plays involving KC during the playoffs. In the Super Bowl, I supported the Chiefs for the game. I also won with the 'under' for both the first half and for the game. Despite winning with the Titans during the regular season, I successfully backed the Chiefs in the rematch, when it counted. Prior to that, I won with the 'over' 24 for the first half in the Chiefs/Texans game. I remember watching that game in an airport bar, waiting to catch a plane home from Mexico. (Wow, does that ever seem like a long time ago!) You may remember that one. By halftime, they already had 52 points, as Mahomes erased a 21-0 first quarter deficit, ultimately winning 51-31. The Texans and Chiefs will face each other again, on Opening Night. There are some new faces on the Houston side. While Watkins no longer has Hopkins to rely on, he does have some other weapons. Running back David Johnson and receivers Cooks and Cobb are among the new options. The Chiefs are currently laying -10 points, at most shops, with an O/U line in the mid 50s. Good luck. Stay safe and enjoy the game!Ben Burns was a PERFECT 5-0 in games involving the Chiefs in the playoffs including a DOUBLE-DIGIT WINNER with the total when they faced the Texans. Don't touch the opening night CHIEFS/TEXANS TOTAL until you've checked in with Burns first! 

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Pandemic Puppy

Thursday, Jun 25, 2020

Ringing in 2020 in sunny Puerto Vallarta, I capped off another highly successful NFL playoffs with a 3-0 (side, total, first half) sweep in the Super Bowl. A couple weeks later, I attended my son's soccer tournament in Las Vegas. We took in a UNLV game at Thomas & Mack, knowing the Mountain West Tournament would soon be played there. The world seemed so normal. Everything changed. The pandemic has seen me go through a range of emotions. I assume the same is true for most. When Covid-19 first reared its ugly head, my oldest daughter was working overseas. By the time she decided it was time to come home, flights were getting cancelled, left, right and center. It was scary. Eventually, to everyone's great relief, she returned safely. She had a nasty cough though and was coming from a high-risk part of the globe. That led to her having to quarantine, upon arrival. I admit it. At the onset of the pandemic, I watched way too much news. I probably went a little overboard at the grocery store, too. It seemed the sensible thing to do. That led to many excellent meals and a few extra inches on my waistline. I was also one of those people who got a "pandemic puppy." I know what you're thinking. He's awesome though. After a few weeks, I decided to stop worrying about things that were out of my control. Instead, I vowed to make the most of the down time. I sent masks and continue to try and help those who need it. I also embarked on an in-depth review of all my picks from the past decade. It's something which I'd always wanted to do but never found the time for. I won't delve into the details but I really learned a lot. The reality is that I've been very fortunate. For this, I am extremely grateful. I know that this continues to be a devastating time for so many. My thoughts and prayers are with all those who are suffering. Stay safe everyone. We're all in this together and we'll get through it.

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