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Las Vegas Profile: John Kelly, Host of the Stardust Line Radio Show by Jeremy Martin
John Kelly has his finger on the pulse of the Las Vegas sports betting industry. As the host of the Stardust Line radio show, broadcast live from the hotel/casino of the same name, Kelly regularly talks strategy with the most prominent movers and shakers in the business. Despite the popularity of his show, Kelly hasn't forgotten why he originally came to the city that glitters.
"I fashion myself as a gambler more than a journalist," he says. "I am fascinated by guys who can gamble and win; not that I can. I have a pretty good idea of what it takes to win. You have to have the right personality. You have to be even tempered - never to high and never too low. You have to be studious and hard working; you can't be lazy. You have to like what you do and have a passion for sports. And you have to know what you do best and really focus on that area."
Kelly was first exposed to sports while growing up in Calumet City, a south suburb of Chicago. During high school, he took a job as a sports usher, and often worked games at Wrigley Field and Soldier Field, among others. One day he received his usher assignment sheet, which informed him he would be working at Balmoral Park in Crete, Ill. This was to be his first taste of sports betting. He was instantly hooked. "My eyes lit up because I was excited about being at the races; I've been chasing ever since, trying to get even," he jokes.
Although he talks about all aspects and disciplines of sports betting on the radio, Kelly prefers niche betting in his personal life. He considers himself one of the most knowledgeable people in Las Vegas when it comes to the Women's National Basketball Association. Since the league is not as popular among bettors as some of the major college and pro sports, he says, there are ample opportunities to catch bookmakers napping.
"(The WNBA) is one sport I follow closely and probably know better than anyone in town," he says. "I am passionate about the sport. I often travel to (Los Angeles), Arizona, Sacramento, Washington and New York to watch the women play. Like in any sport, as the season goes on the lines get tougher. Early on you can tell that (the linesmakers) not prepared because - if you follow the league closely - the plays just jump off the board at you and you just say 'beautiful!' I wish that would happen to me in some of the other sports, like football or basketball. But when you come in and see a WNBA number on the board and say 'they made a mistake,' that's when you know you are confident."
In addition to the WNBA, Kelly likes to concentrate on Major League Baseball totals. The radio host describes himself as a "one-way player" and an "angle player," because he always bets the under. That way, says Kelly, he is a winner until he is a loser.
"I'm only looking for one low scoring game (each day), so I think I am pretty focused in that respect," he adds. "The oddsmaker is the scientist who grinds the number and I am the artist that finds out where the number went wrong. He wants a good mathematical foundation for setting the number and I'm just looking for angles where those numbers really don't add up. In other sports I go with the underdogs. That's the same thing. You are ahead until you are behind - that's where the value is. Anyway, that's when you can bet against the public and get the 'double whammy' because the oddsmakers know the public loves favorites so they jack (the line) up a point or a point and a half, then the public takes it up another point."
His other area of interest is in NCAA hoops, where he prefers to focus on particular conferences -- the Big Ten, the Big West and the Mountain West in particular. His love of the Big Ten is a consequence of his college years at Northwestern, where he graduated with a degree in journalism. His interest in West Coast teams is because of proximity and accessibility of information. The more you can see a team and be exposed to news and interviews, he says, the better chance you have of cashing in at the window. Narrowing his focus gives him an advantage over the sportsbooks because they are responsible for doing their homework on every game in a number of different sports while the bettor has the luxury of refining his focus.
"I think it's better to know 100 percent of 80 teams than it is to know 80 percent of 300 teams," he states. "I want to know everything about that team. I want to know the bench play, who's coming in and who's in the rotation. I want to know how the sixth, seventh and eighth men affect that team. And I need to watch them on TV. That's very important."
During his three years hosting the Stardust Line, which is broadcast every day of the week, Kelly has interviewed all different kinds of bettors. The ones he respects are the ones who bet big and win money over an extended period of time.
"I respect anyone who has been able to make a profit in the long run - no one-hit wonders - guys that have been around a long time who bet the limit," he concludes. "I think bet size is important. I mean, if you have an advantage over the game, now you want to bet serious money. As you get more proficient in the game, your bet size should grow. I like the guys who bet for their income."
In addition to the Stardust Line, Kelly also hosts Track Talk, a horse betting show that is broadcast Wednesday through Sunday from 7:30 a.m. to 8 a.m. on KLAB-AM 1230. The Stardust Line airs Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Saturdays from 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sundays from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. on KDWN-AM 720 in Las Vegas. Archived shows can be heard online by clicking http://www.kdwn.com/listen.html.
**Jeremy Martin is the newest member of the Doc's Sports team. His work has been widely published in both print and online media. For more information or to contact Jeremy visit //www.docsports.com/contactus.html.
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