A new era on ESPN commenced Monday, as the network debuted its first sports gambling show, Daily Wager. Hosted by ESPN betting analyst and Behind the Bets podcast host Doug Kezirian, Daily Wager is scheduled to air on weekdays from 6:00-7:00pm ET on ESPN News.
With help from ESPN personalities like Stanford Steve, Chris ‘the Bear’ Fallica, Scott Van Pelt and Barry Melrose joining Kezirian in studio — and many more guests joining remotely – the show tackled everything from Antonio Brown season-long props to hockey Over/Unders to Mid-Major basketball picks.
Featuring 10 guests in its first episode, Daily Wager felt a bit rushed at times. But understandably so. Like the pilot of a new series, Daily Wager introduced us to as many of its characters as it could. Scott Van Pelt and Barry Melrose won’t be giving us betting tips every day, but it’s nice to know the kind guests we can expect dropping in and out going forward.
Not exclusively gambling
Speaking of Melrose, it became clearer what ESPN executive Norby Williamson meant when he said the show wouldn’t just be tailored to gamblers.
Sounding much like he does as a guest on SportCenter, the hockey analyst broke down the Ottawa-Philadelphia game for viewers, suggesting that there could be a lot of scoring (Flyers won 3-2, and the Under hit by 1.5 goals).
To be sure, the show – at least its first episode – was for people who gamble on games through and through, but the hockey segment gave a short glimpse on what Williamson had in mind when he said, “This is not a backroom, roll-up-your-sleeves, insider gambling show — our goal is to serve people that watch sports who may or may not gamble on games.”
Other guests included ESPN Chalk writer-reporter David Purdum, radio personality and sideline reporter Anita Marks, professional gambler Preston Johnson, ESPN Insider Jordan Schultz, and sports betting podcast host Joe Forentbaugh.
Purdham talked to Kezirian about the sports betting landscape in the U.S., breaking down the states that have legalized sports betting and other states that are that are “in the works,” so to speak.
My favorite segment was ‘All Bets Cash the Same’, where Chris Fallica, Stanford Steven and Preston “Cheetah” Johnson gathered around a table for their second or third appearances in the episode to break down picks from games like Iona-Monmouth and Green Bay-Wright State. If I remember correctly, Stanford Steve hit the Over in the Monmouth-Iona game and Cheetah cashed Iona -3, as Iona won 81-60.
The show even allocated a few minutes to daily fantasy sports, as former RotoWire writer Andre Snellings gave his best value plays for the NBA slate.
Ending with a segment called ‘Prop Culture,’ Kezirian and Stanford Steve picked sides on when Leveon Bell would sign with a team, how many former New England player will the Detroit Lions sign in free agency and how many texts Adam Schefter sent Monday (always bet the Over here).
All-in-all, Kezirian was a great host, obviously experienced, and the show had only minor hiccups, which is impressive considering how fast it moved in its first episode.
Daily Wager should get better with time as producers make room for more in-depth analyses in exchange for less guests, find out which segments work, which don’t, and craft new ones.
One thing is certain, the show performed better than its first ‘Best Bets’ card, which went 2-4, with only “the Bear” and Schultz cashing.
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