Introducing the "Protect Your Unit" Game

It's saps like us that build lavish sports books like this. This game should prove it.

Back in my college days, the late, great Chris Thomas hosted a show on WDAE from 10am - noon. It was just him, his producer, the callers, and a little ferret named Cleavus. And it was probably the only good show in the 13 years of the Sports Animal. He basically knew what he was talking about, he didn't start off his show with some senseless, bombastic rant, and he didn't dare people to call in and disagree with him so he could fake curse and hang up on them. Chris had his whipping boys (most of which were named Glazer), but it was just good, knowledgable, even-keeled talk.

Chris liked to offer betting advice on the air, too. Whether it was the horses or games, he didn't mind offering up his picks on anything at any time. His constant advice to listeners, though, was to "protect your unit." Meaning, don't bet more than you can handle, and don't blow your stack betting all crazy. If you're ahead, don't let yourself come out any worse than even. Protect your unit.

So when I decided to round up some of the Big East bloggertariat and start a picks contest during the college football season, there was only one choice for a name. This is the "Protect Your Unit" Game.

Throughout the college football season, the players in this game will put their handicapping skills to the test and see who can best protect their unit over the long haul. The players and their blogs are:

Feelers are still out for participants from Rutgers, Louisville, and Cincinnati so we can get all eight football teams. We also invited Villanova out of solidarity and hopes that one day they'll join our league. And we invited Casual Hoya because... well, have you ever read their blog? They live for contests like this.

Everyone starts with $1000 in fake money, and the first set of picks will post on Thursday night. If you'd like to peruse the rules of this game, check them out after the jump.

DISCLAIMER: This contest is for entertainment purposes only. No actual wagers are being made. At least none that I know about.

THE SEASON: The contest begins September 2 and will run for each week of the regular season (not including the week of the Army/Navy game). The entire bowl season will be the last week of the contest.

Thursday will be the start of each week. So for example, the ridiculous Wednesday night USF-Rutgers game could be bet on as part of the week that includes the previous Saturday's games.

THE SITE: We will use SportsBook.com for all odds.

ODDS: Whatever the odds are on SportsBook.com as of Thursday at noon Eastern time are the odds that will be locked in for all bets made.

ALLOWABLE BETS: You can make the following bets on individual games. (No prop bets, futures bets, or anything other than bets on individual games.)

- Point spread
- Money line
- Over/under
- 6 Point Teaser (based on point spread, must win all non-pushed games to win the bet)
- 10 Point Teaser (based on point spread, must win all non-pushed games to win the bet)
- Parlays (must win all non-pushed games to win the bet)

The money lines, teasers, and parlays are all ways you can win money quickly if you fall behind, or if you want to jump out ahead early on. There is no limit to how many teams you can have in a single parlay or teaser.

If there is a push in a teaser or a parlay, the game will be backed out of your bet and the math will be re-calculated for a teaser or parlay with the remaining games included. For instance, a 4-team tease would turn into a 3-team tease with the pushed game removed. There can be no pushes in a money line parlay because there are no ties in college football.

The SportsBook.com site lets you place fake bets and figure out how much money you can win on them. This site also makes it easier for me to do the math if you come up with a really crazy bet and win.

BANKROLL: Everyone will start with $1000 in fake money. There is no limit to how much money you can win or lose.

MINIMUM/MAXIMUM BETS: You must have between 5% and 25% (or between $50 and $250, whichever is greater) of your bankroll in play each week. The dollar amount limits still apply no matter how far in the hole you go. So even if you're -$3000, you can still only bet up to $250.

There is no minimum bet on a single game. For example, if I want to place the Randolph and Mortimer Duke bet of $1 on UConn to lose every single week just to infuriate Andrew and Kevin, that is allowed.

MINIMUM/MAXIMUM NUMBER OF BETS: You must bet on at least three games in some form or fashion, whether it's individually or as part of a teaser or parlay. At least one of these games must involve a Big East team. There is no limit to how many games you may bet on in a given week, as long as the sum of your bets does not exceed the weekly maximum.

During bowl season, you must bet on at least five games in some form, and at least two of them must involve a Big East team. Also the maximum bet for bowl season will increase to either 40% of your bankroll, or $400, whichever is bigger. I'll remind you of this when the time comes.

THE VIG: There will be a 10% vig taken off the top of all winning bets. (For instance, if you win a bet for $200, you will only actually win about $180.) Toro insisted we add this touch of casino realism so that we can prove how hard it is for a gambler to finish an entire college football season ahead. Consider the vig when figuring out how much you need to bet to win a certain amount of money.

"BYE WEEKS": While it's more fun if you play every week, if you're just not feeling any of the games you are allowed up to two "bye weeks" where you don't place any bets. If you skip more than two weeks, you're not eligible to win the title but you may continue betting for fun and amusement.

You are not allowed to use one of your bye weeks during the bowl season. Underbets (if you don't bet enough games or enough money) will count as bye weeks. Any bets made as part of an underbet will not count.

ANNOUNCING BETS: Bets are due by the time the ESPN game kicks off on Thursday night of a given week. You can send them just to me, or to everyone in the contest. Rants, trash talk, cheap shots, insults, and whatever else you want to say along side your picks is obviously encouraged.

POSTING TO VOODOO FIVE: I will post everyone's bets for the week (along with your editorials about them) to Voodoo Five on Thursday night. Once the games everyone has bet on that week are finished, I will try and have all the results posted within 24 hours.

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