[Rapoport] On the Josh Shaw suspension, via sources close to him: Shaw went to a Vegas casino this fall with buddies from HS. He’s on IR & hasn’t been around the team since preseason. Shaw placed sports bets for the 1st time based on misinterpreted understanding of the Supreme Court ruling
How to not get ruined with Options - Part 3a of 4 - Simple Strategies
Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the Greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges) --- Ok. So I lied. This post was getting way too long, so I had to split in two (3a and 3b) In the previous posts 1 and 2, I explained how to buy and sell options, and how their price is calculated and evolves over time depending on the share price, volatility, and days to expiration. In this post 3a (and the next 3b), I am going to explain in more detail how and when you can use multiple contracts together to create more profitable trades in various market conditions. Just a reminder of the building blocks: You expect that, by expiration, the stock price will … ... go up more than the premium you paid → Buy a call … go down more than the premium you paid → Buy a put ... not go up more than the premium you got paid → Sell a call ... not go down more than the premium you got paid → Sell a put Buying Straight Calls: But why would you buy calls to begin with? Why not just buy the underlying shares? Conversely, why would you buy puts? Why not just short the underlying shares? Let’s take long shares and long calls as an example, but this applies with puts as well. If you were to buy 100 shares of the company ABC currently trading at $20. You would have to spend $2000. Now imagine that the share price goes up to $25, you would now have $2500 worth of shares. Or a 25% profit. If you were convinced that the price would go up, you could instead buy call options ATM or OTM. For example, an ATM call with a strike of $20 might be worth $2 per share, so $200 per contract. You buy 10 contracts for $2000, so the same cost as buying 100 shares. Except that this time, if the share price hits $25 at expiration, each contract is now worth $500, and you now have $5000, for a $3000 gain, or a 150% profit. You could even have bought an OTM call with a strike of $22.50 for a lower premium and an even higher profit. But it is fairly obvious that this method of buying calls is a good way to lose money quickly. When you own shares, the price goes up and down, but as long as the company does not get bankrupt or never recovers, you will always have your shares. Sometimes you just have to be very patient for the shares to come back (buying an index ETF increases your chances there). But by buying $2000 worth of calls, if you are wrong on the direction, the amplitude, or the time, those options become worthless, and it’s a 100% loss, which rarely happens when you buy shares. Now, you could buy only one contract for $200. Except for the premium that you paid, you would have a similar profit curve as buying the shares outright. You have the advantage though that if the stock price dropped to $15, instead of losing $500 by owning the shares, you would only lose the $200 you paid for the premium. However, if you lose these $200 the first month, what about the next month? Are you going to bet $200 again, and again… You can see that buying calls outright is not scalable long term. You need a very strong conviction over a specific period of time. How to buy cheaper shares? Sell Cash Covered Put. Let’s continue on the example above with the company ABC trading at $20. You may think that it is a bit expensive, and you consider that $18 is a more acceptable price for you to own that company. You could sell a put ATM with a $20 strike, for $2. Your break-even point would be $18, i.e. you would start losing money if the share price dropped below $18. But also remember that if you did buy the shares outright, you would have lost more money in case of a price drop, because you did not get a premium to offset that loss. If the price stays above $20, your return for the month will be 11% ($200 / $1800). Note that in this example, we picked the ATM strike of $20, but you could have picked a lower strike for your short put, like an OTM strike of $17.50. Sure, the premium would be lower, maybe $1 per share, but your break-even point would drop from $18 to $16.50 (only 6% return then per month, not too shabby). The option trade will usually be written like this: SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 17.5 PUT @ 1.00 This means we sold 1 PUT on ABC, 100 shares per contract, the expiration date is July 17, 2020, and the strike is $17.5, and we sold it for $1 per share (so $100 credit minus fees). With your $20 short put, you will get assigned the shares if the price drops below $20 and you keep it until expiration, however, you will have paid them the equivalent of $18 each (we’ll actually talk more about the assignment later). If your short put expires worthless, you keep the premium, and you may decide to redo the same trade again. The share price may have gone up so much that the new ATM strike does not make you comfortable, and that’s fine as you were not willing to spend more than $18 per share, to begin with, anyway. You will have to wait for some better conditions. This strategy is called a cash covered put. In a taxable account, depending on your broker, you can have it on margin with no cash needed (you will need to have some other positions to provide the buying power). Beware that if you don’t have the cash to cover the shares, it is adding some leverage to your overall position. Make sure you account for all your potential risks at all times. The nice thing about this position is that as long as you are not assigned, you don’t actually need to borrow some money, it won’t cost you anything. In an IRA account, you will need to have the cash available for the assignment (remember in this example, you only need $1800, plus trading fees). Let’s roll! Now one month later, the share price is between $18 and $22, there are few days of expiration left, and you don’t want to be assigned, but you want to continue the same process for next month. You could close the current position, and reopen a new short put, or you could in one single transaction buy back your current short put, and sell another put for next month. Doing one trade instead of two is usually cheaper because you reduce the slippage cost. The closing of the old position and re-opening of a new short position for the next expiration is called rolling the short option (from month to month, but you can also do this with weekly options). The croll can be done a week or even a few days before expiration. Remember to avoid expiration days, and be careful being short an option on ex-dividend dates. When you roll month to month with the same strike, for most cases, you will get some money out of it. However, the farther your strike is from the current share price, the less additional premium you will get (due to the lower extrinsic value on the new option), and it can end up being close to $0. At that point, given the risk incurred, you may prefer to close the trade altogether or just be assigned. During the roll, depending on if the share price moved a bit, you can adjust the roll up or down. For example, you buy back your short put at $18, and you sell a new short put at $17 or $19, or whatever value makes the most sense. Assignment Now, let’s say that the share price finally dropped below $20, and you decided not to roll, or it dropped so much that the roll would not make sense. You ended up getting your shares assigned at a strike price of $18 per share. Note that the assigned share may have a current price much lower than $18 though. If that’s the case, remember that you earned more money than if you bought the shares outright at $20 (at least, you got to keep the $2 premium). And if you rolled multiple times, every premium that you got is additional money in your account. Want to sell at a premium? Sell Covered Calls. You could decide to hold onto the shares that you got at a discount, or you may decide that the stock price is going to go sideways, and you are fine collecting more theta. For example, you could sell a call at a strike of $20, for example for $1 (as it is OTM now given the stock price dropped). SELL -1 ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20 CALL @ 1.00 When close to the expiration time, you can either roll your calls again, the same way that you rolled your puts, as much as you can, or just get assigned if the share price went up. As you get assigned, your shares are called away, and you receive $2000 from the 100 shares at $20 each. Except that you accumulated more money due to all the premiums you got along the way. This sequence of the short put, roll, roll, roll, assignment, the short call, roll, roll, roll, is called the wheel. It is a great strategy to use when the market is trading sideways and volatility is high (like currently). It is a low-risk trade provided that the share you pick is not a risky one (pick a market ETF to start) perfect to get create some income with options. There are two drawbacks though:
If the share dropped too much, you are stuck with it.
You will have to be patient for the share to go back up, but often you can end up with many shares at a loss if the market has been tanking. As a rule of thumb, if I get assigned, I never ever sell a call below my assignment strike minus the premium. In case the market jumps back up, I can get back to my original position, with an additional premium on the way. Market and shares can drop like a stone and bounce back up very quickly (you remember this March and April?), and you really don’t want to lock a loss. Here is a very quick example of something to not do: Assigned at $18, current price is $15, sell a call at $16 for $1, share goes back up to $22. I get assigned at $16. In summary, I bought a share at $18, and sold it at $17 ($16 + $1 premium), I lost $1 between the two assignments. That’s bad.
If the share goes up too fast, you missed some opportunity for gain, potentially big gains.
You will have to find some other companies to do the wheel on. If it softens the blow a bit, your retirement account may be purely long, so you’ll not have totally missed the upside anyway. A short put is a bullish position. A short call is a bearish position. Alternating between the two gives you a strategy looking for a reversion to the mean. Both of these positions are positive theta, and negative vega (see part 2). Now that I explained the advantage of the long calls and puts, and how to use short calls and puts, we can explore a combination of both. Verticals Most option beginners are going to use long calls (or even puts). They are going to gain some money here and there, but for most parts, they will lose money. It is worse if they profited a bit at the beginning, they became confident, bet a bigger amount, and ended up losing a lot. They either buy too much (50% of my account on this call trade that can’t fail), too high of a volatility (got to buy those NKLA calls or puts), or too short / too long of an expiration (I don’t want to lose theta, or I overspent on theta). As we discussed earlier, a straight long call or put is one of the worst positions to be in. You are significantly negative theta and positive vega. But if you take a step back, you will realize that not accounting for the premium, buying a call gives you the upside of stock up to the infinity (and buying a put gives you the upside of the stock going to $0). But in reality, you rarely are betting that the stock will go to infinity (or to $0). You are often just betting that the stock will go up (or down) by X%. Although the stock could go up (or down) by more than X%, you intuitively understand that there is a smaller chance for this to happen. Options are giving you leverage already, you don’t need to target even more gain. More importantly, you probably should not pay for a profit/risk profile that you don’t think is going to happen. Enter verticals. It is a combination of long and short calls (or puts). Say, the company ABC trades at $20, you want to take a bullish position, and the ATM call is $2. You probably would be happy if the stock reaches $25, and you don’t think that it will go much higher than that. You can buy a $20 call for $2, and sell a $25 call for $0.65. You will get the upside from $20 to $25, and you let someone else take the $25 to infinity range (highly improbable). The cost is $1.35 per share ($2.00 - $0.65). BUY +1 VERTICAL ABC 100 17 JUL 20 20/25 CALL @ 1.35 This position is interesting for multiple reasons. First, you still get the most probable range for profitability ($20 to $25). Your cost is $1.35 so 33% cheaper than the long call, and your max profit is $5 - $1.35 = $3.65. So your max gain is 270% of the risked amount, and this is for only a 25% increase in the stock price. This is really good already. You reduced your dependency on theta and vega, because the short side of the vertical is reducing your long side’s. You let someone else pay for it. Another advantage is that it limits your max profit, and it is not a bad thing. Why is it a good thing? Because it is too easy to be greedy and always wanting and hoping for more profit. The share reached $25. What about $30? It reached $30, what about $35? Dang it dropped back to $20, I should have sold everything at the top, now my call expires worthless. But with a vertical, you know the max gain, and you paid a premium for an exact profit/risk profile. As soon as you enter the vertical, you could enter a close order at 90% of the max value (buy at $1.35, sell at $4.50), good till to cancel, and you hope that the trade will eventually be executed. It can only hit 100% profit at expiration, so you have to target a bit less to get out as soon as you can once you have a good enough profit. This way you lock your profit, and you have no risk anymore in case the market drops afterwards. These verticals (also called spreads) can be bullish or bearish and constructed as debit (you pay some money) or credit (you get paid some money). The debit or credit versions are equivalent, the credit version has a bit of a higher chance to get assigned sooner, but as long as you check the extrinsic value, ex-dividend date, and are not too deep ITM you will be fine. I personally prefer getting paid some money, I like having a bigger balance and never have to pay for margin. :) Here are the 4 trades for a $20 share price: CALL BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 OTM - Bullish spread - Debit CALL BUY 25 OTM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Credit PUT BUY 20 ATM / SELL 25 ITM - Bullish spread - Credit PUT BUY 25 ITM / SELL 20 ATM - Bearish spread - Debit Because both bullish trades are equivalent, you will notice that they both have the same profit/risk profile (despite having different debit and credit prices due to the OTM/ITM differences). Same for the bearish trades. Remember that the cost of an ITM option is greater than ATM, which in turn is greater than an OTM. And that relationship is what makes a vertical a credit or a debit. I understand that it can be a lot to take in. Let’s take a step back here. I picked a $20/$25 vertical, but with the share price at $20, I could have a similar $5 spread with $15/$20 (with the same 4 constructs). Or instead of 1 vertical $20/$25, I could have bought 5 verticals $20/$21. This is a $5 range as well, except that it has a higher probability for the share to be above $21. However, it also means that the spread will be more expensive (you’ll have to play with your broker tool to understand this better), and it also increases the trading fees and potentially overall slippage, as you have 5 times more contracts. Or you could even decide to pick OTM $25/$30, which would be even cheaper. In this case, you don’t need the share to reach $30 to get a lot of profit. The contracts will be much cheaper (for example, like $0.40 per share), and if the share price goes up to $25 quickly long before expiration, the vertical could be worth $1.00, and you would have 150% of profit without the share having to reach $30. If you decide to trade these verticals the first few times, look a lot at the numbers before you trade to make sure you are not making a mistake. With a debit vertical, the most you can lose per contract is the premium you paid. With a credit vertical, the most you can lose is the difference between your strikes, minus the premium you received. One last but important note about verticals: If your short side is too deep ITM, you may be assigned. It happens. If you bought some vertical with a high strike value, for example: SELL +20 VERTICAL SPY 100 17 JUL 20 350/351 PUT @ 0.95 Here, not accounting for trading fees and slippage, you paid $0.95 per share for 20 contracts that will be worth $1 per share if SPY is less than $350 by mid-July, which is pretty certain. That’s a 5% return in 4 weeks (in reality, the trading fees are going to reduce most of that). Your actual risk on this trade is $1900 (20 contracts * 100 shares * $0.95) plus trading fees. That’s a small trade, however the underlying instrument you are controlling is much more than that. Let’s see this in more detail: You enter the trade with a $1900 potential max loss, and you get assigned on the short put side (strike of $350) after a few weeks. Someone paid expensive puts and exercised 20 puts with a strike of $350 on their existing SPY shares (2000 of them, 20 contracts * 100 shares). You will suddenly receive 2000 shares on your account, that you paid $350 each. Thus your balance is going to show -$700,000 (you have 2000 shares to balance that). If that happens to you: DON’T PANIC. BREATHE. YOU ARE FINE. You owe $700k to your broker, but you have roughly the same amount in shares anyway. You are STILL protected by your long $351 puts. If the share price goes up by $1, you gain $2000 from the shares, but your long $351 put will lose $2000. Nothing changed. If the share price goes down by $1, you lose $2000 from the shares, but your long $350 put will gain $2000. Nothing changed. Just close your position nicely by selling your shares first, and just after selling your puts. Some brokers can do that in one single trade (put based covered stock). Don’t let the panic set in. Remember that you are hedged. Don’t forget about the slippage, don’t let the market makers take advantage of your panic. Worst case scenario, if you use a quality broker with good customer service, call them, and they will close your position for you, especially if this happens in an IRA. The reason I am insisting so much on this is because of last week’s event. Yes, the RH platform may have shown incorrect numbers for a while, but before you trade options you need to understand the various edge cases. Again if this happens to you, don’t panic, breathe, and please be safe. This concludes my post 3a. We talked about the trade-offs between buying shares, buying calls instead, selling puts to get some premium to buy some shares at a cheaper price, rolling your short puts, getting your puts assigned, selling calls to get some additional money in sideways markets, rolling your short calls, having your calls assigned too. We talked about the wheel, being this whole sequence spanning multiple months. After that, we discussed the concept of verticals, with bullish and bearish spreads that can be either built as a debit or a credit. And if there is one thing you need to learn from this, avoid buying straight calls or puts but use verticals instead, especially if the volatility is very high. And do not ever sell naked calls, again use verticals. The next post will explain more advanced and interesting option strategies. --- Post 1: Basics: CALL, PUT, exercise, ITM, ATM, OTM Post 2: Basics: Buying and Selling, the greeks Post 3a: Simple Strategies Post 3b: Advanced Strategies Post 4a: Example of trades (short puts, covered calls, and verticals) Post 4b: Example of trades (calendars and hedges)
Top Ten Greatest Male Players in Challenge History - No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello
Honorable Mentions - Abram, Dan S., Jamie, Mike M., Theo V., Turbo, Wes No. 10 - Alton Williams (Real World: Las Vegas) No. 9 - Mark Long (Road Rules: USA - The First Adventure) No. 8 - Darrell Taylor (Road Rules: Campus Crawl) No. 7 - Derrick Kosinski (Road Rules: X-Treme) No. 6 - Kenny Santucci (Fresh Meat) No. 5 - Evan Starkman (Fresh Meat) No. 4 - C.T. Tamburello (Real World: Paris)
C.T. carrying the Johnny Bananas backpack is the greatest highlight ever recorded in Challenge history.
Before the backpack moment, we hadn’t seen C.T. in three years. He was rumored to be forever banned after almost killing Adam King on the Duel II. On Cutthroat, when T.J. announced the heavy hitters twist and C.T. came walking out the dark, challenge fans all around the world were not prepared for what they were about to witness. C.T. was finally let out of his cage and Johnny Bananas became absolute prey.
If there were ever to be a logo for the Challenge, a visual image of the C.T.-Bananas backpack moment would be it. Picture this: Replace the Jerry West silhouette in the red and blue NBA logo with a white silhouette of C.T. mid power-walk and Bananas in the back of him imitating a backpack. Then, replace “NBA” with “MTV”. Now, you got your MTV Challenge logo. C.T. being at the front and center of a hypothetical challenge sports logo makes perfect sense considering C.T.’s athletic performances changed the landscape of the Challenge from a regular game show to the series becoming known as America’s Fifth Sport.
C.T. is the Peyton Manning of the Challenge.
Peyton Manning is the greatest regular-season quarterback in the history of the NFL. C.T. is the greatest regular-season competitor in the history of the Challenge.
Peyton Manning only has two Superbowls (and won his second one in his final season in the NFL, while being a shell of his former self). C.T. has three championships (and won his final one while being in his worst physical shape ever).
Both, Peyton Manning and C.T.’s regular-season career numbers lead you to believe that they should have had twice as much championships than what they currently have. However, their own blunders (C.T.’s boneheaded mistakes and gassing out right before the finish line on the Exes 2 final = Peyton’s choking) throughout their careers hold them back from reaching extreme success in the post-season.
To continue this comparison, Johnny Bananas is Tom Brady (6 championships). C.T. is the more natural athlete and talented challenger between him and Bananas, but Bananas has had the better legacy (Peyton’s the more talented QB between him and Brady, but Brady accomplished a greater legacy).
C.T. has seven of the greatest regular season competitive performances that didn’t result in championships.
The Inferno: In C.T.’s rookie debut, the higher end competition consisted of Abram, Darrell, Mike Mizanin, Shane and Timmy. C.T. won 4 life shields. C.T. led all the males in life shields and actually won more life shields than the higher end competition as one whole collective (Darrell, Mike Mizanin, and Timmy each won one life shield, totaling up to 3). C.T. was the best performer of the season as a rookie. He made the final challenge, but his Real World team lost to Road Rules in a close race.
Inferno II: C.T. was the life shield king. He racked up 6 life shields this season in one of the most competitive male casts to ever be assembled in Challenge history. C.T. led the season in life shields again, Landon came in 2nd with four, Mike in 3rd with three, and Derrick came in 4th with two. C.T. made the final, but he and the final remaining Bad Asses got blown out the water in a triathlon.
The Duel: C.T. won three missions and landed in the top 2 seven times. In C.T.’s third season, he was the second best competitor behind Evan, who won six missions (but half of them were due to having the superior partner in Jodi in comparison to C.T. having Diem). Despite being a top 2 performer, C.T. got disqualified against Brad in the final male duel and didn’t make it into the post-season.
Gauntlet III: C.T. was co-captain of one of the most dominant regular season teams ever, the G3 Veterans. C.T. was either the best or second best athlete on the team (along with Evan, the other team captain). C.T.’s performance in Piñata Pit (which I delve into later) proved what a freak of nature of a competitor C.T. was.
Rivals: C.T. managed to win two missions and landed in the top three overall six times with an average partner (Adam). Rivals C.T. was the scariest. The whole season was based around J.E.K. and friends trying to take him out, because he was such a force to be reckoned with. C.T. lost right before the final because of Adam’s performance in the T-Bone elimination.
Exes: C.T. and Diem won two out of eight missions, only second to Bananas and Camila’s three. C.T. and Diem made the final, but got second place. C.T. and Diem had the lead the whole final, but C.T. collapsed moments before the finish line.
Dirty Thirty: C.T. was competing in his 11th season and still putting up the best scoring numbers in one of the toughest male casts ever assembled. C.T. won 6 missions. That’s the most out of all males on Dirty Thirty (Not a single other player won 5, Hunter won 4, Nelson and Leroy won 3, and the rest have 2 or less). C.T. made the final on D30, but got third place because his gas tank can’t keep up with the other two finalists.
C.T.’s ATG Physical Strength, Aggression, and Athleticism is the most lethal combination in Challenge history.
If the Challenge were to ever have a Madden-esque video game, C.T.’s player rating regarding his athleticism and strength would look something like: STR: 99. SPE: 99. AGI: 99. A prime C.T. was a cheat code. The Bananas Backpack moment attests to this. Below are some other missions and eliminations where C.T.’s strength and athleticism proved to us he was of a different breed.
In Piñata Pit (G3), players from both teams had to jump in a mud pit, retrieve a ball, and return it to the starting line. The mission was played in rounds. Each round, there were fewer balls than there were players. Players were getting eliminated round-by-round. The game of Piñata Pit came down to the two best players on each team, Veteran C.T. and Rookie Derek McCray. You’re probably reading this wondering who Derek McCray is. I don’t blame you. Let me give you some background information on him. The moment Derek M. first stepped into the Challenge, he was immediately viewed as a competition threat, even with no performance log to back for it. Derek M. came into the Gauntlet 3 with instant respect, based off the fact that he had been recruited by more than 200 colleges for his football talent. Considering Piñata Pit contained all the aspects of a game of football: running, tackling, stripping a ball away from an opponent, and taking it to the end zone, the average betting man would’ve bet on Derek to score and win it for the Rookies. Challenge fans, however, knew to bet differently. When the final round went underway, Derek reached the ball first, but C.T. was inches behind Derek as he gained possession of the ball. C.T. then proceeded to slam him to the ground effortlessly and Derek literally yelped as he was getting manhandled. C.T, with what looks like half an effort, popped the ball out of Derek’s arms and took it back to the end zone to win it for the Veterans. In Piñata Pit, C.T. basically took the manhood out of a Division 1 athlete.
In the T-Bone elimination (Rivals), C.T.’s “Choo! Choo!” train almost killed Johnny and Tyler. It’s the biggest near death experience in Challenge history. I have a theory: We haven’t seen C.T. in a physical combat elimination ever since for good reason. I’m positive that’s a calculated decision by the Challenge Gods, not one that’s left up to chance.
C.T. faced off against Leroy in Wrecking Wall (FA), an elimination where both players had to punch through a 30-foot dry wall to make holes to climb up until they were able to reach the bell at the top. First player to ring the bell won. Leroy is an elimination beast; he’s won 8 career eliminations because of his physical strength and athleticism alone. He was no match for C.T. though. Anyone who watched the Duel 2, knows C.T.’s punching power is nothing to be played with. His punching power knocked out a whole wall on that season.
In the Flying Leap mission (Duel), players, one at a time, had to jump back and forth from one end of a platform to another that was suspended from a crane 20 feet above water. Numerous flags were hanging from poles located on both sides of the platform. Players had to grab as many flags as possible within a three-minute time limit; Whoever collected the most flags won. C.T. won Flying Leap with flying colors. He was the only male to not land on his body when jumping or not use any running momentum to assist his jumping sequences. C.T. instead showed us his athletic prowess, by setting his feet, loading his hips, exploding and jumping across, landing on his feet every time. Everyone on the sidelines watched in awe. C.T. made it look like a walk in the park.
C.T.’s All-Time Great Intelligence.
C.T. is the perfect two-way player. He not only has the brawn, but he has the brain as well. His long history of solving puzzles makes him an ATG intelligent male player. Below are some of C.T.’s greatest moments in which he had to put his brain to work.
C.T. eliminated Evan in Ascender (Duel), an elimination game in which players had to climb up a rope, pull a handle at the top of the rope, to release a basket containing puzzle pieces. The players then had to climb back down the rope to assemble a tiling puzzle similar to a tangram. C.T versus Evan was the second last male elimination on the original Duel. Up to that point, Evan was the clear #1 best competitor of the season and C.T. was the second. The two best players were going mano a mano. Evan got raddled under the stage lights (got caught trying to cheat), and the brain of the cold blooded killer, C.T. solved the tangram with ease.
In the Rivals 2 final, C.T. completed the puzzle checkpoint in a flash that Johnny/Frank fell behind in. Upon seeing the puzzle, C.T. straightaway figured it out because the puzzle was one that he played when he was hungover at a breakfast country club.
In the Final Redemption Challenge on D30, players had to read a code that provided a combination to a lock that contained puzzle pieces. The first two players to retrieve and complete their puzzle would return to the game, while the rest were eliminated. C.T.’s competition in this challenge was Dario, Jordan, Leroy, and Bananas. C.T. was the first male to successfully figure out the code and complete his puzzle, and re-entered the game as a result.
C.T. eliminated Darrell in Knot So Fast (Invasion). It was the last champions elimination of the season. The grandest stage of them all was set and the two all-time great champions had to rely on their strategical intelligence to win this one. Darrell put up a good fighting effort in trying to undo C.T.’s knot, but it looked like a physically impossible task. It actually was. According to Darrell on Challenge Mania, C.T.’s knots were so tight that production had to cut them off with machetes after the elimination was over. C.T. broke the Knot So Fast elimination. That’s how intelligent C.T.’s strategy was. The elimination win versus Darrell gave C.T. a spot in the finals, where he faced off against underdogs Cory and Nelson, who were fifteen years younger and in the athletic prime of their lives. In the final challenge, C.T. still managed to acquire his second season win and proved to the rest of the Challenge world that the underdogs were no match for the champion of champions.
C.T. has the All-Time Greatest Eating Abilities.
Eating is such an important trait to have in the challenge. It’s often identified as the most difficult portion of the final challenge each season. Players hate it. We’ve actually seen players quit in the final before because they couldn’t stomach eating disgusting things. We’ve seen C.T. devour all types of disgusting things without looking fazed in the slightest, that makes you question whether or not he has taste buds.
Remember the pickled fish soup in the Rivals 2 final? C.T. drank his like he was chugging a beer, while everyone around him was vomiting all over the place. Wes couldn’t bother to even taste his drink, so C.T. chugged it down for him.
In the Exes 2 final, C.T. ate the deer head and sheep blood as if it was everyday dinner. When he finished his plate, C.T. decided to go for seconds and helped Diem finish up her plate as well.
C.T.’s eating abilities are inhumane. Not only is C.T. known for downing disgusting foods in final challenges as if it were nothing, but he’s also known for winning regular season competitions where you had to eat a ridiculous amount of food (Toss Your Cookies v. Shane, eating the entire birthday cake on Race to the Altar in Exes).
C.T.’s first championship and third championships (Rivals II and WOTWII) were social-political clinics.
C.T. played his first eight seasons without winning the big one. It wasn’t until Rivals II, his ninth season, where he finally got his first challenge gold medal. As usual, C.T. crushed it on the field, but off the field, in the Challenge house, he played one of the best political-social games I had ever seen. On Rivals II, the opposite sex had control over the votes on male elimination days. C.T. was wooing all the girls, and they thought they were going to be apart of the next love big story on the Challenge. C.T. was never voted in because at least one player within four of the female teams had a fling with C.T. or were falling heads over heel for him on Rivals 2 (Anastasia, Cooke, Diem, and Nany).
On War of the Worlds II, C.T. was a member of the U.K. Team. He was apart of Cara’s Cult/The Royal Family. The physical shape C.T. was in this season was his worst ever, so him not ever being considered for elimination by his own team is mind blogging. C.T.’s social game was on a whole another level this season. My favorite C.T. moment on WOTWII is when he turncoats on Cara’s Cult right before the final and saves Tori from elimination to strengthen U.K.’s team for the final. C.T.’s political-social finesse on WOTWII rightfully earned him his third championship.
C.T.’s social-political skill, in general, deserves more recognition. Every time I hear people talk about C.T.’s eliteness, people only bring up the competition juggernaut and not the social-political mightiness he’s established over the course of his sixteen season career.
C.T. has only done three less seasons than Johnny Bananas, but he’s been in 11 less eliminations. Other than the first Rivals, I don’t recall there being a time where he wasn’t at the top of social structures. He has a whole catalogue of seasons where he was either pulling strings from the top or aligning with the biggest playmakers that were ones doing the pulling (i.e: Inferno 2 – CT was in a four person alliance with Derrick/Brad/Darrell where there duties were to not nominate each other in the inferno selections; The Duel – CT/Evan/Derrick/Brad each were paired with the best athletic girls and controlled the chain selections; Exes 2 – in an alliance with Mark/Robin, Johnny/Camila, and DunbaPaula that ran the game till the very end).
C.T. made history twice on Invasion and War of the Worlds II.
C.T. won his second championship 22 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Inferno, which took place in 2004, and won Invasion of the Champions in 2017. That’s a span of 13 years. C.T.’s Invasion win broke the previous record of the longest span between a rookie debut and championship win, that was held by Johnny Bananas. J.B. won his sixth championship 16 seasons after his rookie season. He debuted on the original Duel, which aired in 2006, and won Rivals 3 in 2016 (a 10 year span).
C.T.’s new breaking record was broken again by none other than C.T, just a few seasons later. C.T. won War of the Worlds 2, which took place 27 seasons after the Inferno, and 15 years later.
C.T.’s Overall Assessment.
If you read up until this point, I’m guessing a lot of you probably refuse to agree with my opinion of C.T. being the fourth greatest male challenger ever. Here’s my argument: C.T. is the greatest Challenge talent ever, but he doesn’t have the greatest legacy. Like mentioned earlier, he’s the Peyton Manning of the Challenge and I don’t consider Peyton Manning the #1 G.O.A.T. of Football (Jerry Rice, Jim Brown, and Tom Brady fit that bill better). In my eyes, Bananas, Jordan, and Landon are those three guys. The combination of their talent, winning percentage, and accomplishments fair just slightly better than C.T’s.
C.T. has just three championships in a sixteen season career. The rest of my top three have won just as much in a lot lesser time (Jordan, Landon) or doubled his wins in the same type of lengthy career (Bananas). C.T.’s temper and poor decision making tossed three years of his absolute prime down the drain (Inferno III, Gauntlet III, Duel II) and his inability to perform in the clutch tossed another year (Exes). That’s five seasons where the ultimate competitor, C.T., missed out on championships.
On the Inferno III, C.T. is cast on the Bad Asses; He was the best player on the cast, but he gets sent home the first night in South Africa because he punches Davis. C.T. would’ve been a lock for the final this season, he threw another potential championship out the window.
In the Gauntlet 3 final challenge, Big Easy cost C.T. and all the other final remaining veterans a championship win. You’re probably confused as to how this is C.T.’s fault, but he actually had a major hand in letting Big Easy ride to the final. If you go back to the first gauntlet deliberation where Johnny got sent in against Evan, Johnny plead to the rest of the Veteran males that Big Easy should have to go in, because he was going to lose them a final. C.T., who was the leader of the team, didn’t buy into Johnny’s plea; He had personal dislike towards Johnny and his reason for not throwing Big Easy in was because he loved partying with him. What’s the logic in that? C.T., the whole season was preaching about “trimming the fat” (getting rid of the girls on their team) and never worrying about Easy once was a horrific example of how to play a winning game. Prime C.T. was always finding a way to be the author of his own demise.
On the Duel 2, C.T. went into cannibalism mode. C.T. would’ve legitimately smashed Adam’s head and ate Adam’s head if it wasn’t for like thirty cast and production crew members successfully capturing him (and then tranquilizing him and putting him in his cage). There’s no guaranteeing C.T. would’ve won the D2, since the top crop of males this season was stacked. But this is an absolute peak C.T. we’re talking about, who’s in contention for the best men’s competitor all-time, so a championship victory is never out of the question.
In the Exes final, C.T./Diem lead the whole way until the final run up the mountain. Right before the finish line, C.T.’s tank ran out of gas (mirroring Peyton’s ability to choke in the playoffs) and he delayed winning his first championship for even longer.
C.T.’s competitive abilities (ATG physical strength, aggression, athleticism, intelligence, and eating) and his championship success in his career’s second half are sufficient enough to get him into the Challenge Mount Rushmore, but the four seasons he tossed down the drain in the first half of his career are a little too detrimental to have him in the top trinity. I think about it like this: Would I consider drafting Prime C.T. (Inferno - Free Agents) as my first pick when constructing a team in an-all time draft? Nope. He, was easily #1 in terms of competitive talent, but he was a complete hothead with bad decision making and only won one championship in ten seasons. Would I consider drafting Dadbod C.T. (Invasion - Total Madness) number one? Not at all. He’s won two championships in six seasons, with a phenomenal social-political game, but his competitive abilities are half of what they were before. Every version of C.T. comes with a small albatross that keeps him from having top three legacy.
This is an example of fundamental DD that takes place at ‘smart’ money institutions based on my professional experience in IBD, Private Equity & most recently at a HF (mods can message me for proof). Not thoroughly fleshed out b/c you autists have limited attention spans, but a summary. Figured I’d take the time to give back to this community that has provided many lolz, & should be a good measuring stick when evaluating other forms of fundamental DD posted here. NFA. DKNG - DraftKings, Inc.: vertically integrated US mobile betting operator that also provides retail sports betting & back-end betting solutions through SBTech. Think of SBTech as the tech ‘market-maker’ for traditional sports betting, they do all the funny math to set the betting odds & seem to be working on back-end solutions for DKNG Casino The Big Picture
Total annual US Gambling Revenue: ~$90Bn 
Illegal Sports Betting: ~$13Bn
Horse Racing: ~$0.8Bn
Daily Fantasy Sports: ~$0.4Bn
Only ~2% of the ~$90Bn gambling revenues were placed online which is the lowest in the world where betting online is legal. For example, in other countries online gaming activity represents ~6% - ~52% of total gambling revenues, with ~12% being the average. Wall Street expects online gaming revenue to be $20Bn-$40Bn within the next 10 years. For this to be achieved, the online gambling market will have to achieve a ~30% penetration rate on total country gaming revenues. There is an expectation that this is could be easily achievable given penetration trends overseas - see page 11 of this: https://s1.rationalcdn.com/vendors/stars-group/documents/presentations/TSG-Investor-Day_March-27-2019.pdf Other catalysts include increasing adaptation of sports betting in more states. States that have both legal sports betting + online sports betting permitted: NV, NJ, WV, PA, IA. Sports betting permitted but no online: DE, MS, RI, MO, AR. Prior to COVID there was ongoing discussions across many States, especially ones with growing deficits to explore how permitting sports betting could create a fresh avenue of tax dollars. Post COVID there is an expectation that these discussions will be given extra focus as many States will be hungry for incremental tax dollars. Important to note that currently 43/50 States allow DFS, but given the small share DFS has on total Gaming Revenues, it increasingly looks like DKNG is banking on traditional sports betting for a variety of reasons, more later. There are entire articles on Google arguing this catalyst so I’ll end this here. Digging Deeper DKNG’s main offerings are Daily Fantasy Sports (“DFS”) products & traditional sports book products to its clients. Long story short, a metric to look for in my opinion (that is curiously not reported by management or remarked on) is the hold % in traditional gaming sector parlance or the ‘rake’ & compare it to the ‘traditional’ gaming products like sports betting & Blackjack. For DFS: DKNG takes ~15% of the prize pool (note: used to be ~6-11% ). Curiously, their main competitor FanDuel also has moved up to a ~15% rake recently. Google searches show the smaller competitors have a rake in the ~13% range. This ‘rake’ has grown ~2x in 6 years, but it has been a delicate move on behalf of management. Why? B/c the more ‘sophisticated’ DFS players (equal to autistic day traders on Robinhood) have noted this increase & based on some Googling, some have moved down market to the smaller players. As a side note, many live casino games have their rules altered to grow the Hold %. For example, Blackjack games with 6:5 payouts on 21 have materially higher Hold % than the traditional BJ rules that pay out 3:2. Given the findings so far, DKNG may not have much room to materially increase its hold % in DFS games in the near-term from current of 15%. More on this later. Now why the fuck is this important? This is important b/c the typical sports book (ex-Parlays) have a ~5% hold %/rake. Parlays have up to a ~30% hold (which is why it’s commonly known as the sucker’s bet), & just for reference, the average Blackjack table clocks in 14.5%. What this means: Every dollar put into these games, the “House” or DKNG, will take 15% of your money for DFS games, for sports bets they will be pocketing ~5%, up to ~30% if you’re into parlays, & we’ll just use the standard 14.5% BJ hold for the DraftKings Casino platform. So why the acquisition of SBTech & a foray into the traditional sports gambling market? As you can see previously, the illegal sports betting market is >30x the size of the current daily fantasy sports market. So it’s clear that the DFS providers including DKNG are foraying into the space to capture this user base & hopefully convert them into games that have a higher hold %, such as DFS/DKNG Casino. As of May 2020, DKNG has achieved a 30% penetration rate on its ~4mm ‘monetized’ DFS clientele to its Online Sports Book (OSB), from the OSB+DFS clientele, DKNG has converted 50% into its DraftKings Casino platform. Including non-monetized users, user base totals at 12mm. Based on these unit economics: every 1mm of additional users -> 333k monetized users for DFS -> 100k users for OSB -> 50k users for DraftKings Casino. Some Numbers – Italicized/Bolded the important
In total, DKNG has DFS paying clientele of ~4mm, the metric management focuses on is “Monthly Unique Payers (MUP)” which spans across DFS & online sports betting***. As of Q1’20 they reported 720,000*** MUPs, representing +16% YoY growth 
Average revenue per monthly user (ARPU) of ~$41, +11% YoY
Based on previous observation of Hold %, looks like ARPU growth will be limited
Since ’17, MUP has grown at a ~11% CAGR & ARPU has grown at a ~19% CAGR
As a side note: the ~4mm monetized user base was acquired at ~$122/user over 3 years. Total users cost them $41/user over the last 3 years .
They are currently EBITDA negative & Wall St expects them to be positive by 2023
I took a dive into the math driving this, here is a summary:
Based on their current cost structure they will need to have ~1.7mm MUPs at an ARPU of ~$46 to break-even. This implies total monetized users of ~10mm from ~4mm currently
Numbers that represent Risks to Long Thesis
DKNG’s user base of ~12mm is on the low end of the sector vs. its ‘brick & mortar’ competitor's user bases (online betting platforms with physical casino presence)
CZR with 55mm, MGM with 33mm, ERI with 10mm (in pending merger with CZR, could have a lot of overlap), FanDuel with 8.5mm
Is there a concern for increased marketing costs to increase user base? Let’s look at a case study of NJ, the first state to open both mobile & retail sports betting:
FanDuel + DraftKings have held 80%+ of the OSB market share since 12/2018 which is estimated to be driven by the conversion opportunity from DFS that is unique to both companies 
On the flipside, a case study to examine going forward is how DKNG can get OSB customers in a State that does not allow DFS. Nevada. Home to Las fucking Vegas. Prior to NV pushing FanDuel/DKNG out (highly likely due to casino lobbying), NV was a top-15 State in terms of revenue for them. NV is home to the fattest sports book in the US, & recently the gaming commission started to parse the data on sportsbook wagers done online vs. in-person, & it came out to roughly 50/50. It will be interesting to see how they try to capture market share in a state with no DFS
Long-term EBITDA margin target of 35% requires huge growth in MUPs
Based on their estimated '22 cost structure: Holding ARPU of ~$46, MUPs will have to be ~5.2mm, a 7x increase from current to achieve a EBITDA margin of 35%
A focus on future earnings will be management's ability to shift to a more fixed-cost structure which would effectively lower the MUP requirement for profitability
Things to look for when going Long - Progress of additional States legalizing sports betting – specifically, States with DFS already legalized - Cost structure evolving to a more fixed mix vs. the mostly variable mix currently as this will be the forward figure that determines profitability - Increasing User Base (Curr.: 12mm) -> Monetized Base (Curr.: 4mm) -> MUP (1Q’20: 0.7mm)
Management seems to be focused more on the first step, but one thing to note is that the 33% monetization rate is very high when compared to something like League of Legends which isn’t entirely comparable but in 2013 had a ~4% monetization rate . This, combined with the below implies that this conversion rate may be the ceiling for now
As a side note, ~6 years ago FanDuel had ~300k monetized on an ~800k user base for a monetization rate of ~37% 
Share Price Target Given the cost structure of the company, I’m going to base the price targets around Enterprise Value / Revenues (driven by MUPs & ARPUs).
MUP sensitivity of 5mm - 6mm
ARPU sensitivity from $41 - $47 for an average of $44, just a $3 increase from current of $41.
Share Price targets based on 2.0x - 4.5x EV / Sales.
Note: Flutter Entertainment (FanDuel ParentCo) trades at ~3.6x EV/Sales
Bear Case MUP: 5mm -> $20.32 - $45.73 Base Case MUP: 5.5mm -> $22.27 - $50.10 Bull Case MUP: 6mm -> $24.21 - $54.47 These MUPs imply a monetized customer base of 28mm – 33mm. At the high-end, this implies that DKNG monetized customer base will equal MGM’s current total user base. At yesterday’s close of $43.70, DKNG is trading at 3.5x – 4.5x forward Revenues on an expected >5,000 MUPs. Share Price drivers / considerations: - Continued multiple expansion
Consideration: A 1x premium to FanDuel's 3.6x, implies a ~15% upside to current. They're bigger than FanDuel, do they deserve the premium?
- MUP Growth exceeding beyond targets
Consideration: Stock currently implies that they should on average be growing at 40% QoQ – during 2018 they had on average +30% growth QoQ in MUPs, marking their best year
Management Team Jason Robins, 39 – Co-Founder & CEO. Duke BA, started DraftKings from day 1 in 2011. The 2 other buddies he started the Company with are still at DKNG. Dude navigated the Company through the scandal that rocked them in ’15 & ’16, and was the trailblazer in getting DFS labeled as a non-gambling product that enabled it to open in States without a gaming designation. This shit is the stuff that gets people in history books. His accomplishments make him seem like a very competent guy. Has 3 kids now, and only ~3% economic ownership in DKNG but has 90% of the voting power through his Class B share ownership. Also he actively participates in venture investments, sitting on 10 boards. His comp plan performance bonus target is pretty murky, but main drivers are EPS growth, revenue growth, then a bunch of margin & return metrics, along with share price returns. Overall, very open-ended & it’s safe to say as long as shit doesn’t hit the fan, he will be eligible for his max payouts year over year. I’m assuming the lawyers tried to encompass everything possible for maximum flexibility to justify him earning his max comp as long as DKNG is still around. Since he’s got voting control of 90%, I’ll end the specific-person overview here, but want to note that they have a very bloated C-suite. 12 folks at DKNG, 8 folks at SBTech, all with C-suite designations. Whereas their main competitor FanDuel, has 3 guys with a C-suite designations & 1 EVP, but is a sub under a larger ParentCo that has its own management team of ~5 guys. Looking through glassdoor you can see the biggest complaint among employees giving bad reviews is based on management, all of the specific issues they point out IMO are a result of a top-heavy company. Seems like a good starting point to optimize their cost structure, but given Robins' history of sticking this entire thing through with his co-founders since '11 stuff like this doesn't seem to be a part of his playbook. They’re a public company now though, so it’s going to be interesting to see going forward. TL;DR: If I were to initiate a position in DKNG, the stock would have to fall to the $35-$37 range for me to be a buyer of the stock, and based on this rough intro analysis I'll be considering Put options if it breaches $50. I would not touch Calls at this level.  Susquehanna Research – U.S. Online Gambling 6/27/19  https://rotogrinders.com/articles/bang-for-your-buck-a-look-at-dfs-industry-rake-153302  https://draftkings.gcs-web.com/static-files/8f3a5c5a-7228-45bf-aab2-63604111c48d  Goldman Sachs Research – DKNG Initiation 5/19/20 https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/223071/Dont_monetize_like_League_of_Legends_consultant_says.php  https://rotogrinders.com/threads/how-many-people-actually-play-dfs-regularly-252044
McKamey Manor, a “haunted attraction,” is a participation event “where you will live your own horror movie.” Critics have argued that McKamey Manor is not a haunted attraction, but a torture chamber. Founder Russ McKamey denies these claims, and maintains that the Manor has an element of mystery.
“The reason why the manor is so controversial is because nobody is saying what’s actually happening in here and that’s out of respect for the manor and myself and what we’re trying to produce here. If the people who go through the haunt want to spill all the beans and say everything that happens, they certainly could but they don’t and that makes the haters crazy because they don’t know what’s happening. That’s why you hear all the insane rumors because they’re just making things up in their mind of what is happening.” - Russ McKamey
What is McKamey Manor? McKamey Manor, founded by Russ McKamey, is known as the most extreme “haunted attraction” in the United States. However, what separates this attraction from the rest is the fact that there are no zombies or ghosts. Rather, there are actors who are legally allowed to bind you, gag you, and push you to your mental and physical limitations. Of course, the experience isn’t for the average person. To even get the chance to experience the Manor, you would be required to be at least 21 years of age (or 18 with parent’s permission), pass a physical exam, a background check, and a drug test. The tour, which operates year-round and can last up to 10 hours, offers participants the chance to earn $20,000 upon full completion. According to McKamey, not a single participant has ever successfully endured the full 10 hours. Just a handful of patrons are permitted to enter each weekend. There is no entrance fee, though McKamey asks that participants donate a bag of dog food upon their arrival. Besides meeting the necessary qualifications, McKamey requires that his participants refrain from swearing and physically engaging with the actors. Violation of these rules would be grounds for subsequently ending the tour. Now based in Summertown, Tennessee, and Huntsville, Alabama, the Manor bills itself as “an audience participation event in which YOU will live your own horror movie.” However, others describe it as a “torture chamber.” McKamey Manor has received criticism from the public, the “haunt” industry, and even some participants. Critics have branded McKamey a “psychopath” who found a “legal loophole” to fulfill his sadistic tendencies. Frequently asked questions range from “Is this legal?” to “Is this a hoax?” McKamey assures the public that not only is the attraction 100% within its legal rights of operating, it is also not a hoax. Waiver If all goes to plan, prospective participants are required to sign a 40-page waiver prior to the tour. The waiver asks that the participant understands and agrees to:
“19. Participant was warned numerous times about the intensity of MM and by the Owners and other members of the crew that YOU REALLY DON’T WANT TO DO THIS.” “20. Participant agrees and understands that your life in reality is not in danger and this is just a game.” ”21. Participant agrees and understands that during the Tour and Participant is in the van, they will not be secured by a seatbelt or other safety device.” “22. Participant understands and agrees that they are not being tortured and this is just a game.” “23. Participant understands and agrees that they are not being beat up, kicked, slugged, or actually physically harmed. You will be roughed up but no one is there to hurt you. Knowing that, MM is very rough and not for the meek. Participant will have bumps, bruises, possible black eyes, swelling of the face, etc.” “24. Participant understands and agrees that they are never being held against their will.”
The waiver continues to stress that the experience is just “a game” several times. By number 28, the waiver starts to detail what the participant may be subjected to:
“28. Participant fully understands that by signing this waiver that they are giving MM permission to keep nothing off the table (except sexual or inappropriate situations). Everything else imaginable can and will happen inside of MM. You are aware of this and are giving full permission for any action that may happen inside of MM.” “29. Participant agrees to and has full knowledge that if selected to visit the barber, Participant may leave MM completely bald, including eyebrows.” “30. Participant agrees and knowledges that mousetraps are used within the Tour which may result in bruising, cutting, or breakage of fingers.” “31. Participant agrees that if selected, they could be buried alive under 12 feet of dirt and rock to which they will have a limited amount of air and that they will have to figure out how to escape and they could possibly breathe in a significant amount of dust, dirt, or foreign objects that may cause death if Participant does not breathe properly or hold their breath at the right time.” “32. Participant agrees to partake, if selected to participate, in a height stunt that involves walking a plank 25 feet above ground without a safety net.” “33. Participant agrees that if selected they will come in contact with a variety of live poisonous animals. It is the Participant’s responsibility to not panic or agitate the animals. If Participant is bitten, it is because the Participant made a sudden movement within a confined secured environment.”
The waiver continues for several more pages, the intensity increasing with each page. Consenting Participants or Victims? One San Diego participant, Amy Milligan, says that experience was more than “just a game.” According to Milligan, she suffered several injuries beyond “cuts and bruises.” Milligan was waterboarded during her tour. Milligan claims that, while exclaiming she could not breathe, actors laughed while they continued to waterboard her.
“My hair is wrapping around my neck and I start freaking out. I’m telling them I can't breathe and they’re just laughing and doing it more.”
Despite the “traumatic” experience, Mulligan spoke highly of the tour during her exit interview, going as far as adding that she did not feel like she had been “tortured” and treated it “as a game.” However, Mulligan claims that the only reason she left a positive review was to ensure that McKamey would upload the footage of her tour to YouTube. Mulligan had intended to use the footage as evidence of her excessive abuse. However, Mulligan found herself disappointed when she watched the video. According to Mulligan, the most distressing portion of her tour had been edited out of the footage. In an interview, Mulligan says that she begged to go home but was forced to continue to tour. “I’m like ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I need to go home let me out, let me out,’ and they’re like ‘you’re not done.’” Mulligan adds, “[They] shoved my head back in the water and I was like, ‘They’re not going to let me out. I’m going to die in here.’” Another San Diego participant, Laura Hertz Brotherton, shares a story similar to that of Mulligan’s. Like Mulligan, Brotherton left the tour with more than just cuts and bruises. Prior to Brotherton’s scheduled tour, McKamey sent Brotherton tasks that she would have to complete in order to prove her loyalty to McKamey. Brotherton was required to purchase an adult onesie that she would wear on her tour and videotape her visit to a nearby Halloween store. Brotherton described her initial interactions with McKamey as “fun,” and was looking forward to the day of her tour. McKamey instructed that Brotherton upload her assignments to Facebook. While navigating McKamey Manor’s Facebook page, Brotherton became romantically involved with another fan on the other side of the country, despite the fact that they were both in, albeit estranged, relationships. To Brotherton’s surprise, her affair had struck a nerve with McKamey. So much so that upon Brotherton’s arrival to the Manor on October 23, 2016, McKamey publicly exposed Brotherton, who was in the company of her boyfriend. While Brotherton’s boyfriend was aware of the affair, her online partner’s wife was not aware. According to Brotherton, McKamey was cold to her for the remainder of the tour. Despite that Brotherton had just been humiliated, she was determined to power through. Brotherton had traveled to San Diego from Colorado and felt that it was too late to turn back. According to Brotherton, her experience was more extreme in comparison to others. Brotherton believes that McKamey was particularly harder on her. Brotherton believes that McKamey’s knowledge of her affair factored into the excessive abuse, noting that he appeared to be “personally offended” by it. Speaking of her experience, Brotherton says,
“I was waterboarded, I was tased, I was whipped. I still have scars of everything they did to me. I was repeatedly hit in my face, over and over and over again. Like, open-handed, as hard as a man could hit a woman in her face…” More graphically, Brotherton adds that she was blindfolded with duct tape and submerged underwater by her ankles. According to Brotherton, she was submerged underwater for so long that her body started involuntarily thrashing. Brotherton was later forced to dig a hole in dirt with nothing other than her bare hands. Brotherton was then forced to lie in the fresh hole while they covered her and her face with dirt, giving her only a straw to breathe through. “[The dirt] started to go into my throat, and I started to swallow it. I’m coughing and I keep saying ‘I need water,’ and they would just splash water in my face. That went on for, I want to say, 20 to 30 minutes.”
Brotherton repeated the safe word for several minutes before the actors finally relented. Like Mulligan, Brotherton had to record an exit video. In the video, Brotherton also spoke positively about her experience. Though according to Brotherton, it was because she was “forced” to.
“Before Russ turned the camera on he said to me, if I do not say good things about McKamey Manor and I start telling what actually happened, he’s going to sue me for $50,000. I signed a waiver saying this could happen. So Russ forced me into saying all these great things, like, ‘Oh my God, my tour was so amazing, it was exhilarating,’ blah, blah, blah.”
After her experience, Brotherton went to the hospital but refused to tell the hospital staff who or what caused her injuries. As a result, the hospital staff called the police. Brotherton, however, was discharged and left before the police arrived. Brotherton says that she later worked up the courage to report the incident to the police, but was told that she didn’t have a criminal case because of the waiver she signed. Brotherton took photographs to document her injures. According to journalist Megan Seling, who interviewed Brotherton for her article, Tennessee's McKamey Manor: Torture on Demand, the nature of Brotherton’s injuries included:
“In one photo, Brotherton is in a neck brace and a hospital gown and her face is markedly swollen. She has scrapes on her cheeks and a lump on her forehead, her lips are red and puffy, and there are small cuts at the corner of her mouth. In another image, you can see a large, bloody wound on Brotherton’s left knee. She says that’s an old surgery scar that opened up after McKamey’s actors cut off her knee pads and made her crawl on the ground. Her legs are covered in scratches, and there’s a large purple bruise on top of her left foot. There are also two pictures of her torso, showing large purple bruises that stretch across her hip and stomach. She says X-rays showed a hairline fracture in her foot, and the inside of her mouth was so scratched up from the hitting and “fish-hooking” (“Where they take their two fingers and they put them inside your mouth and they stretch your mouth open”) that the hospital sent her home with medical mouthwash, which she had to use every two hours for three days.”
According to Seling, McKamey didn’t deny Brotherton’s claims, though he did shed doubt on the fracture in her foot. McKamey also admitted to exposing her affair but claimed that it didn’t affect her tour in terms of increasing severity. Rather, according to McKamey, “Any personal information we have, we’ll use it against you in the tour.” Towards the end of the article, Seling states, “Here’s the thing: There is no $20,000. There’s no caiman named Ralphie, there’s no quicksand-like mud that will swallow you whole, and McKamey will certainly never slather your body in flame-retardant gel and lock you in an incinerator somewhere in Huntsville, Ala. None of that is real.” McKamey himself commented on the article, suggesting that Seling reported her opinions rather than facts. The comment read,
“Russ here, I'm posting this FB post here because I think it's worth mentioning. There really is only one part of your story that I have an issue with. Sure the way you went on and on about Laura B. without having the real facts was to be expected. Clearly if things happened the way you suggested in the piece...I would be in jail. I can assure you, Laura's tour was no tougher then other "Chamber" tours in San Diego. If you would have spoken to other contestants who have taken multiple tours (up to 5), including the same tour that Laura took...you would have received a balanced take on the San Diego shows. I offered you their names, but you decided to go with the most salacious participant. The person who has been banned by all other extreme attractions. Why...because she causes trouble and she does not speak the truth. The bottom line Megan Seling is this. Why did you feel it was important to get one final (unsubstantiated), dig in at myself and the Manor. Would you top off a story about a magician or illusionist with a statement about what is real or nor real? But for some reason you felt it necessary to do so covering the MM story. It may have been understandable to include your final paragraph if for some reason you really felt inclined to complain because I wasn't giving away my secrets, but you did so much more then that. You left your readers with the impression that what you were saying was fact. And that's were I have a big issue with what you presented to your audience. You deceived your readers by presenting your "opinion" as a factual statement. You even admitted to other FB readers that you you knew what you did was going to upset me, but you went full steam ahead nonetheless. In hindsight, that's probably the effect you were looking for. As you and I both know, I called it from the first phone call and several hours working with you on your story, how you would eventually spin the article. And as usual in these cases deal with the media...I was correct. But let's get back to the actual statement you presented to your audience as fact...not opinion. You wrote the following: "Here’s the thing: There is no $20,000. There’s no caiman named Ralphie, there’s no quicksand-like mud that will swallow you whole, and McKamey will certainly never slather your body in flame-retardant gel and lock you in an incinerator somewhere in Huntsville, Ala. None of that is real." That is not an opinon...you're stating this as fact. I would like to offer this challenge to you publicly here in your papers comment section. I have already done so numerous times as you're well aware. Because you're so keen on exploring what is real and not real at MCKAMEY MANOR, and because you're so inclined to make that the final impression of your story, I have a very simple way to bring this to a very exciting conclusion. All you have to do Megan is to actually take the tour. I would think as a professional journalist you would be more then happy to participate in this little adventure. If for no other reason just to get the actual facts correct. Unfortunately we all know you will never do that. Instead you'll sit behind your desk in the comfort of your safe space, writing about second hand information instead of actually seeking the truth from your own experience. I understand that there are those that are "participants" in the world, and others who simple watch from the sidelines. In your case I'm offering you a chance to actually become an active player and not just a computer warrior. If you would care to sign up for the tour, I'm pretty sure you would change your statement. What do you have to loose? Don't just toss opinions out as fact. Maybe you're absolutely correct that MCKAMEY MANOR in not real in the faintest, and that nothing is what it seems. My challenge to you is to be a real real journalist and find out the facts. Imagian the great story you would have, and I know your supporters would love to see you get away from your desk and safe space to show us all what MCKAMEY MANOR is real all about. Is MM just "Smoke and Mirrors," or it it something much more exciting and magical. This would make an excellent follow on piece for your paper. Do you have what it takes Megan to actually find out the truth? If anyone would like to participate in the MM experience, please fill out the contact form at www.Mckameymanor.com. Be advise you must be able to meet all basic requirements and you must provide a doctors letter stating your mentally and physically cleared to participate in our little adventure called MCKAMEY MANOR. And no matter what you may have read in this article, the chance to win 20,000.00 is absolutely real. Do I believe that will ever happen...not on your life ladies and gentlemen. MM is looking forward to meeting each and every one of you. One final note, I'm the most transparent individual you'll ever have the opportunity to meet. If anyone one of you reading this comment have any questions for me, feel free to call me directly at (omitted by u/BubbaJoeJones). I will answer any and all questions...concerning anything. Thank you for reading my little rant :-). Russ McKamey”
Questions and Theories
Real, or Staged?
McKamey, who is a fan of filmmaking and acting, uploads footage of participant’s tours to YouTube. Or, he used to. McKamey has since stopped uploading to YouTube, presumably because of backlash. However, McKamey hasn’t stopped uploading footage of the tours entirely. According to Facebook users who are in McKamey Manor’s private Facebook group, McKamey still privately uploads, and occasionally live streams, the tours. The tours, which resemble movies backed by professional editing, lighting, and props, raise questions as to whether or not what we’re seeing is staged. In one video, the footage shows three individuals reading the waiver aloud prior to signing. During the reading, McKamey repeats the Manor’s tagline, “You don’t really want to do this.” While the individuals are attempting to read the waiver aloud, they are having their hair pulled out of their scalps, being smacked in the face, and being choked with rope rung around their necks. Footage later shows the individuals having their eyebrows and hair shaved off (and later being forced to eat it), including other sadistic acts such as having drills forced in their nose and mouth, being locked inside a freezer, and being forced to eat raw dead animals. These acts lead some people to theorize that it’s “just a movie” and that the participants themselves are actors. People speculate that not only what is shown on camera real, neither is the alleged waiting-list. According to McKamey, there is a waiting list totaling about 27,000 prospective participants in 2015. However, there is no evidence to support the claim that there are 27,000 prospective participants on the waiting list. There are also people who question the existence of the $20,000 prize upon completion. According to McKamey’s comment, “the chance to win 20,000.00 is absolutely real.” However, some people, including Seling, find it suspicious that nobody has ever been able to claim the prize. McKamey has said on record that though the prize exists, it’s “impossible” to attain. Though, as Seling pointed out, it’s not due to being unable to complete the tour in its entirety, it’s by design. According to some participants, McKamey decides when you’re through, even if you never withdrew your consent. As a result, despite what McKamey claimed, many believe there was no $20,000 prize.
How Does McKamey Afford it?
One question that remains unanswered is how McKamey is able to fund the Manor. McKamey, who is a US Navy Veteran, does not profit off the Manor. As mentioned before, McKamey accepts his payment in the form of dog food, which is later donated to Operation Greyhound. Additionally, McKamey invested $500,000 out of pocket into the establishment of the Manor in San Diego. According to McKamey, he was shelling out about $250-275 a night for an on-site EMT and somewhere between $15,000-20,000 per year on specialty insurance. McKamey estimates that it cost around $500 per haunt. How is/was this experience bankrolled? Theories and rumors have ranged from believing that McKamey sells the entirety of his footage on the Dark Web, to taking a cut from a betting pool who watches the live streams from Las Vegas. Though according to McKamey, he doesn’t profit off the Manor “at all.” McKamey admitted to struggling financially after having lost his job as a Veteran’s Advocate. As a result, he found that he had to move the Manor where it would be more affordable. As a result, McKamey moved San Diego home and purchased property in Tennessee and Alabama. According to McKamey, his only source of income is his $800 monthly retirement check.
Is it Legal?
There has been some debate regarding the legality of operating McKamey Manor. As mentioned before, Brotherton reported the incident to the police and was told that there was nothing that can be done as she had signed a waiver. Moreover, the police were called to McKamey Manor on more than one occasion. According to Seling, police arrived to find one woman in a basement, shivering and bruised with duct tape over her mouth. When police asked the woman if the interaction was consensual, the woman said yes. Police had no option other than to leave. According to the Brent Cooper, District Attorney of Lawrence County, Tennessee, McKamey Manor is legal. Cooper says that as long as McKamey participants are there voluntarily, no crime is being committed. However, Cooper does add that a participant can withdraw consent in the state of Tennessee at any time. If McKamey were to disregard the withdrawal of consent, a participant would then be classified as a victim who is being held against their will. McKamey Manor Today McKamey Manor’s Tennessee location is, according to McKamey, far less physically involved than it was in San Diego. According to McKamey, the experience in Tennessee and Alabama is more of a “mental game.” Rather than being physically tortured, the participant is manipulated into believing that torture is being inflicted upon them. In response to an online petition demanding that the alleged “torture chamber” be “shut down,” McKamey clarified, “There’s no torture, there’s nothing like that, but under hypnosis if you make someone believe there’s something really scary going on, that’s just in their own mind and not reality. If you’re good enough and you’re able to get inside somebody’s noggin like the way that I can, I can make folks believe whatever I want them to believe. I’m like the most strait-laced guy you could think of, but here I run this crazy haunted house. And people twist it around in their little minds. It really is a magic act, what I do. It’s a lot of smoke and mirrors.” However, that isn’t to say people escape the Manor unscathed. McKamey stands by the possibility that one may leave with cuts and bruises, as stated in the waiver. Despite people having attempted to shut down McKamey Manor by signing petitions and filing police reports, McKamey Manor is still operating year-round in Tennessee and Alabama. According to McKamey, some people have grown so defiant to his presence that they have sent death threats and shot through his windows. Out of the hundreds of threats that McKamey has received over the years, McKamey recalls the one time that he was involved in a potentially life-threatening incident. Shortly before McKamey moved to Tennessee, a single bullet flew by his head while he was working outside in his yard. However, McKamey never reported the alleged incident to the police, claiming that he didn’t want to bring any more attention to himself. Conclusion
“I’m not going to open it to the masses–I like keeping it a secret. I like the mystery of the manor. If you saw everything it’d be like any other haunted house. That’s my goal, even when I’m dead and gone, to make sure people are still talking about McKamey Manor. That’s why nobody is really going to ever see behind the wall.” - Russ McKamey
Conversations with Vegas hotels and other unpleasant news
I was in Vegas 10 times last year, personally I hate the city but I go for client meetings and conventions. I've been calling and asking about capacity and availability of new bookings, pretending to be a tourist and the feedback from hotel concierge is this: first, hotels and casinos will function at 25 - 50% capacity. Buffets will likely not be open. Shows are currently booking reservations and restaurants will be open. Card tables will be open, high rollers are making heavy bookings right now. Slots will be separated with plexiglass dividers. If you've ever been on a casino floor and smelled the smoke then you know the air circulation is poor, IE dividers wont help. Second, I was advised to make my reservations now because bookings are coming in and they may actually run out of space. Expect a normal (not convention) week crowd in June. I've executed enterprise level sales for many years and know how to tell when I'm being sold vs when I'm gaining information and it's a 50/50 mix if sales pressure and truth. In my experience Vegas can be a playground for the wealthy, but it's mostly a playground for the middle class and poor. Specifically the folks who dont care about / believe in the virus. I live in NYC, if people in the new England / tri-state area are going then so is covid 19. If people from middle america are going too then you can be sure that PPE rules will not be adhered to. Keep in mind as well that these are the same gamblers who have now turned to the market instead of sports betting. Thoughts? Short term calls? Long term puts? My guess is Vegas will be one of the first cities to close during the second wave and an early indication (and by indication I mean red f*cking flag warning) for the rest of the country. The other unpleasant news - on a side note, I'm pretty heavily involved in the measures here in NYC to curb the virus at an executive level and things are pretty bad. Specifically the anticipated homeless numbers for fall 2020 in NYC alone are in the millions - currently homless population of NYC is +/- 65k. Anticipated monthly cost per state for homless services come fall 2020 is $9BB per month per state or $450BB monthly nationwide. I very much hope that the information I have on this is incorrect, but if it does get bleak how do we best capitalize?
Kickoff with Asuka who is set for a match against Charlotte but instead Sasha Banks and Bayley come out. Bayley says we should be thanking them for gracing us with their star power. Bayley talks about how her and Sasha won the Women's Tag Titles last Friday night. Asuka interrupts with some angry Japanese and says this is her ring and she wants to fight. Bayley tells her to shut up and explains because they are the Women's tag champs they can go to whatever brand they want. Charlotte comes down to the ring and says she understands why Sasha and Bayley want to have a victory lap before they quickly lose the tag titles like last time. She tells them to enjoy the spotlight but to make it quick because she has a match with Asuka. The IIconics come out next and Billie says Charlotte isn't the sharpest tool in the shed because the match everyone wants to see isn't tonight, it's at Backlash. She announces that this Sunday there will be a triple threat match for the Women's Tag Titles between Banks and Bayley, Cross and Bliss, and The IIconics. More angry Japanese from Asuka, Charlotte agrees with her. Bayley says Charlotte tried to drive her and Sasha apart but look at what happened, they're stronger than ever. Charlotte says Bayley needs a belt or two to even be relevant because otherwise her and Sasha would just be garbage. Bayley attacks Charlotte and a brawl ensues, Asuka and Charlotte clear house and stand tall, staring eachother down.
After the opening match Charlotte attacks Asuka and holds up the Raw Women's Title, and says that Asuka still hasn't beaten her.
Rey Mysterio does an interview via satellite and Seth Rollins takes Byron's headset so he can talk to Rey during it. Rey starts off by calling Seth a son of a bitch and we go to ad break. As we return Tom Phillips asks if Rey has any updates about his eye, Rey says his doctor gave him a positive prognosis but is cautious that any further damage could be irreversible. Rey says if he does come back he's gunning right for Seth and will hit him with a 619 as soon as the bell rings and vows to kick Seth's ass. Seth tells him to calm down and think about his sacrifice. Rey had the opportunity to walk away after his greatest moment yet he continues to spread these lies about what Seth did. Seth says he will offer Rey one more chance, he invites Rey and Dominic to Raw next week to retire like he should have. Rey says he knows this is a trap because he isn't medically cleared yet and promises that as soon as he is cleared Seth will be the first to know about it because he is gunning for him. Seth tries to clear the air but Aleister Black runs in from out of nowhere and attacks him. After the tag match Seth comes out with a Rey Mysterio mask to cause a distraction and then directs Murphy and Theory to beat down Aleister. Murphy hits Murphy's Law and then Seth hits the curbstomp on him.
Randy Orton is interviewed and has his own question, will Edge be the only guest on the Peep Show and if that segment is next, then starts to walk off. Charly asks why he wants to know and Orton says there may be two guests.
It's time for the Peep Show with special guest Edge. Christian says Edge knows how excited he was to see him return and have his big return at Wrestlemania, but honestly, he thinks Edge is running on fumes. Christian says even in his prime Edge couldn't have the greatest wrestling match ever, best friends have to be brutally honest with each other. He says if Edge really thinks he can accomplish that he's lying to himself. Edge asks Christian to put himself in his shoes, he's being told in his first real match back after 9 years he has to have the greatest match ever, it's like being thrown at the bottom of Mount Everest with no crew and being told to reach the top. He says he isn't the same Edge that gave Christian motivation before their tag matches, he doesn't have the same self confidence that he can fire on all cylinders, he doesn't even know if he has all his cylinders left. Christian says there was always one person who always believed in the old Edge, his mom, she was there for every one of his crowning moments, and she'll be in the same spot at Backlash. Christian tells Adam if he's isn't going to go all out then he just needs to leave right now. Edge gets right in Christian's face and Christian says this is the Edge that he needs to be and have the anti-venom. Randy Orton gets on the tron and says he is sick of listening to them talk about thinking and what they could do. Orton thinks that if Edge is just going to try then that is pathetic. Orton says he is going to humiliate Edge and turn him into a broken man who has to go home to his wife and daughters. He says at Backlash Edge's redemption is over. Edge defiantly says no it's not and walks to the back.
Charly Caruso interviews MVP. Montel says if she wants an in-depth break down of Lashley's devistating full nelson she will have to tune into the VIP lounge. We pan to see R-Truth looking around at some stage crates. Truth tells MVP to say he hasn't seen him because he's hiding from Robert Gronk. MVP calls Truth and Clown and Lashley locks the full nelson on Truth.
The Street Profits and Viking Raiders face off in a decathalon. Street Profits win the 1600 meter dash, flip cup, hurdling, a dance off, and shot-put. The Viking Raiders win archery, sword fighting (via forefit), stick fighting, turkey leg eating, and pole vaulting.
Apollo Crews says he is excited to defend his United States Championship at Backlash against whoever wins the following triple threat between Andrade, Angel Garza, and Kevin Owens.
Charlotte is interviewed and says she didn't lose last night, she wasn't pinned and submitted. She was raised being taught to be the woman you have to beat the woman. She was supposed to main event NXT last night and then main event Raw tonight. Asuka dances by and Charlotte asks her if she ever takes anything seriously. She stops dead in her tracks and says yes she does, then slaps Charlotte across the face.
Andrade and Angel are arguing after the triple threat over which one of them accidentally pushed over Zelina during the match. Vega walks in and just points them to go off screen.
Kurt Angle says like Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels he has been in a lot of great matches but he feel chemistry is what fuels an amazing match. Flair had it with Steamboat, Shawn had it with Taker, he had it with Brock, and Orton has it with Edge. Angle picks Edge to win because he can't bet against a fellow hall of famer.
The Viking Raiders ask Drew McIntyre if he's finally decided to join the raid. Drew says he's considering it and says they were impressive during the decathlon and says Ivar is a ladiesman. Drew asks them if they want to celebrate after the Raiders beat MVP and Lashley. He says the Raiders should watch the VIP Lounge next because you never know what's gonna happen on it.
It's time for the VIP Lounge with his guest, Bobby Lashley. MVP is introducing Lashley by listing off his accolades but Drew McIntyre comes out instead. Drew says MVP forgot to list off that he is WWE Champion as well, and he was hurt after how long they've been friends. MVP says they aren't friends and wants to know where his guest is. Drew says Lashley and Lana were having an argument backstage. MVP says this isn't supposed to be about Drew, this is about Lashley and his full nelson that he'll use to take the WWE Championship. He says Bobby is gonna ragdoll Drew like he did last week and he is going to unlock Lashley's potential. Drew wonders if MVP is like Bobby's Yoda, teaching him the secrets of winning 0 world titles. Drew gives MVP two options, he can take the Claymore right now or he can run and he'll chase him down instead. Drew starts the countdown but Lashley runs into the ring to stop him. Drew tells Lashley that he won't be able to sneak up on him this Sunday and then headbutts MVP. The Viking Raiders and the Street Profits come down to the ring to back Drew up.
After Viking Raiders vs MVP and Lashley, Ivar clocks MVP with a punch but is put in the Full Nelson by Lashley. The Street Profits try to get Lashley off Ivar but are unsuccessful until Drew comes in and sends Lashley packing.
Lana is interviewed by Charly and is asked if Bobby wanting her not to come to ringside was actually Bobby's idea or MVP. Lana thinks about it but seems convinced that it wasn't Bobby's idea. Although just because Bobby doesn't want her coming out during his matches, doesn't mean he can't come out during MVP's match.
Before MVP vs McIntyre can start Lana comes out and Lashley looks confused. After the match Lashley locks the full nelson on McIntyre to see us out.
During the main event Sasha and Bayley are on commentary, the IIconics come to ringside to attack Sasha and slam Bayley on the announce table.
For counters who’ve been to Vegas recently, have you experienced any change in the amount of heat you’re getting relative to pre-COVID times? Specifically, I’m wondering if casinos have become more accommodating of counters bc they just want anyone and everyone at their tables, or if they’ve become more hostile bc they’re even more wary of lost revenue. Separately, I know that betting mins have been raised in some casinos - have any other rules have become less favorable in any casinos? Thanks in advance!
No, they do not allow cell phones in the afterlife. In fact, what I am doing right now is extremely “illegal”. But I figured, I’ve had my share of fun here, why not gift you all with my knowledge? Besides, you’ll be thanking me when you inevitably end up here, and don’t die instantly. Sound confusing? Great. Let’s start from the beginning. Rule #1: Always know your bearings. If you don’t know where you are, it makes it way easier for them to find you. This first rule was one told to me by a dear friend, a rule that I wasn’t aware of when I first woke up in a one bedroom apartment. In fact, I wasn’t very aware of anything for a while, not until I started to remember. I woke with a startle, as I choked on my own drool. It only took me seconds after I sat up before memories started flushing through my head. I was forced to recount all my wrongdoings, every little thing I had done wrong in my life, leading up to those final moments. The fight. The car crash. Emily. I felt a sense of dread run down my spine as I struggled to grasp what was fully happening at the moment. With a jolt, I jumped out of bed and quickly realized that I was naked. I needed to make sure Emily was okay, but a man also needed to have some dignity. I quickly scrambled around the bedroom to see if I could find any spare clothes lying around. Surprisingly, I almost instinctively reached for a closet handle to the left of me. At the time, I found it weird that I seemed to subconsciously know the place, but later I learned that you always woke up in your place of birth, so this crappy apartment had been where I was conceived. Thanks, mom. Many people told me they thought that that was very poetic and symbolic, but I believe it’s just one of the many ways the universe fucks with you after death. It’s an artifact from a past life, one you’ll never get to go back to. But anyways, I got dressed and walked outside my apartment, looking for any signs of people so I could understand what was happening. I quickly spotted the stairs and decided my best bet would be to try and sprint down the stairs. Kids, if you haven’t tried sprinting down a set of stairs, I wouldn’t recommend the experience. Just imagine your favorite cartoon character, and the gag of where they fall down the comically long set of stairs, hitting each step with a bonk! Except there was no bonk, no background noise at all, just the muffled shouts of your lovable character as they hit every step with pain, barely able to get up in the end, noticeable blood on their face as they stares at the camera in their pain. Yeah, I’ve been advised never to have children. But anyways, you get my metaphor, I tumbled down the stairs with no bonk, and ended up with a bloody nose. At the moment that didn’t bother me, though, and I quickly found my way to the front exit, while proceeding to stumble my way out. As soon as I left the building, I got a very strange vibe from the area. It looked like a cliche New York/Las Vegas city, full of many different and unique buildings, all stuck next to each other on busy intersections. Except there was nothing busy about these intersections. In fact, there wasn’t a single person in sight, I appeared to be the only one in the city I started my walk down the road, and noticed that most of the buildings in this city were vacant, and the ones that weren’t seemed like they had been abandoned abruptly. I couldn’t tell you how long I walked down that seemingly never ending city, as I past by building after building, vacant or abandoned. I was starting to really wish I had tended to my broken nose before I left the apartment building, as I was leaving a trail of blood, and my nose was pounding profusely. I tried entering some of the empty buildings to treat my wound, but it seemed every door was locked. I was pretty shaken up from the situation, and I swear I could see things out of the corner of my eye, but I kept on walking, with blind hope that I would find Emily. After what seemed like forever, I finally saw a building with people in it, a building with the word, “HELP” in bold letters above the entrance. Everything inside and outside the building was completely white, and it gave off a dreamy, futuristic feeing. I entered the building and recognized the people to be standing in line, waiting for someone at the front desk. I decided to try and cut to the front, so I could explain to the desk lady what was happening. Wait, what was happening? I felt surreal in that moment, but decided to shake it off, promising myself that I’d get to the bottom of this, if only to find Emily. The guy in the back of the line immediately noticed me trying to cut, and spoke up. “What d’you think you’re doing?,” he questioned. “I...I” I tried stuttering out “You nothing my friend, now get to the back of the line and wait like the rest of us” “I need help... right now,” I finally replied, pointing to my broken nose. Before he could reply, I started hearing a loud bang on the glass door behind me. I turned around to see men in completely white tuxedos banging loudly on the door, trying to get our attention. “What are those people doing?” I asked “Those “people” are monsters” the man spat, without even looking back I thought it was awfully rude to refer to people like that, especially when the man hadn’t even seen who they were. “What did they do to become monsters?” I asked politely. “They didn’t “become” monsters, cadet. Have you even listened to training? These things are meant to kill you, designed to kill you, and they have evolved overtime.” He explained. As he talked, I looked ahead of the line, and noticed that the people would talk to the lady behind the front desk for a minute or two, and then walk behind one of two doors. “I’m sorry, “Cadet?”, I don’t know what you’re getting at here, but I don’t like how you speak to others, more rather, how you REFER to others. Now could you please explain what is going on here.” I used to be a very calm and thoughtful person. USED to be. We moved moved up in the line as he spoke again. “Buddy, you and me both know what’s going on here, and it ain’t pretty”, he chuckled, “Those monsters out there ain’t getting inside as long as we ignore them.” By the time I spoke, we were almost at the front of the line. “You can’t just call these guys monsters because of what you assume they are. I don’t care what you think, those are people too” The man seemed infuriated now. “For the last time, I-“ He thought for a second, turned to face the door with the people still banging, and I could see realization and shock appear in his eyes. “A mimic, this close to base?” He mumbled to himself, “that doesn’t make any sense, unless-“ Even though he was next in line, the man stopped dead in his tracks. It was around the time that I noticed the clothes he was wearing. A white tuxedo, just the same as the men outside. Strangely, I was just then realizing that something was off. Before that my conscious had put me in a dream like state, where I accepted what happened around me to be true, but I kinda just let things happen that shouldn’t without questioning them. Correlating that man to the people outside was what made reality slap me in the face, and I remembered to ask the question any sane person would need to know right then. “Mister, what the hell is going?!?” The man ignored me, and as the lady up front called his name, he spoke to me quietly and calmly. “Listen to me closely boy, do you know what APA stands for?” I could feel myself registering the situation more and more in my brain, and as it rendered more for me, I began to shout. “I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHERE I FUCKING AM!” A look of shock appeared on the mans face, and without skipping a beat, he pulled out a gun from his jacket, turned to the lady at the counter, and shot her in the chest. It was my turn to be in shock, as I tried to process what had just happened. Before I got a chance to do that, though, I noticed something rising from where the lady had been shot. Whatever rose up from that desk, was not a lady. I could go into gruesome details that would make you throw up, as I almost did just looking at the creature. It looked about 10 feet tall, with a slim build to rival slenderman himself. It’s torso seemed incomprehensible, with the number of arms and legs always changing. The limbs were always long and thin, like a shadowy mist that would crawl towards you if you stared for too long. It’s face was the worst part. It had eyes that were just like yours or mine, except for the fact that they were completely black. I felt as if I was staring into an eternal darkness as I glimpsed into its eyes for a single second. The one feature I will never forget will be it’s mouth. This type of mouth is common on monsters, but the mouth in this creature left the biggest impact on me. It’s mouth was a simple slit, but somehow stretched into an inhumane smile, as it sensed it’s next prey. This wasn’t a punchable-face, shit-eating grin type of smile either. This was the smile you would see on a madman, ear to ear, as if it could tell you, I will do everything in my power to murder you in the most gruesome way possible. The type of smile you knew you were dead if you saw. And in that moment, when I was staring at that creature, I felt dead. Every part of me wanted to cry out in fear, to scream at the top of my lungs, but my body simply would not move, and I was stuck staring at this creature. I was transfixed with horror, as they would say, as I looked upon a what would surely be a swift death. Luckily, I was not stuck in horror for that long, as my fight or flight instincts kicked in after a couple seconds. As you can guess, I chose flight. As I tried running to the exit, I could see the men in white suits, now frantically trying to bash the door open, and I was almost free. Suddenly, the door was blocked by another one of the creatures, and as I turned around, I noticed my helpless situation. I was cornered on all sides by these creatures, and they slowly advanced on me, I decided to curl up in a ball, and have my life end on a low note. I suddenly remembered the guy from before, and as I turned to look at him, I noticed that he was holding something up to these creatures, and they seemed to be... afraid of it? This next part was a little hazy, because I’m pretty sure I was falling in and out of consciousness the whole time. I guess the man had remembered I was there at the same time I remembered he was, because he started running towards me, holding the object up like a lantern, which drew the creatures away. I could feel the creatures placing thoughts into my head. They were dark, violent thoughts, thoughts that no human should ever have. Before those thoughts consumed me, though the man had reached where I lay, and, while holding me and the object with incredible strength, bolted out the door. Barely making it to safety as the creatures appeared trapped inside of the building. By the time I had come too I was sprawled out on the ground, feeling like the worst kind of shit. I could barely make out the group of men having a hushed conversation right next to where I laid. “Goddammit Frank! The signs were staring you in the face, we even tried stopping you, but you ignored us? “You know our protocol, do not engage with monsters unless absolutely necessary.”, Frank said, “I swear, they’re getting smarter by the day.“ “That’s not important right now”, another voice butted in, “the new arrival, is he agent material?” I could only assume they were talking about me, as I was apparently new and had arrived at.. wherever I was? “Hell no, I wouldn’t trust that twerp with a water pistol, we just gotta send him back on to where he should have gone.” Frank said I’ll admit, I was a little taken aback by this. Sure, I had shown immeasurable amounts of cowardice inside of that building, but was I really that bad? “Alright then, you get the man straightened away, then we’re gonna a long talk about your track record.” “You got it, boss” After the other men had wakes away, the man I assumed to be Frank walked over to me and picked me up, straightening my body so that I would stand up on my own. Immediately questions started spewing out of my mouth. How did I get here? What was going on? Would I ever see my family again? “Relax, relax, I’m not the guy who explains this to you, you’ll understand much better once we send you their way.” “But-“ “No buts. You’re already lucky enough to survive your first monster encounter, now stay safe, and have a good trip.” I still had so many questions, but the man clarified something to me before I got the chance to ask. “Oh yeah, and a little beginner’s tip,” he shifted his glance left and right before telling me, “Always know your bearings. If you don’t know where you are, it makes it way easier for them to find you.” And with that, the man pulled out a bright red syringe, and before I had time to react, plunged it into my arm, until I fainted onto the ground. That was my first encounter with the APA, and the horrific creatures from the afterlife. I will continue to update if I choose to, but for now, I gotta be on the move, they watch me. What happened next.
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