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2018 Gambling Olympics Participant Profile: Michael Mooney

2018 Gambling Olympics Participant Profile: Michael Mooney article feature image

Michael Mooney with Guy Fieri

The Highlights

  • Michael Mooney is one of the participants in the inaugural Gambling Olympics.
  • He’s a New York Times best-selling author whose work has appeared in ESPN The Magazine, Rolling Stone and GQ.
  • He considers himself a longshot and isn’t favored in any of the 12 individual events.

The 2018 Gambling Olympics is a two-day, 12-person contest taking place in Las Vegas on July 9-10. The buy-in is $2,500, and the winner gets $10,000.

Before, during and after the Gambling Olympics, we will provide extensive coverage via participant profiles, event breakdowns and live in-person analysis. Be sure to follow all the action in the Gambling Olympics section of the site.


Show Me the Mooney

Michael Mooney doesn’t have the gambling background of the other competitors, but he’s still extremely accomplished. He’s a New York Times best-selling author, and his work has appeared in ESPN The Magazine, Rolling Stone, GQ, SUCCESS, Popular Mechanic, Outside and Texas Monthly.

His work includes stories on various sporting events, spanning the spectrum from basketball to football to bowling. A couple of years ago he profiled Jonathan Bales for SUCCESS in the article “Why Taking Risks Is Worth It.”

Mooney was gracious enough to answer a few questions for us heading into the inaugural Gambling Olympics.

Q: How did you first get involved with gambling?

Mooney: I can remember playing five-card draw for candy in elementary school.

Q: What qualifies you to participate in this prestigious tournament?

Mooney: I am a journalist lucky enough to be invited to participate. Mostly just trying not to embarrass myself.

Q: What is you proudest “degen” moment?

Mooney: I got a newspaper to bankroll me for a month as part of a feature story.

Q: What do you feel will be your strongest and weakest events?

Mooney: My strongest event will probably be sports betting. Weakest is crypto.

Q: How many hours of prep are you putting into this?

Mooney: At least 10 to 20, but I’m starting way behind the curve against a group of pros.

Q: Who do you think is the favorite to win?

Mooney: I’ll guess Bales.

Q: Who is your pick to finish dead last?

Mooney: I’ve got to be the favorite for dead last.


Indeed, Mooney is the favorite for dead last. If you like underdogs, he’s your guy. He is listed as a +900 underdog to win the Main Event (tied for the longest odds in the field) and is not among the favorites in any of the 12 individual events. He clearly has experience in sports betting, but probably not as much as guys such as Peter Jennings, Adam Levitan, Paul Lo Duca and BlackJack Fletcher have.

Mooney lists his biggest weakness as crypto, so that should put him well behind some of the other competitors who have dived into the crypto field headfirst. Mooney’s best shot might be in some of the more luck-based events. There are no betting favorites in Connect Four, Yahtzee, Lodden Thinks and the Standings Prediction. The volatility in those events can only help him.

The biggest red flag for Mooney heading into the Gambling Olympics is his mindset. He seems resigned to the fate of a bottom-of-the-table finish, and he’s not preparing as intensely as other competitors are. It’s fun to root for underdogs, but Mooney is an underdog for a reason.

How Mooney wins: He gets all the breaks for two full days. He bags multiple Yahtzees, gets dealt elite cards in Acey-Deucey and can do no wrong in Rock-Paper-Scissors. He runs super-hot in Blackjack, and even his Crypto Portfolio skyrockets thanks to a well-timed investment in an obscure s—t coin. Ironically, the only event he doesn’t do well in is the Standings Prediction after picking himself to finish last, but even with that minor stumble he shocks the gambling world by taking home the first Gambling Olympics gold medal.

How Mooney loses: He catches no breaks in the games of chance, and the games of skill go poorly. He finishes dead last and then writes a Pulitzer Prize-winning article about his days of degeneracy in Vegas.

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