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$50,000 Midwest Championship is Here!

$50,000 Midwest Championship is Here!

By M. Scott McMannis

The long-awaited, two-day $50,000 Midwest Championship (MC) starts Saturday.

The MC was preceded with last weekend’s wrap up of Hawthorne’s 2006 Spring Series of handicapping tournaments.  Winner James Sypula of Chicago proved that the tortoise can indeed win the race.

Sypula reigned over the field based on accumulating the most points over the course of the 19-tournament series which began last January.  Oddly enough, Sypula never won a tournament in the series.  Even more unusual is the fact the Sypula never finished high enough in any one tournament to win a free entry into the MC, although as many as 10 free entries were awarded in some tournaments.

“I never went all in,” said Sypula.  “I went slow and steady, accumulating points, and it worked.”
For his win Sypula won a two-year lease of a Dodge Charger, courtesy of Frank Mancari’s, a champion’s trophy and jacket, and a free entry (plus travel allowance) into the Coast Casino’s Summer Series in Las Vegas.  Also winning entries into the Coast’s handicapping tournament were James Manganiello, James Benes, John Materko, and Terry Bjork.

This weekend’s MC has attracted contestants from around the United States.  In fact, there are 32 out-of-state contestants representing 13 states other than Illinois.  One would think that states surrounding Illinois would send the most players; however, the state with the most entrants is New York, with eight.  Michigan follows with five.

The MC has a cap of 250 entries.  With approximately 100 free entries awarded through the spring, there will be 150 paid entries. 

Not all paid entries were taken as of press time.  If you do not have your entry, you are advised to call 708-780-3700 immediately and ask for Group Sales to see if any spots are still available, and to sign up.  You must be registered by the close of business today.  No entries will be accepted tomorrow.

Contestants in the MC are playing for a top prize of $20,000.  Prizes will be awarded down to 20th place, from $5,000 for second place down to $200 for 20th place.  Additionally, three top finishers (2nd-4th) will receive entries (plus travel vouchers) into the Coast Casino’s World Series in Las Vegas next January. 

Contestants have interesting comments to make about their handicapping styles, how they got started in handicapping, what their favorite thing about handicapping contests is, and what they would do if they won the MC.

Al Koper of Chicago Ridge, who describes himself as “Perpetual loser,” claims his handicapping technique is based on “Numerology and watch the crop circles.”

Ralph Lutz of Palos Hills says his favorite thing about the contests is, “I like seeing my name on the bulletin board knowing it’s not for K. P. or guard duty.” 

Joe Scanio of New York explains how he got started:  “I used to hitch hike to Aqueduct and Belmont after cutting school…I used to kid my friends and say my degree was from the University of Belmont.” 

Ken Paszkiewicz of Wisconsin has plans should he win the MC:  “Buy a mobile home and play contests throughout the country.”

Tom Quigley, formerly of Chicago and now of California, owner/publisher of HorsePlayer Magazine, explains how he got started at handicapping:  “My best friend’s father took us to Arlington when I was 13 years old.  I learned handicapping from ‘The Professor,’ M. Scott McMannis.”

Many entrants said they would go to Disney Land/World if they won the MC.  The best answer, however, came from Miguel Perez of Chicago who said, “Go to college.”  Go, Miguelito!

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