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Full transcript of Edward's appearance on Circle's Off podcast
The interview, Ed's first on camera, lasted a bit over an hour
In his 25-plus years as a public handicapper, Edward has never appeared on camera for an interview.
Edward joined Betstamp’s “Circle’s Off” podcast on Thursday for their 100th episode, where hosts Rob Pizzola and Johnny asked him questions about the RAS service, sports betting and the pick-selling industry.
The podcast, which is a bit more than an hour in length, takes you through Edward’s humble beginnings as a lowly valet placing bets from the parking lot, through his rise as a public handicapper in the late 1990s, to the expansion of the RAS team over the past decade.
You can watch the full episode on YouTube, or if you prefer to listen in podcast form, you can find it here.
We’ve also provided a near complete transcript of the interview below.
Circle’s Off podcast 5/4/23 transcript
Rob: Let’s get right into it. He’s the founder of Right Angle Sports, arguably—I wouldn’t even say arguably—let’s remove arguably. The most respected pick service in the world right now. In my opinion, you hear Right Angle Sports, you know they’re the real deal. The founder joins us today, his name is Ed Golden. I had the pleasure of meeting him at Circa Sports in Las Vegas, the man bought me a classic Reuben sandwich at Saginaw Delicatessen, great sandwich, I got to meet the team. Ed, welcome to Circle’s Off.
Ed: Hey guys, thanks for having me.
Rob: It was great meeting you in person last year, we got to chat, I got to meet members of your team. But for those who are unfamiliar, give us some of your own personal background and how you got started in the betting space.
Ed: Yeah, so my family was into gambling. My dad was a horse player. My brother was betting sports at a pretty young age. I just kinda got into it that way. I was just thinking of a story I could tell, but my first and only job was as a valet at a 5-star hotel. My brother worked there and kind of helped me get the job. I was getting pretty good at sports betting—not great, because I didn’t really know what I was doing—but I was doing pretty well with college basketball and stuff like that. But most of the department was getting my picks. So I was giving picks out to the bellmen, security, whatever, and my brother was going on a trip for a week or a weekend or something, and he said to me, “Don’t give these guys too many picks.” I didn’t know what he was talking about. But I didn’t think twice. I kept giving the picks out. So, I had a pretty good week, and he gets back from the trip and he’s like upset with me. Little did I know he was an agent giving these guys accounts, all these different employees and whatnot. So he was pretty upset with me. But that was kind of the springboard for my giving out picks career.
Rob: Taking money right out of your own brother’s pocket, Ed.
Ed: I don’t know how we got scores in those days, but you can imagine, people running for a car, “NC State’s up by 10!” It was a fun time.
Rob: So at that time, what was the handicapping process like in the early going for you? You said you were working a valet. Were you a statistics based guy? Were you watching the games? What were you doing that gave you an edge?
Ed: It’s a good question. I was watching games. My mom was a teacher and she was getting her master’s at some technology program. So I was lucky that we had the Internet at our house pretty early. That kind of helped me in those early years, being able to research more than you could before the Internet. But yeah, mainly just watching games, trying to—I mean, keep in mind, back then it was a lot easier than it is now. If you bet early in the market, if you were doing college sports, it wasn’t hard to do okay.
Johnny: Ed, did you actually think you had an edge back then? For those of you online who don’t know the year, we’re talking early 1990s, correct?
Ed: Yeah, 1994, 1995. The service started in 1996. I thought I had an edge. Whether I did or not, that’s a completely different question. But again, it was easy, and the markets I was doing were not crazy difficult.
Johnny: What led you to then start Right Angle Sports as we know it today?
Ed: Well, back to the valet. So one day, they call us in, and everyone got let go. They brought in an outside service. So I went home, and I was upset. I loved that job. I was making pretty good money I thought at the time. So then, I started spending more time on sports betting, more time online in communities and stuff like that. That ultimately led to me starting the service. I always look back at that, because if I didn’t get fired, I probably wouldn’t have started the service, at least not at that time.
Rob: Now, when you started the service, was that just you as a lone operator and you were doing everything yourself? Or did you start that with another group of people?
Ed: Yeah, it was completely by myself. I was a shy young kid. I didn’t talk to anybody or network or anything. I knew nothing about that stuff. I was really known for long writeups. I would post these long, detailed writeups on message boards, and that was what started to bring me some notoriety. Because when a game won with a big writeup—whether or not the writeup was good, we can debate—but after the game wins and you read that writeup, you’re like, “Wow!” It really validates more than just a pick.
Rob: So it was a one-man show in the early going. Contrast that to nowadays. A lot of people are familiar with Right Angle Sports, but including myself, I have no idea what your day-to-day operation looks like. I remember when Adam Chernoff joined your team, him describing like his first couple weeks working with you, was eye opening to me. I didn’t really understand the extent of what you guys do. So you started as one (person), how big is the team now, and talk about the evolution over the years. Was it something where you hit a point where it’s like, “We have to expand,” or was it slow incremental growth for your team?
Ed: Yeah, it was a pretty slow incremental growth. Mike-RAS was my first partner, and we kind of took things quite a bit of ways, we had a good run. It slowly got to the point where we couldn’t do all the things we wanted to do with just us. There’s just too many teams, especially with a sport like college basketball, too many conferences. We couldn’t get the necessary level of detail with just two people. So we made kind of a rapid expansion about 10 years ago, where we brought in people who were going to help us organize all the information, gather all the information, and just take it to another level.
Rob: Something I took away from that was you saying, “We want to be able to gather all this information, organize it,” so on and so forth. Would you say most of your edge at RAS, relative to other pick services or market makers or whatever, is coming from your ability to process information in real time?
Ed: Yeah, for sure. There’s two parts to it. There’s getting the information, and then, how do you evaluate it? There’s so many times where two people could read the same article, two people can watch the same game, and come up with a different conclusion. I think we’re really good at that. Experience, I think, plays a big part in it, where we’ve seen this before, or we know that coach isn’t telling the truth or whatnot. So yeah, analyzing information is definitely a strong point of ours.
Johnny: If you don’t mind, can you give listeners a basic rundown of why RAS is different than the traditional pick service in the market?
Ed: Well, we’re a betting group, and I want to say in our history we’ve been more of a betting group than a pick-selling service. So it kind of starts from there. Everything we do revolves around trying to find edges for bets, and the service is a reflection of that. I don’t know if you guys are familiar with the whole “Set Up and Go” method we do (for releases), but the whole idea came from how we bet games with different movers. Our bets have to be coordinated, because if one person bets early, then another mover won’t be able to bet at the same price. So, we wondered if that could work with a big group? We tried it (on the service), and it’s really been the best way we can help the most people get the right price. There’s been an evolution. We’ve done countdown timers, we’ve done all these different things. But this has been, so far, the best thing we’ve ever done. It gives people about 30 seconds to go in their accounts, set up their bets, get all the way down to the final confirmation screen, and then when we say “Go,” all they’ve got to do is take that final step before the line moves instead of having to do that whole setup process.
Rob: It’s gotten so crazy now that people are actually betting the fakes because they see your information as being so valuable that they’re willing to take a shot, basically coin flipping that they’re going to get a great price (by guessing if the next play is a real one). And honestly, I don’t know if you view that as a problem, or if internally you guys are looking at alternate solutions. I don’t know what the solution is, Ed, but nowadays people are really recognizing the value of the service and how much your bets will move the market. And it’s kind of led to this situation where now people are just going on everything. Have you guys internally noticed that? I’m sure you have?
Ed: Yeah, it’s good and bad. I mean, the good is that we can purposefully put opposite stuff in there and get free line moves. The bad is if they’re doing it on a real play, it could move the line faster and hurt customers. It’s a cat-and-mouse game. We’re always thinking of different ways we can do it better. We started doing some opposites where, if it starts moving early, we’ll go opposite. I think that has made people really hesitate. But the real problem is, if you have a real sharp group in there, and they like a play, and their game gets set up, they think they should probably bet it. So that’s something we have to keep dealing with.
Johnny: How are you getting an edge now. The difference between your plays and others in the space as I see it is you’re actually getting closing-line value near 100 percent of the time. It would be a rarity for you to have anything that doesn’t steam immediately. It’s very rare for a play to come back and get negative CLV. So how are you doing it? What’s the secret sauce?
Ed: You know, we’ve got a good team. We have a talented, experienced team, and we work really hard. There’s no shortcuts. There’s no secrets. There’s no secret model. We’re just grinding away like everyone else and we compete. We compete. We try to find edges. And we try to bring those edges to the releases.
Rob: Are you creating a number on a game before you bet it, or is this strictly a process of, we don’t think the market has captured X piece of news, or Y what we’re hearing, or maybe overcaptured something. Because, again, I’m digging as much as I can into the operation. You have a larger team of handicappers. But talk about those handicappers. Are they specifically guys who are saying, “We need to go on this game because the market is not capturing this data,” or is it, “We need to go on this game because I make the line -8 and the market is at -4?”
Ed: Most of the long-term people on the team, when we originate a play, we aren’t originating it from a model number. We’re originating it from a point of, “I think this team’s underrated, I think this team is overrated.” Or whatever it is total wise. Or whatever it might be. And then we’ll look at the models and make sure we’re getting a fair price. But yeah, that’s typically where our origination starts. We have some people who are more math oriented, so I don’t want to speak for the whole team. But for me at least, I’m always starting from where I think the market is off.
Rob: Let’s walk through an example here so the audience has a better idea. Let’s use college basketball. From my understanding, you have multiple people in college basketball, all of them focused on one or two different conferences, trying to get as much news, you can correct me if I’m wrong on any of this. But what’s the process for a release? If one of your handicappers in the Sun Belt says, “I have a great play,” do they have the autonomy or the authority to release that play themselves? Does it filter in through a team? Does it filter in through you? Who ultimately gets the final say? Walk us through how that would come to be.
Ed: Yeah, that’s a really good question. There’s mainly six of us that I would call the decision-making team. We usually start with a pretty big list overnight or the night before. If it’s a big card, the list could be 20 or 30 plays. We’ll kind of rank them on how strong we think each one is. By the time you get to the morning with all the line moves, that 20-play list might be 12, it might be eight, it might be six plays. At that point, we’ll take a vote on what we think should be released. We’ll have everyone do a top 3, or whatever the number is. There’s some cases where someone really likes a play and says, “This has to be released.” Or “this is an easy decision.” Or whatever. That happens. But usually we try to be as consensus as possible unless someone has just really strong conviction on a play, then surely that will get through.
Rob: In the decision-making process, walk me through the process of deciding, OK, we’re going to release this, versus we’re not going to release this. Does it have to do with the amount you can get down on a specific bet? How does that come to be? Because obviously it’s a balancing act from what I understand. You do have your service, you want to maintain the reputation of the service, you want it to win in the long run for everybody that’s following it. But on top of that, you are a betting group, you said it yourself, so how do you balance both of those? What ultimately goes into saying we’re going to release this game or we’re not going to release this game and we’ll just bet it ourselves?
Ed: If you look at the history of the service, there were a lot of years where it’s pretty obvious our focus was on betting. There were years where we didn’t release any totals on the service, there were years where we did 2nd halves only. We always start the service and stop the service at different times so there’s more opportunity for betting. But in recent years, we’re pretty much all in on the service. We’re trying to get our best stuff on the service. We think that’s where the most upside is. So the only real determining factor now is, do we think we have a winning play? We’re going to try to release our best stuff.
Rob: Fair enough. In terms of the upside of the service, is that because it’s tougher to get down nowadays? Like, you lose accounts quicker, or what? What goes into the determination that the service has more upside?
Ed: It’s really just a math problem. Let’s say we have 100 customers paying us $50 per pick. We make $5,000 per pick. Let’s say we have an EV of 10 percent. We’re going to have to bet $50,000 on a game to capture that same amount of expected value. We could do that, but it’s not easy. It’s pretty difficult, as you know. But where’s the upside? Is it going to be easier to scale that pick to $10,000 per pick, or easier to bet $100,000 per pick? In college basketball, it’s not that easy to bet $100,000 on something at the price you want, as I’m sure you guys are aware. So we just feel there’s more opportunity right now in growing the service than growing our bet size.
Johnny: What percentage of your user base do you think actually gets the bet in at your release price?
Ed: We do a lot of surveys with our customers and we try to talk to them as much as possible. I think it’s pretty high. It’s probably somewhere in the 80 percent to 90 percent range. We always recommend people refund their subscription—we offer pro-rated refunds at any time—if you can’t get the line. We say, if you’re not getting the line, then don’t subscribe. Because if you’re not capturing the value there’s no point in paying for it. But another thing I would say, it’s hard to get our lines, it’s hard to deal with all the steam and all that stuff. But the easier it is to bet something, the less likely it is to win. The more likely you are to win, the harder it is to bet something. That goes for pretty much all of sports betting, it’s pretty much a general rule. So like, I’d much rather be on the it’s-hard-to-get-the-line side than betting on something that’s less likely to win.
Johnny: Do you think it’s profitable to buy back on RAS releases and make money (in cases where the line perhaps steams too far)?
Ed: I don’t think you can do it blindly. Obviously we’re wrong on stuff, and there’s going to be lines that move too far. But I think there’s just as many that maybe don’t move enough. If you have the skill set to be able to identify which games we’re wrong on, or which games moved too far, or the ability to time the market perfectly so you’re betting at peak, if you have that skill set, I think you can probably find something better to do with your time than trying to fade RAS. That’s just my opinion. I don’t recommend fading as a blind strategy.
Rob: Out of curiosity, have you guys ever played back on one of your releases? Is that something you guys consider doing? Or do you think it would be a bad look, releasing both sides of the same game?
Ed: I can’t say we’ve never, ever done it, but it’s very rare, and usually only when there’s new information.
Rob: I’ve been on Gambling Twitter since 2010, so 13 years now. I can say I’ve learned a lot of things, specifically from Right Angle Sports, through your Discord channel as well, from the people that communicate in there. But a lot of it personally came with some trust issues or some pause because there’s this subsection of the Gambling Twitter space or the community that frankly constantly shits on you. Whether they don’t like you, or because of your attachment to selling picks, or whatever. Do you feel the tout service undermines your credibility, and if so, and if you ever do have that feeling, does it bother you, or is it something you can just let slide?
Ed: Obviously it bothers me. You’ve seen all my tweets and different discussions I’ve engaged in. But there’s so few absolutes in betting. You hear people say, “Don’t do parlays,” or “Don’t bet -200 favorites,” or “Don’t buy picks.” And I can go on and on. “Don’t watch people on YouTube.” Whatever it is, there’s just always people who can’t fathom that something like this can possibly exist. I mean, I get it. I get that there’s skepticism and a lot of it is well deserved especially in the pick-selling industry. But there’s just no absolutes, that’s all there is to it.
Rob: I’ll speak to it specifically, one of the beefs I’ve seen with you before is with Rufus Peabody in particular. I feel like over the years people have softened their stance toward you a little bit. Do you feel the same way? I feel it was more treacherous water years ago and now it’s changing.
Ed: Well, I think (Rufus) kind of did me some favors with the whole Unabated thing and the ETR golf product and all that kind of stuff. But no, I think it’s definitely becoming more accepted now. People are paying for tools, arb sites, paid Discords, it’s becoming a lot more common. One of the things that does kind of bother me, or I don’t think enough credit is given, but basically there’s a lot of people out there who live on these reputations of, “Oh, well he’s a successful professional bettor.” I’m not saying who is or isn’t, but when do you see these peoples’ bodies of work for public consumption? At least with us, there’s a large part of our body of work that is out there for the public, and we have to kind of prove ourselves every season, every week, to keep that reputation going.
Rob: Makes sense. It’s a fair assessment. One of the advantages to running a legitimized pick service is you have documented record keeping for many years, and you are able to hang your hat on that, and you can go back and say, “Here’s proof that I am who I say I am.” There are bettors in the space, who probably do win, but don’t have that to fall back on. To say, “Hey, I’ve done this for 10 years quite successfully.” I mean, sure, I can show a bank account or a crypto wallet or something like that, but you actually have that to fall back on. I think that’s an inherent advantage.
Ed: Right, and how many times do people ask, “Has RAS lost their edge?” I probably get that question three times per year, 10 times per year, whatever it is. But when do you—and I don’t want to get into names, but when do you ever hear “Has this person lost their edge?” or whoever it is. You don’t get that because they’re not performing for the public. And just one last thing, it’s trivially easy to lose in private. You lose in private, you go to bed at night, no problem. Losing for people, or publicly for the whole world watching, it’s a lot more difficult.
Johnny: One thing I wanted to ask you about before we move on, it’s another RAS criticism here. The RAS team recently launched and then later scrapped a props service. Ed, what the hell happened? You’ve got to give us the rundown here.
Ed: Yeah, it’s tough. I don’t want to get into too many details, but we met this props team, we watched their work for a good amount of time, they had their own private little Discord, the work was impressive. I still think they win, they won for I want to say well over a year before we went public with their picks, their free picks won, and they just hit a really bad streak. It ended up losing maybe 15 units total. Believe me, it was frustrating, and they were frustrated, and it was a bad experience.
Rob: I have a couple things I want to ask about this. First, how do you make the decision to cut that off? I’m sure that was weighing on you, and I know you don’t like anything with the service losing. From everyone I’ve talked to before meeting you, Ed, or interacting with you, what everybody told me is Ed takes this very seriously. He takes winning very seriously. He hates losing. So, how long do you let that go on? And there’s gotta be something in your head that says, this has got to turn at some point, do we just keeping going with it? Just walk me through, because I’m sure it was weighing on you, and I’d like to hear from you just how much it was weighing on you and what ultimately led you to the decision of saying, “We just can’t sell this anymore.”
Ed: Well, it definitely weighed on all of us a lot. And I think the biggest thing for me was just the timing of it. College basketball is our busiest time of year, it’s when we make all of our hay really, and so that was really the final factor for me. If this was the summer, maybe we keep it going, let’s whatever. But right in the middle of the college basketball season, we have to take our lumps, call it a day, and focus on what we normally do.
Rob: A lot of people thought Johnny was the RAS props service. You should let the audience know just to clear Johnny’s name. Because people, still to this day, thought it was him that lost those 15 units.
Ed: To my knowledge, (Johnny) was not involved in that team!
Rob: Was there ever a time along the way, 1996 to 2023, it’s 27 years now, where you felt like you lost your edge, or you were slowly losing your edge? Was there ever any point where it was like, “This might be it for us in sports betting.”
Ed: Multiple times per year, you wonder if you’ll ever win another game. And we have some pretty negative people on our team who are known for their negativity—and as a strength. But you know, you always have doubts, and things like that. But no, you just have to persevere. You can look at things. Sometimes we ask ourselves, do we have to look more at this, do we have to release earlier, whatever it might be. So sure, I’ve had doubts. But we’ve been fortunate. We’ve never really had a prolonged downswing. We’ve had downturns, but they’ve been relatively short. I think we’ve been fortunate to be consistent overall.
Rob: How can a casual bettor, an average bettor, evaluate a pick service or other pick makers in the space? Let’s say you were going to go out and purchase a pick service of someone else. What would be some red flags of things that you would certainly say, “I don’t want to buy picks from this person,” or things where you always look for on the check list where you say, “I need to check this off before I’d consider giving this person my money?”
Ed: That’s a good question. I think it just starts with, what gives the person an edge? I’m sure you get a lot of messages and DM’s, people that want to work for you, or with you, freerolls, or whatever. And almost all the time, they can’t get past my first question: What gives you an edge? They just, they don’t even know. Whether they have one or not they don’t know how to answer the question. Just give me something. Like, you beat the market to injuries. Or you line shop. There’s got to be something that is giving you an edge. So I think, that’s the first thing I want to know, is what is this person doing to give them an edge? Is it a model picking up something? Are they projecting tempo better than everyone else? Are they specializing in a league or conference that not many people are? I want to know what is giving them an edge. That’s the most basic thing. There’s so much stuff out there now where you see all this pick content, predictions, picks, these writeups that people put out there. It’s not just bet percentages, it’s not just that. It’s usually one of two things. It’s something the market already factored in, or it’s something the market doesn’t care about. So, like, I’m looking for something the market cares about that isn’t factored in.
Rob: I want to get into some things that I think are red flags and you can tell me if you agree or not. For me … I feel like I have an innate ability to scan someone’s Twitter timeline and in 10 tweets tell you if that person is a winning or losing bettor. That’s just from my experience in the space. But for me, one of the biggest giveaways is the actual timing of the bets themselves. So sometimes, and I’ll just give a clear example. LeBron might be out, the market steams, and someone gives that out 30 minutes after it steams. To me, that’s just a dead giveaway. So for me, I mean, definitely the writeup stuff you mentioned—you’ll see the trends, exactly like you said—but I think people can learn so much just by understanding the timing of the bet itself and what that says about someone giving out the picks.
Ed: Yes, and that’s also an indicator of if you can even follow the pick. If someone is releasing early in a market, they’re more likely to be winning, so that would catch my interest more than someone releasing into something that is more or less unbeatable. So I think that’s a great point.
Rob: If Pikachu is out there ragging on someone for releasing overnights, that person is probably winning. It’s like whenever the sharp community gets mad at someone for releasing bets early, or saying why are you posting that, that’s probably a good sign that person is tailable. So these little things with how people interact with one another. But I also wanted to specifically ask you about Betstamp … when I first joined, we had this initiative in place, we were going to reach out to every pick service we can, every one, and try to on board them onto Betstamp to track. I would say we had a very low success rate with doing that. But you were immediately one person who said, “Sign me up, let’s make this happen.” Why was that so important for you to have some sort of third-party verification.
Ed: It’s just obvious. You want to be able to point to a verified record. If you go to any tout website, it’s going to say that you win. No one is going to say they don’t win. So if you can say you win, and also have proof, I think it goes a long way toward your credibility. So we use Betstamp and we’ve benefited from it.
Rob: You’ve always been a pretty quiet, behind-the-scenes kind of guy. I remember when I first met you, I was talking with Jeff, within your team, and I mentioned potentially having you on Circle’s Off. And I don’t want to misquote him or anything, but it was along the lines of, “Ed’s probably never going to do that,” type of thing. And here you are, on Circle’s Off, episode 100. What has made you become more of a public figure in recent years?
Ed: This is my first time ever being on camera for any kind of content. He wasn’t wrong there. But I mean, it’s just where things are going. We brought on Adam Chernoff and he’s done a lot of good content for us, and we can see the kind of impact it has on our business. If it works, we’ll keep doing more of it, so yeah, I have to get out there a bit more.
Rob: I’ve been a part of forums in the past, different Slacks in the betting space. Typically speaking, these tend to devolve into people hating and absolutely destroying each other on a daily basis. One thing about your Discord in particular, I won’t say never because there are heated arguments. But for the most part, things are constructive in there. So first and foremost, how have you guys been able to accomplish that in this space, for one, because honestly I didn’t think it was accomplishable for a long time—especially putting a lot of sharper bettors in the same community. And two, let people know how they can be involved and be a part of it.
Ed: Yeah, it’s BettingTalk.com. It will take you to the Discord link. We started during the pandemic, I think that’s something that got off the ground. There’s communities within the communities. There’s people in the politics channel who are in there all day, people in the golf channel. Then you have us in there giving free picks and stuff like that. Elihu Feustel is in there dispensing knowledge, he’s super sharp. Eddie Walls is in there. There’s a lot of good people in there contributing. To be honest, once sports started back up and we got back in the swing of things, we didn’t spend as much time in there as we wanted to or hoped to. But we were surprised it was able to sustain itself and keep going and keep growing without much interaction from us. We’re embarrassed at how little we go in there sometimes. But it’s been fun, it’s been good.
Johnny: How do people sign up for the service?
Ed: We don’t have anything going on right now. (Update: Yes we do! Click here.) We’ve done some USFL free picks in the Discord the last few weeks, we’ll probably do some WNBA. We don’t have any products up yet for next year, we’re still putting those together to see what they’ll look like. But we’ll have NFL, college football, college basketball. Hopefully in the next month or so we have something up.
Johnny: Our closing question, it’s the same one we ask all our guests. If you could go back five years and speak to a previous version of yourself, what advice would you give?
Ed: I’ve been thinking about this, and the easiest answer would be I wish I had gotten a bigger kiosk network going. I feel we didn’t take advantage of that as much as other groups did.
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