A Betting Man
by Kara Wahlgren, Penthouse, April 2014
High-rolling, high-energy betting consultant Steve Stevens is the heart (and mouth) of CNBC’s controversial new reality show Money Talks. Behind the scenes, he’s Darin Notaro, a Las Vegas-bred family guy with a checkered past, whip-smart business sense, and a wealth of internet haters.
Darin Notaro is a fast talker. That’s not to say he’s a swindler; he literally talks at a rapid-fire pace, like someone who just chugged six Red Bulls. But that frenetic energy actually bellies a restrained betting philosophy. While his competitors throw money at several games a day, Notaro zeroes in on what he knows best and rarely wagers on more than a handful of games each week. He credits that disciplined strategy with his sky-high hit rate – consistently higher than 60 percent, with the occasional week of 80 percent accuracy.
Some have called that an unbelievably high hit rate. When the first trailer for Money Talks hit the web last year, it caused an onslaught of vitriol from sports-betting bloggers who declared Steve Stevens a fraud. They’d never heard of him. They said his hit rate inflated – like, trillion-to-one-odds inflated. They claimed that Steve Stevens might actually be – spoiler alert! – an ex-con named Dairon Notaro, who once spent time in federal prison for a lottery scam targeting seniors.
Notaro shrugs off the noise. “Everybody knows I’m Darin Notaro,” he says. “It’s not even a secret. Steve Stevens is my persona when I’m at work. That’s the name I’m licensed to sell under in the state of Nevada. It’s like Superman- when I go to work, I get into the phone book and I turn into Steve Stevens.” As for those who say he’s more scam artist than superhero, Notaro says, “Anybody that’s blogging, that said anything bad about – that’s guys in industry who are jealous as hell of what I’ve accomplished, and these people want to be me.”
Suffice to say, Notaro doesn’t pull many punches – hell, he brought up his prison stint before we did – and he opened up about his new show, what his past taught him, and how he turned his love of gambling into a lucrative career, bringing the billion-dollar sports-betting world into the limelight.
Penthouse: For those who aren’t familiar with the industry, what exactly is a sports-betting consultant?
Darin Notaro: I’m no different from a stockbroker. I’m selling information; I’m selling tips; I’m telling you who to be on. I’m not a bookie; I’m a bookie killer. My job is to show people the formula for success, how to bet the right way, with money management and discipline.
P: How did you get started in that?
Darin Notaro: Man, I’ve been picking games and betting parlays out here in Las Vegas since I was 12 years old. But my first job was telemarketing. I was a real good salesman, but the company I worked for ended up getting shut down by the police. Due to the fact that I was one of the salesman, I ended up getting in a little bit of trouble with the law. A year in jail is a lot of time to reflect. I realized I’m not a bad person – I was just in the wrong business. So I took my focus as a salesman and my love for gambling, and put the two together, and I’ve been making people money ever since.
P: Is that when you started VIP Sports?
Darin Notaro: Correct. I’ve been doing it for 18 years. I had a passion for sports betting way before that, and I was real good at it. I guess you could consider me the Sam Rothstein of Casino, the new Lefty Rosenthal. I’m my own source. I win games. Call it lucky, call it what you want – just don’t call me a loser, and definitely don’t call me broke.
P: What’s the difference between Darin Notaro and Steve Stevens?
Darin Notaro: Steve Stevens makes the money; Darin Notaro spends it. Darin Notaro loves his family, loves his girlfriend, loves to come home and eat a homecooked meal with his family, watch a little TV, swim in the pool, hang out, and relax. Steve Stevens is a high-strung businessman who comes into the office, motivates his salesmen, and give it 110 percent during work… I just turn into this beast.
P: Speaking of family, you just had a baby in October. What has the adjustment been like?
Darin Notaro: It’s absolutely changed and saved my life. It puts everything in perspective. At my age [Notaro is 40], being born and raised in Vegas, I’m kind of burnt out on going out anyway. So now I’ve got something else to live for. It’s not all about me anymore; it’s all about him. I come to work for him now, not just me. I’m not selfish too much anymore.
P: Will your son be on the show?
Darin Notaro: Of course! Dom is actually born on the first episode. You get to take a guy who you see as rough and hardcore drop a tear in his first episode. Man, it was the best day of my life.
P: What else can we expect?
Darin Notaro: It’s going to take you into the world of sports betting and show you that there’s somebody out there who can actually do it the right way. You’re going to see the highest of the highs; you’re going to see the lowest of the lows. I’ll give you an example: A guy bets $30,000, we got to a bar, I take him out to dinner, and I’m sitting right next to him when he loses. It’s not a comfortable situation when you meet a client and he loses that type of money, if you know what I mean. On the same token, you get to see the highest of highs – you see a guy bet $20,000 and win.
P: How do you deal when someone bets a ton of money and loses?
Darin Notaro: As long as you win more than you lose, it’s all about money management and discipline – one game a day, betting the same amount of money on every game. That’s pretty much the key to success in this. When you lose, that comes with the territory.
P: Are there any misconceptions about your job that the show will clear up?
Darin Notaro: What I’m going to teach America is the difference between a bookie and a sports consultant. I want to make that very clear. I don’t take your money; I’m the one who tell you who to bet on. A lot of people consider me a bookie because they don’t know what I am.
P: How close to reality do you expect this show to be?
Darin Notaro: The show is 110 percent reality. There’s no faking wins when you really lose. It’s a day-to-day operation, and what you see is what you get. I’m putting the “real” back in reality. This isn’t the scripted, fake BS you see everywhere else.
P: Floyd Mayweather is a friend of yours, and the production team behind his 30 Days in May special is working on your show. Did Floyd give you any advice for being on-camera 24/7?
Darin Notaro: Yeah, he said, “You’re a star; you’re definitely going to shine. Be yourself, and everything else will come your way. Don’t let that negative press hold you down.” And I don’t. These guys that were blogging, talking shit about me – they’re the same guys who have a website that has a picture of them sitting in front of the Las Vegas Strip, talking about their 70 percent, and these guys live in fucking Wisconsin. Now, who is the fraud? I’m born and raised in Vegas. I’m actually doing what these guys say they do. I’m giving this industry an adrenaline shot.
P: What’s your success rate?
Darin Notaro: I hit between 60 to 68 percent all year. But this business isn’t about percentage; this business is all about net profit. Let’s say I give you three games: I give you one for $5,000 that loses, another for $5,000 that loses, and another for $20,000 that wins. So your record was one win and two losses. That’s, what, 33 percent? But you still made $10,000. So it’s all about net profit and money management. It’s all about betting less games for more money. I play one game a day, for or five games a week. People in my industry play three games a day, 21 games a week – and 9 out of 10 times, they lose their bankroll. If you don’t have money management and discipline, you can’t continue.
P: What advice would give someone who’s never bet outside of an office pool?
Darin Notaro: I would show them how to take $1,000 and break that down, betting $300 a game. Take it slow and build a bankroll. I would show them the discipline of playing one game a day, and not every day.
P: Anything else we need to know about the show?
Darin Notaro: I’m going to put a smile on people’s faces so wide they could eat a banana sideways. You’re in for one of the most exciting characters you’ve ever seen. CNBC toned me down big-time, and you’re going to see a lot of excitement. People can see Las Vegas through somebody who’s actually born and raised here, instead of three Playmates at the Palm driving liquor and having sex with each other. No one wants to see that shit anymore. You’re going to see it from my eyes, and I hope everyone enjoys it.