ESPN’s strength has long existed in its live broadcasts, with sports and pseudo-sports that appeal to almost any fan. From Monday Night Football to Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest, ESPN has it all. But if you’re not also paying attention to ESPN’s original series and documentaries, you’re missing some impressive content. ESPN+ gives viewers a chance to catch up on series like 30 For 30.
One of the latest original series on ESPN+, Bettor Days, may not carry the wide-based appeal that the ESPN Michael Jordan documentary, The Last Dance, did in the summer of 2020, but it includes all of the outstanding storytelling and interesting subject matter that make the majority of ESPN original series so cool.
What is Bettor Days About?
You may be able to tell from the odd spelling of “bettor,” but Bettor Days focuses on interesting stories from the world of sports gambling.
Each episode tells a different story featuring a gambler and an event, so you don’t necessarily have to watch the episodes in order.
Plenty of Humor
With ESPN personality Mike Greenberg as the host and executive producer, you may expect the series will contain a mixture of humor and serious storytelling, and you would be right.
Ask any serious sports gambler for a funny story about a wild bet with a buddy or about cashing a winning ticket thanks to a last-second crazy bounce, and they’re sure to have several such stories. So the subject matter fits the type of storytelling that is occurring in Bettor Days.
Bettor Days Format
As an added element of the show, when Greenberg sits down with the bettor who is telling the story, Greenberg has not heard the story previously. (The producers of the show have vetted the bettors and their stories, but Greenberg has not.)
So in addition to the humor found in each story, Greenberg’s raw reactions to some portions of each story will have you laughing along with him one minute and shaking your head in disbelief the next minute.
As the bettor is telling the story, the ESPN producers intersperse some reenactment video of the story. Some of these reenactments enhance the humorous nature of the story, while others add to the information being provided. (Think Drunk History, but a little less out of control.) A few of the Bettor Days reenactments are a little silly or cheesy, but they are a key part of the show.
Bettor Days First Episode Review
The first episode focuses on horse racing betting, where a gambler named “Steve” went through the emotional rollercoaster of a potentially monstrous payday during the 2019 Kentucky Derby, where one of the favorites, Maximum Security, appeared to win the race.
However, after a 20-plus-minute deliberation among the track’s stewards (or judges), they disqualified Maximum Security, leaving massive longshot Country House as the unexpected winner. It was the first time in Derby history a winner suffered a disqualification for a foul during the race.
We will not spoil the episode and tell you which side of the wager Steve landed on, but we’re sure you’ll feel some of the same yo-yo of emotions he had on that day.
Football and basketball gambling stories follow in other episodes.
- Short run time: With episode running times between 14 and 17 minutes, the storytelling is tight, and the episodes move quickly, keeping you entertained.
- Plenty of humor: You’ll remain entertained throughout the entire episode with just the right amount of humor added.
- Raw reaction: The show’s host does not hear the gambler’s story before the show, so you’re seeing his real reaction to what he’s hearing, which allows you to feel like you’re part of the story, as the host may ask the same questions you would.
- Not relatable: The majority of viewers probably have never had a chance to win such a large bet, so they may struggle to relate to the story, as may viewers who have no interest in sports gambling.
- Better questions: Would the show have a better line of questioning if the host was able to prepare more for the interview? Maybe, but this format is so tight that it’s difficult to nitpick here.
Gambling is an important aspect of modern sports, and it is growing in popularity. Whether you’re a fantasy football player, you enjoy filling out an NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket at the office, or you spend time in a sports book, you know that gambling on sports can lead to some crazy situations.
Capturing the stories behind these situations is an interesting idea for a television show, as long as it’s done right, and ESPN+ seems to have found a compelling formula with Bettor Days.
With the short run time, you can stream multiple episodes in less than an hour, so you don’t have to dedicate an entire day to the series. By the end, you won’t ever look at the process of making a wager at a sports book or with a trash-talking friend the same way.