Everyone is looking to not only enjoy watching sports, but make money while doing so. Some people have made a very successful living doing so, while others have lost a ton of money. There are some out there who try to give the best advice they can based on the numbers that are available and the research they have done. Obviously, their picks can go either way, but the picks they make are calculated.
Rico was kind enough to take time out of his very busy schedule to tell us about how he got into sports, how he got into sports gambling, and his involvement with Barstool Sports.
PH: How did you get into sports?
Rico: Sports, growing up in my house, was always an obsession. I think there was a basketball, a baseball bat, and a football helmet in my nursery.
As kids I was lucky enough to grow up where we weren’t in a bubble and allowed to go outside, unlike kids today. So in addition to the organized sports we used to go play, there were games that we organized ourselves.
I remember being allowed to go play hoops in the parks, which is a rarity now. I would ride my bike down and go play pick up with older kids.
I grew up where I heard stories about The Park being where you made your bones. Guys like Blackjack Ryan, Tiny Archibold, Skip to my Lou, etc.
So for me, as a kid loving basketball, the park was the best place to get better. I know it was for many people in NYC also. It’s not anymore. I read an article recently about the death of NYC parks and it’s a shame that whole culture is now gone. No one plays in the park.
Overall, sports, [for] my whole life, has been my only hobby. I don’t care much about anything else as much sports and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
PH: Growing up, who was your favorite team(s) and player(s)?
Rico: I was a tortured Mets fan growing up. I was also a Knicks fan and had the pleasure of seeing them in the hayday. My dad took me to the Reggie Miller game where he scored 8 in 8.9 seconds as my communion present—that was crazy.
My dad was a Jets fan and took us to some crazy games (mostly losses). He also told us he would never let us suffer that torture so he became Giants fans.
As far as players—Ken Griffey Jr was the coolest guy ever as a kid. I respected MJ but hated him because he killed the Knicks. I loved Starks, Oak, and Mason, and Ewing because of how gritty they all were. I also loved Grant Hill.
My favorite college team in hoops was Duke because of him, and then Jay Williams and Battier. When it came to college football the only team on TV in the 40’s for my grandfather was Notre Dame so he taught my dad to be an ND fan, then he taught us. My brothers have been to South Bend. I never have but it’s on my bucket list.
PH: How did you get into sports gambling?
Rico: Growing up in NYC, I guess we were a bit more street smart then the rest of the world as certain things kids know about it at an early age compared to other parts of the world.
I knew about football sheets when I was 7-8. I knew classmates who knew their dad’s box numbers for the Super Bowl at 10. We just kinda knew about that stuff early on.
So when I got to HS there was always some kids taking action and dabbling a bit. Then it happened more and more as time goes on.
My dad had a family friend who used to tell me all about small conferences in college and that’s where the value was. He knew about Big Ben as a sophomore and hammered him before the public did.
I was fascinated by that. That you could find value, etc. I always got more enjoyment out of prepping for a game then figuring out why one side was the smart wager. I incorporated it into how I do things. A lot of that I got from him.
PH: How did you become involved with Barstool Sports?
Rico: I did Barstool Pick’em and put out a feeler for taking calls. A lot of people just said their pick and were dry and boring.
I thought I could separate myself by being a little crazy and making a character out of it so I did. I was a staple on the voicemails every week.
Then I was the only voicemail and then I became a host. It was kind of my plan all along.
A lot of what we do is, yes, for the picks, but we have a blast breaking chops and I think people may even enjoy that more than the picks.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?
Rico: Thanks for the time. My advice in anything is plug away at what you love and find a niche. Eventually you’ll catch a break.