If you’ve had a drink in Hoboken in the past 20 years, 3:1 odds is was served by Wayne “Bubba” Salvatore, or by someone who has worked with him.
A longtime friendly fixture of the local hospitality scene, Salvatore also has years of experience as a golf caddy. Over those years, he has learned quite a bit from these two unique fields of endeavor. Luckily for us, he is taking his duly acquired knowledge and parlaying it into the burgeoning LEGAL sports gaming industry—with a little help from his friends.
As host of the weekly podcast “Picks From The Yard,” produced by Van Vorst Films, Salvatore and a slew of guests impart their voluminous wisdom on the betting scene—analyzing the match-ups week after week and vigorously debating their stances. Meanwhile the numbers don’t lie, as he and his guests have racked up some pretty solid stats overall.
To celebrate the conclusion of the NFL season, Picks From The Yard will be hosting a LIVE podcast this Thursday night at Carpe Diem Bar & Restaurant (1405 Grand Street, Hoboken).
We caught up with Salvatore to get a little background on the podcast, his credentials and to get his input on the big game this weekend…
hMAG: How long have you been… umm… “interested” in the sports gaming field?
Wayne Salvatore: My story starts out innocently as I’m sure many have. I got a summer job in 1984 as a caddy at a local country club. As a rookie (or “rabbit” in the caddy world) you are usually picked last for work as the golfers prefer the more experienced guys. This means you spend a lot of time in a waiting area known as the caddy yard and the caddy locker room known as the Caddyshack (that sounds familiar).
Caddies range in age from 14-70 so there were a lot of dubious characters who I spent many a summer with in my teens. I was not naive to gambling as we had learned to play Michigan Rummy for pennies in our house from the time we could hold a deck of cards—it was supposed to help us with math! It was in the caddy yard that I was asked to play a weekly pool picking the NFL games. Little did I know where this fun weekly game would take me…
Soon there were friendly $20 wagers on games which inevitably led to someone telling me they knew “a guy” if I wanted to place more bets. I can’t get into details, but my weekly love for action was born. I was happy to be rid of my “guy” as offshore accounts became an option via the internet, and now the birth of the golden age of sports gambling is here with legalized betting in Jersey and other states!
h: Now that it’s legal in New Jersey, how has the accessibility changed gaming?
WS: Bringing sports gambling out from the shadows has made it much easier to place a bet, for starters. Now anyone can do it, as long as they are physically located in New Jersey and 21 or older—before this summer, you had to have a local bookie or use an offshore website, both options that were sketchy at best.
Won $1,000 in a crazy parlay? Good luck getting paid by that casino in Barbados. Now you can make deposits and get paid almost instantly via Paypal.
It’s also much easier to learn about gambling. The biggest change I’ve noticed is the amount of people casually chatting about it. It’s no longer taboo to talk about it and a secondary market has opened up for podcasts like ours that advocate betting on sports and provide some education to those who want to learn.
h: Tell us how Picks From The Yard came about.
WS: Picks from the Yard started as a web series back in 2011 while I was working as a caddy up in Bergen County. In the weekly football pool, I started the season on a hot streak and was bragging in the caddy yard. The yard is where you sit and wait to be chosen for a “loop” (one round of golf). I was mouthing off, saying it wasn’t fair how much better I was at picking games and that I should share my picks online to give everyone else a chance to win. My boss offered to film it and a web series was born. There are 100 episodes of me picking 5 games a week over 5 seasons interspersed with some sketch-comedy-type footage. I only had one winning season. On our website picksfromtheyard.com, we have a link to the web series and we embedded some of our favorite episodes.
After retiring the web series in 2016, Will Clegg at Van Vorst Films suggested that we try it again as a podcast. It has been a lot of fun working in this new medium, and we had a great season this year, ending up 67-41-3 against the spread for the regular season.
h: Who are some of the guests you’ve had on the podcast?
WS: We have a core group of guys including my brother Richard (“The Math Whisperer”), comedian Jim Dodge and local celebrity Bill Lesko who have been on the program a lot. We try to bring in one new “challenger” a week to keep things spicy and hear new voices. This first season featured mostly friends of ours from around town, including storyteller extraordinaire Adam Wade (who went 3-0). We are looking to book some big names for season two and beyond – former ballplayers, radio and podcast personalities, and gambling experts.
h: What sports do you cover?
WS: We primarily cover the NFL and we sprinkle some NCAA football action in as well. We have a segment on professional soccer each week and once the NFL season is over, we plan to do some March Madness specials for NCAA basketball. Then we will have some monthly special episodes on how to bet all the sports: NBA, NHL, MLB, soccer, tennis, horse racing, maybe even more exotic options like sumo wrestling. If you can bet on it, we’ll cover it at some point.
h: Tell us about the live show on Thursday, January 31st.
WS: The live podcast at Carpe Diem on January 31st is a chance for listeners to engage directly with the show. We’ll have a small party to celebrate the end of season, make our Super Bowl prop picks, get some feedback directly from our fans, and finally, pick the winner of the Super Bowl. We’ve had a great run for the first season and we want to go out with a bang before we start planning for season two! There will be some free food and drink specials and guaranteed good times.
h: Who is winning the Super Bowl, and by how much?
WS: You’ll just have to come to the live podcast or listen to the recording to find out!