Welcome to another edition of The Social Media Player Profile. This week we are shining a light on a very unique voice in the social media and sports handicapping landscape, Monique Vág (@Parlayqueen) Monique’s work can be found on many sports handicapping platforms, but most notably on Covers.com posting a ton of free video content and most notably horse racing handicapping and prop bets on America’s Best Racing. Monique has been a voice within the social media gambling community for years and has a background in sports handicapping, horse racing, and just about anything else you can think of.
1.For readers who may not be familiar with your work, can you give us a background on yourself and how you got started in sports and horse racing handicapping and where it all began for you, as well as your current take on the temperature of social media?
Handicapping is something that I pretty much grew up with. I grew up in a household with huge sports fans and was raised in a super competitive environment. I think I was about 18 when I started taking handicapping horses seriously. There really is no comparable thrill to watching a race and seeing your horse at top of the stretch in striking position to win. Aside from just the thrill, I think there’s a serious art to studying past performances and dissecting races, and that aspect additionally drew me in.
No two races are the same, no two tracks are the same, and there’s always a different angle or approach to take. There’s also a level of creativity in constructing bets which I appreciate. Continuing with the idea of creativity in betting, I’ve been obsessed with prop wagers recently. The lines aren’t usually as competitive and you don’t necessarily have to keep up to date with movement of totals, and I like that you don’t have to be on the right team or spread to win – instead you can just isolate a player to have a big game or capitalize off a game state bet.
Social media is a wonderful platform for sports betting as it allows for open faced discussion with likeminded individuals. While I’m often exceptionally stubborn in taking someone’s word on a game without doing sufficient research of my own, debating games is definitely something I appreciate. Sometimes just having a conversation can open your eyes up to an entirely different angle or approach which you might not have initially noticed. There are sports I definitely feel more comfortable discussing and teams I’d argue I have a better feel for than others, and so sharing insight and in turn, receiving it from others is something I truly enjoy. Given that, handicapping through social media seems like a natural fit for me.
2. There are truly so many unique things about you and your handicapping. The obvious one is that you are a woman in what some would call a man’s world. There are very few women in this game, and even less that don’t flaunt it the way you do.
The thing I love most about your work is that you don’t try to shove it in peoples faces that you are a woman in this racket like some do, but it’s obviously a part of what you do. Does one, the temptation to ever go that route come up for you, and two, do you find it difficult or easier to be a woman in sports handicapping and sports handicapping media?
I really appreciate the kind words! In terms of my own progression through sports betting I’ve tried to grow a following very organically and through the most authentic way I possibly can. I think that helps in the sense that it’s rather uncommon a derogatory comment arises. At the end of the day, if you’re confident in what you put out then sexist remarks or people doubting your ability as a handicapper is merely background noise. While it’s a male dominated industry, gender doesn’t give you an edge in choosing winners. You’re rewarded the exact same way based on the hard work and research you put in. I’m not oblivious that my gender has helped garner opportunities, but opportunities are one thing, as it’s what you do with them which really matters.
3. You’ve become well known for your videos on Covers.com that are shared via your social media and are available on Covers, but you have done work for so many different sports handicapping media outlets on all different platforms. What is your favorite style to use to share your posts and views on specific topics? (video, twitter, podcasting, etc) And do you like the freedom of being able to post a ton of different places, or are you looking for one long term outlet to use going forward?
Covers is my main outlet to get content out to the general public. To be honest, I’m pretty introverted personality wise, so I’ve always felt much more comfortable through writing. English was one of my majors in my university days so I think being able to fluidly express thoughts through text are one of my strengths. Aside from just purely textual analysis, I like podcasting a lot because it’s structured in the sense that there’s an outline and I find the chemistry between a knowledgeable guest and a great host appealing. I like how you can feed off others energy and bounce off ideas.
Due to how different handicapping varying sports are, I think it’s tough to have one long term outlet which places adequate emphasis on each individual sport. Obviously during post seasons there’s a lot more attention paid to particular sporting events, but having the freedom to post elsewhere and adhere to different markets and demographics is something I do enjoy.
4. So, not only are you involved in all sports of sports handicapping, but you also are a huge horse racing handicapper. How did you get started in that and what do you love about it? Do you love Sports handicapping or Horse racing more?
As I touched on earlier, I grew up with both sports betting and horse racing so I’ve always had the best of both worlds going on! I started taking horse handicapping really seriously when I realized knowing how to read a racing form is one thing, but being able to dissect that knowledge and derive your own conclusions is a whole other. It’s hard not to love how incredibly different each race on each day at each track is. It’s great that going to the track is an experience where you don’t necessarily have to force action on each race and that you could just enjoy the environment. While the potential payouts in racing make it very tempting for me to choose as my favorite, it’s definitely sports handicapping which is my biggest love.
5. One question we always ask the people we interview for this series is that being a picks provider, you open yourself up to a ton of, lets just call them trolls. How do you deal with them. Also, are your picks free or paid, and how do you feel each style deals with the public (paid/free)
There are different approaches I take to trolls depending on my mood. Either kill them with sarcasm or kill them with kindness. Haha. You can’t constantly defend yourself if you provide a losing pick, so as hard as it is to ignore the criticism sometimes, there’s really no other option.
All my picks are free and I’ve never wanted to do it any other way. I love betting in-play as you are often given a glimpse into how the game is playing out and you’re able to capitalize off momentum or situational events like injuries or careless turnovers. I try to provide a rationale behind my picks rather than just giving out a bet. I think sometimes you can be totally right on game state but not on the spread you’ve provided and I think even if your pick is wrong you kind of hedged your play a little bit if your analysis is astute.
6. Another question we always ask is the difference between using alias’ on social media (Twitter/Reddit etc) Vs. using your real name. Obviously you have chosen to use your real name, The theory from most people is that if you just want a less demanding aspect and anonymity is to use an alias, but if you are working towards something, getting picked up by a mainstream outlet(s) it’s better to use your real name. Did you ever face this decision or did you always know you wanted to go ahead with your real name/identity on social media in sports handicapping.
Obviously if using your real name could cause problems with your career or if a future in sports handicapping isn’t something you want to pursue, I totally understand using an alias. I’ve always felt people around me have been really supportive of whatever I’ve wanted to pursue in life so I’ve never thought of hiding my name or writing purely under an alias. I was lucky enough to have had a career in sports betting pretty much fall into my lap during college (thanks Covers!), but I think if you present yourself in a positive manner and put forth quality work then the field or topic you’re writing about doesn’t necessarily matter so much as the value of the product.
7. Do you have any goals as to where you want to take yourself as a brand or person in the future, and what do you feel is the current temperature of social media regarding handicapping?
I would say my goals are to continue to put out content which I’m proud of. I’m always open to opportunities and new projects as they often act as great learning experiences within the field as well as provide internal growth which I’m a huge fan of.
Gambling has always been one of those hot and cold topics where there are often preconceived notions attached and a stigma that’s hard to escape. I would argue it’s becoming a lot more of a social norm with the emergence of March Madness pools in the office, not only having to wager purely on sports with entertainment or presidential props, as well as DFS and the popularity with that. I can’t help but assume the future is bright in terms of handicapping within social media and outside of it.
8. What is the current temperature of Canadian betting being that it’s somewhat legal, and can you talk briefly about the differences of Canadian betting vs. Offshore and what you prefer?
The best part of handicapping in Canada is how convenient it is. You could walk in to your local corner store or gas station anywhere lottery is sold and place a bet on most sports events. While the bets used to be very simplistic with just sides and totals, now there are prop bets you can parlay or single bet outcomes, as well as pools where you can select the straight up winner in events.
While a lot of my friends bet through bookies, I’ve never really felt the need to. I spread my action through mostly two books – Bet365 and Sportsinteraction, where the payouts are done straight to my bank or through iDebit or InstaDebit. I like that everything is logged under bet history and events are always available with up to date odds, lines and in-play wager options, something you don’t always get from a bookie.
9. Finally, where can readers find all of your work to follow you?
For the most part my work can be found on social media through my Twitter handle (@ParlayQueen). I retweet everything.
For more of the journalistic and written content, searching “Monique” on Covers.com will pull up articles or the link is here:
Click Here To See Monique’s Covers Work
My weekly best horse bets are found on Americas Best Racing, Here