I kind of feel bad for the Kansas City Chiefs. They won their first Super Bowl in 50 years and nobody is talking about them. The only thing from the Super Bowl anyone seems to want to discuss is the halftime show and OH THE OUTRAGE of two grown women choosing how they want to perform. And while I was entertained by both the game and the Shakira/Jennifer Lopez halftime show, what I want to talk about is the gambling. Super Bowl Sunday is god’s gift to sports bettors and every year, there are stories that come out of the day that make me happy I don’t bet on sports. Take poker legend Doyle Brunson, for example.
Doyle was confident
On Sunday, just before the game started, Brunson tweeted that he had been piling money on the San Francisco 49ers. All told, he wagered $175,000 on the NFC Champs.
San Francisco entered the game as a slight 1.5-point underdog to Kansas City (this line may have varied slightly depending on the sportsbook). Brunson did not reveal if he bet on the Niners straight-up or with the spread, but it didn’t matter.
Kansas City won, 31-20.
Brunson was likely a happy camper for quite some time. San Francisco was up by 10 with less than 10 minutes left, but KC rattled off three straight touchdowns in the fourth quarter to run away with it (literally – the last touchdown was a long run when the Chiefs were just trying to burn clock).
Before Brunson revealed his bet to the Twitter world, he tweeted that he has placed a wager on every Super Bowl ever played. The game dates back to 1967 when the Green Bay Packers beat, coincidentally, the Kansas City Chiefs. His smallest bet was $20,000, with the largest topping out at $200,000.
“Texas Dolly” said he usually bets on the underdog, but that $200,000 bet was on one of the biggest favorites in Super Bowl history, the 1985 Chicago Bears. The Bears were 10-point favorite against the New England Patriots in the 1986 Super Bowl. Chicago crushed, 46-10, so no matter whether he played the moneyline or the spread, Brunson had a good day.
The true bad beat of the Big Game
The most significant betting story surrounding Super Bowl LIV, though, had nothing to do with any poker players. Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the eventual Super Bowl MVP, is known as a very athletic quarterback, able to use his feet to get out of trouble and pick up first downs. Of the many prop bets available for the game was the over/under on how many rushing yards Mahomes would accumulate.
Depending on when and where a bet was placed, bettors could get an over/under anywhere from 27.5 to 36.5 yards. Mahomes had 44 yards going into his team’s final possession. They already had the game locked up, so it was just a matter of kneeling on the ball to end the game. But rather than dropping straight to a knee, Mahomes backed up several yards on each of the last three plays. The result was a total loss of 15 yards, which counts against his rushing stats. It caused most people who bet on the over for his rushing yards to lose.
It was a giant victory for sportsbooks. William Hill U.S. told ESPN.com that of all the prop bets it offered, the most money was wagered on the over for Mahomes’ rushing yards.
Jeff Davis, director of trading for Caesars Sportsbook, told ESPN, “That was close to a six-figure swing [in favor of the house].”
PointsBet said it took in more than twice as much on the Mahomes over than on the under. The sportsbook helped out its customers, though, refunding all bets on Mahomes over 30.5 rushing yards. Typically, a kneel down results in a loss of zero or one yard.