The Major League Baseball World Series starts tonight, with the Houston Astros as the favorites against the Washington Nationals. On Sunday, the line for the Series at the Caesars sportsbook opened with Houston at -235 to win it all, making the Astros the biggest favorite at the outset of the World Series since the Boston Red Sox in 2007. The Red Sox opened at -240.
Favorite is no guarantee to win
Dating back to 1903, historical figures provided by SportsOddsHistory.com show several teams that were at least -200, but just one opened at -300: The 1990 Oakland A’s. That would also be the biggest upset in World Series history , as the Cincinnati Reds swept the A’s, four games to nothing.
At the start of the season, the Astros were the second favorite, according to SportsOddsHistory.com, +650 to win the whole thing as of March 28th. The New York Yankees, the team the Astros dispatched in the American League Championship Series, were the favorite at +485.
The Nationals were among the favorites at +1600. The team started off ice cold, though, sitting at 19-31 on May 23rd. On June 1st, they were +6250 to win the World Series. Houston had the best odds at that point at +375.
It is no wonder the Astros are such heavy favorites. They were the best team in the league all year, winning 107 games. The team’s hitting is phenomenal and it has the best pitching staff in baseball. It should be a great World Series, though, as both teams have absolutely stacked starting pitching rotations.
Businessman betting heavy on Astros
One bettor, in particular, will be very interested in the outcome of the World Series. Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, owner of Gallery Furniture in Houston, bet $3.5 million on the Astros to win the World Series. He placed the bet at DraftKings sportsbook in Biloxi, Mississippi. He got +220 odds on his bet, made before the playoffs started. He will win $7.7 million if Houston wins.
McIngvale also made a $1.5 million bet at the FanDuel sportsbook in Atlantic City, a $200,000 bet at +250 at South Point in Las Vegas, and other bets at Caesars, MGM, Treasure Island, and Circa sports.
While all of that is a little crazy, there is a method to his madness. They are hedge bets. Throughout the baseball, season, McIngvale has run a promotion at his store in which he promises to refund every mattress purchase of $3,000 or more if the Astros win the World Series. He will owe his customers more than $15 million in refunds if Houston wins. Thus, he bet millions on Houston in order to win a bunch of that money back.
Of course, if Houston loses, he’s out millions.
McIngvale sees the whole thing as marketing.
“I know these wacky promotions like this one, when people get their money back, it’s the greatest publicity I could ever hope for,” McIngvale told ESPN.
He did the same thing in 2017, giving back more than $10 million to customers after the Astros beat the Dodgers in the World Series. He wagered more than $1 million on the Astros that year.