Not much fingernail biting needed

Every week, I read about massive sports bets people make. I get jealous when they win. I might even get more jealous when they lose, knowing they are in a position to be comfortable losing gigantic sums. But mostly, reading about horrifically wonderful bets is like window shopping to me: it’s fun to stare and wonder, even though I know I’ll never have that. So let’s look at some fun bets from this past weekend, shall we?

Last week, the William Hill sportsbook at The Venetian in Las Vegas paid out more than $440,000 when a bettor hit a $4,000 seven-team parlay using some huge underdogs. This weekend, it got worse for the same sportsbook, as a customer hit a $40,000, ten-leg parlay to bank $704,072.

This bettor, contrary to the previous one, went with all favorites, most of them very big favorites. All but one was on the moneyline, which made them every more likely to come through. That said, picking ten football winners, even if they are heavy favorites is still really hard. That’s why the person won so much money.

Winning without a problem were Georgia Southern (-410), Nevada (-1000), San Jose State (-800), Wisconsin (-250), and Florida (-900) in college football (lines taken from the ticket posted by William Hill on Twitter). Tulsa was just a slight favorite at -110 over SMU and fell behind by three touchdowns early, but went on a 28-3 run the rest of the way to win it.

The one non-moneyline bet was on NC State -10.5 over the once mighty Florida State. The Wolfpack won 38-22.

But then came the Packers

Seven down, three to go on NFL Sunday. The bettor had the Raiders (-200) and Saints (-430) and both teams won with little struggle (the Saints despite Drew Brees missing most of the second half with broken ribs and a collapsed lung).

That left the Packers, the biggest favorite of the weekend (the bettor had them at -1100 on the ticket) against the Jaguars. As it turned out, the Packers were also the bettor’s biggest sweat. The normally unstoppable offense was disjointed, finally able to pull ahead in the fourth quarter to win 24-20. As a Packers fan, I fist pumped when Davante Adams caught the go-ahead touchdown pass with just a few minutes left, but I would imagine the William Hill bettor was just a bit more excited.

Good game decisions changed betting fortunes

Two individual plays in NFL games also made some bettors extremely happy, while others had to have been quaking. With a minute to play and his team up 10-7, the Browns’ Nick Chubb took a handoff, turned the corner, and bolted down the sideline for an easy 60-yard touchdown to seal the game. But he didn’t. Instead, he intentionally veered out of bounds at the 1-yard line, knowing that all his team had to do was kneel on the ball a couple times to clinch the victory. The Browns were favored by 4.5, so his decision saved some tickets and killed others.

Then there was the Hail Mary touchdown from Kyler Murray to DeAndre Hopkins to win the game for the Cardinals. That specific play didn’t do a lot for bettors, but what came next certainly did. With two seconds left, the Arizona, a 3-point favorite, was now up 32-30. Time to kick the extra point, squib the kickoff, deal with a bunch of laterals, and go home. But no. The Cards opted to kneel on the extra point, rather than risk it getting blocked and run back for a two-point conversion. Those who laid the points with Arizona were distraught, thinking they at least had a push.

Such are the headaches of betting on sports.

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