As we wrote last week, a Vegas Golden Knights Stanley Cup victory would be great for all of Sin City … except for the sportsbooks.
After running up a 3-0 series lead on the Los Angeles Kings, the Golden Knights are now co-favorites with another semi-recent expansion team, the Nashville Predators, to win the Cup at 4/1 odds.
But will they sweep?
While the Golden Knights are now Stanley Cup co-favorites, Vegas does have them as slight underdogs to finish a series sweep Tuesday night at +105. Hey, they’re on the road. But concerns about whether or not the Golden Knights’ blitzing, fast-paced style would translate to post-season play have seemingly been put to bed.
How big of liability are the Golden Knights?
While a Golden Knights Stanley Cup win would be on par with a bad NFL weekend for sportsbooks, some individual liabilities do stand out.
The biggest, according to William Hill, would be a $7,100 wager placed in January of this year that would pay out $46,150. In total, William Hill took 183 bets at 150/1 and 36 wagers at 200/1. Of the 200/1 bets, they did take a $100 wager at a potential $20,000 payout.
A lot of bets are coming in on the outcome of each Golden Knights playoff game, too.
Our most bet game yesterday was Knights/Kings. First time I recall a 1st rd NHL playoff game out handling every 1st rd NBA playoff game. No surprise that the Golden Knights did it. (Of course it was also our biggest loss of the day).
— Jason Simbal (@jsimbal) April 16, 2018
So what happens in Vegas isn’t always good for business.
The Golden Knights have taken over Las Vegas. The entire city has embraced their improbable expansion season run at a Stanley Cup.
Except for the sportsbooks.
A Golden Knights win is VERY bad for business
Whether or not a Golden Knights Stanley Cup win would rank among the greatest longshot wagers in sports betting history remains to be seen, but local bookmakers are not among those rooting for a title run.
According to the LA Times, preseason Golden Knights title odds were as high as 500/1 at some casinos. As the season went on, the odds kept lowering as bets (and wins) kept piling up like William Karlsson goals.
Now, the Golden Knights sit between 6/1 and 9/1, the among the best overall odds to win the Cup.
— PropSwap (@PropSwap) April 11, 2018
How bad of a loss would it really be though?
If there’s a silver lining for the casinos, it’s that people don’t bet the NHL like it’s the NFL or even NBA.
A Golden Knights win would be like a bad NFL weekend for the books. It’ll hurt, but not “slapshot-to-the-face” bad.
Tiger Woods didn’t win the Masters.
Las Vegas sportsbooks rejoiced.
Sports bettors did not.
Bettors Would’ve Blitzed Books with Woods Win
Jordan Spieth’s final round surge and Rickie Fowler’s near miss could’ve proved costly as well. Both were among the most wagered golfers for the tournament.
The leaderboard at times was littered with betting favorites across the board, from Rory McIlroy to Jon Rahm and Justin Rose.
Reed Rises to the Occasion
Instead, fan favorite Patrick Reed, he of 40-1 odds and 40” waistline, held off all-comers for the win.
Despite going to college at both UGA and Augusta State, Reed’s win was considered downer for the locals and mainstream golf fans.
Bookmakers though were doing awkward golf fist-pumps and high-fives over the victory.
William Hill US is offering NFL draft props for the second straight year.
It’s a brilliant idea.
Why wasn’t this done sooner? Anything that can make hours of Roger Goodell’s monotone, robotic and laconic delivery more exciting is a major positive.
As a UGA grad and major SEC snob, seeing specific props on the DAWGS’ running backs was encouraging:
Player to be drafted first:
- Sony Michel (+110)
- Nick Chubb (-130)
While Michel had a stronger senior year, take Chubb there. He’s going early second round. Michel seems like a Patriots style second-round pick as well.
Also, the line on Alabama players drafted in the first round is on point:
Number of Alabama players selected in Round 1:
- Over 4 (-110)
- Under 4 (-110)
General rule of thumb: always take the Over on QBs and Alabama players drafted in Round 1.
Unfortunately, there are no odds on how much of a bust Josh Allen will be. Set the line at “Historic Bust.” While some team like the Bills will draft him 7 rounds higher than they should, his advanced stats suggest he’ll be a Ryan Leaf-er (and Baker Mayfield is almost a sure-fire success).
What could’ve been…
Speaking of Ryan Leaf, The Lines would be remiss not to mention the fun we could’ve had if William Hill offered NFL draft props years ago. Who goes first: Manning or Leaf. How high will Laremy Tunsil be before the draft? Over/under on SEC first-round draft picks 28.5 (basically every year).
Let’s hope the draft props trend continues through the NBA draft in June.
The Masters starts tomorrow. And bettors are losing their minds.
Some oddsmakers have put Tiger Woods as co-favorite with Jordan Spieth at 10-1.
Peak Tiger Woods is the best golfer of all time. He had a late 80’s Mike Tyson effect on the opposition. His dominance on Sunday, particularly when he had a lead, was unparalleled. He freaking won the US Open in 2008 with no knee ligament and a broken leg.
However, Tiger Woods is in his 40s now. He hasn’t won a major since George W Bush was President.
Still, having Woods as a favorite makes golf, and The Masters, a lot more interesting. Tiger Woods is like the DFS-effect on golf, only magnified and more exciting.
But 10-1? Seriously?
True story: It was April 1997, Sunday morning. I woke up after a fraternity party at UGA, called up a buddy who was an avid golf fan, and said, “Get up, drink some water, we’re driving to Augusta and watching history.”
When we got there, we hiked to the Augusta National entrance and waited. Local Augustans usually leave the Masters early on Sunday to watch the final round at lawn parties on a TV. We bought two day passes from exiting Augustans and made our way into the hallowed grounds.
As we walked up to the first fairway, a roar came. No, it wasn’t for the two hungover college kids walking up. Tiger Woods’ tee shot rolled right down the fairway right to where we were. I looked to my left, there was Tiger’s mom and half-brother. We ended up walking all 18 holes with them as Tiger broke records for his first Masters victory.
The crowd that entire 18 holes was giddy. The energy was off the charts. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced at a sporting event. Tiger has that impact on crowds. He’s to golf what Ernie McCracken is to bowling.
So of course he’s a Masters betting favorite.
But Is He a Good Bet?
Tiger Woods is my age. He hasn’t won a major since 2008. That’s *math math math* 10 years ago.
I’m not saying Tiger won’t win or can’t win. I’m saying having him as the favorite isn’t a good bet.
But it doesn’t matter. Tiger makes people lose their minds. And it makes The Masters exponentially more interesting.
Long live Tiger.
With 11-seed Loyola-Chicago just missing becoming the biggest NCAA Tournament longshot to win a title, it got us as TheLines thinking: “Well, who are the biggest longshots in sports betting history?”
Not all longshots are created equal. Some of these selections were no-brainers, etched in gambling lore forever. Others were a little more under-the-radar, but still bore note-worthy significance.
10. 2011 St. Louis Cardinals at 999-1
With 15 games left in the 2011 season, the St. Louis Cardinals were 4 ½ games behind the Atlanta Braves for the National League wild card spot. Las Vegas sportsbooks had them listed at 999-1 to win the World Series. Then Atlanta collapsed, the Cards went 11-4 in their final 15, and won the World Series over the Texas Rangers. While it takes a lot to make baseball exciting and interesting, a 999-1 run does the job.
9. 1999 St. Louis Rams 300-1 to win Super Bowl
Let’s keep the list in St. Louis. While some would think that the 2001 Patriots would’ve been the worst pre-season Super Bowl odds to win a title, they were actually 60-to-1 and only the seventh worst preseason odds to hoist the Lombardi. The 1999 version of the team they beat for the Super Bowl that year, the St. Louis Rams, claim the honor for biggest pre-season Super Bowl longshot to win it all.
For historical context, the Rams of the late ‘90’s were bad. Awful. Turrrible, as Charles Barkley would say. Their star free-agent QB signing, Trent Green, suffered a season-ending injury before week 1, so grocery bagger Kurt Warner took the reins. What happened next? The Greatest Show on Turf and an unlikely Super Bowl.
8. 2000 Olympic Wrestling Rulon Gardner at 2,000-1
Remember Rulon Gardner? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
Rulon was a Greco-Roman wrestler who went up against all-time great Alexander Karelin in the 2000 Summer Olympics. Karelin hadn’t lost in over a dozen years, and Gardner never finished better than fifth in international competition.
So obviously Gardner captured Gold at 2,000-1 odds.
Gardner gave MMA a shot four years later in PRIDE, but retired after one fight. Karelin went on to help Russian influence the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.*
* Ok, he went on to a career in Russian politics, so basically the same thing.
7. 2007 Stanford vs USC
Dubbed “The Greatest Upset Ever,” Stanford was a friggin’ 41-point underdog to a[nother overhyped] USC juggernaut.
Under Jim Harbough’s stewardship, Stanford won in the final minute 24-23 when Redshirt sophomore Tavita Pritchard, making his first career start, connected with Mark Bradford on a 10-yard touchdown pass. This was Stanford’s first lead of the game.
Stanford and Harbough have independently had a good run of success since then. USC had one more season of glory in 2008 before falling behind the SEC for college football supremacy.
6. 2007 Appalachian St. vs Michigan
Ok, even though Stanford vs. USC is called “The Greatest Upset Ever,” earlier in the 2007 season (Week 1), Appalachian St. REALLY shocked the world as a -33 point underdog.
Michigan was ranked fifth entering the season, Appalachian St. was a Division 1-AA team. No Division 1-AA team had ever beaten a Division 1-A team like Michigan. Until Appalachian St.
Michigan went on a spiral downward, eventually hiring The Greatest Upset Ever coach Jim Harbough to bail them out as head coach in 2015. Appalachian St. became a Division 1-A team in 2014. So it was kind of like the Circle of Life.
5. 2009 Kentucky Derby Winner Mine that Bird 50-1
Mine that Bird had everything going against him: a crappy name, good but not great bloodlines, no testicles, and 50-1 odds.
However, Mine that Bird overcame it all to have a fairly remarkable racing career. The gelding that was bought for only $9,500 amassed over $2.2M in earnings.
How surprising was Mine that Bird’s back of the pack to 7-lengths victory? Even the announcer didn’t know what was going on.
4. Buster Douglas at 42-1 KOs Mike Tyson
Now we’re getting into rarified air.
By odds alone, Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson in Tokyo, Japan in 1990 is far from the greatest longshot victory. However, it doesn’t seem that way now.
Douglas was an undecorated unknown. Mike Tyson was Mike Fucking Tyson. He was 37-0 with 33 knockouts. He did this to other heavyweights.
Buster Douglas had nearly 7 years of age and 4 more losses on Tyson. Regardless, despite getting knocked down in the 8th round, Buster rallied and ended the era of Tyson with a 10th round knockout. Tyson was never the same as a boxer. Douglas was never again relevant after losing his next fight to Evander Holyfield.
3. Leicester City 5,000-1 to Win 2015 Premier League
At the start of the 2015 Premier League season, perennial relegation-candidate Leicester City opened at anywhere from 2,000-to-1 to 5,000-to-1 dogs to finish atop the table. In a weird season that saw typical favorites Manchester United, Liverpool and Chelsea finish 5th, 8th, and 10th respectively, Leicester went on an improbable run to claim their first Premier League title. Teams like Leicester City simply didn’t win Premier League titles. And yet, they did.
Lucky punters who rode with the Foxes at thousands-to-1 odds were celebrating like Zlatan Ibrahimovic after his first MLS goal.
2. New York Jets +18 Super Bowl III
Again, it’s not ALWAYS about the spread. While being an 18-point underdog is enormous, what the Joe Namath guarantee and New York Jets win did for the NFL and Super Bowl in general makes this longshot matter more.
Would the NFL still have grown to be the biggest American sport? Absolutely. Would their ratings still be improved with legalized sports betting? Absolutely again! But did Namath’s guarantee and signature dropping of the mic #1 field walk-off moment help speed up the process? Maybe.
If nothing else, it certainly trumps his Suzy Kolber moment.
1. U.S. Hockey 1,000-to-1 1980 Winter Olympics
Do you believe in gambling miracles???
If you don’t know the story of the U.S. Hockey team’s improbable victory in the 1980 Olympics then you’re either not American or you were born after Yo Gabba Gabba! went off the air.
But did you know they were 1,000-1 to win Gold?
From the improbability of scruffy college kids beating the best hockey players in the world to the Cold War importance of that victory to the absurd odds, there is no greater longshot.
The Ringer recently featured an article on PredictIt — a “prediction market for politics.”
The site basically offers prop bets between two people that an event will or won’t happen. Peruse through PredictIt and you’ll see:
- Will Mark Zuckerberg testify to Congress before June 30?
- Will Kim Jung-Un be North Korea’s leader at the end of 2018?
- Who will be the 2020 Democratic nominee?
- Will the U.S. government shut down PredictIt by April 2018?
Kidding about the last one.
Um, so isn’t this basically sports betting?
Seems that way. Betting big on a government shutdown isn’t much different than say, betting $2,000 to win $26 on an NCAA tournament game.
Although, oddly, a PredictIt wager on Trump tweeting actually seems like a safer bet.
The old Bodogs (now Bovada), Paddys, and other bookmakers have gained good PR off of these more everyday props for years. However, they’re still props, and whether the wager is against the house or a peer, you’re making a bet.
So yes, this is basically sports betting. And it’s open for business in the U.S.
PredictIt is based in New Zealand
Having attended eight years’ worth of Chuck E. Cheese and Dave & Buster’s birthday parties, the trend of “wow these kid arcades sure are increasingly looking and feeling like slots” has been upward spike trending. It’s like if cigarette companies openly and aggressively marketed to children back in the day.
Oh shit, that really happened. Never mind.
Iowa is debating whether or not to let the aforementioned Dave & Buster’s set up shop in their state. A bill passed to allow it, but the concern is over prize limits awarded by these totally benign, not-gaming-like-at-all machines played by kids young and old.
Amusement concessions = gateway drugs?
The crux of the Dave & Buster’s debate centers on amusement concessions and if that constitutes an expansion of gambling. Amusement concessions are essentially the prizes you can redeem from tickets won at a machine. Iowa law prohibits concessions over $100, but D&B has high-value prizes like iPads, free buffets and show tickets to the original line-up of Kansas!, and gaming consoles that go up to $1,000 in value.
Sen. Robert Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids and of no relation to “crisis actor” David Hogg, thinks these $950 amusement concessions are a “slippery slope,” stating if Iowa isn’t careful these types of establishments will be:
“…on every corner in every city and every town in this state. We need to think about this. This is not something that we should do.”
Wait, Iowa loves gambling
Regardless of if D&B is expanding gambling by offering amusement concessions, Iowa actually is legit trying to expand gambling with their sports betting bill.
Iowa just wants to give the people… give the people what they want. That should be part of their state slogan. It fits right in with their current “Fields of Opportunity.” Because nobody loses gambling, right?
The NCAA men’s basketball schedule is increasingly becoming like this SNL skit. The old rules don’t apply. Seeds are irrelevant. Everyone’s bracket is busted. When it comes to the NCAA Tournament, what really matters anymore?
Vegas Gonna Vegas
ESPN Chalk detailed some of the variant action from this past weekend of madness. Suffice to say, Vegas did well.
- Twelve-seed New Mexico State had 81% of action with William Hill against 5-seed Clemson. Clemson won that game, covering the spread, and then went on to have the biggest smackdown performance of the tournament in the next round vs. Auburn.
- Teams with the most bets or total money placed to win the tournament included Arizona (out in Round 1) and Michigan State (Round 2).
Then there were backdoor covers that crushed hopes and dreams in the final minute, like this:
The best bettor video of the Kansas cover beat from last night. Jayhawks are 4.5 point favorites. Seton Hall hits 3 at buzzer to make it a four-point final (via @MikeVanErmen, @DavidPurdum) pic.twitter.com/MBiqsuzYuV
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 18, 2018
Yes, many sports bettors had a rough weekend. Las Vegas in a sense did too. It’s estimated that Vegas will only see 3% of the $10B wagered on the NCAA tournament.
Still, that doesn’t hurt as bad as the person who wagered $2,000 to win $26 when Cincinnati was a 99.9% favorite to win their game with 11 minutes left.
Or anyone who had Xavier at -12 in the first half and had to live through this:
This is the worst push I’ve ever seen. Xavier -12 first half line pic.twitter.com/lL74O9WEhU
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) March 17, 2018
Nothing is sacred, nothing matters, and no spread is safe. It’s truly March Madness.
UCLA. UNC. Kentucky. Kansas. UMBC.
The University of Maryland Baltimore County Retrievers shocked the world Friday night by becoming the first NCAA tourney #16 seed to upset a #1 seed (in this case, an utterly shell-shocked Virginia).
The Retrievers were a -20.5 dog (+2000). Fortunes could be won or lost with those odds.
Fortunes Won: UMBC $800 Moneyline
Some lucky punter laid down $800 on the moneyline at the Venetian for a $16,000 payout. You could buy about 20 golden retriever puppies with that score.
— Jason Simbal (@jsimbal) March 17, 2018
Fortunes Lost: UMBC Cost a $20,000 Parlay
Vegas doesn’t exist because people win +2000 moneyline wagers left and right. On the other end of the spectrum, some poor guy had his $20,000 moneyline parlay busted by the bracket-busting Retrievers.
Reminder: The Retrievers are the team name from Maryland Baltimore County, the school you never heard of before Friday night.
The $20,000 parlay would’ve netted $870.
Totally worth it.