The Baltimore Orioles’ win over the Houston Astros Sunday was certainly unexpected, but the scale of the surprise only becomes apparent when you look at the odds.
According to ESPN, some sportsbooks listed Baltimore as high as +420 underdogs before Sunday’s game, with the runaway Astros putting Justin Verlander on the mound against the hapless Orioles. That would be the largest upset dating back to 2005, according to archived odds from BetLabSports.com.
The Astros, meanwhile, became only the second favorite of -400 or greater to lose in Major League Baseball over the same span. The Minnesota Twins lost to the Washington Nationals in 2007 in a game in which the Nationals were +390 underdogs.
No matter how you look at it, the odds indicate this was one of the biggest upsets in baseball in the last decade and a half. It required a walkoff home run in a three-run bottom of the ninth to happen, and that came after a massive blunder that justified Baltimore’s underdog status.
The happiest non-member of the St. Louis Blues over the team’s first Stanley Cup championship in franchise history might very well be Scott Berry.
Berry is a Blues fan who wagered $400 on the Blues to win the Stanley Cup back in January when the team had 250:1 odds to win it all. Thanks to the long odds, that $400 turned into $100,000 when the Blues beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7.
He put $400 on the @StLouisBlues to win it all back in January, tonight that ticket could pay off to the tune of $100,000. Living and during with each second…Scott Berry, is what’s you’d call, a believer. #StanleyCup pic.twitter.com/7dZ8APougK
— Will Ujek (@WillUjek) June 13, 2019
Berry could have guaranteed himself a profit by selling his betting ticket and hedging by also wagering on the Bruins to win it all. Instead, he refused to hedge because he was more concerned with sticking behind his Blues.
“I feel like I’m in this with the team, and I don’t want to lay any of it off,” Berry told ESPN this week. “I put the bet down in January for $400 to win $100,000. That was the bet. … I’m very superstitious and don’t want to ruin any juju.”
Berry’s faith in his team paid off. They took a 3-2 series lead, lost at home in Game 6, and then won on the road in Game 7.
Here’s how his celebration looked.
HE DID IT! Scott Berry, who put $400 on the #STLBlues to win the Stanley Cup back in January, can now cash his 250-1 ticket for $100,000!
He did not hedge.
He did not waiver.
And now, he's $100k richer,
— Rob Edwards (@RobertDEdwards) June 13, 2019
There were plenty of people who thought Tiger Woods would never win another major championship, but the 43-year-old had no shortage of confident supporters heading into the Masters this year. For evidence of that, all you have to do is follow the money.
Nick Bogdanovich, the director of trading at the William Hill US, said after Tiger won the Masters that Sunday was the “biggest golf loss ever” for the sportsbook. One bettor won $1.19 million after betting $85,000 on Woods, and there were plenty of others who took home bundles of cash.
The bettor @WilliamHillUS who put $85,000 on Tiger Woods to win the #Masters2019 won $1,190,000. Per Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill's Director of Trading: “It’s great to see Tiger back. It’s a painful day for William Hill – our biggest golf loss ever – but a great day for golf.”
— RotoGrinders Sports Betting (@RGSportsBetting) April 14, 2019
At 14-to-1, Woods was tied for the third-best odds to win the Masters before the tournament began. Rory McIlroy was the favorite at 8-to-1, and Dustin Johnson was slightly better than Tiger at 13-to-1. Barring an injury or some unforeseen circumstance, that is not going to happen again.
Based on what Johnson and others said about the support Tiger got at Augusta National, it’s no surprise he had plenty of financial backers as well.
As soon as Texas Tech beat Michigan State on Saturday to reach Monday’s national championship, many began wondering what the total would be for the game. After all, Texas Tech and Virginia are two of the best defensive teams in the country, not to mention low-tempo squads.
Well, the initial lines set by oddsmakers have met expectations.
SportsBetting.ag lists Virginia as a 1.5 point favorite over Texas Tech for the national championship. More importantly, they have the total at 119 points, which they say is the lowest ever for a national championship game. The previous low total (of over/under lines set since 1991) was in 2006 when Florida and UCLA had a 128 point total.
The total is the amount of combined points expected to be scored by the teams participating in a game. Gamblers bet whether the total points scored by the teams will be greater or less than the line set by oddsmakers.
Even though this is a record low total, don’t be surprised if the teams still come in under that mark.
- NCAA Tournament 2019
A new provision as part of Major League Baseball’s new gambling partnership has annoyed at least one manager.
Last November, MLB made MGM their “official gaming partner” as sports betting becomes increasingly legal and accepted in the United States. Peter Gammons of MLB Network reports that one part of that deal is causing annoyance for some managers: daily lineups must be passed on to the Commissioner’s office first, before the media or the team’s PR department, so that they can be passed along to those setting the odds.
Per MLB's gambling deal, managers have been told their daily lineups must 1st go to Commissioner's Office, not to PR, not to media. "I'm really bothered by this," one manager says. It's OK to not field he best team, for service time reasons, but lineups 1st must go to Vegas.
— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) March 6, 2019
This is just one example of the minor issues that will come up as professional sports further embrace gambling. The windfall to leagues will ensure it’s worth it, but those involved in the sport may run into some frustrations like this one.
Kentucky failed to cover the spread in their win over Texas A&M on Tuesday night thanks to an incredibly bad beat.
The Wildcats were favored by anywhere from 12-15 points depending on where and when someone bet on them. They were leading 85-71 and were all set to cover for most bettors until a bizarre sequence took place.
Kentucky’s Jemarl Baker Jr. rebounded a Texas A&M miss with around 34 seconds left and the Wildcats were set to dribble out the clock. Right as Ashton Hagans threw the ball up in the air to celebrate victory as the final second was counting off, the shot clock expired. The referees gave the ball to the Aggies with 0.8 seconds left, and Savion Flagg heaved a half-court shot that went in.
Kentucky & Texas A&M with a bizarre ending even though Kentucky won 85-74. Kentucky tosses the ball straight up to end it but the shot clock goes off. A&M hits a halfcourt shot off the inbounds to beat the buzzer.
Bad beat? pic.twitter.com/sZKfQeWb2B
— CJ Fogler (@cjzer0) January 9, 2019
Just like that, Kentucky went from covering most bets to winning just by 11 points, 85-74, and failing to cover.
The injury to Sebastian Janikowski had some serious consequences to those who bet on Saturday night’s NFC Wild Card playoff game between the Seattle Seahawks and Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas went up by two scores late in the game on a Dak Prescott 1-yard touchdown run to make it 24-14 with 2:08 left. At that point, most Cowboys bettors were feeling pretty confident about the 2.5 point spread.
Instead, some late-game magic changed things.
Russell Wilson quickly found Tyler Lockett for a 53-yard pass play to put Seattle at the 13. Then after that, Seattle scored on a 4th-and-4 play with 1:18 left. Because Janikowski was injured, Seattle went for two in a situation where teams almost always go for the extra point. The Seahawks walked in for an easy 2-point conversion to make it 24-22.
The 2-point conversion was actually Seattle’s second of the half, as they also made one in the third quarter to take a 14-10 lead. If Janikowski had not gotten hurt, you can almost be certain the Seahawks wouldn’t have attempted the 2-point conversions, meaning their backdoor cover would not have happened.
Our thoughts are with you, Dallas bettors.