Sports

Notable bets: ‘By far our worst Sunday of the season’

Texas A&M’s upset of Alabama produced the biggest win of the college football season for sportsbooks, and Tyson Fury knocking out Deontay Wilder in a thrilling heavyweight title fight capped a lucrative Saturday for bookmakers.

Sunday was a different story.

“Today has been by far our worst Sunday of the season,” John Murray, executive director of the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN on Sunday night.

Craig Mucklow of Caesars Sportsbook said his book lost seven figures on Sunday: “Not horrendous, but not great,” he wrote in a text message. “We can’t win ’em all. We would have no customers if we won every week.”

So, get out the tissues and prepare your sympathies, as we dissect how the sportsbooks took it on the chin in this week’s Notable Bets.

NFL Notables

· Favorites went 10-4 straight-up and 8-6 against the spread Sunday. There were nine overs and five unders.

· Books got crushed on the Packers’ 25-22 overtime win over the Bengals. Here’s why: Professional bettors jumped on the Bengals when they opened as 3.5-point underdogs, eventually driving the line down to 2.5 by kickoff.

Meanwhile, the betting public loaded up on the Packers. At DraftKings, 87% of the money wagered on the spread was on Green Bay. At PointsBet, there were more bets on the Packers minus the points than there were on any other team. The action was lopsided on Green Bay everywhere.

So, when Green Bay kicker Mason Crosby, who missed three straight field goals earlier in the game, finally connected on a game-winner in overtime, the books lost all the bets to the professionals who took the Bengals +3.5 and also all the bets from the public on the Packers -2.5.

“We got middled,” said Jeff Stoneback, director of BetMGM sportsbooks in Nevada. “There was that earlier money on the Bengals, and then the public late today and yesterday was betting the Packers -2.5.”

“It’s been a strong Sunday for bettors, with Crosby, in particular, eventually, doing the public a favor and getting the Packers to cover -2.5, the most popular bet of the early slate,” said Jay Croucher, head of trading for sportsbook PointsBet.

“The Bengals outright could’ve really helped us limit the damage,” Murray of the SuperBook said.

· Caesars Sportsbook reported taking six bets of $500,000 more on Sunday games:

$600,000 on the Buccaneers -600 money line (Won)
$550,000 on the Buccaneers -550 money line (Won)
$500,000 on Eagles +3.5 (Won)
$500,000 on Broncos -1 (Lost)
$500,000 on Vikings -7.5 (Lost)
$500,000 on Bengals +3 (Push)

· “We had some house players [casino VIPs] post monster numbers this weekend,” Murray said.

· The Titans covering the spread in a 37-19 win over the Jaguars was the second-best game for the betting public.

· The three early games that attracted the most-lopsided point spread action (money wagered) at BetRivers sportsbooks were: Buccaneers, Titans and Packers. All three covered the closing spread.

· The point spread on Browns-Chargers opened as low as pick ’em. The Chargers closed as consensus 2.5-point favorites, and the line was very much in play in the final minutes, with the Browns leading 42-41.

With less than two minutes left, the Chargers were in position to drain the clock and potentially kick the winning field goal. Austin Ekeler chose to slide down after picking up a first down, instead of scoring a touchdown, on a run that set up the Chargers at the Cleveland 3-yard line with a 1:38 to play. The Chargers tried to take more time off the clock on the next play by handing off to Ekeler, but in an effort to get the ball back, the Browns held him up and pushed him into the end zone for a touchdown. Cleveland failed to score on their final possession, and the Chargers covered the spread in a 47-42 win.

· The betting on Bills-Chiefs was very balanced. Two hours before the primetime kickoff, Stoneback said MGM sportsbooks in Nevada had just 12 more bets on the Chiefs than the Bills.

College football notables

· Alabama closed as a 19-point favorite heading into its loss to Texas A&M, making it the second-largest upset in Nick Saban’s coaching career. The Crimson Tide were 24.5-point favorites in a loss to Louisiana-Monroe.

The Crimson Tide’s defeat was especially costly for a bettor at Caesars Sportsbook who placed a $569,738.60 three-team money-line parlay on Ohio State (-1,600), Cincinnati (-7,000) and Alabama (-1,000). The bet, which was the largest college football wager this season for Caesars, would have paid a net $105,656.

The Aggies’ upset led to seven-figure decisions in favor of the house at Caesars Sportsbook, according to Mucklow.

“Texas A&M [winning] outright was our biggest win of the college football season to date,” Murray said. “So many money-line parlays and even a lot of straight money-line bets on the Crimson Tide.”

“We won as much on the first half as we do on a very good result in any college game,” Stoneback of MGM said. “They just kept betting Alabama in the first half, which has been popular the last couple years. We probably won as much on the first half as we did on the game overall.”

· Updated odds to win the national championship via Caesars Sportsbook:

UGA +140
Alabama 2-1
Ohio State 9-1
Oklahoma 14-1
Iowa 20-1
Cincinnati 25-1
Michigan 30-1

· Notable opening lines from Circa Sports, which posts the first weekly point spreads and totals in the U.S. at 11 a.m. PT on Sundays.

Auburn at Arkansas -4, 55.5
Ole Miss -4, 85.5 at Tennessee
Alabama -15, 52.5 at Mississippi State
TCU at Oklahoma -12, 66.5
BYU at Baylor -3, 49.5
Oklahoma State at Texas -6, 65.5
UCF at Cincinnati -16, 56.5

· “My updated line would be Georgia -3 over Alabama.” — Matt Metcalf, sportsbook director for Circa Sports.

What were the odds?

+950: Texas A&M’s odds at PointsBet to beat Alabama when the Aggies were down 38-31 with five minutes left in the fourth quarter.

+850: Oklahoma’s odds to beat Texas when trailing 41-23 late in the third quarter, according to PointsBet. The Sooners outscored the Longhorns 32-7 from that point for a dramatic comeback.

+155: Deontay Wilder’s odds to win Saturday’s heavyweight title bout after knocking down Tyson Fury twice in the fourth round, according to Circa Sports. Those were Wilder’s shortest odds of the fight, which generated significant live betting interest.

“This was one of our largest in-game [betting tallies] in terms of handle for combat sports we’ve ever had,” Circa Sports risk supervisor Nick Kalikas told ESPN. “Ended up being a decent night for us overall.”

-5,000: Fury’s live odds entering the 11th round at Circa Sports. Fury knocked out Wilder in the 11th round.

Fury-Wilder notables

· The Fury-Wilder fight attracted more betting handle than every NFL game on Sunday. Three times as much money was bet on the fight than is bet on a non-primetime NFL game on average, according to Caesars.

· “We had great handle on the fight,” Murray of the SuperBook said. “We were flooded with Wilder bets all weekend (at +250, +240, +230) and did very well with Fury winning. It was a very positive result and an unbelievable fight. It’s awesome to see a great heavyweight boxing fight like that in Las Vegas.”

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