As much as it hurts me to talk about the Cardinals improbable (not impossible) trip and winning of the MLB World Series (Yes, I am a Cubs fan), there have been a few interesting stories that have come up in regards to betting. At one point during the season, the Cardinals were so far out of the playoff race they had 500/1 odds of winning the NL Championship, and 999/1 odds of winning the World Series. These bets were made on September 12th, and as you can see from the image on the right, the $250 bet made on each one had a big payoff. When the Cardinals won the NL Championship,l the man received a $125,000 payout for his big win, and stood to win $250,000 more if the Cardinals won the World Series. The man (who is still unidentified) actually hedged his bet by betting $100,000 on the Rangers (from his $125,000 winnings) to win the World Series, meaning that while he wasn’t going to maximize his profits, he was going to come out of the World Series a good deal richer than before. In the end, the Cardinals won, the man walked away with a $275,000 profit from an initial $500 bet.
It seems there have been some other bettors out there who have been a bit more irrational, including the group of Cardinals fans who went to a casino with a load of cash and bet it all on red in the roulette wheel (the Cards wear Red, are also known as the Redbirds). They spun and lost, and still ended up forking a ton of cash over for tickets in addition to the loses.
Our final story of the day comes from Bloomberg, who noted earlier last month that the Detroit Lions had beat the spread 13 of the last 14 times, with the other time being a push. Bloomberg did the math and found that a $100 bet at the beginning of this streak being placed and ridden for the whole 14 game period could end with a reward of $450,000. Of course no one actually made such a bet, yet it shows that there are often improbable moments in sport. Of course, as we discussed in a class this morning, betting is often done irrationally by fans. Many people who bet on the spread actually thing they are picking winners and losers, not the difference in the score. Because of this imperfect knowledge by fans and bettors, the books can make quite a fortune. The stories above show a few cases where individuals could have made a great deal of money by a small bet, however, they don’t talk about the large group of people who probably lost even more money betting on the opposite side of things.