Why one bettor could win big on World Series after oddsmaker’s slipup

Oct 25, 2022

  • David PurdumESPN Staff Writer


    • Joined ESPN in 2014
    • Journalist covering gambling industry since 2008

A fortuitous bettor in Colorado is in position to win big on the World Series, a potential score magnified by a bookmaker’s miscalculation.

On April 13, one week into the Major League Baseball season, a bettor in Colorado placed a $50 futures wager with BetMGM on the Houston Astros to beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the World Series at 2,500-1 odds. Nearly seven months later, the Astros and Phillies are in the World Series, and the bettor is position to win $125,000, if Houston prevails. The bettor also could lock in a profit by placing a hedge bet on the underdog Phillies. A $10,000 wager on Philadelphia at current series price of +160, for example, would secure a $15,950 profit if the Phillies pull the upset or a $115,000 payday if the Astros win off their original $50 wager.

The bettor declined interview requests but provided some quotes to BetMGM.

“It’s been surreal living and dying with the Phillies from April all the way through ‘Philtober,'” the bettor said. “Shoutout to the Astros for taking care of business, and to the Dodgers for choking as usual.”

The bettor added, “I’m not hedging.”

Regardless, the bettor is in for a World Series sweat that could be more lucrative than it should be — because the odds on the wager were longer than they should’ve been. Instead of 2,500-1, the odds on the Astros’ win over the Phillies in the World Series should’ve been closer to 250-1, if not shorter.

The most basic way to create odds on an exact outcome of a World Series, months in advance, is to multiply the projected champion’s odds to win the World Series with the other team’s odds of winning the pennant. At the time of the bet, the Astros were 10-1 to win the World Series, and the Phillies, despite a slow start, were around 10-1 to win the National League. Using the traditional method, the odds would’ve been around 100-1, not 2,500-1. Different approaches might have produced longer odds but unlikely anywhere close to 2,500-1. In comparison, the odds offered on the Texas Rangers beating the Miami Marlins in the World Series were also 2,500-1 at BetMGM.

“We were probably a little bit of aggressive on those,” a good-spirited Jason Scott, vice president of trading at Bet MGM, told ESPN, acknowledging a misstep in the oddsmaking process.

Egregious odds errors, often referred to as palpable errors, can be a controversial topic in the betting community. Data entry errors or typos can cause sportsbooks to post the wrong lines, sometimes making a big favorite an underdog, for example. Sportsbooks often include stipulations regarding egregious odds errors and, in the past, have fought from having to pay out on bets made on the bad lines. Scott, however, made no indication that BetMGM would go that route.

BetMGM offered the 2,500-1 price for two weeks but only took six bets on an exact Astros-over Phillies World Series outcome. Scott said the $50 wager accounted for “about 90%” of the total amount bet on the inflated odds.

“I’m more worried about Mattress Mack beating us than him, to be honest,” Scott said.

Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a Houston furniture store owner known to place big bets to mitigate risk from promotions, placed a $2 million bet with BetMGM on the Astros to win the World Series. In total, McIngvale has approximately $10 million riding on the Astros in the World Series with a chance at a $75 million payout. He’ll need it: After placing his seven-figure bets in June, McIngvale offered to refund customers who spent $3,000 at his store Gallery Furniture double their money back if the Astros win the World Series.

“It’s not pleasant, but we can deal with it,” Scott said of the liability caused by McIngvale’s bet on the Astros.

BetMGM said it will be sending the Colorado bettor to Friday’s Game 1 of the World Series in Houston.