It’s already clear in the mainstream media’s initial coverage of sports wagering that stories about big bets will create a lot of buzz. Don’t you get caught up in the drama. Learn how to bet smart!
You probably heard about the bettor in Las Vegas who bet $85,000 to win $1.19 million by backing Tiger Woods to win the Masters. News broke Wednesday that the same “investor” had put down $100K with William Hill at 100/1 odds for Tiger to complete the Grand Slam by winning the PGA, the US Open, and the British Open. Success would pay $10 million.
This is a horrible bet for several reasons. Even if it ultimately wins, it would have been a poor bet that won rather than a smart bet.
Let’s start with the obvious. The “true odds” for Tiger Woods to stay healthy and win all three remaining majors in stacked fields that also include the likes of Dustin Johnson, Rory McIlroy, Brooks Koepka, and a slew of stars and near-elites who could get hot over four days are a lot longer than 100/1.
Even if you can’t make an exact calculation because of all the variables, any good-faith estimate is going to lead you to a much bigger number. The reason it’s available at 100/1 is that sports book operators don’t offer good prices on futures. They offer prices where they’re getting the best of it.
But, even if a bettor received “a tip from God” and knew for a fact that Tiger was going to finish off the slam, it’s still a bad bet! Rolling over individual tournament bets would yield a much higher return.
Let’s pencil in a widely available 9/1 price just for Tiger to win next week’s PGA Championship to be held on the famed Bethpage Black course (it’s 7/1 at William Hill, but sharps shop around!). A $100K bet on Tiger at 9/1 would pay $900K. A full stake of $1 million can then be carried over into the next Slam event.
In June’s US Open at Pebble Beach, Tiger might be as low as 8-1 with sports books defending against public passion. Our investor could bet his total stake of $1 million at 8-1, and be at $9 million ($8 million in new profit and the $1 million pre-Pebble stake) before everyone catches their flights to Ireland for The Open Championship.
Notice that the bettor’s stake would be just below $10 million after just two wins! As a Vegas sharp told VSiN, essentially “he’s betting it all to win nothing on the last major.”
With a Grand Slam in play, Tiger might be as low as 6/1 in Northern Ireland. Betting $9 million at 6/1 would earn $54 million, for a final in-hand total of $63 million.
Would you rather turn $100K into $10 million or $63 million on the same outcome (possibly more if odds are friendlier)?
Don’t let gaudy looking futures prices lure you into making bad bets.