A lucky bettor in Colorado was on track for a big World Series win, a potential score magnified by a bookmaker’s miscalculation.
On April 13, a week after the MLB season began, a Colorado bettor placed a $50 futures bet at BetMGM on the Houston Astros, 2,500-1 to beat the World Series Philadelphia Phillies. Nearly seven months later, the Astros and Phillies enter the World Series, and bettors will win $125,000 if Houston wins. Bettors can also lock in profits by placing hedge bets on the underdog Phillies. For example, if the Phillies wagered $10,000 at the current series price of +160, they would make a profit of $15,950, or if the Astros won their initial $50 wager, they would receive a payday of $115,000.
Bettors declined interview requests but made some offers to BetMGM.
“From April to ‘Philtober,’ it was surreal to live and die with the Phillies,” the bettor said. “Salute to the Astros for taking care of business and to the Dodgers for choking as usual.”
The bettor added: “I’m not hedging.”
Regardless, bettors are fighting for a World Series sweat that may be more lucrative than it should be — because the odds on the bets are longer than they should be. Instead of 2,500-1, the Astros’ odds against the Phillies in the World Series should be closer to 250-1, if not shorter.
The most basic way to create odds for the exact outcome of the World Series months in advance is to multiply the predicted odds of the champion winning the World Series with the odds of the other team winning the pennant. At the time of wagering, the Astros won the World Series 10-1, while the Phillies won the National League by around 10-1 despite a slow start. Using traditional methods, the odds are around 100-1, not 2,500-1. A different approach might yield longer odds, but it’s unlikely to be anywhere near 2,500-1. By comparison, the Texas Rangers are also 2,500-1 at BetMGM to beat the Miami Marlins in the World Series.
“We’re probably a little aggressive on these fronts,” Bet MGM vice president of trading Jason Scott told ESPN, acknowledging a blunder in the odds-setting process.
Serious odds errors, often referred to as clear errors, can be a controversial topic in the betting world. For example, a data entry error or spelling error can cause sportsbooks to post the wrong line, sometimes making big hits losers. Sportsbooks often contain rules about serious odds errors, and in the past, had to pay for bets on bad lines. However, Scott did not indicate that BetMGM would go this route.
BetMGM offers two-week odds of 2,500-1, but only places six bets on the exact outcome of the Astros’ victory over the Phillies in the World Series. Scott said the $50 bet accounted for “about 90 percent” of the total inflated odds bet.
“To be honest, I’m more worried about Mattress Mack beating us than he is,” Scott said.
Houston furniture store owner Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, known for making big bets to reduce promotional risk, teamed up with BetMGM to bet $2 million on the Astros to win the World Series. Overall, McKinville has about $10 million in Astros money in the World Series and a chance to earn $75 million. He’ll need it: After placing a seven-figure bet in June, McIngvale offered to refund double the money to customers who spent $3,000 at his store, Gallery Furniture, if the Astros win the World Series.
“It’s not pleasant, but we can handle it,” Scott said of the blame for McKinville’s bet on the Astros.
BetMGM said it will send Colorado punters to Game 1 of the World Series in Houston on Friday.