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Sports betting winners and losers: Dustin Johnson's Masters win cost books, but does record numbers

Frank Schwab
·6-min read

On a football weekend in November, more people than ever bet the Masters.

File that away with the other sentences that wouldn’t have made sense before 2020.

Dustin Johnson set records in his win. His 20-under-par was the lowest score ever at the Masters, and it was the most strokes under par for any major tournament winner. In the sports betting world, it was a record-setting event too.

"The Masters was the most bet on golf tournament ever at BetMGM,” Jason Scott, vice president of trading at BetMGM, said.

Johnson’s win wasn’t ideal for the books. At least Tiger Woods didn’t win. He was a huge liability for the house, given Woods’ popularity and long odds in 2020.

Johnson had the second highest number of tickets and the highest amount of money bet on him. One bettor put $10,000 on Johnson to win $120,000. That ticket cashed easily.

Even if that was a short-term loss, the 2020 Masters could end up being a landmark tournament in the sports betting world.

Golf betting isn’t nearly as popular as football or basketball, of course. But the unique nature of the tournament, postponed for seven months due to COVID-19, a great mix of big names young and old, and Woods defending his title was a perfect storm for attention. And with more states allowing legal sports betting than ever before, it was ripe for people to try wagering on a golf tournament for the first time.

Golf betting, especially for a major, has expanded to Super Bowl levels in terms of options. There are seemingly endless prop bets, matchup bets and the traditional bets on which golfer will win. It wasn’t hard to find action on the 2020 Masters.

That might not lead to NFL-level betting on the Waste Management Phoenix Open next year, but unprecedented betting interest in the majors this year should carry over. For sportsbooks, that was worth paying out the Johnson tickets.

Masters golf champion Dustin Johnson shows off his green jacket after his victory Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, in Augusta, Ga. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Masters golf champion Dustin Johnson shows off his green jacket after his victory Sunday in Augusta, Georgia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Here are the winners and losers from the past week in sports betting:

WINNERS

NFL home teams, finally: Home teams entered Week 10 with a record under .500 for the season. Sunday flipped that around.

The Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings won as road teams on Thursday and Monday night. But on Sunday, home teams won 11 of 12 games. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ win over the Carolina Panthers was the lone exception.

Sportsbooks were content to ride out the early-season trends of underdogs and road teams covering. Home teams made that worth their while on Sunday. Now bettors have to figure out if home-field advantage has returned in some way, or if Week 10 was just a fluke.

Minnesota Vikings: The hottest team in the NFL, in terms of paying off for bettors, is the Vikings.

Monday night’s win as a road underdog put the Vikings’ against-the-spread record at 6-1 over the last seven weeks. The Vikings looked awful early in the season, but Mike Zimmer is a good coach and he quickly figured some things out.

Bettors didn’t believe before Monday night. There were some big bets at BetMGM on the Bears to cover.

BetMGM doesn’t have a line on this week’s Vikings game against the Dallas Cowboys, due to the health status of Cowboys quarterback Andy Dalton, but other books have the Vikings at 7.5- or 8-point favorites. Many will be testing the Vikings’ hot streak against one of the NFL’s worst teams.

NBA draft betting: Like the Masters in fall, it feels weird that the NBA draft is happening this week.

But it is upon us, and you can bet on it. The first pick of the draft is down to two favorites. LaMelo Ball is the favorite at -120 and Anthony Edwards is second at even money. James Wiseman is a distant third at +800 and though BetMGM offers odds on dozens of players, it seems like a waste to even consider anyone down the line.

The Minnesota Timberwolves have the No. 1 pick and there has been no definitive word on their choice. That leads to some betting opportunities.

LOSERS

Reliving those two bad beats: There had to be someone with a two-team parlay of Texans +3.5 and Bills +2.5. You’re living right.

But we don’t remember the miracle wins. Only the bad beats.

Nick Chubb throwing on the left blinker and taking a hard turn out of bounds at the 1-yard line will be seared into Browns bettors’ brains for a long time. The Browns got a lot of action, as the line moved from -3 to -3.5 to -4 by kickoff. The fifth-highest handle of any side in Week 10 NFL action was the Browns.

And arguably that wasn’t the worst beat of the day. The DeAndre Hopkins catch will be replayed for a long, long time. The euphoria of Cardinals bettors thinking they’d won their bet on a Hail Mary turned to confusion and disbelief when the Cardinals kept their offense on the field and took a knee instead of kicking an extra point. The Cardinals didn’t want to risk a crazy play on the two-point conversion, which the Bills could have returned for two points and a tie. Anyone with Arizona -2.5 wondered how they lost.

If you were on the Cardinals or the Browns, condolences. If you were on both, it might take a while before you want to bet again.

Ravens bettors and futures bets: The Ravens were great last season, but fell short in the playoffs. They had short odds for pretty much any season-long bet this year.

The Ravens have already surpassed their 2019 loss total, and it doesn’t seem they’ll be cashing any futures tickets.

Baltimore cost many bettors on Sunday. The Patriots’ upset was the best result of any football game all season for BetMGM. The amount of teasers and moneyline parlays including the Ravens had to be staggering.

The Ravens are three games behind the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC North, and nowhere near the favorite anymore. They are +600 to win the division. The Ravens are +1100 to win the Super Bowl, which are the sixth-best odds. Baltimore and Kansas City had the lowest Super Bowl odds through the offseason.

The Ravens had a win total of 11.5 before the season started. There’s not much margin for error there anymore at 6-3. Over bettors need a 6-1 finish to cash that ticket. The Ravens might end up costing optimistic bettors a lot of money. The Ravens already cost bettors plenty last Sunday.

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